Steals & deals for your wheels: 5 tips for restoring a classic car on a budget

So, you’ve decided to purchase a vintage vehicle. Whether it was the tightly-knit classic car community or the roar of a collector-worthy engine that attracted you to classic car ownership, turning the key in your collection’s ignition is nothing short of a worthwhile pursuit. 

For those drivers headed towards the rocky roads of classic car restoration, be sure to strap in for the bumpy ride ahead. As one of the most rewarding tasks for car enthusiasts, classic car restoration is the ultimate labor of love, given that the process requires patience, skill, time, and, of course, money. 

With the possibility of incurring a dent in your wallet, you’ll need to maximize savings and take a sharp turn away from bank-account guzzlers. Ready to merge onto the savings speedway? If so, consider these five tips for restoring a classic car on a budget. 

Check out an auto salvage yard

Restoring a classic car or any other vehicle requires the replacement of parts. You can opt to buy new original or aftermarket components, but these are usually very costly. The best way to acquire affordable alternatives is to visit an auto salvage yard.

Also known as junkyards, these are places where wrecked cars call home. Most of these vehicles are written off by insurance companies but are chalked full of reusable parts sourced from vehicles that remained unscathed post-accident. 

With auto salvage yards, such as Tear-A-Part, within driving distance, classic car owners can bust out their toolkits and give a forever home to stray auto parts. Note that these junkyards can sell you premium salvage auto parts at a fraction of the retail cost. Additionally, they grant classic car owners a 30-day money-back guarantee on these parts so you can purchase with confidence.

That said, there is a high probability you won’t find an exact part for the vehicle you are restoring, but most components in classic cars are interchangeable. In a bind, you can scour these auto salvage yards for vehicles that utilize similar parts. From there, you can expect delay-free restorations. 

Buy parts when required

Should you opt for an auto salvage yard as your part provider of choice, avoid buying these parts ahead of time. Though the convenience of compiling a wishlist and buying your must-haves all in one go is attractive, this strategy can send you barreling towards bank account blunders. 

Consider this, with such a large stockpile of new/salvaged parts you won’t use all at once, what are the chances of destroying or losing some? Very high.

On top of that, you might discover you don’t need an already purchased part because the one in the car is still working. Such unnecessary expenses can sink the project even before it begins. With these unnecessary costs in mind, it’s best to buy a part only when you discover you need it.

Do it yourself

If you are not a trained mechanic, restoring a classic car on a budget can be difficult due to the limited manpower. However, if you know a thing or two about cars, you will save fistfuls of catch with a DIY project.

However, approach this DIY project with caution. As all drivers know, cars are compromised of multiple parts. So, even if you know how to fix the engine, you might fall short in the electrical category. 

If your restoration skills are limited in capacity, you can join online forums on classic car restoration or research to learn how to do most of the heavy lifting. While you may feel tempted to soak up information like a sponge and put those tutorials into action, don’t be in a rush. With a slow-and-steady approach, you can learn about restoration kits that will help you make simple repairs (i.e., broken headlights), which will help you swerve additional costs. 

The goal is to do as much as you can by yourself, including the bodywork and paint job, then call in a professional to handle the more complex tasks.

Sell old parts

As you dive deeper into the restoration process, a pile of old parts will start building up as you install the salvaged or modified components. Though these scrap parts might seem like junk, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.

If these parts are in decent condition and you don’t plan to use them again, put them on eBay, Craigslist, or any other e-commerce platform to see if you can sell. You can even connect with fellow classic car enthusiasts on forums and try to find buyers there.

Even though it might take time, selling these parts can earn you a couple of thousand dollars, which will help offset the cost of restoration.

Buy a car that is running

If you have yet to purchase the classic car you’ve been eyeing, remember that it’s cheaper and easier to work on one that is still running, especially if you are not a car expert.

A damaged car is cheaper to buy but will cost much more to fix. Usually, such vehicles are appraised at lower values because the owner had trouble identifying the root cause of mechanical issues. In other cases, the problem might be too expensive to fix, and the solution is to dispose of it at any cost.

However, if you are a skilled mechanic with experience and confidence, take up the challenge. Buy a cheap, wrecked classic.

Wrap up

Whether you’re restoring a vintage vehicle for personal use or to sell, bringing an old car back to life can be an expensive affair. However, restoring a classic car on a budget is possible by using the tips above, so get right on it.

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