Q: Restoration Guide
I want to start restoring my car but wonder if I am going to pay too much to have someone restore my Firebird. I am also worried I will not be able to find someone who knows anything about the detailing for my Firebird.
A: There are various levels of a ‘restoration’ and a project should be separated based on your budget.
These days, the rare, hi-performance, low-production cars restored by a big-name restoration shop usually command more on the resale market not only for the quality of detail but for the ‘name’ of the shop.
Body Work The amazing thing is, one can still achieve ‘concours’ level quality without sending the entire car along with a big blank check to one of the famous resto shops. The major body work and paint are the key items that usually should be done by someone who does this stuff everyday and has the proper tools, tricks and experience. Experience comes from practice and mistakes; better to pay someone who has ‘been there’ than to try and gain this ‘experience’ yourself on one car.
Paint/Detailing With the major body work and paint out of the way, the rest comes down to research & detailing (other than the drivetrain which is still basic tear-down and rebuild). Body & Paint is an ‘art’. Performance tricks can also be an art. Detailing is essentially about research. Paying for only the body & paint work can save you thousands of dollars. Some major shops will only do the entire project which is where they make a significant portion of the profit. Sending the stripped-down ‘shell’ to a shop with only the body panels (unbolted) will save you a few bucks as well.
Reassembly Personally, I find the ‘reassembly phase’ to be the most interesting. Researching and sleuthing for info and parts will help you become knowledgeable about your car. Collect plenty of photos from car shows, old road article photos, resto books/guides. Ask alot of questions. Talk to the resto gurus at shows- most will share secrets & tips. Also talk with the ‘little guy’ at shows who does his own work. I’ve met several who’ve been in the hobby longer than many of these resto gurus. What is correct comes down to how much research you do. Just because a shop charges $20-$50k to restore a car does not always guarantee that every detail will be correct. Most importantly, whenever you are fortunate enough to come across an Unrestored Original car…. take ROLLS of pictures ! Originality is more valuable than anything including the advice of so-called ‘pros’.
Everyone has different opinions on what is Show, Restored & Concours. You can have Concours Paint with major inconsistencies in the detailing. Same thing vice-versa.
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Content last modified: January 19, 2014 at 6:46 pm