Tyler and I have had the pleasure of being involved in the building of more than a few fine SHOW CARS. All of these classic car restorations were done in my spare time while I was otherwise engaged in the corporate world. Refinishing cars was not only great stress relief, it was fast becoming my passion.
1970 Chevelle SS 396 Convertible
This is the restoration I was most proud of (photo below) which won numerous national level awards, including Muscle Car of The Year by the National Muscle Car Association, Super Chevy GOLD Class and much more. This was my first ever attempt at a full blown frame off restoration.
Much of the credit behind building this car and many other cars of mine goes to various friends and professional shops. Our personal hands on involvement is more like that of project managers that are not afraid to get their hands dirty to keep things moving. We have learned that the only way to end up with the desired results is to be heavily involved from the initial tear down all the way through the final reassembly.
I will be passing on some of the key things we have learned in managing the restoration process in some of my blogs.
1965 Corvette Coupe
My first Corvette restoration (below)… was a fully optioned 1965 air coupe. I purchased this all original mid-year from my neighbor (and original owner) AFTER 5 years of begging him to sell it to me. I was 29 at the time and Tyler was 3. He was 6 by the time the car was completed, and in those 3 years I was “schooled” in the surprises you get when embarking on a high-option mid-year Corvette restoration.
The finished results were great and confirmed by numerous first place finishes in all Corvette shows including an NCRS 2nd flight. However, the cost to finish the car came in at 3 times my initial estimate and the time involvement was easily doubled. Part of this was due to the fact that it was a Corvette, but most of it was due to my lack of experience with a full blown (to NCRS specs) restoration. WOW! There is nothing like experience for a teacher.
Now that I have repeated this process over and over, the one no-brainer I can pass along is: DO NOT EXPECT to make money doing this – it has to be a passion. In my case, it is that and more. My son and I are best friends in life through this hobby and my dad and I are super close as a result of this shared interest. We have also met hundreds of people we would have otherwise never known and made dear friends as a result. OLD CARS are FUN!!!
1967 Rally Sport Camaro convertible
The restoration of our high option RS Camaro (below) was a fun restoration. Like ALL the cars we have tackled, it had excellent body integrity. Simply put, if you do not start with a good car – you will NOT end up with a good car.
We like heavily optioned cars with serious “eye pop” potential. The factory colors on this Rally Sport convertible coupled with the numbers matching driveline, including 4-speed tranny, made it a worthy candidate.
A word to the wise ….. the MORE options, the MORE complicated and expensive a restoration will be. With this car, we not only had the additional cost of restoring a convertible -vs- a coupe, but we ALSO had the added cost and complexity of the Rally Sport items (including hide-away headlights), the deluxe interior components, the power top option, the air conditioning option and the optional gauges. ALL of this optional “bling” adds substantially to the cost and complexity of a restoration. It is much easier and cheaper to restore a plain Jane coupe ….. although I don’t recommend that either.
Our current focus
It has been a long time since Tyler and I have taken on a major restoration. We never did restore cars for other people or work on cars for other people. It was always for our own knowledge and enjoyment. Now our passion has shifted from “making a better than new masterpiece” to searching for, purchasing, experiencing and ultimately selling “high quality DRIVERS” that are either outstanding survivors, former show cars, or somewhere in between.