Contributed by Info Guru David Galassi
Top ten things you need to consider when restoring an old car?
The fact that this sleek 1936 LaSalle was in your uncle’s barn for 60 years does not make it a priceless gem? The current condition and amount of time and better yet money to restore such a beauty may influence you decision to move forward.
Will you do the work yourself? Will you have it done? Here are a few questions you must ask yourself in order to decide.
Look at the body. Is it too far gone to repair? Too rusted? Must fenders by replaced? Is the hood dented so badly that it cannot be fixed? Do the door panels look straight? The body work alone can make or break you decision.
9. Availability of parts
Availability of OEM parts. Most very old cars leave the parts search as a labor of love. Most body parts are not available and one must consider buying a parts car or two if available. This is time consuming and very costly.
8. Power train
The engine and transmission along with the rear end must be looked at closely by a mechanic with older car knowledge. Most gaskets can be fabricated and some components can be rebuilt. Carbs and brakes can be retro fit but if you are looking for all original restoration this again get problematic.
Is the frame rusted through? Is it bent? If so can it be straightened? Are engine and transmission mounts intact. Are the floor boards rusted through? A bad frame can break the deal. A full body off restoration should have you sandblasting and weld repairing the frame along with new paint and alignment protocols.
Instrument clusters, gauges and specific instruments can be a restoration nightmare. You may have to send a self-winding clock to a clock-works for repair. A speedo needle that is broken might have to be made. Oil senders and windshield wiper knob, that are missing will have to be obtained somewhere. Most older cars with metal dash boards will require complete removal, refinishing and painting before the re-installation.
5. Electrical wiring
Older cars do not have the complex computer wire looms as in today’s cars. Six and 12 volt systems had relatively simple wire specs and a rewire may not require any special parts. Special knowledge will however be required if starting from scratch to correctly wire all ignition, charging and lighting circuits.
The mainstay of most old cars, the chrome will be key to a great restoration. Most chrome parts can be sent out for refinishing as long as they are not rusted through. For minor rust issues you can find auto rust solutions through removal and refinishing. Bumpers, grills, trims, handles, mirrors and hub caps can look like new when re-plated.
Glass is a big issue when a restoration project runs into missing glass components. Door glass, front and rear windows and vent glass can be costly to have made. Older glass was not tinted or laminated. Most older glass was clear and not of a current thickness making door glass impossible to fit in old regulators and tracks. The good news is most older glass was flat. You may have to replace it all with custom cut glass so all finishes match.
2. Gaskets and rubber
Attempting to match window rubber gaskets, fender welting, door seal piping and the similar items may not be as difficult as it may look. Modern manufacturers can custom make most any rubber or plastic element in the restoration process. But be prepared to spend those extra bucks for that small rubber gasket that separates the door mounted mirror stem to the door and similar one-of-a kind items.
Today’s auto upholstery experts can custom make and retro fit most anything. Seats, headliners, rumble seats and door panels can all be custom fabricated. Interior parts for makes like Ford, Chevy and others can often be found online. Matching the old pin stripe mohair and piping might be an issue but a suitable and compatible equal will be available.