If you find yourself reminiscing those drive-bys along the Alpine Loop with your old man by looking at his old car sitting in the garage, or looking into buying an old classic car off a pawnshop in Salt Lake City, the next thing on your mind is probably the restoration costs.
There are a few things that you need to consider – your capabilities, time, and budget. However, depending on your skills or technical aptitude, there are things that you can do by yourself and those that would need expert hands. Restoring a car can require several stages and processes, and most of them are readily offered services like paint jobs and sandblasting in Utah, California, or New York.
Know your car
A total spend varies on the level of restoration needed. You should first make a checklist of parts and functions that needs repair. Check for the engine (do this first), the upholstery, the wirings, the body and frame, and the chassis. Take time to research on the car model, and if the manual is missing, try to check it online. You can consult a mechanic and choose those who have worked on similar cars and its restoration before.
Depending on the assessment, you’d have to take down everything and start blasting off rust, clean and re-plate bolts and nuts, and strip and re-apply chrome where needed. This process can already cost you up to $15,000.
Once you have identified the missing parts or decided on replacing them, you can start calling out salvage shops for possible replacements. Depending on your car model, you may need to visit one and bring the part you need replacing if the original part is no longer available on their end. This way, they can find similar parts from their inventory that can work just the same. Also, keep in mind that some shops may need to outsource your required parts and they may charge a markup fee.
You can also try finding parts online. This is a good way of finding other car owners that sell parts or need one and widens your search outside your area. Depending on the part and the rarity of it, the cost will vary. An older classic car model like Camaro or Mustang may have parts that can cost up to $10,000.
Car restoration costs can only go as low as the labor costs, so try to do most of it yourself as you possibly can. Explore and maximize your networks – check with friends with backgrounds relevant to the job, and if you’re lucky, you can get them involved with the project pro bono.
Most shops charge $75 per hour, and specialty shops may charge more. Paint jobs may require additional labor per process and may even get a subcontractor for the cleaning or chrome plating. Some specialty or restoration shops offer payment flexibility after you accept their quote based on the work needed. Everything that they need to do is made known to you and may need your permission since you pay the parts as they get them plus the installation whenever it’s done.
You may have an idea of the cost if you have seen at least one episode of MTV’s Pimp My Ride, and the average cost of a full restoration from one shop is around $40,000 – $60,000. Again, it all depends on your decision to be part of the process to save money, or watch it and wait to enjoy the completed project.