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Building Up Baby: Tips for Bringing a Vintage Car Back to Life

It has always been your dream to own a vintage car and to breathe the spark of life back into it. There is something to be said about putting in the hours to make it happen too. Whether you are a closet grease monkey, obsessed vintage car romantic, or new to the hobby of restoring old cars, there are a few issues that must be addressed to make your vintage ride look and perform great again.

Make the Car Run

When restoring a car, it is not really all that impressive if you never get to hear the roar of a mighty engine. From the starter assembly to the pistons, you must inspect, replace, and repair any faulty component preventing the car from starting. However, getting the engine to fire is only half the battle.

You’ll also have to get your car to move. The wheels, breaks, axles, and steering mechanism also must be inspected to make sure everything is functioning within acceptable parameters. To determine if your car is being restored to authentic specs, you may need to involve a professional or do some research on the particular model of car you are trying to bring back to life.

Removing Rust

Generally, if a vintage car has been sitting out in the elements for a while, it is going to acquire some rust by the time you get your hands on it. Rust repair can be somewhat involving, but it is often a necessary step to giving your car a new appearance. You may need to take off one or more of the steel chassis panels.

If they are not too badly rusted, you will need to sand blast them. If they cannot be cleaned up and repaired, you may have to go searching for after-market replacements. With some vintage cars, it may be next to impossible to find replacement panels. If this is the situation, you may have to be creative and create your own panels.

A New Paint Job

After getting your vintage ride operational and cleaning up the rust, the next thing to consider is getting a fresh coat of paint on your car. Though the color of a car that looks best is somewhat subjective, it is often a good idea to look at versions of your car in various colors to get some perspective. Before spending a wad of cash on a color you will regret, make sure that the color you choose really fits the look you are trying to achieve.

Visiting The Car Salvage Yard

Often, if you are looking for an authentic part to an old vintage model car, it may be necessary to take a trip to the local car salvage yards in Edmonton or around your area. From classic fenders to authentic hub caps, old car parts can be a pricey commodity.

Studebaker Golden

The Studebaker Golden Hawk is the perfect car for a restorer. Creative Commons image by Rex Gray.

Sometimes you can get lucky and find all kinds of discounted replacement parts that will work perfectly in your restoration efforts. According to General Recycling Industries Ltd, many vintage parts can be found in recycling yards as well. Other times, you may need to look around or search the Internet for what you are looking for.

Be prepared to do a lot of haggling and searching–especially if the vintage car you are restoring is rare. In a pinch, you can save money getting the parts you need by bartering for parts on Craigslist. It is okay to be creative to acquire the parts you need.

Though restoring a vintage car can be loads of fun, this is a project that can take a long time. Just finding the parts you need is half the adventure. But if you are patient, putting in the necessary hours to complete the job, you can take pride in the fact that you will eventually have a really cool ride to show off around your neighborhood.

Brooke Chaplan
Brooke Chaplan is a freelance writer and blogger. She lives and works out of her home in Los Lunas, New Mexico. She loves the outdoors and spends most her time hiking, biking and gardening. For more information contact Brooke via Twitter @BrookeChaplan.

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