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How much money to restore an old car?


old car

How much money to restore an old car? Restore a car from junk to brand new can cost a lot of money, sometimes it can cost more than a brand new car. Okay, do not laugh. It is true because some antique cars or classic car parts no longer in production and extra money are needed in order to restore the car to its original condition. Generally, no one can actually tell the exact cost to restore an old car. However, here are some of the factors and question you can ask to roughly know the how much money is needed to restore an old car, classic car, or antique car to its perfect condition.

Body Condition

Car body may be one of the most expensive to restore depending on the car body condition. If an old car is left without any care for long under hot sun and cold rain, the car body basically requires a major repair. This will usually cost $2000 to $7000 if the car frame is still in good condition. We do not recommend buying any cars with bad condition car frame. This is because the cost to restore only the car frame could cost up to $30,000 depends on the car model. Buying the material to rebuild the car body is one cost, and the labour cost to weld the body is another cost. Keep in mind that you will have to prepare more money to rebuild the body if you pickup a bad condition car from junk yard. Every rust on the body has to be fixed, minimum rust on a car require less money and the more rust it is, the higher price to pay for. Therefore, choose a car with minimum rust! Car condition like the image shown above will definitely cost a lot more than you can imagine to fully restore it.

Paint Job

Once the body has been repaired, here comes the paint job. A normal paint may cost few hundred bucks. Better paint like metallic 2k or pearl will up to few thousands. Small car usually uses less paint (measure in liter) and bigger car tends to use more paint. Again, the cost to buy the paint is one thing, the labour cost to paint the car is another thing. The restoration could be cheaper if you paint the car yourself. Paint a car using a rotisserie frame can give you the best paint job and the car paint will also last longer. See how to build a car rotisserie if you want to DIY.

Car Engine

Well, when Karl Benz designed and invented the first petrol-powered engine, he tells the world to go for quality. Most of the car engine can be rebuilt no matter how long it has been left there. Take the classic Mini engine for an example. The 1959 engine block and housing is still in good condition although it has been running for more than half a decade. Therefore, if you buy an old car with its original engine, it can be rebuilt. There are five options where you can handle the engine:

  1. Bring it to a trusted shop and have them give you a quote to rebuild the engine.
  2. Remove the engine yourself and bring the engine to any engine specialist shop and have them rebuild for you. Once it is done, bring it back and install the engine to the car yourself. This method can save you the cost to remove and install the engine to the car.
  3. You may decide to change the engine (either same engine or different engine but able to fit into your car) if the engine is too bad, for example, water go into the block, engine is jammed, or it is totally unable to crank.
  4. There are also many alternative engine that built by some specialist available for sales at good price if you are restoring a muscle car.

The general cost to rebuild an engine will be the gasket, all kind of seals, belt, chain, engine oil, piston ring, and among others. The best way to restore an old car is to build the original engine with matching engine number.

Car Parts

One of the most headache things that often will happen when restoring an old car is car parts. If some of the car parts need a replacement and you couldn’t find it from any stores in your town, you may have to go to the main dealer or even the manufacturer. If they no longer have it, you may need to look for replacement from any kind of cars. This will often cost extra if you modified parts from other cars to fit your own car. Parts like door handle, steering wheel, and gear knob are easy things to look for alternative and modify it to fit your car if you are not so serious to restore the car to its original condition. Brake system, clutch system (for manual transmission car), and automatic transmission system are some of the parts that hardly find for rare car model.

Car Interior

If a car requires a restore, the interior is usually worn out. Car interior is just like house interior. You can use the cheapest way to make the nicest look. It is pretty much depends on what the owner wants. Interior restore usually include car seats restoration, dashboard, carpets, floor mats, and some accessories like stereo. You can either buy a new set of car seats or bring the seat to any leather shop to do the upholstery job for you. Leather is the most expensive for car seat but you can go for PVC for cheaper option. Keep in mind the money you spend will usually much more than what it is worth when the restoration done. What you earned will be the satisfaction and the enjoyment to drive the car.

In conclusion, at least $30,000 to $50,000 is needed if you would like to restore an old car perfectly for car body, paint job, car engine, car parts, and interior. If the car you pickup aren’t in so bad condition, it may cost $10,000 to $30,000 for a full restoration. No one wants to spend lots of effort and money to restore a car that couldn’t go far. If you would to restore a car, do a good job but not just restore the cosmetic look. Restore an old car requires a lot of time, energy, and off course money. Be prepared to restore a car that can at least go more than 100,000 miles. How much effort is needed to rebuild or restore an old car is what you need to consider too rather than roughly calculate how much money to restore an old car.


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