Determine a budget that you can afford and make sure you have include a contingency element, you will almost always need more than you think.
You want a car that will appreciate in value, or at least hold value over time. A high end version of a very popular model is a good starting point for finding a more modern or a future classic. The popularity and desirability of established classics can easily be found by looking at the prices they attract on classic car sales websites, magazines and online discussion groups.
Research the vehicle, talk to owners via specialist forums, you will get to know the common problems and find out whether replacement parts are easily sourced. Try to get a workshop manual if you can find one, often they are able to be found online.
Make a checklist of things you need to ask/inspect when viewing a vehicle and make sure you take time finding the right one, an impulse purchase will almost always be a mistake.
If at all possible buy a car that starts! If it does you know that some care has been taken over it. If it doesn’t the risk is that it will cost a great deal to put right, so don’t be afraid to walk away.
The more original a car is the more valuable it will be, so be wary of rust it is the single most common problem with classic car restoration. Where there is visible rust, there is almost always invisible and often inaccessible rust as well. If you’re not careful enough during the initial inspection, you may find that the rust you later discover cannot be repaired without detracting from the value of your car.
Choose whether to work with a friend or professional on your classic restoration project. You may have a “friend who knows how to repair cars,” however, be aware that most cars restored by people other than professionals tend to be the worse for it. It is not generally recommended to involve friends and family on projects such as classic car restoration. Consider working together with a professional instead. They can guide you, so that nothing is missed and perhaps do the more difficult tasks that need more specialist skills than you possess.
Don’t skimp on classic car restoration engine repairs, as decades of use, or non-use, can lead to mechanical problems in a vehicle’s engine. Pay particular attention to engine compression ratios, these are very important on older cars.
Decide how much restoration you want. Are you happy to return it to a good drive-able condition? Are you intending on producing a show car? Finally, are you looking to create a concourse vehicle, one that will seldom be driven and will be more of an exhibit? This will determine how much professional work you will require. really high end restorations will require very specialised and therefore ‘expensive’ to employ, workshops.
Finally, once the vehicle is restored, keep it well and regularly maintained and preferably use it so that others can benefit from its restoration too.