What Is A Classic Car Restoration and Why Does It Cost So Much

First of all the basic definition of a classic car restoration is to return a classic car to new or better than new condition. This means a lot of different things to different people. I will try to demystify what is it to the best of my knowledge.

Let’s remember when these cars were new. They really didn’t stop very well, and they were good in a straight line but through corners, they didn’t perform that well. They had a lot of power and poor gas mileage, so you need to decide what it is you are looking for in the classic car restoration.

During my time in the industry, I have seen a lot of people very disappointed after they restore their cars because they think it will be better than it was when it rolled off of the factory assembly line, and this just is not the case unless you let the shop know that you want the car modified.

What a classic car restoration is


  1. The car is restored to factory or better specs.
  2. The products of today are better and the ideas and tools are better than the old days so you can expect much better quality than the old days.
  3. Paint products have no question gotten better, we aren’t forced to use the old lacquer paint because we have better options.
  4. A shop interested in quality will not shove a rusted, or rotted area full of Bondo and call it good, this used to happen a lot in the old days.
  5. The processes, in general, have gotten better so the job is more through.

Why does it cost so much

  1. The average restoration is about 900 hours of work, this is a car that is in pretty decent shape, without a lot of rust and most of the systems are in good condition.
  2. More rust work makes the cost go up exponentially, this is according to the extra hours of labor and extra parts cost. If your car has a lot of rust repair expect to spend money to fix it.
  3. You have decided that you want some custom parts or custom paint work. This also makes the cost change based on the parts you want and the install time, custom paint means extra prep work and masking and this is more hours added to the end game.
  4. Parts and labor are where the expense happens.
  5. The best way to save money is to start with a good car, to begin with. A car that has very little rust and good mechanical systems to start with before you buy the car plan to have a professorial classic car inspector look at it.

Save yourself as much agony at the first, and this will translate into a classic car restoration that is fun and enjoyable. Although you should not plan not to have a surprise or two, it will always happen. You will have a much better experience if you spend money at the first and get a good car to start with.

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