Did you know there are 5 million collector cars in the United States owned mostly by Baby Boomers? The median age of collector car owners is around 56 years old.

Are you interested in joining that group of collectors? Do you have a car in mind that you would like to purchase and restore from scratch?

Vehicle restoration, as you already know, isn’t a joke. It requires a lot of work, patience, and determination to get through. If you are ready for the challenge, look through some of the tips we have shared below so you can start on the right foot.

1. Search for Your Project Car First

Vehicle Restoration tips

You probably have a project car in mind already, which is why you are online researching vehicle restoration in the first place. But finding your perfect classic vehicle to restore isn’t an easy task.

Don’t fall in love with and buy a complete lemon that doesn’t even run and think that you will be able to make it run through sheer willpower and a big budget. Some classic cars are so beaten up that it’s better to stay away from them and buy a project car that at least runs.

If there’s too much rust on the car, it’s going to be hard to restore it, so stay away from such a car or classic van. And keep in mind to avoid any cars with damage to the frame. Even insurance companies consider these cars to be a write-off, so who are you to argue with the big guys?

Once you find your project car, negotiate hard. Do not believe what the sellers tell you about the price and worthiness of the project car. You don’t want to spend more than necessary to purchase your project car.

2. Build a Budget and Timeline for Yourself and Stick to It

You are highly enthusiastic about your vehicle restoration project. But that doesn’t mean that you should get crazy or unreasonable about your budget, spending hundreds of dollars on this project unnecessarily.

Build a budget and timeline from the get-go. You can go 10-20% over this allocated budget and timeline, but not much more than that.

3. Try to Buy Used Parts and Tools Whenever Possible

Save money by buying used parts and tools whenever you need them.

There’s no need to go splurging on new tools or parts, especially since this might be your first and last car restoration job.

Many online stores will offer discounts on certain days or will send out special deals to their email subscribers, so make sure to keep an eye on that. If you are close to a particular holiday, like Thanksgiving or Christmas, then wait to get some good deals on your tools and parts.

A bit of patience and research will reap gold, so don’t discount this extra work. For example, you can find great deals on propex heaters if you know where to look.

4. Ensure You Keep a Record of Your Work on Video


You are undertaking a big job when you restore a collector or vintage car and make it look new again. This might be a once-in-a-lifetime deal for you.

That’s why you will want to keep records of everything you do by having someone videotape the project. You could even take pictures every day of what you do and how your restored car looks.

Seeing progress over time can be highly motivating and inspiring. And who knows? You might be able to show the pictures to your grandchildren one day and inspire them to take on a vehicle restoration job as well.

5. Sell All Old or Unused Parts to Make Cash

Another way you can make some additional cash for yourself and your ongoing project is by selling everything you don’t need or use. This could be old parts that you are tearing out of the car or anything you bought but didn’t end up using.

You can use this extra cash to enhance your collector car even more.

6. Go to an Expert for Some of the Tasks You Can’t Do Yourself

You will need an expert for certain tasks while doing a van restoration. For example, you might be unable to do a professional paint job on the van. Or you might need help with some of the plumbing if you are setting up a bathroom inside the van.

Whatever the task might be, don’t feel disheartened if you have to get an expert’s help to get them checked off. It’s still your project.

7. Give Yourself a Break From Your Project Once in a While

Don’t get burnt out while restoring your car. If you are doing a car restoration job, while working full-time, then you could push yourself too much.

Try to take it easy throughout the restoration job. Remember, this is a marathon, not a sprint.

8. Congratulate Yourself on Each Step of the Car Restoration

Car Restoration

Woohoo! Every time you finish a step of the car restoration project, give yourself a pat on the back. This is a big project you have taken on, so you should celebrate whenever you hit a big or small milestone.

Ready to Start Your Vehicle Restoration Project?

Now that you know all the pitfalls you can make on your vehicle restoration job, you are ready to start this journey. Before you know it, you’ll be driving down the road in style (and safety) thanks to your handiwork.

Don’t forget to check out related articles on our website, if you want to keep learning about cars and other DIY projects.