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Restoring a classic car can be a lot of fun, and there’s little more satisfying than owning and driving something that you essentially built yourself.  Classic cars turn heads wherever they go, and they’re a great ice-breaker too.  However, restoring a car can be hard work, and requires a lot of tools.  Depending on the state of the vehicle you buy, you could need welding equipment, sanders and brushes, a grinder, a floor jack, and lots of other gear too.  You’ll also need a lot of know-how.  Reading a Hayne’s Manual will get you part of the way, but if the car needs a lot of work then you might need a helping hand to make sure it’s road worthy.

Do Your Homework

If you haven’t spent a lot of time working on cars already, then you should do your homework before taking on a major project.   That bargain “do-er-upper” that you see in the classifieds could cost a fortune to repair once you realise that you need a seam welding machine, an engine crane and stand, three quarters of a new engine, and some new bits of bodywork because that “cosmetic” rust goes all the way through.

Don’t try to improvise on parts.  Car engines are incredibly heavy, so you’ll need to support it safely while you’re working on it.  The same is true for the car itself – sticking a car up on bricks might be how they did it in the old days, but if the bricks shift they could damage the car at best, or seriously injure the person under the car.  It’s not worth the risk.

If you don’t plan on doing up more than one car, then you’ll probably find that it’s best to rent the heavy equipment, although some basic welding equipment, a jack, and small bits and bobs such as wire brushes, sanders, and a good socket set are always good additions for any garage.

It’s not a good idea to try to use heavy tools without training.  You should consider signing up to a college course, or joining an enthusiast group for the kind of car that you’re restoring and seeing if anyone runs training courses.  In some cases, it may work out better if you simply pay someone else to do major parts of the job for you. Yes, it’s annoying to not do the whole job yourself, but your priority should be ensuring that the vehicle is safe and road-worthy.

Restoration Takes Time

It can take a long time to restore a classic car to its former glory.  Don’t buy one assuming that you’ll have it up and running in a few weeks.  Some old and obscure cars can take years to restore because of the difficulty in the required parts.  For this reason, it’s a good idea to make your restoration project your second car – and have an already working (or at least decently modern and easy to get running) vehicle as your daily driver.  You can always sell that car on once your project is done.

This guest post was submitted by Amy Fowler on behalf of Westermans, who specialise in welding equipment including seam welding machines. You can find out more by clicking here or visiting their Facebook page.

Photo by Draco2008.