red car on country road driving into the sunset

If you own a classic car or have an interest in them, you’ve likely wondered if it’s worth the time and money to restore it.

There’s no question a beautifully restored car can turn heads. But some car collectors argue there’s a distinctive beauty to an older car that isn’t given a complete makeover.

Here are some things to consider before restoring a car.

Questions to consider before restoring a car

Some of the factors you can use to help determine whether to restore your car include:

  • What do you want to do with your car?
  • What condition is it in?
  • How rare is it?
  • What kind of budget do you have?

Taking a closer look at each of these four factors can help you get a better idea of whether you want to restore your classic car or keep waxing and caring for it as-is.

Are you planning on entering classic car shows?

People buy classic cars for many different reasons. Sometimes it's to fulfill the dream of driving a car you admired as a child, or maybe you owned a similar car in the past that has sentimental value. In some cases, you may see it as an investment that you’d like to enter in competitions or eventually sell.

If you plan to enter shows or competitions, experts advise that you keep the car's original color and style. While you could redo a faded paint job or restore damaged parts, you’ll probably want to remain as true as possible to the original look, options and color of the car. However, if you have no aspirations for competitions and simply own a classic car for pleasure, restoring a classic car is entirely up to you.

When to paint your car

Depending on the condition of your classic car, you may be able to simply paint it instead of going for a full restoration. However, a car that is rusted, dented and otherwise damaged will need more than a fresh coat of paint to bring it back to life — it may involve extensive bodywork, rust removal and part replacements. In that case, you can also factor in your future plans for the car to determine how much work you're willing to put into it.

Changing your car’s color

The rarer the car is, the more important it is to keep the original color when you restore it. This will affect its value. A car in a unique color may catch your eye, but if it isn’t true to colors available at that time the car was built, it may diminish the car’s resale value.

Cost to restore a car

Having a budget and sticking to it means you’ll also have to factor in delays and unexpected expenses. A professional paint job, which you may want unless you already have experience painting cars, can cost an average of around $10,000, while a complete restoration can ring up a bill of $40,000 or more.[1,2] If you're restoring your car in hopes of selling it, check the price guides to make sure you can recoup your expenses.

Whether you choose to restore your vintage auto or not, make sure you have classic car insurance to protect your investment.



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