Choosing a Body Shop for Classic Car Restoration or Repainting of an Older Car

In the market for a classic car restoration? When you have a car that is considered a classic, you may want to take it to a body shop to have it professionally restored. The process involves more than just a new paint job, and implies that it is being put back in its authentic condition, just as it was when it was new on the showroom floor. Not all body shops are equipped to handle a true restoration.

What is Classic Car Restoration?

A classic car is defined by the Classic Car Club of America as a vehicle between 30 and 49 years, while one between 50 and 99 years is considered a pre-antique and cars 100 years and older, an antique. Not all older cars meet the definition of “classic car.” The crucial thing with classics is that they represented “fine or unusual motorcars” distinguished by “fine design, high engineering standards, and superior workmanship.” Often costly at the time, they often have other distinguishing characteristics, based on their engine displacement, custom coach work, and luxury accessories. Other car organizations have different criteria, while some states consider it a classic after 20 or 25 years for licensing purposes.

Is Restoration Really what you Want or Need?

Restoration means that the body shop might need to tear the car apart to examine the condition of the components and either refurbish it with original parts or find reproduction parts and install them in an authentic way. If the car is updated or re-created to look like a fancy limited edition model, the work is not considered a restoration. Typically, the reason that people undertake a restoration is to create something of value for sale or to enter in car show.

Not every car is a good subject for restoration. The fact is, many old cars are just that – old cars. You may want to refurbish one and have it repainted for your son, but the car might not be considered a classic. When you are looking for a shop to work on an old car, you must be clear in your goals in order to select the right shop. Anytime your pay money to have work done, you want the shop to do an excellent job for you. However, your standards for repainting an older car that you love are different than if you have a car that meets the definition of classic and that you intend to use as a classic car. Having a 1947 Chevy is not the same as having a 1947 Cadillac 90 series.

Can your Body Shop Handle Classic Restoration?

Many body shops boast that they do custom work on classic cars. If you have a car that is a true classic, your standards should be higher to make sure that you have a finished product that is show worthy or able to command a higher price. You need to ask some questions of the shop. Specifically, you need to know:

  • What do they consider a classic car?
  • What have they restored?
  • What assurance do they offer that the parts they use are genuine?

If you have found a good shop with a track record of making older cars serviceable and attractive, you may have a great place to take your older car that you will love, but unless the shop has had experience restoring your Alfa Romeo or your 335 BMW, you might need to find a shop that specializes in the type of classic car restoration you need.