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Beginning Your Classic Car Restoration

by | Jul 3, 2013 | Restoration

Where Do You Start with Your Classic Car restoration?

It’s very important for anyone looking into a  classic car  restoration this is a good example of what they’re getting into – to know that the exact cost of restoration cannot be set firmly in the beginning, that it’s going to cost for quality work (like what we do here at PalmBeachCustoms), and that you, the customer, really just has to love classic cars.

Recently, a potential customer came to me about a classic car he would like to restore: a 1965 442 Oldsmobile. I was impressed with the level of detail he gave me along with the questions he asked. Below is the conversation we had about what condition the vehicle was in and what else I would need from him in order to give him an estimate of cost and worth.

This is a great example of the mindset and level of commitment anyone looking to restore their classic car should have.

Have a Conversation About Your Classic Car Restoration

Chris wrote:

I have a 1965 Oldsmobile 442.  I have been looking to get myself a classic, muscle car for years now.  However, rather than purchase something turnkey ready, I would prefer to have something old that needs restoration so I can really appreciate the vehicle and the work going into it.  I am taking the liberty of attaching some pictures of the 442 and hoping you could provide me an approximate estimate of what it might cost to get the vehicle completely restored.  Moreover, perhaps, you could give me your honest opinion whether the vehicle is even worth restoring.  If not the 442, than perhaps, I may have a 66 Mustang you could help me with.



PalmBeachCustoms Reply:

“Christopher ,
First off I want to say hello ,

My Name Is John Russo The owner of Palm Beach Customs

I would need some better pictures of the underside of 1965 Oldsmobile 442  to get a better understanding of the quality of the floor pans also the history on the motor if its matching numbers and any other in-tell you can provide me.  As you might know the car done correctly would be worth $45,000-$60,000. Here are a few  examples on Hemming s check out this link below

Also you  have to consider If you like the car and what it might be worth 10 years from now just like an investment if you buy a bunch of Apple stock its worth a set number and where will it be in 10 years. The 442s are a good investment everyone likes them and they are fewer examples available then many of the other collector cars so they will hold their own on the value side.I would think this would be a good car to restore it will hold value and most likely appreciate. Also to consider is are parts available for the restoration rubbers, chrome and interior they make just about everything for these cars.

I have done many restorations and it’s amazing to see some of these cars double in value in 4- 6 years
But bottom line do you like the car because even if you were upside down upon a few grand upon completion     if you enjoy the car then the numbers will come together at the end of the day .. as far as pricing send me some more info and then we can chat on the phone and get a number on your project . Also, where are you located , and what is the history on the car ?

Chris’s Reply:

          John:  Unfortunately, the vehicle is in Georgia and I am a wounded Marine and am not getting around like I previously had.  Nevertheless, when an extended family member of mine told me she would sell her to me for a grand or two depending on my financial status.  I had asked her all those questions but my Uncle had passed and she doesn’t know anything about the car.  However, I had her take a magnet around the vehicle to check for bondo and there was none.  She also informed me there wasn’t any major rust except on the front hood.  Unfortunately, the major question is whether the numbers all match and there is no way for me to find out.  I tried to explain where she could look but she claims she is too old to go digging around.  Now my uncle planned on restoring the vehicle for his grandson but that doesn’t mean the numbers match.  Moreover, one brother had 3 65 Oldsmobile 442 and each of the three brothers took one of the colors.  My uncle got the red one.  Before he passed 5 years ago, the vehicle was supposedly running but now it’s not.  At first, I was informed she needed a new motor but when I asked what happened in those 5 years to make the motor go bad, she told me it may just be the battery.  I was hoping one of the engine photos could give you some indication whether the vehicle looks like a real 442 or do you believe its a clone.   Therefore, I was hoping to hear your professional opinion about whether you believe I should have a flatbed go pick it up.  Sure is one expensive way to find out if the No. match.  On another note, I am a  Marine and would only have 2-3 thousand a month to do the job, I wouldn’t have everything up front.  Now that I have laid my cards on the table, what do you recommend?

PalmBeachCustoms’ Reply:

   “I appreciate the honesty – what i see on the car is most likely a very good start – inside the trunk wheel tubs look good  trunk jambs look good – seems to be a dry car  – saw the hood – no biggie – the fire wall looks like it was original blue metalic — took like its all there — the distributer is electronic – some one switched it —  every resto needs new wiring – chrome – and interior– and its all there — classic industries website  they have most all you would need .

I would get the car !– go on u ship and have someone bid to pick it up see if you could get it for 1000-2000k —
the car is worth the money — if you get lucky – and the motor matches you have a home run if you dont  you can build it as a resto – mod  or original  your choice if you saved up  6 k- 10k and start

  • phase 1-you could do a tear down get the body and frame phase going ( then refine your list )
    phase 2 – color in jambs – get all the wiring replaced and all rubbers
    phase 3 – suspension – drive train- motor
    phase 4 –  final paint fit finish and chrome
  • Even if you did 2 phases a year – in 2 years you would have a nicely done project take action – live your dream – as long as you are committed to finish then you win and if it gets here something is way out of wack – (doesn’t look that way) you can sell

cant loose – many people would die to get that car for 1-2k
hope that helps”

Chris’s Reply:

          You are the man!!!  Not many people would do another fellow a favor and break everything down like that… unless something was in it for them.  I was reading your email with my brother and we couldn’t get over the fact you broke everything down so easy for a couple knuckleheads like us so kindly.

            Honestly, I was hoping I would hear something positive like your review and just get her but really since I don’t have really much knowledge about muscle cars, I was hoping to get a business with someone honest like you have already proved to be and just have the first 3 phases knocked out immediately……  Basically, in essence, I should have a little change for my dream.

            Would you be interested?  How much do you think it will cost me total to do it right?  Thanks kindly!

PalmBeachCustoms’ Reply:

          “Chris I would be happy to restore your 442

Its difficult to price with out seeing because maybe its rust free – or maybe it needs a few floor pans so the only way I can price it is get the car in – and do a real estimate -If that didn’t work then Ill help you sell it – It looks very solid so -I dont believe that’s the case. Once I see it I can make you a list something like this is a ball park of 450 man hours plus parts and materials. it’s easy to go over 50 hours and under estimate prices for items. Having said that, most suppliers are willing to offer discounts when you purchase complete sets like rubber – interior – ect 

 its very important to get quotes in when doing the final estimate – It will take a entire day to get close –and you will have a pretty solid idea on exact pricing for items needed when its time to order (it makes it easier)

  • Body, all sheet-metal blasting, prepping, blocking 10k
  •  frame , blasting , painting, break lines , gas tank , suspension 3k
  • interior , wiring , chrome , rubber………………………… 5k
    engine and mechanical s?………………………………………5k
    materials  for body work , epoxys , metal work……… 2k
    sheet metal cost and labor……………………………… TBD
    tires rims………………………………………………………..1-2k
    final  assy , paint work finish………………………………10k
    materials…………………………………………… 2500.00
  • at this your at 39,000- so 40-45 k would be my estimate ” 

As you can see, even considering starting a restoration project for your classic car requires a lot of thought, time, and research. But, if you really want to follow through, the only thing that is stopping you from finishing your classic car is yourself. Here at Palm Beach Customs, we’re willing to work with our customers based on their budgets to help them achieve what they want.

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