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BEGINNERS' CORNER

Guidelines for Starting and Completing a Car Restoration Project

We get emails all the time, asking us for a step-by-step guide to perform a car restoration. Many people get started and become intimidated by the myriad of individual projects facing them and soon find themselves wondering if there's some magic "formula" for the task. Well, we don't know if there's any such formula out there but we thought we'd put together a chronological outline that would help keep the project on course. Here goes...

Depending upon how adept with tools you are, all of the above will have taken roughly 40 hours to accomplish. Nothing has been restored or repaired yet, just disassembled. Now, on to the actual car restoration...

There is no hard-and-fast procedure for doing all the individual tasks involved, but you can separate the overall project into four parts: mechanical, electrical, body and upholstery. It is best to work on electrical and upholstery projects in your basement/home workshop and mechanical and body projects in your garage. If you only have one work space, try to set up two separate areas. That way, you can work on two different things at the same time. When weather or parts availability stops progress on one, switch to the other. Eventually, everything will be finished and you can reassemble the car in reverse of above.

The Car Restoration

Reassembly

With the body freshly painted and everything ready to reinstall, start with the mechanical parts. If the car has a frame, everything is pretty much installed already. Otherwise, put in the engine, transmission, drive shaft, accessories, cooling system, etc. Test everything out before putting on the hood. A good order in which to proceed is as follows:

This should give you a general outline of the car restoration process. There are variations, of course, and you will come upon problems and opportunities that will cause you to alter this checklist. The important thing is to carefully think through your approach to each step of this process.




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