Your Comprehensive Guide on Classic Car Restoration

Cars have been a major part of our lives that we forget they have been around for over 150 years. While we cannot imagine our lives in Granite City, IL without one, but its important to take a step back and look at the challenges and drawbacks of the technology in the past. Cars have not always been the reliable and efficient transportation we have today. This is perhaps the reason why car enthusiasts are drawn to classic car restoration, the personality that classic cars bring to society today.

Restoration Vs Preservation

Car Restoration is the act of repairing, painting, and replacing certain parts of an older car in order to bring it back to a pre-sale condition. This means that they look a lot like the original but have the performance level of a new vehicle. Car Preservation is the act of carefully maintaining a vehicle throughout the years so that it remains good as new.

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Types of Restoration

Restoration began as early as the 1930s and 1940s but gained momentum at the end of World War II. As a result, most factories that formerly produced machines, are now producing more street-friendly parts and increasing the popularity and demand for cars. Car -enthusiasts started replacing car engines from vintage cars with more powerful counterparts salvaged from the war machines.

With the growth of an audience for classic cars, the value of those cars on the market increased as well. They would buy damaged classic cars, restore them, and then sell them to wealthy individuals. People were ready to pay a fortune to acquire a historical vehicle. As a result, the market and the demand grew for such vehicles. Many turned to use contemporary parts to replace those that were more difficult to find.  This created a ‘class’ in the community of those who would go to great lengths to restore the vehicle to its original parts and those who would not.

4 Stages of Classic Car Restoration

  • Concours d’Elegance – This is the highest honor given to a restored vehicle. The term is usually used for vehicles that have been meticulously restored, keeping the original build of the car in mind. The restoration process of a car usually involves a lot of work, time, and money in order to achieve the best results.
  • Traditional – This is the process of restoring a vehicle to the original state it was intended to have when the vehicle was manufactured. Using modern parts to replace old or failing parts is appropriate, but whenever possible, original parts should be acquired. Some can choose to restore the vehicle with modern parts, some with traditional parts, or a mix of both depending on what they find most appealing.
  • Resto- Modification – Resto-modification essentially refers to the art of restoring an older vehicle to its original state by utilizing modern parts, but still allowing the car to return to its original parts. Most changes are quality-of-life upgrades like air conditioning, power steering, power windows, and stereo system. Some can also be performance upgrades, like engine, suspension, and brakes with modern ones.
  • Exterior Preservation – The wear and tear that accumulates on the exterior of the car due to its age is believed by many to add personality. Some will leave the car as-is and focus more on making the interior and performance upgrades.
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Restoration Process

The whole restoration process can be quite expensive and time-consuming. You must take the proper care before deciding to undertake the task. If you feel you are up to the task here are some helpful pointers to keep in mind:


What is your motive behind the restoration process, do you want it for personal use or to sell it for auction at a profit? Will you be taking it to rallies or will this be for sentimental and historical value? These are important questions you will need to determine before starting the process.


Choosing a suitable vehicle is the next step in the process, not all classic cars have equal value. Depending on if you will restore the vehicle for personal use or commercial value will greatly differ on how you approach the restoration process.


You will need to set a budget for how much you will want to spend on the restoration. Researching your project beforehand to find the availability and cost of products will save you money and help you keep to your budget goals better than finding your favorite car and developing a budget around that.


The build of a modern car is much different than the build of a classic car. Having knowledge of modern cars will not translate to the knowledge of classic cars, so before getting started you will need to do some research. There are a lot of tools and books available to guide you through the process but there is no replacement for field experience. Getting in touch with an experienced restorer that can guide you through the process is highly recommended.

Time and Space

This is a lengthy process and requires a lot of time and effort. Making sure you have plenty of time and space before you take on the project is important. Restoration can take anywhere from a couple of months to over a year depending on the make and condition of the vehicle.

Before undertaking such a large undertaking, one should keep these important points in mind. It is completely understandable that there are plenty of factors involved and that such projects can seem quite overwhelming for a beginner, but once you start planning your activities, you will find them extremely fun and fulfilling. For any questions or assistance give us at Holtz Automotive a call today!

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