If you are a car guy or gal I bet you have met someone who has said that to you.
Usually the person wants to do a “father son or daughter project or a mother son or daughter project”. They have some automotive skills and have a genuine interest in making an old car GREAT.
Unfortunately most of these projects seldom get finished. Just check the craigslist ads and see all the half started projects.
Here’s why they go unfinished
The old saying “you bit off more than you can chew” has never been truer.
The selection of the vehicle to restore is paramount. Too often the amatuer restorer starts with something cheap. A 4 door Rambler, a rust bucket 1959 Ford or worse yet something European such as a Renault or Fiat because they got it cheap (there’s a reason these cars are cheap!).
Nearly all the above examples will not only be difficult and expensive but will also be a money pit with a finished value that is a fraction of the restoration cost.
I recently had some one stop by the garage and said he wanted a 1960’s pickup for himself and his son to restore. I have a Ford unibody and also a 1976 Chevy C20. Both are waiting for some magic at some point.
I decided to write this article to explain what ( IMHO ) is the best choice of action when introducing your son or daughter to a restoration project. …KEEP IT SIMPLE!
Keep it simple
In this case, and in the case of any first timer, the vehicle selection should be a COMPLETE Chevy square body pickup. By complete I mean get a pickup with all the parts there. If it has Air Conditioning make sure everything is present under the hood. Make sure all the switches and accessories are present. It is not as important if the accessories work but that they are there and have not been removed. That way you can either use those parts, refurbish those parts or buy now ones but at least you have the correct part to start with.
Check the floors and cab mounts for rust. Rust can be a problem and fender rust is common but fenders are easy and cheap to replace. The fact is there are no vehicles with greater inexpensive parts, and tremendous parts availability, than a Chevy square body. The years range from 1973 to 1980’s. Fenders, hoods and door are all made in the aftermarket and are cheap to buy. Every part for these trucks are available new and nearly every salvage yard in America has a dozen in the back row.
There are uncountable aftermarket wheels and performance parts available and the skill level to turn out a decent end product is minimal. Combine that with the fact that you will require a modest tool selection…no expensive tools needed AND there are 1000’s of articles and owner groups online. Lastly if you get part way through and decide to abandon the project you have something that is marketable.
Keep it simple and make your first resto project a vehicle you have the best chance to succeed with.
Go forth and make it shine!
Ps. If you have doubts about the vehicle you are thinking about buying either take a car buddy friend or hire a car person to look it over for you. If you start out with a good truck you have a much higher chance of turning out a nice pickup in the end!
Always Another Mile—Always Another Story
psst, hey buddy wanna buy a car
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