How Much Does it Cost to Restore a Car? [Complete & Partial]
Cars are expensive; there’s no denying that. Classic cars can be the most expensive because everyone wants them. However, if you’re willing to put some time into restoring an old classic, you might be able to become a proud owner of your favorite car from years past.
When you are looking to restore a classic car, repairs will cost at least as much as the car itself in most cases. When a car isn’t running, it will need a complete restoration, costing you around $45,500. If it is already running, you may be able to only do a partial restoration. With the cosmetic repairs and any necessary mechanical repairs, your budget should be around $12,500 at minimum.
If you’re looking to restore an old car, this is the place to start. In this article, we will explain the various methods of restoring a car and the average prices for each.
Types of Restorations
It’s easy to get caught up in fantasy when you find your dream classic car for real cheap. Unfortunately, this deal may not be as good as you think. The real expense when purchasing a classic car is the exorbitant cost of the repairs themselves.
Especially considering the hidden problems most cars have, repairs can cost you a pretty penny. Here are the prices you can expect to pay for complete restoration or partial restoration:
A complete restoration may be pricey, but it’s worth it to know your car is in near-perfect shape. Complete restoration will cost you around $45,500. With some cars, you may pay as little as $25,000 or as much as $800,000. Unfortunately, it can be hard to pinpoint a price without knowing exactly which car you are planning on restoring.
In order to do a complete restoration, you first need to do a complete disassembly, to get the car down to just the frame. This will cost you around $4,000.
Next, the body needs to be prepped for paint and any body damage repaired. On average, this will be around $3,000.
Mechanical restoration will repair the machinery of the car, making it drivable. This one will be a little pricier, running around $15,000 to $30,000.
Paint is a much larger expense than you might expect. This will cost you a surprisingly large portion of your budget, coming in around $8,000 to $14,000.
Now that all the pieces are ready, it is time for reassembly. This process costs a little more than the disassembly, sometimes costing as much as $15,000.
The final step is to finish the interiors. Comfortable seating is a must in any vehicle, so you have the option to really splurge here. If you want to splurge, you can spend as much as $15,000, but a more average price is around $6,000.
A partial restoration is much easier on your wallet, but it’s really only possible if the car already runs. In this case, the car may only need some mechanical tune-ups and some aesthetic touch-ups.
This will cost you around $12,500, however, do keep in mind that without a total overhaul of the vehicle, you may run into more issues later on. Old vehicles are susceptible to breaking down and without replacing the majority of the vehicle, you have a larger portion of old parts. These parts may break down, costing you extra repair money in the future.
It takes a lot to restore an old car. If you are looking into this possibility, don’t forget to look beyond the monetary costs. Restoring a car takes time, patience, knowledge, and often extra-legal hoops.
How Much Does Mechanic Charge For Restoration?
Typically, a mechanic is going to charge around $90 per hour. This varies by area and expertise, but it’s not cheap because these guys do hard work.
If you are going to choose to have professionals do the dirty work for you, expect it to take up a large portion of your budget. Some mechanics may even charge higher prices for classic cars or classic cars may simply take longer, costing you even more.
How long does it take to restore a car?
On average, it takes around 950 hours to restore a classic vehicle. These hours can span from months to up to five years. This is an incredibly long time to wait for a vehicle, so make sure you aren’t depending on this restoration to supply you with your daily transportation right away.
It will be a while before your car may be drivable. The process will take even longer if you restore the car yourself, considering you will likely have to learn the majority of the skills as you go.
Restoring A Car By Yourself
When you ask around to see if you might be able to restore a car with no experience, you will get a different answer from every person you ask. Some will say, “Of course, you can!”
Others may seem to think it’s the worst idea you’ve ever had. Ultimately, this means the decision is up to you. It may help to keep in mind that car work is hard, it takes a lot of time, patience, and tools.
But, then again, everyone who does work on cars had to start somewhere. If you do decide to restore your own car, just know you will make mistakes because you are learning a whole new skill largely on your own, an impressive feat by itself.
Where do you find parts?
The easiest place to find parts for your car, especially since classic cars often require specific parts, is online websites that sell car parts. The online setting of these stores allows you to search for exactly what you need and compare these prices to other online stores.
However, you may have to pay a good amount for shipping. If you want to avoid this cost, try looking around for any junkyards or car parts stores near you. If you’re really struggling to find a specific piece, mechanics often have connections that enable them to find needed parts. Unfortunately, most mechanics will charge you an extra 25% of the parts’ price in order to account for their labor in delivering the needed materials.
Do you need any specialized tools?
The short answer is yes. The long answer involves a lengthy list of expensive tools you may not even know how to use. Beyond your typical list of tools, you will likely find that you will need an air compressor, engine crane, engine stand, floor jack, jack stands, torch, and welder.
These are only the very basics of the additional tools you might need to purchase, rent, or borrow in order to restore your car. If you decide to restore your car yourself, do not forget to budget for these as a good quality welder can cost you $700 alone.
How can you make an old car street legal?
This process differs from state to state, unfortunately. It is always best to check with your local state and city’s legislation, but here are some factors to look into. Some states restrict classic car registration for parades and special events and/or day-of-the-week and holiday restrictions. Additionally, your classic car will need to pass a safety and emissions inspection in many states.
And finally, some states require a title in order to register a car. Since some classic cars don’t have this, you won’t be able to drive your restored car legally, but this isn’t true for every state. If you’re looking to drive your classic on an everyday basis, be sure to check your area’s guidelines before committing to the expensive process.
Is it worth restoring an old car?
Now after all these costs and hassles, you might be wondering if it is even worth it to restore a classic car. Profitwise, it is certainly not worth restoring a classic. Even if you restore a popular model, it is likely that you will have spent more on repairs than the car is worth in working condition. For a select few cars, you might find buyers willing to pay enough to make a profit, but this isn’t likely.
However, if it is your dream to own and drive a classic car, it is completely worth the long and expensive process. Of course, it might not be the best idea to put yourself in debt trying to restore a car, but if you have the cash and the time, car restoration can be a very fulfilling hobby and pursuit. All good things come with a little elbow grease and a few tears, so don’t let this deter you from being able to drive your dream car.
New cars just don’t have the same flair that so many of the classics do. If you have the luxury to dedicate some time and money to this pursuit, you too can own a classic car, one that even runs if you do the necessary upkeep. Among your car enthusiast friends, nothing will be a better brag than being able to say you restored that beautiful classic that you now drive around.
Now that you know a little more about whether restoration is right for you and your car, take a look into local prices at your mechanic. On average, a complete restoration will cost $45,500, but this cost can be different depending on the extent of damage, difficulties from the model, and any personal preferences. If you only need a partial restoration, you may only be losing $12,500 from your wallet.
Now, go get going on your classic car journey, and don’t forget to drive safely!