Restoration of a vintage vehicle is, in my opinion, the ultimate hobby. What other pastime allows you to hone your practical skills of welding, painting, mechanical assembly while simultaneously developing vital life-skills of communication, organisation and the ability to overcome adversity?
The process of restoration is not one to be undertaken lightly. To produce a vehicle which you are proud of takes time, sweat, blood, (nearly) tears and most of your knuckles. There will be numerous ups and downs but, take it from me, the hard times are all forgotten about when the MoT gent gives you that certificate of passage on to Her Majesty’s highway.
First of all, the downs, those times in a restoration when all you want to do is lie back on the cold concrete floor and sell the wretched thing. With any British classic the biggest problem you will likely have to overcome is rust. Whether it be on the body or holding in that last fastener it is sure to produce some drastic ideas. But you must remember you aren’t alone, someone somewhere not too far away will have tackled the same issue and succeeded. What I tend to do is Google search the forums for images and instructions, there are always a few decent folk willing to point out the best course of action.
Money can also be an issue. Rebuilds will NEVER be cheap. If you think you will make money on your work please stop now and get the project up on eBay before you put it beyond the repair of another enthusiast. I have had to work 60 hour weeks to cover some of my costs but (again) it is worth it.
Injury. Yes, it happens to the best of us. With the best will in the world you will not always be wearing the appropriate PPE so take these things in your stride. Knuckles are the most common site of bloodshed but this is nearly unavoidable in my opinion unless you wear thick gloves.
Time. It can seem like you are pouring hours in with no visible results but in the last few weeks there will be more progress than you can believe. All those little jobs just seems to come together in a culmination of success and a feeling of a job well done when the garage door squeaks closed at night.
The ups are what you really need to focus on. The pure, unadulterated joy and satisfaction of knowing you’re driving a car YOU built, controlling hundreds of components that come together in a symphony of motion and oxide-free resplendence is the best feeling ever. Before that though there are the positives of the work itself…
Parts, yes, not the most exciting you may think, but it really is a joy to receive a delivery of shiny new bits that bolt straight into place with out stripping, painting or filing off.
The camaraderie of a rebuild among friends and new acquaintances is immeasurable. Proving the doubters wrong while also making those who believed in you proud is always going to feel great. Selling parts you don’t need to strangers off Gumtree is fun and a great way of meeting new people with whom you now share a hobby.
For me though, in all my work, there is one single event that stands out as the best part of any restoration. It is that switching of the ratchet from loosening to tightening. That single click which signifies a huge milestone. An audible turning point that means you’ve reached the point where disassembly is no longer the priority but rather it is assembly, building and bringing together of all the various components that have been stashed for months.
Trust me, it IS worth it.
If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact me or you can follow my restoration work at:
or on YouTube at:
Words: James Wylie