Five things you should think about before restoring a vintage car or bike

Every year, classic, vintage and antique car and bike enthusiasts spend a large amount of money on their hobby, often more than they were expecting when they first planned their project.

Broadly speaking, there are three types of people who dream of completing a restoration to original condition.

  1. People who buy an old vehicle and get others to rebuild them
  2. Dreamers who start and never finish them and need help
  3. Those that want to do it all themselves

Unless you are very experienced, there is no way of knowing the condition of your dream restoration unless it is pulled apart and thoroughly checked out by an expert. This is where the real skill, knowledge and experience for a restoration makes your dollars and satisfaction go furthest.

Before you get underway with either restoring it yourself or choosing a specialist to help you, here are five things to consider:

1. Talk to someone who knows what they are doing

Knowing who to ask and what to ask will make all the difference to the success of your project.

You already know that a restoration will cost you money, and time, often lots of it, so it would be a great help to talk to a dedicated restoration shop and get an idea of similar restoration costs and the time involved.  Then, to be on the safe side, add another 20% to your budget.  

2. Restorations are different to crash repairs

Restorations are not the same as a crash repair, where parts are mostly replaced and more easily costed.  It is important to note that body work restorations are a separate skill set when compared to rebuilding the engine and drive train. Taking a practical approach and separating mechanical repairs from body repairs may be good advice.

3. Choose a specialist workshop

It’s important to identify a workshop that is dedicated to making a living from restorations.

Any restoration quote will most likely be an educated guess, as restorers rebuild and reshape parts, they weld, cut and make new body parts, and they rebuild body panels and repair rusted out chassis rails and structural supports. This takes time, high levels of skill and good management. These types of repairs will require an engineer’s certificate as well.

4. Use specialist tools

One of the highest skills in restoration is using specialist tools to make curved panels from scratch. Many panels may also require panel beating skills to make them fit, structural welding skills to meet safety requirements and painting skills of a high order.

5. Choose a reputable business

So where do restorers get these skills from?

The answer is thorough training, experience and lots of hands on practice. The underpinning skills needed to do these types of jobs comes from industry designed training programs across a wide range of occupations.

This is where the Industry Skills Advisory Council NT plays a key role in the development of workforce skills.

The advice, gathered from our industry centred research, ensures that associations, businesses and individuals receive forward looking information on workforce development and skilling options that will help businesses grow and make money.

Our aim is to help local businesses grow and thrive through the identification of training and upskilling activities that meets their skills needs and ultimately you, their customer, will reap the benefits.

There are only a couple of dedicated vehicle restoration workshops in the NT so finding the experts is the easy part.