Answers To The Most Common Questions When Beginning To Restore A Vehicle

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Classic Restoration Enterprises Answers The Most Common Questions In The Restoration Process

As sales continue to rise in the restoration industry, more than $449 million was spent in 2005 according to SEMA research, more and more people are beginning to restore those classics they always dreamed of. But, restoring a classic is no easy task and most people have questions lots of questions. Getting answers to those questions, as well as, understanding how a proper restoration is done will make life easier and the process much more enjoyable. A proper restoration is not an inexpensive proposition and the goal is not only to get the car of your dreams but that you will never have to have that automobile restored again.

Melvin Benzaquen of Classic Restoration Enterprises has been answering these questions for years and below has outlined some of the basics to help anyone in need.

Is there a way to look at my car and tell how much damage it has?

Not really. Even if two vehicles come off the assembly line at the same time on the same day, each one will age differently. How a vehicle ages depends on a variety of factors from where it was stored, to the climate in the region, to how it has been kept up. You will never really know until you start dismantling it and find out the truth.

Do I have to do a whole vehicle restoration at once?

No, you can choose to do just one aspect of the process, like a mechanical restoration and then move on to other aspects, as you get additional funding. You can, also, work with your shop to determine what your budget can afford and how you can maximize your dollars best.

Will my vehicle be worth more than how much I spend?

One of the most common mistakes people make is valuing a restoration against the value of the vehicle. The simple truth is that there are very few automobiles on this planet that can have the proper restoration performed and then sell for a profit. Simply put, restoring a car is not a sound financial decision. Having said that, the restoration hobby is moving ahead in leaps and bounds, so there must be a driving force behind this.

Is the quote I get an exact price, if not why?

A restoration shop should be able to give you a “ballpark” estimate based on their past experiences with your model of car. This is, however, an educated guess. There are a whole host of problems that could be lurking under the paint. You probably won’t be able to get an accurate price quote until the vehicle is ready for paint.

How much does the shop I choose really matter?

The outcome of the restoration is totally dependent upon the skills of the shop. While it can be a daunting process, once you have knowledge of the process, it will make choosing the right shop an easier process.

How do I choose the right shop for my restoration?

The first thing is to find a shop with a good reputation. Go to car shows, check out people’s cars and ask what their experience was like. If you like the vehicle and the work that has been done and the owner reports a good experience, then that shop may be a good candidate for you to check out. Also, try reading restoration industry specific publications for recommendations.

What’s the difference between a collision shop, a restoration shop and a body shop?

The collision shop has the “in and out” mentality. A collision shop makes its money by doing as much work it can in the shortest amount of time by utilizing shortcuts.

A good restoration shop, on the other hand, will take the time, care and precision to make sure each item is corrected properly and done to the exact specifications.

A body shop/man will struggle with the collision mentality to hurry up and get the job out and wanting to take his time on the restoration, causing a non-stable environment for your vehicle. A body shop “restoration” is usually done more like a collision shop. That is not what you want for your hard earned dollars.

Why is there a deposit and how much will it be?

The reason you give a deposit up front is not only to secure your date and job but also, to keep the job at top of mind for both the shop and the owner. It is not a good idea to give deposits that are more then a $1,000.00, when making your appointment. A fair amount of shops get into trouble by taking large deposits and then spending it elsewhere.

Now that I have chosen a shop, what do I do?

Call the shop and speak with the owner or shop manager. You should be able to get a feeling whether or not you will be able to get along with the shop and if they are knowledgeable about the process. Ask how long they have been in business. Ask if they also do collision work on modern cars or is restoration their main business? This is an especially important point. If the shop is within driving distance, go and visit the shop. Do the workers look happy and motivated or do they look like they are in a labor camp? Is the shop reasonably clean and organized? Does the owner or manager know what is going on with every project without having to refer to a file? These are important items to consider. Then pay your deposit, make the final arrangements and sign the papers.

What are the steps in the restoration process? How does the process work?

1.    Take the vehicle apart:

  •     Removal of the exterior trim and strip the paint to the bare metal
  •     Remove the interior
  •     Removal of bolt on body panels and body from chassis
  •     Removal of the motor and transmission and disassembly of the chassis
  •     Cut out rust, fabricate new pieces or obtain replacement pieces, weld in place
  •     Access the body for dents and waves, fix appropriately
  •     Application of a light skim coat of filler to body, smooth out any minor inconsistencies
  •     Sand down the filler and prime with metal etch primer
  •     Add epoxy primer and the “guide coat”
  •     Paint all the edges of the body in the color the car will be painted
  •     Strip the chassis, primer and paint with chassis black paint
  •     Assemble and attach components to chassis
  •     Install the motor, transmission, body back onto the chassis
  •     Assemble the body panels and attach all remaining parts to the body
  •     Paint, wet sand and buff vehicle
  •     Reassemble exterior trim, install interior
  •     Drive and “debug” vehicle

How long will the process take?

There’s no way to let you know exactly how long it will take before the work begins. What you can get is an educated guess, as well as updates through out the process to let you know how it’s going and keep you informed on a realistic expected completion date.

About Classic Restoration Enterprises, Inc.

Located just 60 minutes outside of New York City, in Pine Island, NY, Classic Restoration Enterprises Inc., have the experience and expertise to restore and/or modify your vehicle. After all, their company philosophy is “Do it the right way” and that’s how they approach every project, offering lifetime guarantees on their work. Classic Restorations specializes in total restorations, modifications and suspension or drivetrain upgrades for wide range of vehicles. Free nationwide pick up and delivery, as well as ballpark quotes are available on most jobs. No job is too small or too large. For more information or to get your next project started, log on to http://www.classicresto.com or contact Melvin Benzaquen at (845) 258-2050

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Nicole Girkey
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