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Classic Motor Vehicle Restoration Checklist (Part One)

Before you start searching through the classified ads for a project for restoration there are a few things you should know that will save you from encountering a wide range of issues further down the line.

If it ain't right... walk!

Unless you have set your heart on something that is so rare you have next to no real choice, make sure you let your head rule your heart. Consider every vehicle forensically, don’t miss anything and ask plenty of questions of the seller.

Often vehicles will have been partially restored, there may be essential hard-to-find parts missing or damaged, they may even be in a box somewhere. Asking questions can save both time and money, they can also prevent you from buying badly.

If in any doubt, be kind to yourself and walk away. You can always go back later, once you have had time to weigh everything up carefully.

Identify your skill set

Few of us are really good at everything, most of us are much better at some than they are at others. Are you good with bodywork? Handy with a sprayer? A genius with engines perhaps?

Think about the skills you have and most importantly the kind of things you enjoy doing. You are going to be in this for the long-haul, so finding a vehicle that addresses your skill-set will give you many fewer problems later.

Calculating the cost

As much as is possible try to estimate the cost of the restoration. How much can you realistically do without seeking further expertise? Although you will pay more for a vehicle that needs less restoration, it may be better to increase the “up front” cost, in order to lessen the expense later.

Don’t be “penny wise” but “pound foolish”, there is no sense in saving a few hundred on the purchase price only to pay out a fortune later. If you are going to require something that is very hard to obtain, inflate the cost of it by at least half again, factor that in to the overall cost and compare that to how much the vehicle will be worth in a fully restored condition.

Once you know what you want you have to find it – See Part Two

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