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How to Lower the Cost of Auto Restoration


How to lower the cost of a Restoration Project is a concern of all of us unless you have deep pockets like Jay Leno. In this article I will attempt to address some things that you may are may not have thought of, and will try to refrain from the obvious ones like “lowering your expectations”. You shouldn’t have to settle for less, but rather find a way to get there for less. 

Everyone has a different idea of the perfect car. Some want a “Trailer Queen” show car, others want a car they can “tinker on” every weekend, and still others are just looking for a way to get to work with out blending in with all the other Cracker Jack boxes on the freeway.

 So to get to my point…as I have written in some of my other articles, you need a clear idea of where you are going. This sounds unnecessary to some and simple to others, but it is vital to keeping costs down. To the ones that think it is simple, you are probably the ones who change their minds midstream and end up redoing a lot of what was once complete. This takes time, sometimes parts, but regardless adds to the final bill. For the ones that think it’s unnecessary, you are the ones that don’t yet have a plan. This is bad because it is nearly impossible to budget and will most likely lead to an unfinished project. Of course it is sooo much easier to write this on paper than to actually apply to real life, but when adhered to will save you money. Here's how it works. If you plan the project out, get an idea of what you want, it’s much easier to see the things that are unnecessary to obtain the look you are after. By avoiding them before work starts it saves money. Also having the plan with you as you work on the car will help you from adding little odds and ends as you go, this is the largest cause of budget overruns. So, rule #1- Clear Project Plan.


Next rule, stay away from “pop fads”. Unless this is part of your project plan, popular fads steal money from more needed areas, like a brake job. “What’s a Pop Fad?” It’s a phrase I just thought of while writing this article and refers to the little things that the magazine ads make you think you cannot live without, name brand components. Think about it, will having a certain name in white letter on your tires have that big of an impact on your car as a whole? Does brand X exhaust really make your car better than the generic brand? Now I’m not advocating using cheap parts, actually that is my next rule. What I’m saying is shop around and decide for yourself if following the crowd is what you wan to do? After all, isn’t the whole point to have something that stands out in the crowd? Hmm?


Cheap parts that cost ½ as much will cost you more in the long run. This is not to say buy the most expensive part money can buy, but rather buy quality. I rank parts into 3 categories, 1) over priced “Pop Fad” (see above), 2) Made in China, and 3) Black and White brand. Part #1 belongs to the company that spends too much on advertising and makes you think that you’re not “cool” unless your car sports their brand. The 2nd part is built to last just long enough to get you to the most desolate place in the planet and fall apart. For the record all china made parts are not bad. Finally #3 is the brand that loves cars as much as we do and spend their money on R&D not advertising and fancy packaging. I break it down this way, because price does not equate quality. I’ve seen “pop fad” parts that are “cheap”. Cheap parts will not last. And when they fail, you may end up with a tow bill, a new part to replace the cheap one, and risk damaging other parts of your car during the process. No good can come from “cheap parts”. 

I could ramble on longer but I think that most concepts will fall under these three rules. So weather you do the work yourself are hire it out. Abiding by these rules and you may save $100’s if not $1000’s, and that will ultimately help you enjoy your pride and joy that much more.

 To recap: 

1)      Develop a clear Project Plan

2)      Don’t follow the crowd

3)       Cheap parts = Headaches 

Happy Restoring, 

Michael Faucher




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