Classic Car Restoration: What to do with a Basketcase Car
By: Joel Neuder
Deciding what to do with a basketcase car is one of the toughest decisions for people who’ve already invested time, money, and love into their classic car restorations. At the same time, there are plenty of vintage car veterans who are always ready to finish a difficult project. Whether you want to put the final touches on a half-finished car or you just can’t find the time to complete your own, you need to know how to save yourself time, frustration, and money. Here are a few things to consider before you buy, finish, or sell a basketcase car.
When You Want to Buy a Basketcase
Restoring a basketcase can be a challenging but rewarding experience. However, there are often good reasons why other enthusiasts are eager to get their incomplete hotrods and muscle cars off their hands. Before you invest in an old project, you’ll need to make these important considerations:
*Safety comes first. If the car you’re considering doesn’t even have breaks, an engine, or a steering wheel yet, then you may not have much to worry about. Otherwise, you should test the car in a safe, empty area. You need to make sure the owner is being honest about the car’s reliability and safety – or lack thereof.
*Check the frame and body. Cars that look like they’re on their last legs can sometimes be restored to their previous luster – but only if they still have solid foundations. If a classic car’s frame and body are in decent shape, then there’s good chance you’ll be able to make some headway on its restoration. If not, you’re looking at a bottomless money pit.
*Look for cover-ups. Some restorers and shops will cover large patches of rust and even holes with sheet metal. They don’t always do so maliciously, but unnoticed rust is extremely dangerous. It’s especially important to check for defects in places where larger parts have been replaced.
Sourcing Your Parts
When you’re restoring a barely-finished basketcase, you’ll need to find the best places to get your parts. If a previous owner didn’t get the project finished, it may have been because the necessary components were hard to find, too expensive, or both. Before you even make the purchase, it’s important that you find out how you’re going to get what you need – and what it’s all going to cost.
Once you’ve figured out what parts are necessary, you can check the online inventories of specialty shops across the country. There are also junkyards full of classic cars with parts for the taking, though you’ll need to go in person to see what’s available. Ultimately, you’re going to incur the greatest costs if you need foreign parts or shipping for large items.
When to Call it Quits
Even if you’ve lovingly labored over a classic car for years, there may come a time when you have to move on. A project will sometimes seem too good to be true when you first start – yet it becomes nothing but a financial drain further down the road. Your priorities and interests might also change, leaving you with an immobile heap in your garage or driveway.
Whatever the case may be, you can still get back some of your hard-earned money. Contact a professional classic car restorer now and inquire if they purchase or are interested in purchasing a basketcase project from you.
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