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What makes a great Buick Regal restoration

By Catalogs Editorial Staff

Try these great ideas for restoring your Buick Regal

Try these great ideas for restoring your Buick Regal

What makes a great Buick Regal restoration? It depends on your ambition, time, and budget. For some, cleaning up the interior is a worthy goal, while for others, a “frame off” restoration is the ultimate ideal. Economics, too, must play into the decision.

While a large amount of money might be poured into restoring a 1978 to 1987 G-Body Turbo Regal, in particular a 1987 GNX, less desirable models demand a more modest budget. You don’t want to put $15,000 into a car that then sells for only ten grand.

So, it’s back to choices. As with all things, it’s a matter of priorities and fixing those things that normally go wrong. Expert restorers say that door hinges, door handles, and key sets, including the ignition set, wear poorly with Regals. Check those pieces first and replace if needed with the proper Buick aftermarket parts.

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If you are using your Regal as a daily driver it probably doesn’t make sense to go with original parts. Instead, newly manufactured parts often offer better fit and reliability than the ones first installed at the factory. Today’s metallurgy and tooling are that much better. Keep all original parts, though, in case you decide to sell. The new owner might want to take the car back to original.


Aside from a well done paint job, an engine restoration is probably the most expensive item on any list. Why not  start modestly, instead, to see how you take to your project? Replacing the consumables: filters, batteries, and tires, rank high on the reliability factor and make good investments.

Other wear items, like carpet, seats, and kick panels, are good candidates for replacement on a modest budget. It might seem obvious, but fix anything that is broken, even if it doesn’t change the look of the car. Get that air conditioner fixed; there’s little point in a glamorous interior if you sweat to look at it.

Big rims and big tires are in style now but you should think twice about putting that look on your ride. Do you really want a classic car to have the fashion of today? Period correct rims and tires will look well proportioned.

Don’t overlook safety items. New lenses for your headlights and turn lights will make your restoration project more practical. Are their bulbs or lamps in good order? They dim over time. Make sure the license plate lights are working, as well as the interior lights. Little things make a big difference.

Once the simple or straightforward ideas are done, you’ll probably want to dive deeper. For that, you need a shop manual. You’ll be in a better position to know what you can do and what you’ll need a mechanic for. For example, early Regals were not fuel injected so you’ll need someone who can work on carburetors. That might be quite a search. One last thing.

Join an owners’ group. They’ll be a storehouse of ready advice, even though it may conflict at times. Still, you’re part of a tribe with a Regal and you should know your fellow members. They may just turn you on to a great local mechanic or turn up one day with that bolt you didn’t even know you needed.


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