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Classic Motor Vehicle Restoration Checklist (Part Three)

Quality takes time and patience, the rewards for restoring a classic is more than money can buy. Go to any classic car show and you will soon discover who has a passion for restoration and who simply bought a restored classic. Restore your own vehicle and you join a very distinct group of enthusiasts.

Finding replacement parts

When removing old or damaged components, never throw anything away until you have a replacement. Not all replacements sourced will be as expected, model changes can make small differences. Always keep what you have, until you are sure it is no longer required.

A part that is of an acceptable quality to one person may also fall far short of being acceptable to you and it is not always easy to discover whether a part functions properly until thoroughly tested.

If you still have “the old one” you have something you can use for reference, or at a push, something that may be repairable, albeit at a price. Some parts can be almost impossible to source, so be warned!

Is that original?

There are exceptional cases where deviating from the original manufacturers parts can result in producing an improvement. Usually this is where technological advances have made something either more reliable or safer.

As a ‘rule of thumb’ be assured that older is usually better and modernising a classic is generally unwise. While, “completely original” might well mean that it is slower, unrefined and difficult to stop, it is generally preferred. So don’t be inclined to modify anything until you have carried out the necessary research first.

Most classic cars have owner’s clubs that can be accessed via the web, often you have to join to ask questions of its members, but fees are usually low and the level of advice will generally outweigh any cost.

Restoring Performance

If you are lucky the engine will run and if you are extremely lucky it won’t sound like a bucket full of bolts, but before trying to start an engine that has not run for some time it is best to take a few precautions.

If the vehicle has been stood for any length of time it will need clean fluids and filters, new plugs and points, new hoses and belts and anything else that is perishable. The potential for damage to be caused by poor fluids, belts and other easily changed items far exceeds the cost of them so be patient.

Clutches are very often “stuck” and will need to be freed first, similarly brakes are often “locked on”, so these need to be inspected carefully too. Hydraulics need to be checked for fluids and leakages, seals will often have perished so brake and clutch cylinders will need to be replaced or overhauled.