4 Auto Restoration Mistakes To Avoid With Older Vehicles

Isaiah Chambers

Restoring older vehicles can be a wonderful hobby, but there are also a lot of mistakes that can be made during the process. A well-restored vehicle can be extremely valuable, whereas a poorly restored vehicle could actually lose value. 

1. Failing to Restore the Vehicle's Actual Height

The height of a vehicle can dramatically change its appearance and give an inauthentic feel to even a fairly authentic restoration. Preferences for vehicle heights have changed significantly throughout the years, leading to many vehicles being lifted or dropped. Other issues, such as old springs and wheels, can also alter the height of the vehicle. When trying for an authentic restoration, it's best to find out exactly how many inches the chassis originally was from the ground.

2. Not Properly Sourcing Parts

The best way to find a vintage part is to locate another vehicle of that exact model and to take the part from that vehicle. While you can order parts from catalogs, there's a likelihood you'll get the wrong one. Many parts catalogs from decades past are not accurate and the manufacturers may have changed numbers since then. So even if you're ordering the accurate number in 1965, it's not the accurate number now -- it's just usable. Instead, you can look for salvaged parts locally or online. 

3. Replacing Too Much

If a panel is dented in, it's better to pull the dent out and repair as necessary than to replace the panel entirely. Anyone can build a new car out of new parts; the goal with a restoration should be to reclaim the vehicle, rather than rebuild it. Further, new panels may not be exactly right, thereby throwing off the vehicle's appearance and potentially making the vehicle's lines incorrect. If you do need to replace items, you should source original parts, as noted above. 

4. Getting the Wrong Paint

The paint color of a vehicle will often determine exactly how accurate it appears. Certain hues were simply more popular during specific time periods; most people can see an aqua blue or light brown and think the 1970s. Consequently, hobbyists need to pay attention to exactly what colors a vehicle came in. Many skilled auto shops will be able to look at the original paint color and color match it. This is often more accurate than ordering from the manufacturer, as the manufacturer will be offering paint that they have now rather than back then.

When you're doubtful about a particular restoration, it's usually best not to do it at all. Either ask for expert advice or leave it alone! Most restoration efforts today focus on keeping as much of an original item as possible, rather than trying to artificially create the appearance of a like-new vehicle. Contact a company like Carriage House Automotive Restorations for more information.