I define automotive restoration as the coming together of one’s passion to renew their favorite classic either by their own efforts or by a skilled and talented team. We all have a car that we can close our eyes and visualize—the power, the smell, the look and feel, the memories or the desire to have a specific car you recall in your younger years. Often after acquiring that ‘ride’ it needs some work. It may have been someone’s abandoned project, a true barn find inclusive of years of dust, or a near finished show car where the funds and desire have simply run out.
Restoration can be a minor effort, purely cosmetic or light mechanical to produce a driver. Or it can be the Concours level experience that requires knowledge, time and money; often twice the time and three times the money. In either case it is a rewarding experience, to bring back to life a once great car for its time and to enjoy it today. As I discussed before, there are so many reasons one acquires a vintage or classic car (See Ralph Lauren Blog) and probably a slew of reasons one decides to go down the restoration road. But regardless, there is just something about putting your touches on history and the pride of sharing and showing off that end result.
I personally have gone down the restoration route several times and find it very rewarding to bring back a car that was significant in some respect if not at least to me. I have enjoyed restoring with a team a 1933 BSA Three Wheeled car now in the National Automobile Museum in Reno. It was a debate to either dispose of it due to its dreaded condition or to take the time to bring this nearly forgotten automobile back to life for others to appreciate. After all it was ahead of its time, with a front mounted air cooled engine, front wheel drive and three wheels to skirt the taxation issues in Britain at the time. Its limited production; unique looks and place in history drove me to have it completed.
From there I moved onto the Sunbeam Marque—specifically Tigers, Alpines and Harringtons. There was just something about these little British cars that spoke to me—we proudly built several show winners but in the end, I enjoyed driving them around and talking with others about where they fit in during the sports car era of the sixties.
Speaking of the sixties, one of the most often restored cars and modified to all degrees was the 1965 Mustang. Parts are easily available, knowledge is widespread and the skills to restore are not that demanding. That is not to say you won’t spend a fortune on that little convertible, coupe or fastback—it just depends on how accurate you want to be in restoring that classic and how much work you want to do on your own. Often times, we tend to over restore as we take on the attitude that since then, there are better parts and technologies, so we recreate a classic by today’s standards—specifically paint, engine builds, body work and the list goes on. But so be it—all efforts to restore a specific year, make, model deserve recognition for doing something to revitalize the past for the next generations.
Restoration is an opportunity to save a piece of automotive history and I value that effort regardless of the extent of the restoration. Take a look at this pre-GT 1965 Mustang, a very rare K Code, (289 CI and 271 HP). Certainly worth restoring and done to perfection down to the last detail that can still be authenticated by experts and factory documentation. Please share with me and others your restoration photos, stories and thoughts.