What’s the most important initial step in restoring a classic? Is it choosing the make and model or deciding on how you want it to look? There’s no doubt that these are important, but one process can make or break your entire project: the inspection. Let’s find out how to get it right.
Every aspect of inspecting a classic car requires a keen eye for details. Not only will you need to take note of more prominent forms of damage such as major dents, scratches, and breaks, you’ll need to closely examine other elements that will help you determine the value of the vehicle. It’s a good idea, for instance, to ascertain whether body filler has been used in the past and how much has been applied. Take a look at the seams between fenders and doors or trunks to see whether or not they align cleanly. Watch out for mismatching body panel colour and signs of recent repainting. The latter in particular could be obscuring significant rust damage.
As for the interior, it’s wise to look for more than just basic damage to upholstery, carpeting, the dashboard, and other prominent areas. One detail often overlooked is the degree of wear on the accelerator, brake, and clutch pedals. Smell the interior to determine the presence of moisture problems, and don’t forget to inspect the functionality of the window mechanisms and seating adjustments. The frame, wheel wells, and underbody should be top priorities as well. Rust is almost a given with old classics, so use a bright flashlight to determine the full extent of this. While you’re down there, watch for signs of previous structural damage and straightening.
Always establish a comprehensive picture of the car’s condition on a mechanical and electrical level, including the engine, powertrain, suspension, exhaust, bulbs, wipers, and more. Electrical problems are often due to bad grounds from corrosion or other issues. If the vehicle starts, run it for awhile and be attentive of noises or smells that would indicate fluid leaks or mechanical issues, and remember that white or blue smoke from the exhaust is a key warning sign of engine problems. If it’s possible, a test drive can be instrumental in your assessment. The more detailed your inspection, the more negotiation power you’ll have before committing.
For a list of recommended shops that can help you with your restoration, take a look at our links section. Don’t forget that when working on your project at home, a high-quality and well cared for vehicle lift can be one of your greatest assets. Call us at (403) 283-1020 to find the right one!
4216 12 Street NE
Canada, T2E 6K9
Toll Free 1-866-610-5464
Phone (403) 283-1020
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