Important Questions to Ask When Considering a Car Restoration

A car restoration can bring an old car back to life, making it look like new; it can also make it drivable again, so that you can enjoy some time behind the wheel of your old muscle car or vintage vehicle. Before you decide on a car restoration for your vehicle, note a few important questions to ask the restorer, so you know what the work will include and what to expect by way of a finished vehicle when you pick it up from the shop.

Ask if it will be street legal

An older vehicle may be restored so that it's drivable, but it may not be street legal, as laws that affect a vehicle's safety features, as well as its braking and other such systems, may have been put in place since the vehicle was manufactured. A restorer might know what features need to be added to ensure the vehicle can be legally driven, such as a shoulder harness seatbelt rather than just a lap belt, antilock brakes, and so on. If you're thinking of actually driving the vehicle and not just showing it off or reselling it to a collector, be sure you ask about these requirements and regulations, and be prepared to make some modifications to the vehicle to make it street legal.

Ask if specific damage can be repaired

Don't assume that just any damage can be repaired when it comes to your vehicle; a vehicle that's been through a flood or that has had major damage to the frame may be beyond repairing. In some cases, the body can be repaired, but the engine and other such parts may be so damaged that they cannot be restored. Your restorer can note if certain parts can be replaced, or if the car can only be made to look better for display and not for driving.

Ask about reproduction versus original parts

A restorer will often use original parts where possible, but sometimes newer parts are needed; this might be because older parts are impossible to find, or because the body of the car is so damaged that newer parts should be used for structural support.

While newer parts might be used in some cases, this can sometimes decrease the value of a restored car. If you're looking to enter the car in an auction, or sell it to a collector, you need to note if those reproduced parts would reduce its overall value, and by how much, so you know what to expect by way of offers to buy.