Restoring a Vintage Car Restoring a Vintage Car


Vintage cars can mean a lot of different things to different people.  Ask any car enthusiast what his feelings are on any particular vintage automobile, and you will get a thousand answers.  Restoration is much easier today than it was in past years, as many manufacturers are making after market parts for more popular cars.  This article will discuss the restoration process.

Although a vintage car is defined as a car built between 1919 and 1930, there is little debate about this.  Any vehicle manufactured after the end of World War I is a good marker, with the cutoff date being 1925, as designated by the Classic Car Club of America.

The biggest thrill to a vintage car enthusiast is finding the perfect vehicle to restore.  Tastes range from old flivvers to coupes and sedans.  Much of this is driven by pleasant memories of the individual. Many old car enthusiasts make a hobby of going to old car auctions and swap meets to find parts for their current project.  Vacations are themed around searching for the perfect car to restore.  There are many car clubs that are dedicated to the vintage car buff, and rallies and road trips are common.  Many areas of the country have festivals each year, where old cars parade the streets of the town hosting the festival.  Many drivers will travel long distances in their old cars to attend.

Finding the perfect restoration vehicle can be a daunting task.  When one is finally found, it can be in any state of repair.  A great many antique cars can be found in the southern states, sitting under a tree in some one's pasture. Many collectors enjoy finding these vehicles, because their interest lies in the actual rebuilding of the vehicle.  Others look for something that they can make minor repairs and modifications to.  What ever your choice, the hardest part may lie in finding parts to make the restoration.

Modern restorers are lucky these days, because there are companies that manufacture obsolete car parts.  They can include such things as fenders and body parts, brake and running gear components, transmissions and engines, and assorted accessories.  There are many magazines that are dedicated to old car enthusiasts, and a lot of companies will advertise in these magazines.  Be prepared to pay top dollar for restoration parts.

Vintage cars are usually sold in stock condition.  The average restorer will buy the vehicle, replace worn or damaged parts, and then make upgrades to the vehicle. Usually, changes will be made to things such as steering, brakes, and comfort of ride.  A good sound system is sometimes installed.  There are of course purists, who feel the car must be restored to original specifications.

Because restoration can be a demanding task, many people rely on restoration companies to perform vital tasks, such as body or engine work.  A vintage car can easily be damaged in the restoration process due to rusted or frozen bolts, and extra care is needed in the process.  If you have never done a restoration, it might well save you a lot of money in the long run to have vital restoration tasks done by a professional.  If you have a few restorations under your belt, then you have a good idea of what needs to be done.

The price of a restoration can vary greatly, depending on the condition of the vehicle you wish to restore.  The biggest factor of course is the make and model of the vehicle.  If you are bent on restoring a 1928 Bentley 4 1/2 liter Le Mans Tourer, plan on spending top dollar and doing an intensive search for parts.  If your vehicle of choice is a Model T, manufactured by Ford Motor Company between the years 1908 and 1927, then your chance of finding affordable parts are much easier.  Set a budget for each step of the restoration process, and if you enjoy working on a vintage car, you will soon be driving around in style!

The restoration process is not a hard task.  Although finding parts can be a chore, it is the biggest fun of owning a vintage vehicle.  Take your time in selecting your vintage car.  Do a lot of looking and be sure to research availability of parts before taking the plunge.  Your wallet will thank you.

Steps That Can Save You From Being Stranded

Examine your tires on a regular basis for cuts, nicks, and uneven wear.  Inspect the rim to see if it has been damaged in any way.  If you live in an area with poor roads filled with potholes, it is essential that you make this a part of your regular checks. Checking your tires visually also can indicate whether or not the tire is under or over inflated.  If you see uneven wear on the outer edges of the tire, it is a very good indication that the tires are not carrying the proper tire pressure.  If wear is evident in the center of the tire, then it has been continually over inflated.  Be aware that this visual check does not apply to radial tires, which have a different ground profile than regular tires.

Tire rotation is another aspect of tire maintenance that should be strictly adhered to.  Experts report that the front tires of a vehicle wear the quickest, especially in front wheel drive cars.  Each time the steering wheel is turned, the tire receives extra wear.  Turning the wheel causes resistance, and the end product is heat, which is a real contributing factor to tire wear.  As each individual vehicle is different, refer to your owner's manual for instructions on tire rotation.  Although the average do it yourselfer can rotate the tires on their car, the task should be handled in a way that is safe to you.  Never rely on tire jacks that come with your vehicle to do this operation.  Always use jack stands and never trust the jack.

Front end alignment is also highly recommended to reduce tire wear and handling.  Simply put, tire alignment means that the tires are parallel to one another, and that they are perpendicular to the ground.  This is not a task for the average mechanic.  Sophisticated equipment is used to determine the correct alignment for each vehicle.

All tires have wear indicators built into them.  Inspecting these small bumps or nubs gives a good indication as to when the tire needs to be replaced.  They are located throughout the tread pattern, and especially on the ridge where tire tread meets the sidewall.  If you spot this wear indicator, compare it to the height of the tread surrounding it.  If the tread is of equal height as the wear indicator, it is time to purchase new tires.

Following a few simple guidelines will pay for itself in both cost of tire replacement and your own personal safety.  Keep tire pressure correct, rotate tires on a regular basis, keep the front end aligned properly, and do a visual check of your vehicle's tires.  Doing so can save you a lot of grief down the road.

Alden Smith is an award winning author and regular contributor to DoItYourself.com. He writes on a variety of subjects, and excels in research.

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