Restoring a classic – An idea for the coming winter

ER Classics Desktop 2022

Find a forgotten classic and then restore it. That's a dream isn't it? Finding forgotten classics is not the problem. You can find them everywhere, although they are usually not Ferraris. You shouldn't want to restore a Ferrari, by the way.

But also restoring a Beetle or Kadett is more difficult than is often thought

Because what is being forgotten in this fast digital age is that restoration is an old-fashioned craft. A job that takes time, a lot of time. Not as entertaining as they show at Wheeler Dealers in half an hour. And these days, apparently, a lot of people don't have that time, or the stamina. That is why there are not only many forgotten classics to be found, within a radius of a kilometer or two I know a DAF, a VW Golf convertible, an unclear Japanese pickup, a desolate American Ford pickup and a Midget, but there are also quite a few some stranded projects.

Forgotten projects

These are usually tired or dusty classics that have once been started. There are often boxes with stuff, including new stuff. At some point, something like that gets in the way. Marriages break down. People die or get a job somewhere else. And then another owner will come and possibly finish the case. There is often still a field of tension that the seller dreams about and the interested party thinks about. But if the project has already led to great domestic dissatisfaction, the asking price is usually very soft.

And then the rebirth can begin

Technically, nothing is usually impossible. In recent years, the range of special tools that was previously only achievable for professionals has grown exultantly. Take a look at our advertisers. And if you get some sheet metal from the waste bin at the local metal trade or at a car damage repair company, you can learn to weld very nicely together with Youtube before you start on your classic.

It's just technology

Restoration is a traditional business. No higher math. Many people do not start something because they are afraid of it. But with a calm, systematic approach you always get out. Look at what you have, make a plan, make sure you have your things ready during the journey and that you are not delayed for two weeks because you have to wait for parts. Do not assume that everything you order is a perfect fit. A lot of reference sheet metal is not only of bad material, but also has poor dimensions. Smart buyers who ordered sheet metal parts digitally in India, the Philippines or China have deeply regretted this. You can also buy these items in the Netherlands and Belgium. With real people with real companies. And if something goes wrong – that is always possible – then you have a point of contact that is not thousands of kilometers away.

Oh yeah. Keeping the workplace clean and organized and neatly storing all used items after work is the best day-end of all time.

You determine the size of the challenge yourself

There is a company here in the Netherlands that has made a 100% pure replica of a Bugatti Royale from just a few parts. That required inhuman craftsmanship, unbridled dedication and tons of money. And there is a happy early retired civil servant driving around here who, while learning and calmly, has made a Ford Taunus 12 M very neat, but certainly not perfect. He beams: “I finally got a job!”

So now enjoy the good weather. But just think how much fun the coming winter can be if you have a restoration or refurbishment project. Now take a bite! Summer will be over in no time!


Leave a Reply
  1. Many good tips above indeed, keep the workplace tidy and tidy up all tools. Make sure you have enough bags (closeable from Lidl) and banana boxes. Another great tip if you are starting a restoration project;
    Especially in the current time with your mobile nearby, take pictures of everything when disassembling. You often know where what belongs, but if a project unexpectedly comes to a standstill for a while, such things also get forgotten. If anyone needs pictures of disassembling a 2CV, I'll hear it.

  2. Recognizable story. In 3 years I restored a 1969 Fiat Campagnola. Learn to weld, make gaskets, replace brake system, adjust carburetor, adjust ignition, spray, etc.
    All skills I taught myself.
    Now it's done and I enjoy every ride. Yet it itches again to start a job again. But yes, the garage must first be empty again.

  3. Nice article, I've been sweet intermittently restoring a cat back functionally for two years now with my son. What is bad is out and new in, ordered or molded yourself, just what is not for sale. It's great fun, but it's a matter of taking a long breath and setting dates in between when you want to have something ready, otherwise it will get bogged down. Hopefully in three weeks the paint on it.

  4. Great story again, starting is definitely half the battle!
    If anyone knows of a forgotten or stopped Cobra project (must be a V8 version), I'd love to hear it (! A long time ago I built a Dax with a 7 liter V8 which, apart from building it, unfortunately had too little fun “thanks to” a fire. Life then took a completely different turn so that there could be no question of a restart.
    So whoever knows what can do me and the given project a great favor!

  5. I myself have a Volvo Amazon and live in the Philippines, so almost everything in terms of sheet metal made myself.
    Not perfect but looks good and because there is nothing available here except record you learn quickly.
    Advantage plate is cheap so something may go wrong you just start over.
    And parts just through the Volvo club Netherlands
    And here you can just do it under your carport / open garage always good weather.

    Johan Geer

  6. Nice article. I read with a smile.
    Perhaps important for many (young) people to know: it gets your hands dirty. If that's what you're afraid of, go have some fun car racing through a game.
    Also very important. This hobby is cost effective. You learn so much from it that you have less and less expenses for your car at a garage. You save that hourly wage of €80 or more more and more often.
    And… you end up driving something that is really yours, something you know from at/mz. That provides extra fun. And then a problem with your car makes much less difference, because you can then repair it yourself.
    And, indeed, it is often a matter of having the courage to start. On my 20th I suddenly dared to grab a screwdriver and start tinkering with my Vespa and Lambretta scooters. Each time a step further to the deepest heart of the engine, the frame and later the body. If things go wrong in the beginning, don't worry, just buy a new screw. Screws are widely available. In a manner of speaking, of course.
    And another thing: you learn to think analytically better. Pretty handy in all areas.
    Two left hands? I think you can gradually change it to at least 1,5 right hand. A matter of will and perseverance.

    • That is inspiring text for young and old, and there is no age too high to embark on a new adventure. Also remember that traveling can be more fun and satisfying than arriving. So “it has to be ready by then” has little relevance in the world of leisure. Until your last able-bodied day, life is a fascinating journey of discovery. Well, for some anyway.

  7. Restoration is a flexible concept. For some, restoring means dismantling down to the last screw and then returning every part to factory-new condition, while others are satisfied when the classic can drive in an acceptable manner again. The time schedule can therefore vary from a few weekends of frantically tinkering to a project that takes many years. I already have experience with it.......

  8. I think stamina is also an important thing. Constantly navigating between what you would like to do and what is possible. Without destroying relationships and people around you. That can just make a smaller operation take many times longer than intended. If the end result is good.
    Don't put yourself under time pressure.
    Having to save for parts or tools can also stretch schedules considerably.
    Perfectionism too.
    Technically it MUST be good in the end. You have to drive it yourself.

  9. Yes, great story can also pick up some of those examples, cars that are standing, actually yes, put on the naughty shoes and collect some tools at Aldi, Action and start.
    Yes, find a shed or somewhere a container.
    Nice story and beautiful Fiat

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