The Most Common Restoration Mistakes

When restoring a hot rod, many enthusiasts and beginners alike will try to go for it. But, even people who have been at this for decades can make silly mistakes. Here are some of the most common errors that occur with beginning a new hot rod restoration project, or continuing one. Read on to save yourself a lot of wasted time, money, and headaches. It’s just easier to avoid it!



1. Starting a project without a plan :

Truly, beginning anything without a plan is at best, silly, and at worst, an awful mistake a person can make. When restoring a hot rod, however, digging in with the WD-40 and your tools will often leave you with a shell of a car up on four jack stands. While detours are to be expected, begin with a written plan of what you’re trying to accomplish. This can also help you factor in a proper timeline, and a realistic budget.

2. Get your shop organized:

Trying to build a car in an unorganized environment is not only stressful but crazy-inducing. Parts are everywhere. Tools are everywhere. Where on earth is that one piece that you need to finish this part? The organization doesn’t have to be crazy. Even simple containers from the dollar store will at least give you places to store things, and keep all the parts of a particular area together.

In addition to making this whole process a lot more doable and enjoyable, this kind of system will also prove useful throughout the project, as you won’t end up keeping every part, but you will have access to everything until the project is complete.

3. Consider your safety:

Milk crates or blocks of wood, flimsy jack stands and more. These are not the things to adequately support a car during restoration, and yet they are the most common. In a best-case scenario, the wrong bump can cause a minor injury, maybe even a maim. You could be risking your life and excruciating death of being crushed by your dream project.

4. What happens when you don’t do your homework:

When working on a hot rod, this can mean a project that can’t be completed. Do research on the car you are trying to restore, whether this means the car project you are going to buy or the parts that you need. Even if it’s a shop, you’re using. Learn the reputation of the shop and its practices. Take some time to build up knowledge on your project before starting for an improved experience.



5. When you don’t get a written estimate:

While this is a tip for anything anymore, as trust is scarce between businesses and clients, for good reason, getting an estimate for work to be done is crucial. Selective memory tends to happen a lot where money and work promised is concerned, and can even occur at a trusted shop.

When dealing with the kind of money a hot rod restoration requires and enlisting the help of other people to work on the project, get a written estimate to be safe. If your shop isn’t willing to provide a written agreement, find another shop.

The same applies to deposits. A shop shouldn’t require full payment before any work is done. Partial deposits are to be expected, sure. Even amounts delivered slowly over time as more work is accounted for are fine. A shop who demands payment in full should have you high-tailing it in the other direction.

6. Buying the unknown:

If you don’t know what is inside, don’t buy it. Cracked cylinders or castings, other parts that make the engine block unsalvageable? Without the chance to inspect it, or some clause about payment versus inspection, play it safe and move on to the next engine block. Better to have to exercise patience than be out the money for an engine block you can’t even use.

This goes double for castings. If you’re serious about your hot rod restoration, many restorers want authentic parts. While there are a few brands that are known for their authenticity, numerous shady vendors have emerged as well. Make sure that your castings match what you see the car will need, and that they are of quality material.

Restoring a hot rod is such a fun project, whether it’s your first or one of many. The level of tinkering and dedication to breathing new life into one of these provides a tangible reward, with a lot of satisfaction coming from completion. Keep in mind common sense to avoid mistakes that detract from the joy of hot rod restoration.

Leave a Comment