A beginner’s guide to restoring a luxury vintage car

Looking for another luxury car to add to your collection? We don’t blame you – there are few things as exciting as getting behind the wheel of a shiny new motor and taking to the open road for your first spin, listening to the sound of the engine and enjoying all of its bells, whistles and swish new features as you go.

But there’s one thing that, for some motoring enthusiasts, is all the more enjoyable still – and that’s treating yourself to a luxury vintage model, and lovingly restoring it to its former glory. Whether it’s a 1940s convertible or a quirky older ride, many vintage cars have retained their value surprisingly well, often making them a better investment than a brand-new set of wheels. And, tracking down a limited edition model hailing from many moons ago can often feel like winning the lottery – there’s just something extra exciting about laying your hands on something that almost nobody else has. If you’re new to restoring vintage cars, it’s easier than you think to get started, and in most cases, a few simple updates will have you right on the road to success. To help you get started, our motoring experts have pulled together these simple tips – which might just become the driving force behind a brand new hobby.

Restoring a luxury vintage car takes time, so bear this in mind before you invest

Choosing your car

If you have a specific type of car in mind, then locating one shouldn’t be too tricky – unless, of course, you’re seeking out one of the rarest models ever made. When heading for a viewing, it’s advisable to take a mechanic with you if you’re not confident in your own ability to spot potential issues. It’s a given that any car you decide to go for is going to need work – after all, that’s the whole point – but it’s important to consider how far you’re willing to go, and how big a project you’re truly looking for. Some cars can require an incredible amount of work, so if you’re hoping for a quick spruce up job, you could end up disappointed. Cars can start anywhere from a few hundred to multiple thousands of pounds – especially if you’re looking for luxury. Bear this in mind when seeking out your first purchase, and be prepared to spend big on top on repairs.

Carving out time

Restoring a luxury vintage car takes time, so bear this in mind before you invest. If you don’t have the free time to spend on searching for special parts and tools or on doing the work yourself, then it may be worth enlisting the help of a mechanic to do the more tedious jobs for you – leaving you free to concentrate your efforts on the fun bits. Search for reliable websites online to source the parts you need with ease – returning to sites like partsgeek.com, which sells everything from compressors and air filters to car and truck radiators and keeping a list of your tried, tested and trusted sites will make things faster and more efficient in the future.

Renovating, refurbishing and reconstructing your classic car to improve the interiors, exteriors and the engine will make your car incredibly more desirable

A vintage car is there to be loved and appreciated, so don’t let yours go to waste. Planning your time efficiently will ensure you get maximum enjoyment out of your new hobby – and that your set of wheels benefits from the care and attention it deserves, too.

The right tools for the job

Before you get started on your restoration project, it’s important to make sure that you have access to all of the right tools for the job. Essential hand tools include box and open-end spanners, a selection of ratchets and sockets, a set of screwdrivers, vice grips and a power drill – but we warned, because these are just for starters. Other items worth adding to your arsenal include tin cutters and putty – plus, you may need some sheet metal on hand for any larger repairs. Patch pieces can be used to mend holes.

At times, you may find that you need to invest in some more sophisticated tools, like an angle grinder, hydraulic lift or an engine crane and stand – so assess exactly what you’ll need for the car you have in mind and get kitted out before buying your new wheels.

Restoring a luxury vintage car is a fun and productive way to spend your free time – and, if you take care and pay attention to every last detail, you could create a beautiful model to be proud of

Showing your car

Once the hard work is out of the way, the fun bit can begin – but if you’re hoping to show your car and the fruits of your hard labour, then there are a few things to bear in mind along the way. There are certain criteria that will need to be met to achieve show level – so make sure your wheels of choice align with your expectations. To enter into a Driver Restoration category, your car will need to be in fully functioning condition, so the process may include part replacement, as well as minor cosmetic adjustments For a Street Show car, you’ll need to go a little bit further, repairing all major cosmetic problems, on a car that falls into the 80 – 90 point range.

Getting your car to the Show Car standard will usually require you to enlist professional help, with judgements in the restoration and labour quality – while Concours, the highest possible level of car restoration you can achieve, is usually reserved for the true professionals and for cars that are to be for show only. Restoring a luxury vintage car is a fun and productive way to spend your free time – and, if you take care and pay attention to every last detail, you could create a beautiful model to be proud of. There’s nothing quite like that feeling you get when you see your hard work attracting admiring glances as you polish it up at a show – and we can guarantee, you’ll want to do it all over again.