We all know not everyone has the necessary equipment, expertise, and room to restore a classic, muscle, Mustang, Camaro, hot rod, vintage, antique, or exotic car on their own time and budget. So, where does it leave us now? There is a plethora of restoration pros available who are willing to take on even the most rusted hulk of what was once a beautiful automobile. Before you can choose a car restoration shop, you must first decide what you want the finished car to be (a concours-winning show car, or simply a nice driver?) and how much money you are willing to spend to bring it to its intended state of completion.
When you finally have a vehicle that is worthy of restoration, you’ll need to decide whether you’ll do any of the work yourself or whether you’ll hire a professional to complete the entire process. The next step becomes the preparation you will need to undertake in order to select an auto restoration shop who will deliver the finished product you envision while staying within your budget and time frame. If you believe that restoration is out of your league, the next step becomes the research you will need to undertake in order to select an auto restoration shop which will deliver the finished product you envision while remaining within your budget and time frame.
The advice of a freelance restoration expert, is to “talk to folks at car exhibitions.” Choose an automobile that is identical to the one you wish to restore or one that appeals to you. Consult with the owner about the restoration, and find out if the other cars at the show were restored by the same shop or restorers.” You’ll learn of restorers who specialize in Audi, BMW, Ferrari, Honda, Mercedes Benz, Peugeot, Renault, Volvo, Ford, or Jeep Grand Wagoneer, but they aren’t necessarily the best choice. The best restorers will be those who do the most meticulous and thorough work.
You’ll have to do a lot of research and phone a lot of various types of auto restoration firms to speak with the owner or the principal restoration professional about what you want to do. Speak with them about your concept for the finished car and find out what they have to offer in terms of materials and labor. A quality shop manager will be more than happy to share his or her experience and restoration processes with you, and he or she can do the same for any of his or her employees as well. Also crucial is determining whether the shop keeps all of the vehicles under repair indoors and whether they have adequate insurance coverage for all of the vehicles under repair.
When you visit a potential restoration shop, you should take note of the facilities and equipment that it is outfitted with, among other things. Look for metal brakes, English wheels, shrinkers/stretchers, and bead rollers among other key metalworking tools when purchasing a vehicle that may require extensive metal fabrication. A blast cabinet, a lathe, and a half-ton press, as well as gas and MIG welding equipment, should be included in their inventory. In a shop, it’s also crucial to have good organization and plenty of available space.
“When you’re working on a car, it’s often difficult to keep the workspace clean, but it’s critical that there’s enough space to work on a car and easy access to the components and equipment that will be required.”
The reputation of a store, as well as the pleasure of its previous consumers, are quite important. According to Ralph Prueitt, of Al Prueitt & Sons in Vale Rock, Pennsylvania, “Stop to a native part store and ask the person how to repair your car” (the restoration shop is). When you ask them, they will constantly tell you that “they never pay on time, or that they are wonderful individuals who perform excellent work.” Getting in touch with prior consumers is also a very sensible strategy to employ. According to Joe, a repair firm should be willing to provide you with the phone numbers of prior customers who have purchased their work. In regard to what was done to their cars, “you should speak with the purchasers and look at (the work) if it is possible.”
You will most likely come across firms that advertise both collision repair and auto restoration services.
While the majority of restoration specialists specialize in simply restoration work, some restoration professionals also perform collision repair work. Some restorers advise against using combination shops, claiming that collision experience is not the same as restoration expertise, and that as a result, work might be rushed and attention to detail can be compromised. Owner of Auto Collision and Restorations in, New York, has been restoring vehicles for years and does not agree with this statement. It is his Shark laser measuring machine that he uses to distinguish between the everyday insurance work he does, and the restoration work he does in person. “I don’t do a lot of collision work anymore; there are a lot of units here who handle it,” he explains, noting that the machine serves as a de facto line of demarcation between the everyday insurance work and the restoration work he does in person.
When you have established a comfortable working relationship with a company, it is critical to discuss all of the specifics of the costs that will be incurred during the restoration process. Tom claims that his labor rate is $65 per hour, but he explains that he “job-costs” each and every project that comes through the door because the materials are so expensive. You’re talking about $4,000 to $6,000 per car in paint, priming, and painting supplies, just for starters. I even have a 1970-1/2 Z/28 in here right now that cost me $12,000 just to paint and refinish it. You must realize that these projects will take between four and five months to complete. The situation isn’t the same as Mrs. Smith, who has her Honda Accord smashed and has it removed from the scene in three days.”
When you’ve decided on a restoration shop, ask for a written estimate for the labor, materials, and parts that will be required for the project. Keep in mind, though, that estimates are susceptible to change without notice. “It’s a difficult environment to work in, and it determines the worth of any restoration,” Gary explains. “I’ll have a basic idea of how much it’ll cost, but even my best estimations are usually way off the mark.” “You have to be prepared to spend more money,” Tom continues, citing the fact that a car’s restoration could cost many times the car’s original value. When it comes to car restoration, a business that specializes in your vehicle may offer a set rate with an allowance for additional charges in the event of unforeseen additional work, but a general restorer may charge for labor, materials, and parts separately. To secure services and begin the components ordering process, it is normal practice to need a deposit.
You should be aware that higher-quality restoration shops often have lengthy waiting lists that can last anywhere from months to years.
“Any reputable auto repair companies are going to be booked for at least a year in advance. “If you’re going to be able to get into a store immediately away, you should be concerned about the quality of the work.” Most waiting lists are between three and four years long; as soon as we are on the verge of finishing an automobile restoration here, another one comes in to take its place. On average, most have 5 cars in the shop at any given time, and full-scale restorations can take up to a year to complete. There’s a lot of downtime… Some let the primer dry for thirty days before sanding it down to prepare it for painting.”
Once a restoration project has begun, the majority of reputable restorers will want to maintain in touch with the vehicle’s owner to provide progress updates and to alert them to any potential concerns. If the shop you’ve picked is not within a reasonable driving distance of your home, be sure to request specific photographs on a regular basis from the staff.