How to Buy a Classic Car for Restoration

The restoration of a classic car can make for an interesting project and for some is a labor of love. However, it is important to purchase the right car to restore so that you can get the most out of the restoration of your dream car.

Steps

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    Spend your money carefully. Do not purchase a car on a whim. It may be the exact year, make, and model that you have always wanted, but there may be models of the exact type available in better condition or at a better price.
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    Go onto eBay and spend an afternoon browsing, even if you aren't ready to buy yet. This allows you to take a look at cars that you may not have thought of, but could turn out to be exactly what you want. It lets you compare approximate prices for everything from rust piles to show quality restorations. Once you have had a good look around, make a list of car models and years you would be interested in.
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    Unless you have decided that it must be a particular year and model, take a look around at parts availability. A one year difference in models may make parts much easier or harder to find. You will probably be able to get almost any part you need, but the price and availability of a given part can change drastically from year to year. The aftermarket is booming right now with all kinds of reproduction parts, but another great place to start may be local car clubs, junk yards, and word of mouth. Make notes of prices for common parts specific to cars you want. Is the taillight lens $50 or $250? How easy is it to find window trim?
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    Start browsing the classified ads. You may decide to purchase through eBay, but unless the car is close enough to look at it in person, this can be a roll of the dice. One big no-no is picking up someone else's restoration attempt and paying for the bad quality work they have done.
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    Replacing a water pump is easy. Getting a bent frame straightened is not. Be realistic about what work you are able to do, are willing to do, and are able to hire out. Make sure when you start looking at the cars in person you know how to assess the necessary work. Failure to do this can turn a fun project into a problem that takes up half of your garage.
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    Once you have researched parts, prices, and vehicle costs, the general purchase price you should be willing to pay for a particular car is much easier to figure out. Don't over pay and blow your budget right at the start. Sellers who watch a Barrett-Jackson auction on TV and see a '69 Yenko Nova SC427 go for $100,000 have a tendency to price their '73 Nova 4 door with a straight 6 and no floorboards in the $25,000 range.
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    Start working on it and have fun!

Article Info

Categories: Buying and Selling Cars | Classic Cars