To Restore or Not to Restore



March 16, 2012

The question of whether to restore a historic vehicle or leave it alone can spark a thought-proving debate. Here, two long time veterans and experts offer some of their insights. 

The decisions surrounding restoring a vehicle or keeping it just as your grandfather left it in the barn are as personal as they are complex. This is a question and discussion that seems to be coming up more often these days.

Blame it on the economy or simply a new appreciation for vehicles preserved in a “roughly original” state. Either way, says Scott George, President and curator of The Collier Collection in Naples, Florida, determining whether a vehicle should be fully restored or basically left alone has classic car lovers asking new questions about how restoration work (or the lack thereof) might impact the value and enjoyment of their favorite vehicle. 

No Going Back

“You should really think hard about any restoration work before you just go in and do it,” says George, “because once you restore you can never go back.”

George has seen the trend for “originality” grow in the last decade, a movement he traces to Europe where car enthusiasts have always believed that a car’s condition helps tell its story.

“In America, we are just catching up to this notion that cars can be beautiful without being perfectly clean,” he says. “There are even some cars in the Collier collection that we now regret restoring.”

George points out that it is unlikely that an un-restored car will ever win best of show at a major American car show. But to most classic vehicle owners, winning an award at a major show doesn’t factor into their decision making. However, if you would one day decide to have your car judged, most major shows now have a “preservation class.” George believes it is a great step in the right direction, not to mention the fact that it opens the door to many car enthusiasts who would otherwise never think to give car show competition a try.

Finding the Right Balance 

George is one in the growing crowd of “original or survivor” proponents. But his new guiding philosophy is balanced with the reality that a car is not like other collectible items such as coins, furniture or fine art.

“Cars are mechanical,” he says. “Unless you just have a car to sit and look at, there comes a point where originality needs to be overridden in the interest of preserving the vehicle.”

On the subject of whether to restore or preserve, it’s not a “one-way-or-the-other” mentality. This change in attitude means that a historic vehicle owner can now enjoy the best of both worlds. George says the best way to do that is by carefully balancing a vehicle’s functionality and design features with a watchful eye for preserving original authenticity.

Giving a Car a Second Life 

In the last decade, Jim Stranberg, owner of High Mountain Classics in Berthoud, Colorado, has also watched as a new trend toward “preservation and originality” emerged. But that doesn’t mean he likes it. 

“A lot of people now seem to think that if you have a valuable car that looks like you just pulled it out of a barn that this is really the way to go,” he says. “I don’t generally agree with that.”

Stranberg says every car has “a half-life”. When a vehicle reaches a point of becoming worn out, that’s when it’s time to consider an inside and out restoration job that brings the car back to life.

But first, according to Stranberg, a person should ask themselves a few important questions:

What do you plan on doing with the car?     

Stranberg and his partner Victor Holtorf are restorers who generally believe in doing everything necessary to make a car look new again. High Mountain Classics restoration jobs typically require at least 5,000 shop hours—a major commitment of time, resources, and money. It’s the sort of work demanded by people with an eye for car show competition. But even if a customer isn’t interested in having a car judged, to Stranberg’s way of thinking there’s always some degree of restoration work that needs to be done.     

“When it comes to old cars, nothing is truly original,” he says. Strictly speaking, anything done to a vehicle inside and out over the course of its life—from changing an engine’s spark plugs to replacing a front fender—takes away from the originality of the car. Do you want the car to be able to compete in the show realm, or simply have a vehicle that presents and runs reliably at rallies and cruise-ins? Stranberg believes people must ask themselves how far are they willing to go—and for what purpose—in an effort to give the vehicle a second life. 

How valuable is the car?

High Mountain Classics has never had a customer spend more on a restoration job than their vehicle was worth. But, admittedly, Stranberg and partner Holtorf work on coveted and exceedingly rare types of historic cars that only increase in book value when treated to topnotch restoration work. 

A vehicle’s value, however, can’t always be measured in dollars and cents.  

Take the hypothetical example of a dearly departed relative’s 1950 Ford F-100 half ton found under a tarp in the garage. Maybe it was used in a family business: a once reliable working truck that now sports a few dings, a crumpled fender, and an engine that spits and sputters but still runs. Such a truck would not pull much at an auction, but it may have deep sentimental value.     

“If a person only wanted to occasionally drive the vehicle at a rally or a cruise-in—and the body, upholstery, and engine were in good shape—then, yes, I probably would not advise restoring it, except mechanically,” Stranberg says.

The Historic Vehicle Association would like to know what you think. Take the example above: That old 1950 Ford F-100 half ton truck that’s been in the family for years and earned its keep through hard work before it was put away to languish under cover in the garage. It’s battered and bruised, but still runs and has a lot of important memories attached to it. Would you restore it or leave it alone?  Head on over to the HVA’s Facebook page or comment below to tell us what you think and to see what other members are saying. 

 

Comments

  1. Jeff Sturch Central Illinois

    I would do whatever it takes to make the vehicle safe to drive and drive it.

  2. West Arizona

    I have been plagued by this question for years now and am finally coming to my senses that there is no right or wrong answer. It is truly personal. I have a 1965 Rolls-Royce Phantom V and very original, other than paint and a repaired quarter panel. I personally believe there is nothing more impressive than a showroom condition Rolls, yet there is also a most spectacular beauty in the patina of the original Connelly leather hides and the sun enhanced french walnut dash and door cappings. Those items I have left in place, however have gently and "historically" restored each. At the same time I love to drive this car and so I am ensuring every mechanical part is accurate and functioning to the best possible standards. If an original part was known to fail and a remake is available it is installed to make it reliable. With the exterior as a 10ft car that has cracking paint etc., I will have it redone to original color scheme but will not sink a bundle into finish as I will leave the body shop and a rock will ding the front. For me it's a driver and is only as valuable as it can be appreciated by everyone. Great article and question.

  3. West Arizona

    I have been plagued by this question for years now and am finally coming to my senses that there is no right or wrong answer. It is truly personal. I have a 1965 Rolls-Royce Phantom V and very original, other than paint and a repaired quarter panel. I personally believe there is nothing more impressive than a showroom condition Rolls, yet there is also a most spectacular beauty in the patina of the original Connelly leather hides and the sun enhanced french walnut dash and door cappings. Those items I have left in place, however have gently and "historically" restored each. At the same time I love to drive this car and so I am ensuring every mechanical part is accurate and functioning to the best possible standards. If an original part was known to fail and a remake is available it is installed to make it reliable. With the exterior as a 10ft car that has cracking paint etc., I will have it redone to original color scheme but will not sink a bundle into finish as I will leave the body shop and a rock will ding the front. For me it's a driver and is only as valuable as it can be appreciated by everyone. Great article and question.

  4. Andre Haluska Coral Springs FL

    Once a restoration is started, it is hard to know when to stop. The sputterijng engine turns into a full rebuild. And some new paint suddenly needs to have the body stripped. Rust gets removed and while at it, do the bodywork. Been there and am now on the survivor side of the issue. Got rid of the first car because it ended up showroom quality and was afraid to use it properly. I now happily own a survivor in nice condition. The choice is between throw the tarp back on the pickup or dust it off and just get it roadworthty.

  5. Chris Hobbs Virginia

    Very interesting to read about the trend. I notice Mike Wolf on the TV show "American Pickers" just loves finding the old motorcycles in a somewhat "toasty" condition. But how does one enjoy (ride or drive) something like that? That is the question I am dealing with now, as I try to bring a 1963 Studebaker Avanti R2 back from the dead. Do I make everything shiny? Put a $10,000 paint job on it? Nah, having limited resources sort of makes the decision for me, I'll do what needs to be done to make it good mechanically, then nibble around the edges cosmetically as time goes on. I think it'll be kind of neat to see the juxtaposition of shiny valve covers and newly rebuilt and painted supercharger in a battered engine compartment. It gives a nod toward the battles the car endured in the last 50 years - and lives on!

  6. Charlie Jacobs Houston, Texas

    I would make it reliable from a mechanical standpoint, and make it as safe as we can make an old car (add seat belts), and just drive the wheels off of it. I just purchased a 1967 Jaguar XKE from the 2nd owner, and very little has been done to it, and I just plan to make it mechanically sound, and enjoy it. The interior is a little ratty, but I will get it repaired and just enjoy the car. This is the 5th XKE I have owned, and most I have completely restored, and it is fun for me to restore them, but it takes a long time for me to do it (about 2-3 years) and I would rather drive the car, and I really like the originality of this car.

  7. john mcnally berkley mi

    i would restore the old beast and make dead grandpa proud !!, the truck unrestored may not be worth even looking at by the average passerby. it will never be worth 1/2 million dollars , so what is the point in keeping it ugly? fix the fender, spray the truck add some polyurethaned oak to the bed, rebuild the drivetrain, but leave it all looking stock as much as possible. I would not add velour seats or other period incorrect looking luxuries. i would leave the original radio in the dash and install a remote controlled stereo under the dash. thats my personal preference

  8. douglas Minneapolis

    It depends on what vehicle is to be restored, and to what extent. A paint job and a set of new tires is a lot less money than a frame-off restoration and complete rebuild/re-plate of every part of the car. The amount of time and money will vary from vehicle to vehicle because of part rarity, (such as Auburn versus 55 Chev) but labor hours will average out about the same. It costs about the same to restore a 55 Nash as a 55 Chevrolet or 55 Thunderbird in labor hours. Which one will have the greatest value when complete? To determine if a vehicle should be restored,one needs to determine the total cost involved, the amount of time one wants to be involved with the restoration, how deep one's pockets might be, do they have a ready cash flow, and what is the value of the vehicle (personal and open market) when the project is done.

  9. douglas Minneapolis

    It depends on what vehicle is to be restored, and to what extent. A paint job and a set of new tires is a lot less money than a frame-off restoration and complete rebuild/re-plate of every part of the car. The amount of time and money will vary from vehicle to vehicle because of part rarity, (such as Auburn versus 55 Chev) but labor hours will average out about the same. It costs about the same to restore a 55 Nash as a 55 Chevrolet or 55 Thunderbird in labor hours. Which one will have the greatest value when complete? To determine if a vehicle should be restored,one needs to determine the total cost involved, the amount of time one wants to be involved with the restoration, how deep one's pockets might be, do they have a ready cash flow, and what is the value of the vehicle (personal and open market) when the project is done.

  10. John Peek Walla Walla, Washington

    Although I've spent more money than the car is worth, I'm pleased with the result and I'm proud of preserving a rare and interesting vehicle. Ref: https://picasaweb.google.com/109133693071173361394/Kaiser

  11. Russ Mesa, AZ

    I believe the first thing you need to decide if it is going to be a daily driver or not. Once that decision is done, that will allow you to decide on whether or not to restore to show room quality or just an old beater.

  12. Homer Dellysse Long Island,NY

    As the owner of a rather nice 1967 427(L68) Vette coupe that was a every day cat till about 1990 when I had a body off restoration done.. I have found that of course it was quite costly but in reality it seems that "fix's" seem to never end.. Vehicle sat in my car trailer to about 2008 or 2009 when I decided that it was time to use it a bit. grandson loves going out with me.. In the mid 90's this car won 3 NCRS Top Flights which was nice.. Family things stopped me from going further.. It is very hard to say one should restore or not.. I look at my car and smile and think that it is something quite special.. But was it worth it and maybe I should have just let it stay as is.. I will say that the restoration was done with a100% for as original.. I will most likely no longer attempt to "Show" the car but stay with cruises.. Found that I didn't really care for the high fluttin stuff at big time shows.. The car speaks for itself. Who really knows as to whats best..bh

  13. Mitch flagstaff, az

    Depends on the vehicle but with an old truck definitely leave it alone and just make improvements to make it run well and perform. I will be working on our 1969 Scout soon and I don't plan on restoring it but instead preserving it in it's present condition.

  14. Dave Ball CA

    Restore the old truck to the way it was when grandpa bought it then drive it.

  15. Billy Ray Dallas TX

    While I can understand the preserve the original I also like the Resto mod approach which is what I did with my 69 firebird convertible. Bought in Georgia for $1900 including shipping to Dallas it was a rust bucket that needed everything. I saved and bought parts as I could afford them and then after a trip to Barrett Jackson in 2007 I started my project and roughly 2 years later after stripping it down to the skelaton and every single nut and bolt taken off and cleaned and replaced everything with solid used OEM or after market parts I had my resto-mod with a ZZ4350 chevy a 700R tranny a dana posi and the brightest Yellow Paint I could find it is all mine and I would not do it any other way. I get a ration from the true pontiac guys but my car was trashed when I started and I wanted late model reliability. There is no right or wrong way unless you have a super low production car or truck and even then sometimes allowances have to be made. Just my opinion and good luck to anybody that tkes oin this tremendous job It gave me the confidence that I can do anything the "pro's" do given enough time.

  16. Tim Michigan

    Originality is a main factor in desirability and value pertaining to art, furniture, musical instruments, etc. Why would it be any different for vehicles? I do know pertaining to guitars, refinishing, no matter how deteriorated the original finish is, will destroy the value by half. Drilling holes, changing hardware, etc., is a huge no-no.

  17. John McLellan Michigan

    At a nominal hourly rate of $60-$75 per hour (typical around most areas) a 5000 hour restoration job could cost upwards of $375,000. There are not many cars out there that have enough value to justify that type of expenditure, I don't card how wealthy the owner happens to be. Total restorations of muscle era cars around here are going in the $50-80,000 range.

  18. Hutch Smith Chattanooga, Tn

    The degree of use would seem to dictate that safety issues be given a priority if the vehicle is to driven on public thoroughfares. Aside from that pragmatic point, idiosyncracies will drive the rest!

  19. Craig Sussex, NJ

    I am a firm believer that a car should be driven. I have owned a number of TR3's and MGA's over the years and have "restored them" to good running condition and a coat of paint with a little bondo here and there. When driving these cars, a passer-by will give me the same thumbs up hand gesture as they would a $50,000 Concours Restoration. These cars became popular because they were a fun car to drive, and if you take it out of your garage and drive it ... you will see the fun you are missing. If I had a $50,000 restored TR3, would I drive it, absolutely! If any thing would happen, I assume I would have the money to restore it again. This applies to all cars, young and old ... If you've got it ... Drive It !!!! Ask Jay Leno.

  20. Lynn Nordby Bainbridge Island, WA

    Actually your hypothetical truck would be an F-1 rather than an F-100, but that's another story. I actually had a friend who bought a rusty old F-1 that had already had the mechanical work done. His plan was to just use it for chores (yard work, hauling trash, etc) that is until another friend (one with a great garage and lots of skill and tools) convinced him to "restore" it. Technically it wasn't a true restoration but a thorough redo of the body and interior, removing all the rust, and replacing all the miscellaneous bits and pieces with repro or NOS whereever possible. Once it was done it was beautiful. All his friends including me had a hand in it somewhere along the line. When he moved from the Pacific NW to the Midwest we all made him promise he'd never drive it in the winter. After all the work cutting out rust and welding in new metal no one wanted to imagine their efforts were in vain. The last I heard he still had that truck nearly 20 years later. If it had been mine I'd have done the same thing.

  21. Mike Sutton Beloit,ohio 44609

    I restore cars for a liveing.But with that being said,its not for every car or owner.Here at my shop we restore "real world cars"such as the ford truck that was used in your example.And more than once i have advised the customer"if we restore it like it should be"that it will cost more than it will be worth!So ,please do not watch "The Barret Jackson"auction and make your decision.A nice driver restoration may take may 500 hours.So at the low rate of$50 an hour,parts,and materials.Its easy to see what im saying.Then there is trim,interior restoration,and chrome! For my customers the question that needs to be answered first"can I afford to restore my car"?And in my opinion a cheap poorly done restoration isnt a good investment.So if you arent happy with the present condition of you car,and you can afford to do correctly!Then do it with the intention of keeping the car as you will probably have spent more money on it than it will ever be worth!And lets be real,most car guys like shiny straight paint! And weathy car guys dont drive "rat rods".So build to your personal preference and bugget!

  22. Bruce Kline Boston,MA

    In most cases the cost of restoration will likely exceed the value of the car.Personally, I'd rather drive it and maintain it, fixing what is wrong when necessary or when it becomes annoying.

  23. Bert Rogers Hanover, MN 55341

    Another ? for your comment: I just bought a 1934 Ford Victoria - stock, running car, except the motor was replaced in 1970 with a '47 8BA flathead. It still has mechanical brakes and everything works well. The exterior had a "cleanup" in '70, no Bondo, but brown body color. It has some rust in the rear footwells. I'd like to take my 3 yr old granddaughter to the Dairy Queen for a cone, but must install a child car seat for her safety and my peace of mind. My preference is to keep it stock, but update to a hydraulic brake conversion kit(which I have). Should I repair the rear floor and update the brakes, or put a temporary fix on the floor (for the car seat) and just drive it? It's a nice parade car now.Thanks for your thoughts. Bert Rogers

  24. Gary George Lakewood, CO

    As a car appraiser I get this question a lot. My answer? It is your car do what will help you enjoy it. Just remember you are spending your money not investing it.

  25. Gary George Lakewood CO

    as a car appraiser I get this question a lot. My answer? It is your car do what will help you enjoy it. Just remember you are spending your money not investing it.

  26. Brian ky

    if it runs good leave it

  27. Mike L 1978 911 SC Tucson AZ

    I would restore it (paint, dings, mechanical) within reason so i can be driven reliably and taken to car meets.

  28. Helmut Calgary, AB Canada

    I'm not surprised that the "Restorers" don't like the trend towards "preservation and originality" because it's cutting into their business. That's hardly an un-biased point of view for this topic! More and more I see the un-restored cars drawing the attention at car shows... even the owners of the shiny restored cars want to see what is correct and how the factory built these un-restored survivors. Since they're not making any more of them, and their numbers are decreasing every time a restorer gets a-hold of one, they're certain to become more desirable and increase in value. Even the dings and scratches add to the historical significance of certain cars and make them more enjoyable to look at. Of course, there comes a point when too much has been replaced or repaired, and there's not enough originality left to preserve. At that point, a classic car becomes more deserving of a proper restoration. To answer the question, I would rather see where my grandfather's elbow wore through the paint on the window/door frame of his old 1950 F-100, etc... rather than looking at a shiny restored truck. Its the same as looking at an old photograph of a person versus an artist's rendition of that person.... it depends on whom you admire more, the person or the artist?

  29. John B. Adams La Mesa CA

    In the case of this truck I think the patina of use is awesome, it's a work vehicle that deserves to have the mechanicals made safe, but I'd be proud to drive it to cruise night and tailgate cocktails. I truly think the preserve vs restore is a complex equation of the specific vehicle, its condition and what its original mission in life was.... and its history.

  30. Tim Gosselin Tacoma, Washington

    A little over 4 years ago i bought a 1969 MGC GT from its first and original owner, a woman who was 49 when she bought it and 87 when I bought it from her. It was like a time capsule. 43,000 original miles. I don’t think it had ever been driven in the rain. It has been stored in a heated garage since 1977. It ran and drove, though it needed a thorough mechanical going through. And it was dirty. But, it was entirely rust free with original paint. Original untorn seats, carpet, and interior that, once cleaned, looked as though it could have been photographed for a sales brochure. The dashboard was flawless. The original foam padding was sill under the floor mats. All the original smog equipment was there. It even had the original cloth-covered radiator hoses. And, it came with an unopened bottle of touch-up paint (most certainly now dried out) that came with the car. The way I describe it: It looked like a car that had been driven 40,000 miles by a loving owner who wanted it to keep going for many more miles. Has some road rash and rock chips. A little dent where the owner dropped a can of tuna fish on the front fender, and another one where she backed into her son's bicycle. The passenger side visor has a small adhesive stain from where she stuck a "No Smoking" sign on it. When I picked up the car, I took a video camera and interviewed her. She was selling it because she was sick and had to move in with her son. Sadly, she did not want any of her family to have the car because she did not believe they would care for or appreciate it to her satisfaction. I assured her I would, and have tried to live up to that promise. I think it is a statement of respect about the engineering and care that went into building the car, and the care that went into preserving it by its original owner, that after all these years it is still as appealing as it was on the showroom floor. The original owner is still alive and lives a few hours from me. I have made a point to drive the car to her once a year -- usually to mark the start of summer -- so she can see I have honored my promise and wasn't just selling her a bill of goods to get the car. There is no restoration in the works for this car. It would just erase all the marks that show the history that makes it so special.

  31. Mark Haynes Nederland, CO

    I would probably restore the F-100 mechanically and leave the body as it is. This is exactly what I have done with my 1958 Austin-Healey Sprite that I found next to a garage south of Denver. It has blistered paint, but is totally sound bodily except for a push in the bonnet. It now sports a race suspension and DOT race radials and disc brakes up front. I still am running the engine that sat for 20 years before I bought it, all I've done to the engine is tune it, replace the clutch and change the oil. Some people think that its a junker and should be scrapped-until they take a ride in it-that always makes me smile.

  32. Jim Lanahan Wilmington De

    I have a 65 VW that I bought in 1968 that I still have and is in workable condition. I am at a loss as to what to do with it. I had it re registered as a Classic Car and drive it on Sunny days just to keep the battery up and really enjoy it. The car looks like a rat trap on the outside as well as the inside but it is all original except for the brakes ,tires etc Do I leave it alone or do a total restore ? Any suggestions. Jim

  33. Mart S Northbrook, IL

    There is a point in the deterioration of a fine car, that it's more appealing restored. As something similar - consider the Sistine Chapel ceiling: Before restoration - interesting, but muted colors and dark; After restoration - stunning.

  34. Jim Cushman Omaha, Neb.

    Do those things necessary to get the truck in a good running, safe, and dependable mechanical condition. Then leave it alone, drive and enjoy it. I'm a big believer in preserving the original and historical integrity of a vehicle Patina rules!

  35. Tom Rew Towson, Md. 21286

    !970 280 sl

  36. Amdy Brown Carlisle, PA

    Given the above scenario, this sounds exactly how my car was eight years ago . My ride is a 1967 Ford Falcon. I have had my classic car for fifteen years now. Initially it was my intention to preserve it as it was. The front fender was dented and the drivers side door was full of bondo. Subsequently I decided to have paint and bodywork done. Whi le I don't regret my decision it has changed some things. In the beginning it was fun going to shows and showing something that was still all original. Over the years improvements were made mainly mechanical stuff. I keep a book about the cars history that is always displayed at car shows. Now when I go to shows all I do is display nostalgia instead of the old parts that were replaced. That all being said, my personal preference is in seeing an all original vehicle.

  37. David G Bemis Cohasset, MA

    I have been having this debate with myself with respect to a 1947 WDX "Power Wagon" that I own. I have in the past owned many of these trucks. To me, a major part of the attraction is that they look "like they mean business." Kind of a form follows function artistry about them. I actually find myself having a stronger gut reaction (positive) to one with "patina" vs a highly restored example, not that I don't appreciate same. My '47 WDX is remarkably sound and very "straight." It would be an "easy" restoration and to make it capable of passing local inspection requirements I have had to undertake some repairs such as windshield glass, mirrors, rear lights and of course brakes. However, I have decided to attempt to preserve it vs restore it. I was pretty confidant that I could accomplish this in terms of the mechanicals, but not sure how to deal with issues such as surface rust outside of the usual clean off and repaint approach. After some careful experimentation I think I have an initial approach. I have found a real dearth of information in this area. I have often seen on some television show where an old car is pulled out of a barn with great fanfare as a "survivor" with lots of "patina," and then in the next segment it has been cleaned up and looks fabulous. No explanation of the techniques used is ever offered. There is a lot of good that could come from someone providing some instruction on how things can be preserved or revitalized without redoing or replacing. Thank you, David Bemis

  38. Shelly Sanders Ithaca Michigan

    I would only restore it enough to keep it in running condition and leave the 'personality' of the truck intact. I have a 1988 Fiero that I LOVE, I can't afford to get it in pristine show condition, but I still enjoy taking it on cruises and such.

  39. Phil Tinsey Michigan

    I suggest that you don't restore it, unless you can't enjoy in its current condition. I own a very nice un-restored 1963 Dodge Dart GT convertible that has been in our family since it was new. The car gets a lot of attention where ever we take it, but when people find out it is a survivor, they appreciate even more.

  40. Jim Schultz Bellvue,Co.

    I'm 71 yrs. old; and I think some "street rods" are really neat / beautiful. But I admire most the "orignal" cars and trucks, with same engines,interiors,wheels etc. Altho I'm tempted to change the transmission in my 1935 Plymouth. WE love to go out for a drive occassionally, but they were geared so low the engine is really revving at 50 MPH. A fellow on line with a car identical to mine has taken a "Borg Warner T-5 from a Mustang,Camero,etc. and adapted it to his 35 Ply. He shows on line a blow by blow explanation with pictures how he did it. He even modified the shift stick to appear like the original. He now has a 5 speed and says cruseing at modern highway speeds is much more enjoyable.( transmission adaptors, transmissiopn mounts etc. are available as a kit) I guess that kind of makes me a hippocrite. Incidently, this"update" can at any time be changed back to original without anyone being the wiser. Like so many my age, it's the nostalga that draws us to the really old cars. It's what we were brought up on. Jim

  41. Tom Fletcher Michigan

    In the case of the 1950 Ford F-100 half ton truck presented in your example I would lean toward just cleaning-up the mechanicals. This vehicle falls in the "sentimental value" arena and would lose that value if restored. This debate will continue as long as there are classic cars being collected, bought and sold. The owner and buyer will have different opinions that could be used in negotiation or determining this is not the right classic car to buy, or sell. Sometimes, the seller just needs to move on and look for another buyer. Ultimately, my opinion is that it is not about "value"..., it is about enjoyment. The enjoyment in restoration, the enjoyment in driving a classic, the enjoyment about owning a classic - restored or original, or the enjoyment of making money off a classic car. Tom Fletcher, CEO - Fletch's Classics @ fletchsclassics.com

  42. Mike Pohl Plymouth, MN

    I had the same thing happen to my family. My brother was able to buy my grand father's 1953 F100 farm truck for $50.00 He just drove it for 5 years and sold it when he went into the service. I say make it a safe driver and enjoy the ride.

  43. Chris Campbell Traverse City, MI

    I'm in Michigan, where road salt has the effect of hastening the physical demise of vehicles. One of my cars is a 1961 Chevy convertible, a car that has had a lot of body work as various teenagers learned how to drive (and how not to) in it. It has been sitting in the garage for about 30 years now. If I wait for enough time and money to restore it, it'll be there another 30 years and I'll be in my ninth decade if I'm lucky. So I've been thinking about buying new tires, metal & rubber brake lines, a carb kit and a new radiator, and putting it on the road in as-is condition. Not perfect, not pristine, but still a handsome old vehicle. What started this line of thought was seeing a '52 Buick in the parking lot one night. It was unrestored, far from perfect, but on the road and giving its owner some fun. What's the old saying...."the perfect is the enemy of the good."

  44. Dennis Wilder California

    I'm an almost original owner of a 1961 VW Sunroof Beetle, which spent it's early childhood in New York and most of its life in Los Angeles. It obviously has seen a lot of wear and tear over the years and roads (crossed the country three times in it!) from my college days to now. It languished in an old garage for 12 years till I pulled it out and went through it mechanically, new tires, and a new medallion. Then the point came, do I keep going and do the cosmetic restore or do I leave her as she is, as I know her, as "part of me?" Thanks to your article the answer is a resounding, "AS IS." She would not be who she is, were she to come out looking like just off the showroom floor. It would be a tremendous loss of character and sentiment, and the history of our connection would most assuredly be gone.

  45. Angel Perez Oyster Bay N. Y.

    I t would depend on what the vehicle was used for previously. If it received its dings and dents in the course of the work it performed, I would probably leave it. Otherwise, I would fully restore it.

  46. Charles Malone Huntsville AL

    My actual project is similar to the old Ford you describe. Mine is a Chevy half-ton made from parts ranging from 1951 to 1955. It is titled as a 1951. My son-in-law's grandfather didn't start driving until he was in his sixties, and he purchased it in the condition described. It was a hard-working farm truck, used to haul live stock to market and supplies back home. I have several friends with restorations so perfect they are afraid to drive them anywhere except from the trailer to the show stall. I plan to drive mine, and prefer it to retain much of its existing character. It will be safe, nice, but not a true restoration. There will be no rust, but all work will be home-done by me, including paint. To me, that is the way to enjoy this hobby the most.

  47. Charles Malone Huntsville AL

    My actual project is similar to the old Ford you describe. Mine is a Chevy half-ton made from parts ranging from 1951 to 1955. It is titled as a 1951. My son-in-law's grandfather didn't start driving until he was in his sixties, and he purchased it in the condition described. It was a hard-working farm truck, used to haul live stock to market and supplies back home. I have several friends with restorations so perfect they are afraid to drive them anywhere except from the trailer to the show stall. I plan to drive mine, and prefer it to retain much of its existing character. It will be safe, nice, but not a true restoration. There will be no rust, but all work will be home-done by me, including paint. To me, that is the way to enjoy this hobby the most.

  48. Myron NY

    It's high time that "survivor" cars are getting their recognition. Frankly many car shows are simply getting boring with better than original or just plain overbuilt restored heavy muscle cars. My 63 Olds (Super Holiday 88 Coupe) completely loaded and original, while use to be relegated to the back of the field now usually gets a pretty decent spot on a car show field. I've had more people coming to look at the car in the past 2-3 years than ever before. Hopefully two things will appreciate over time: 1) people interest in "how it looked when it came from the factory" and 2) the overall value of these vehicles. Wouldn't it be great if survivors suddenly went hot at Barrett Jackson or similar auctions!!

  49. Roy Miller Santa Barbara, California

    We all know of good original cars that have been restored. I would venture that many of these "restored" vehicles might be worth more today if they were preserved, and not restored. There is an awareness today that appreciates the beauty of an unrestored car that is in good conditon, that can function as well as the frame-up restoration car. The original car has a soul, which is something that is lost with a total restoration. Certainly, there are cars that are so far gone, that doing everything is the only hope for saving the car. I've seen many cars that suffer from past incorrect restoration work, that must be redone for the car to have any appeal. If restoration is called for, every effort must be used to correctly bring the vehicle back to the condition it was in when first sold.

  50. Carlos Staten island

    I have a 1929 chevy coach and I am doing a restoration on rear fenders and some of the body. I pulled out the motor and I'm putting a 64 chevy 230 hopefully I can put the actual transmission that is in the car. I want to keep the car original but it will not be able to get the best of the driving force with 80 horsepower and 6 volts

  51. Carlos Staten island

    I have a 1929 chevy coach and I am doing a restoration on rear fenders and some of the body. I pulled out the motor and I'm putting a 64 chevy 230 hopefully I can put the actual transmission that is in the car. I want to keep the car original but it will not be able to get the best of the driving force with 80 horsepower and 6 volts

  52. PJ Rockies

    Indeed, finding a dearly departed relative's 1950 Ford F-100 would be a very rare find. Actually it would be impossible. Ford didn't build a F-100 that year.

  53. mario bohorquez annapolis maryland

    I think that the truck should be brought to a good running condition. Using original parts would be ideal; however, using parts that improve the reliability would be fine also. Cosmetically the truck should be repaired to reverse and prevent deterioration; however the look and feel should be kept as original.

  54. Dave Pickens NE. Ohio

    Having retired from Army Aviation I agree with the statement made by Stanberg/Holtorf. There is no half way status when it comes to safety! Safety must be the number one mind set no matter what type of resoration you attempt. I've owned a '72 Rally Nova now for 2 years and have completed the "safety" portion of the restoration. Front to rear everthing mechanical has been addressed. The reliability and safety aspect is complete. I purchased this vehical from the original owners family. It had been setting in a barn for at least the past 13 years I was told. Now I must decide how much further to take it. I would call it a "10 footer". 'Looks really nice from 10 feet away. The paint is tired and there are a few prior "fixes" that could use some attention. It now runs and drives great, people are drawn to it at cruise-ins and for now I'm just going to enjoy it.

  55. chat jones FRANKLINTON,LA.

    I WOULD RATHER SEE THE TRUCK USED AND ENJOYED AS AN ANTIQUE VEHICLE RATHER THAN BE LEFT TO ROT OR SENT TO THE CRUSHER.

  56. chat jones FRANKLINTON,LA.

    I WOULD RATHER SEE THE TRUCK USED AND ENJOYED AS AN ANTIQUE VEHICLE RATHER THAN BE LEFT TO ROT OR SENT TO THE CRUSHER.

  57. Peter R USA

    Cars are for driving and being looked after in the way they were designed at the time when they were designed. If you don't know how to change the points, condenser, plugs, oil every 6 to twelve months etc.. etc.. ..and drive the car at least 10,000 miles a year, then you are not getting value and fun out of your car, so forget it and do something else with your resources. To me older cars that are super perfect and spend their time being towed from one car show to another makes me vomit ..all pride and no excitement. But then everybody has their own definition of fun, excitement and pride, but driving beats drooling and/or winning a prize every time for me!

  58. Joe Randazzo Aiken, SC, USA

    I agree that the sentimental value can exceed the restored value of a car. I went to my high school 30th reunion and the folks there wish they had kept their first car. None were exceptional collector cars but the value of the memories was worth more than the value of the restored car. I still have my original 1969 Dodge Coronet 440. (Body style not engine size). It looks like a 4 door version of the Super Bee. I stopped driving it a few years ago and have a restoration project on-going. I went on my first date in this car. I drove it all through high school and college. Got married to my wife in this car. Carried her to the hospital for the birth of our daughter. My wife and daughter both learned to drive in this car. My daughter drove it through graduation when she got a new car of her own at graduation. As my jobs changed over the years and my homes changed I still had my lovely bride and my 69 Dodge. When my wife passed away a few years ago I put the 69 in the shop for a complete restoration inside and out. When she went in the shop she was all original and even the AC still worked after 38 years. No major work has been done to the vehicle with its 318 CID, Automatic with 340,000 miles. At my next reunion, I will be driving the 69 Dodge, looking just like it did at my high school graduation in 1974. Some things are just more important than money.

  59. West Arizona

    I have been plagued by this question for years now and am finally coming to my senses that there is no right or wrong answer. It is truly personal. I have a 1965 Rolls-Royce Phantom V and very original, other than paint and a repaired quarter panel. I personally believe there is nothing more impressive than a showroom condition Rolls, yet there is also a most spectacular beauty in the patina of the original Connelly leather hides and the sun enhanced french walnut dash and door cappings. Those items I have left in place, however have gently and "historically" restored each. At the same time I love to drive this car and so I am ensuring every mechanical part is accurate and functioning to the best possible standards. If an original part was known to fail and a remake is available it is installed to make it reliable. With the exterior as a 10ft car that has cracking paint etc., I will have it redone to original color scheme but will not sink a bundle into finish as I will leave the body shop and a rock will ding the front. For me it's a driver and is only as valuable as it can be appreciated by everyone. Great article and question.

  60. West Kenyon Arizona

    Great article and question and one that has vexed me for a while as a collector, but believe it's totally personal. As the article so eloquently points out, the value is in the eye of the beholder. We often forget something is valueless until "you" have received it's dividends. I fully intend to complete, to factory specs, the restoration of my 1965 Rolls-Royce Phantom V, while leaving as much of the original as possible. There is broken and worn out and then there is patina. Keep the patina, fix what needs fixing. Just a thought.

  61. West Kenyon Arizona

    Great article and question and one that has vexed me for a while as a collector, but believe it's totally personal. As the article so eloquently points out, the value is in the eye of the beholder. We often forget something is valueless until "you" have received it's dividends. I fully intend to complete, to factory specs, the restoration of my 1965 Rolls-Royce Phantom V, while leaving as much of the original as possible. There is broken and worn out and then there is patina. Keep the patina, fix what needs fixing. Just a thought.

  62. West Kenyon Arizona

    Great article and question and one that has vexed me for a while as a collector, but believe it's totally personal. As the article so eloquently points out, the value is in the eye of the beholder. We often forget something is valueless until "you" have received it's dividends. I fully intend to complete, to factory specs, the restoration of my 1965 Rolls-Royce Phantom V, while leaving as much of the original as possible. There is broken and worn out and then there is patina. Keep the patina, fix what needs fixing. Just a thought.

  63. West Kenyon Arizona

    Great article and question and one that has vexed me for a while as a collector, but believe it's totally personal. As the article so eloquently points out, the value is in the eye of the beholder. We often forget something is valueless until "you" have received it's dividends. I fully intend to complete, to factory specs, the restoration of my 1965 Rolls-Royce Phantom V, while leaving as much of the original as possible. There is broken and worn out and then there is patina. Keep the patina, fix what needs fixing. Just a thought.

  64. Jason The Great White North

    I have just finished a 1949 Dodge B100 belonging to my grand fathers best friend.I have to agree with Jeff.It's a individual choice and it shouldn't matter.I love original, But I can appreciate the Rat Rods. Slammed cars/trucks. It's about the individual choice. Great article.

  65. Robert Spinello New York

    I have a 1973 Chevy Vega GT with 7.900 miles. It is original down to its tires, wiper blades and light bulbs. Only plugs and filters have been changed. (It has been stored indoors) It has competed and won over 30 awards against restored cars, 15 of them 1st place (Stock 1970-1975) It has competed and won in a Concours D 'Elegance in a Preservation class and has been featured in Motor Trend Classic magazine. The car has a few blemishes (a few nicks touched up) which usually goes unnoticed, but they bother me more than anything else. After 10 years of ownership I've decided to have the car gone over. (paint blending of defects) I think 97 percent original is good enough. You have to be happy with the car, original or not.

  66. Ryan erie pa

    Restore it! So, you can drive it another 60 years!

  67. Rick Hogue Florida

    A truly rare vehicle with special significance that has been allowed to decay - full restoration to original condition may make sense. Production vehicles for pleasure use - restore what is necessary to make them safe to operate and put a smile on your face when you run them. The '72 BMW R75/5 I bought 37 years and 186,000 miles ago is getting a 'freshening' to keep it looking and running reliably, but it's not rare enough to justify the cost of full restoration. My '74 Norton Commando Roadster is a great looking 'rider' with paint worn off the frame, but all the original decals and major parts intact and newer paint. Both get lots of attention...and I enjoy riding them and that's what they were built for.

  68. Rick Hogue Florida

    A truly rare vehicle with special significance that has been allowed to decay - full restoration to original condition may make sense. Production vehicles for pleasure use - restore what is necessary to make them safe to operate and put a smile on your face when you run them. The '72 BMW R75/5 I bought 37 years and 186,000 miles ago is getting a 'freshening' to keep it looking and running reliably, but it's not rare enough to justify the cost of full restoration. My '74 Norton Commando Roadster is a great looking 'rider' with paint worn off the frame, but all the original decals and major parts intact and newer paint. Both get lots of attention...and I enjoy riding them and that's what they were built for.

  69. Gary Wagner Ocala, Florida

    I have a 1973 Z28 Camaro. I bought the car about 1.5 years ago from a gntleman in Chicago. I had looked for a car for abou a year when I found this one. It had been set up for drag racing, but I took it back to the street. The body was virtually rust free and straight. I replaced the entire suspension with as many stock parts as possible. I did however, upgrade to 4 wheel disc brakes, tires, wheels, etc. I call my car a survivor/restomod. I too have obtained an original am/fm radio and plan to install 3 point seat belts. The debate about restoration vs originality is highly personal and infinately debateable. Only the owner can decide the direction to pursue. Should or should not from others/outsiders should be ignored. Do what will make you, the owner, HAPPY!!!

  70. Gary Wagner Ocala, Florida

    I have a 1973 Z28 Camaro. I bought the car about 1.5 years ago from a gntleman in Chicago. I had looked for a car for abou a year when I found this one. It had been set up for drag racing, but I took it back to the street. The body was virtually rust free and straight. I replaced the entire suspension with as many stock parts as possible. I did however, upgrade to 4 wheel disc brakes, tires, wheels, etc. I call my car a survivor/restomod. I too have obtained an original am/fm radio and plan to install 3 point seat belts. The debate about restoration vs originality is highly personal and infinately debateable. Only the owner can decide the direction to pursue. Should or should not from others/outsiders should be ignored. Do what will make you, the owner, HAPPY!!!

  71. Don Johnston Grinnell, Iowa

    I am the 2nd owner of a 1964 Chevy Impala, 2-door hardtop, sport coupe. I bought the car when it was 10 years old (in 1974), and kept it in its original condition for 36 years. I loved having an "unmolested" original, got lots of looks and comments, and loved telling its story. But watching it continue to slowly deteriorate really got to me. So finally, I bit the bullet, and had it restored. It is really a personal decision. As to its value, I don't know if it was worth more in its original state or restored. But for me, I feel really good to see it gleaming as it did when it was new. Also, I can now pass it on to the next generation, knowing it should look good and last a very long time. I don't think there is a right and wrong to the owner who plans to keep it in the family and enjoy it for generations to come.

  72. Eric Belliveau London, On.Canada

    I restored a 1962 Morris Minor 1000 Convertible five years ago. I bought it over the phone (which is a no no) but the man who owned in Edmonton, Alberta assured me the vehicle was worn out but not tampered with. I shipped it by rail to Toronto and brought it home via trailer. After the restoration was completed I ended up with a cost of 18k. I belong to a British Car Club here in London and everyone in the club loves to see a 80 year young driver enjoying such a British Classic. It is a trophy driven gem!!!

  73. Dan Kamp Dutton, MI

    I own a 1957 Seagrave fire truck (85' aerial) that was still in service until 2005. It has some scratches, the paints a little faded and the gold leaf is worn off in places and the pump needs work. I plan to restore only in the sense I'll find period correct equipment and gear, have the gold leaf redone but keep it pretty much as is. My 1980 Monte Carlo need nothing other than the bumper inserts and need to stay the way it is. I think, as it appears do most that it is a personal decision. I do believe that if a restoration is undertaken that every effort be made to be as true to original parts and paint as possible. We all made the investments in vehicles we did for our own reasons and need to stay true to those reasons.

  74. Bill Paulson Tacoma, WA

    I'm going to talk about a '49 Ford F-1 pickup that was used many years outside on a farm. Picked it up in 1995, probably paid too much for it. It was rough, both mechanically and appearance-wise. It still is rough, even though some of the dents have been pounded out, just like the owner had already done on all four fenders. A valve job, a new carb (stock type) and a set of dual exhausts were the only mechanical repairs. While still looking rough in it's original green color, the sound of that flathead going through the gears is extremely satisfying, and people look to see what it is that sounds so good. Oh, just an old pickup. It will be kept up just like it is.

  75. Ernest Wasserbach New Jersey

    Seen a 1969 ford LTD in the chiltons repair manual when I was 10 years old helping my dad fix a wagon of the same type.I read the info in the book to find they made convertibles! Found a 1969 XL convert. at 18.a manager at the dinner it was parked at sold it to me for $1,900 bucks. I paid every sent working building homes with my dad to my dad who told me it was a wast of money time and, will wreck it in 30 days. This from a man who taut me how to fix them working on them all the time? He was a money loving cheap man & still is, poor guy went blind with greed sits & listens to mad money all night worried about stocks & money,LOL Soon it will be 30 years since I got that car it was almost new back then not even a classic yet could'nt get QQ plates. A 302 2bl slug with a beautiful interior & body. I tell ya I had to fight hard to keep that car & running more than rusting. No help from family or any pep talk to restor it just to junk it. I'm no fool to give in to peer preasure I strugled on loving every min. in that car & working on her even with my dad of all people but, had to listen to the gripes. My girlfriends, friends & family all envy my passion for thet car why ? They never seemed to care about it hated it even. To this day its still the same but, now it has a 429CJ in her posi rear tricked out like it was 1976 ! before that it had a 400 tricked out you now the poor mans big block. My XL with the 400 was beating big blocks LOL anyway I survived & so did the car. I would need to write a book like so many who remember there teen years "I still have the car it all happend in" Car lovers know & feel as I its nice when the rich guys come over to me & my old XL , my poor home built rat in the parking lot of the car shows and, tell me," why is'nt it in the show?" My dad in secret always loved that car too you should of seen his face the few times we drove in it but, would never drive it like he was punishing himself for being so hard on me but, would never tell anyone this truth. Sad life is like this I guess for most but, that car & my passion opend me up to a new way to think & live. Live the past make it fun bring the past with you, like a fine wine & life it takes care & time to trully enjoy anything. Sure the bad times go with it but, this is what the future is for it adds new good & bad to all the old. My wife who I met almost the same time I got the car is just now at 50 finding this fact of life & wine sad for her it took so long. You see some times holding on means always having. I'm broke not because I restored my car or put modern crap that cost big $$$ I'm broke because of bad politics which I have or it seems none of us have control over anymore. I kept it like most keep wine but, I can drink it all the time and, as long as I maintain it as I always have It will never run out till I do. Now I understand all the envy that hurt so much. This all because of a car & the passion to keep it not restor it weather lack of money or emosional support it all worked out. Today however things seen to be very differant its getting harder even with all the proof over time the car was & is a good thing in life. So much that seemed to last forever is slipping into the past forever. Like I mentiond our politics and, our powerlessness its about to finish this old boy & car off at the same time. At least rules in general are in favor & laws to protect old cars this helps a poor guy like me one less thing to worry about & the best part ? as my family again returns to nagging me about my car at least the world stopped & the cops are nicer too. Its funny if I do end up alone in a garage with my car the shows & people at them today will become my family and, a good one it will be. To sell my car I'd be lucky to get 7-8 grand restored maybe 25 grand it would take more than that to restore." One can only live life & remeber it one cannot control it but, one can control ones self" this life with an old car taut me people do wnat they want to as they choose to most leave old behind only to get new to do it again. I found a peice of steady happy why would I trade that for what everybody els dose & thinks? Like I said, there going back to the past by telling me to sell her to pay rent for a few months then she's gone forever. I say stupid idea it costs under 400 bucks a year ni inspection & I fix her with a garage full of parts I got over time out of bars & at swapmeets I also was told was a wast of time. Restore my car? why ? it wont restor my life, if I leave it alone it will alway restor my memories. If the people in life move on doing as they always do thinking as they always have then so shall I. Ride on brothers & sisters

  76. Frank Nicodemus, Sr Wappinger Falls, New York

    As a classic Cadillac restorer for over 40 years, with several customer and personal cars winners at Grand National Meets and National meets over the span of my career, and a licensed and bonded appraiser and adjuster for over 30 years, I have had many debates with customers and friends about this subject. A generous portion ot classic car owners don’t spend money to restore their car, and want to keep it's original condition and that is satisfactory for them. However, some car enthusiasts would like a Number 1 car and restore it to a pristine condition. As Mr. Don Johnston from Iowa stated in this article's comments section, there is no right or wrong, it is a personal choice.

  77. Charles Scozzari Staten Island N.Y.

    I have a 1975Trans Am that I take to the local car haunts. It's a solid car that I have for about 2 years now.It needs paint and some bodywork, but when I park it in a lot I can walk away without the fear that someone is touching it or opening a door and adding another ding to it. I'm enjoying the hell out of it. On the other hand my son who owns five 1984-5 Caddy Eldorado's and an 84 riv. all of which are very low mileage convertibles just lets them sit in his garage and very very rarely drives them. Drive your cars, enjoy them, let others enjoy seeing them,semi restored or in as is condition, use them.Thats why they were made. I have to say I think they should be made safe for the road and used as is. Once you do a total restoration you'll never enjoy your car again.

  78. Charles Scozzari Staten Island N.Y.

    I have a 1975Trans Am that I take to the local car haunts. It's a solid car that I have for about 2 years now.It needs paint and some bodywork, but when I park it in a lot I can walk away without the fear that someone is touching it or opening a door and adding another ding to it. I'm enjoying the hell out of it. On the other hand my son who owns five 1984-5 Caddy Eldorado's and an 84 riv. all of which are very low mileage convertibles just lets them sit in his garage and very very rarely drives them. Drive your cars, enjoy them, let others enjoy seeing them,semi restored or in as is condition, use them.Thats why they were made. I have to say I think they should be made safe for the road and used as is. Once you do a total restoration you'll never enjoy your car again.

  79. David North America

    I have a short but direct response. Did your fathers truck or car look and feal the way that you found it 25 years later. No is the answer;. Make it look like it did when he purchased it 25 years ago;.. make him or her proud.

  80. Kelly Williams Mount Joy, PA

    An unrestored car has parts, materials, and surface treatments, that left a factory all in the same car on the same day, many years ago. It might have some stories recorded in its condition, and may well not look like the day it was purchased. A restored car has parts from modern manufacturers, paint from paint specialists, upholstery from fabric specialists, etc. Age and stories and stuff from delivery day are destroyed and replaced, and it's a thing of beauty and quite possibly the result of highly skilled research into the past. Everybody gets to pick the path they like for what they want to have around them. There's no denying that there are extremes in both directions, but interestingly, both extremes result in cars that can't be used. So jewel-like that you can't risk a stone chip or oil spill, or such a remarkable record of a particular past day that it's a historical document and can't have any part altered. I'm glad we have museums and caretakers for both kinds.

  81. Sharon Kerr Hamburg, NY

    In September 2008, we rescued a 1967 Buick LeSabre off a flat bed truck that was taking it to the junkyard! It was musty & moldy, with surface rust from sitting under some pine trees for a few years. BUT, it cleaned up beautifully - the interior is "like new" - and the best surprise was... it only had 6,720 original miles on the odometer!!! My husband restores classic cars as a hobby, but being the "history buff" that I am (and since I claimed ownership of this car), I opted to keep this one in its "original" condition... or as original, as possible. We did repaint the car to control the surface rust, but otherwise, I cleaned her up, polished the pitted bumpers and made her look quite presentable. She's even won a few awards at local shows. And she's HPOF certified by the AACA (HPOF = Historical Preservation of Original Features). Someday, I may restore her, but for now, I'm thoroughly enjoying her the way she is! In the debate between restore vs. not restore, I opt for keeping a car original for as long as you can and restoring only when the car becomes worn out to the point where "originality needs to be overridden in the interest of preserving the vehicle."

  82. Andrew Klink Fairfield, CA

    I own a 1978 Pontiac Trans Am Y-82 (black) Special Edition with 46,000 miles on it. It has been garaged its entire life and sports the original paint all the way around and while it has a few minor door dings here and there, it has had no body work ever. It also has all of the original decals and stripes. While the paint is checked pretty much throughout, I was able to polish it to an incredible shine. While not perfect, the decals and stripes are in remarkably good shape. Completely original interior and engine. I have been advised by all who see it to maintain the originality of the car and not to restore it, no matter how tempting. In CA we do not have rust issues (the car has zero rust anywhere). This car was somewhat of a barn find, but was very dirty and in need of an extensive cleaning and polishing, everywhere. After spending no less that 200 hours on cleaning every nook and crannie, it has come out beautiful. There are still several areas. All of the maintenance items under the hood have been replaced (gaskets, belts, hoses, ets.), had the A/C charged, front end aligned and other minor details. My opinion is that if you can make the car presentable or as presentable as possible, don't restore. Rust and body damage may dictate otherwise.

  83. Robert McGaugh Great Falls MT

    Having ford blue running threw me I have taken these steps before. I have a 70 torinoGT that I restored in 95. I did everything correct as I could. When the car was done it was a show stopper. It never sat out in the weather and has always be garaged. Now 17 years later the paint has lifted because the car was soda blasted. it needs repaint. The guy who did machine work on the first enging did not do a good job and I had to redo it. to date I have 20K in money for the car. I will fix it and keep driving it.My second car a 70 Boss 302 was done to be as factory as I could. It has dents and dings but is factory paint. I had to weld floors in and enjoy the hell out of the car. I also have 3 fox mustangs and another 71 torino. I say build what you want and drive the hell out of it. I dont care if its a Hemi or a small block. These cars were made to beat on and enjoy. New cars are faster but guess what. they dont have the soul the old cars do and never will. Its the "driving " that we love. not some guy who paid someone else to build the car that he wanted and got a trophey for how purdy it is. Get out the spin the tires and make some noise. It is what it is!

  84. Keith Alberta

    After driving a 57 tbird for 25 years (and by driving I mean over 250,000 hiway miles) and fixing it as needed, I finally decided to to a 'frame up' restoration. It was just another way to enjoy the car. I'm still paying for it, but don't regret it for a second. Not including my time i spent about 30k on it. HOWEVER, now I sometimes wrestle with whether I should continue to drive it or to sell it while the restoration is still somewhat fresh... I've put about 15,000 mi on it since the restore. Still havent gotten around to joing the local Thunderbird Club to at least let it be known that a baby bird could be had at the right price... what ever that is. I'd be happy to get somewhere between the 30k I put into it and the 56,000k it is insured for. Whenever that day comes. I think I still have a couple more road trips in me.

  85. Gary Goodman Nanuet, NY

    Last year I purchased a 1994 Pontiac Firebird Formula Firehawk, number 2 of 500. I paid mid 3 figures for it and had it appraised the following week and got a value of $15,000. It's absolutely stock. All I've done is replace the tires (dry rotted from being in a concrete floored garage for 5 years (previous owner deceased-so I'm the second owner): tune it and repaired the brakes and ac all with original ac delco part. It has the extremely rare firehawk center caps. I have PHS documentation and SLP documentation and birth certificate. The interior was moldy so I had it professionally cleaned for $75. The headliner is being held up and tight with 10 straight pins. The only other thing I'm going to do is replace 2 of the 10 speakers..they are shot. It had some chips on the hood and ram air scoops that I touched up the original bright red gm paint. I'm keeping it and driving it and bring it to local car shows and have it in original survivor class. That's it! I realize in the future it will bring much more money than it's appraised at right now..in other words, a driving investment. On the other hand, I own and drive a 34 times National Show Winnner truck.....2000 Ford XLT extended cab longbed in which I put in $90,000 over the $30,000 I paid. I now wish I had that 90k. So My answer to the 1950 Ford pick up would be to make it mechanically functional in all aspects, add seat belts and drive it to the ground or sell it when it's too tired or too expensive to fix. I'm a car lover, retired and on fixed income. I'm amazed at what restored pickups are getting at Barrett Jackson and Mecum...but further amazed at what a true non restored pickup that's been well maintained will fetch.

  86. Gary Goodman Nanuet, NY

    Last year I purchased a 1994 Pontiac Firebird Formula Firehawk, number 2 of 500. I paid mid 3 figures for it and had it appraised the following week and got a value of $15,000. It's absolutely stock. All I've done is replace the tires (dry rotted from being in a concrete floored garage for 5 years (previous owner deceased-so I'm the second owner): tune it and repaired the brakes and ac all with original ac delco part. It has the extremely rare firehawk center caps. I have PHS documentation and SLP documentation and birth certificate. The interior was moldy so I had it professionally cleaned for $75. The headliner is being held up and tight with 10 straight pins. The only other thing I'm going to do is replace 2 of the 10 speakers..they are shot. It had some chips on the hood and ram air scoops that I touched up the original bright red gm paint. I'm keeping it and driving it and bring it to local car shows and have it in original survivor class. That's it! I realize in the future it will bring much more money than it's appraised at right now..in other words, a driving investment. On the other hand, I own and drive a 34 times National Show Winnner truck.....2000 Ford XLT extended cab longbed in which I put in $90,000 over the $30,000 I paid. I now wish I had that 90k. So My answer to the 1950 Ford pick up would be to make it mechanically functional in all aspects, add seat belts and drive it to the ground or sell it when it's too tired or too expensive to fix. I'm a car lover, retired and on fixed income. I'm amazed at what restored pickups are getting at Barrett Jackson and Mecum...but further amazed at what a true non restored pickup that's been well maintained will fetch.

  87. Gary Goodman Nanuet, NY

    Last year I purchased a 1994 Pontiac Firebird Formula Firehawk, number 2 of 500. I paid mid 3 figures for it and had it appraised the following week and got a value of $15,000. It's absolutely stock. All I've done is replace the tires (dry rotted from being in a concrete floored garage for 5 years (previous owner deceased-so I'm the second owner): tune it and repaired the brakes and ac all with original ac delco part. It has the extremely rare firehawk center caps. I have PHS documentation and SLP documentation and birth certificate. The interior was moldy so I had it professionally cleaned for $75. The headliner is being held up and tight with 10 straight pins. The only other thing I'm going to do is replace 2 of the 10 speakers..they are shot. It had some chips on the hood and ram air scoops that I touched up the original bright red gm paint. I'm keeping it and driving it and bring it to local car shows and have it in original survivor class. That's it! I realize in the future it will bring much more money than it's appraised at right now..in other words, a driving investment. On the other hand, I own and drive a 34 times National Show Winnner truck.....2000 Ford XLT extended cab longbed in which I put in $90,000 over the $30,000 I paid. I now wish I had that 90k. So My answer to the 1950 Ford pick up would be to make it mechanically functional in all aspects, add seat belts and drive it to the ground or sell it when it's too tired or too expensive to fix. I'm a car lover, retired and on fixed income. I'm amazed at what restored pickups are getting at Barrett Jackson and Mecum...but further amazed at what a true non restored pickup that's been well maintained will fetch.

  88. Gary Goodman Nanuet, NY

    Last year I purchased a 1994 Pontiac Firebird Formula Firehawk, number 2 of 500. I paid mid 3 figures for it and had it appraised the following week and got a value of $15,000. It's absolutely stock. All I've done is replace the tires (dry rotted from being in a concrete floored garage for 5 years (previous owner deceased-so I'm the second owner): tune it and repaired the brakes and ac all with original ac delco part. It has the extremely rare firehawk center caps. I have PHS documentation and SLP documentation and birth certificate. The interior was moldy so I had it professionally cleaned for $75. The headliner is being held up and tight with 10 straight pins. The only other thing I'm going to do is replace 2 of the 10 speakers..they are shot. It had some chips on the hood and ram air scoops that I touched up the original bright red gm paint. I'm keeping it and driving it and bring it to local car shows and have it in original survivor class. That's it! I realize in the future it will bring much more money than it's appraised at right now..in other words, a driving investment. On the other hand, I own and drive a 34 times National Show Winnner truck.....2000 Ford XLT extended cab longbed in which I put in $90,000 over the $30,000 I paid. I now wish I had that 90k. So My answer to the 1950 Ford pick up would be to make it mechanically functional in all aspects, add seat belts and drive it to the ground or sell it when it's too tired or too expensive to fix. I'm a car lover, retired and on fixed income. I'm amazed at what restored pickups are getting at Barrett Jackson and Mecum...but further amazed at what a true non restored pickup that's been well maintained will fetch.

  89. Jerry Kreider Narberth, PA

    10 days ago I bought a '68 Dodge Dart 2 dr h-top from the widow of the ORIGINAL owner. It has always been garaged and maintained like clockwork. The interior has been re-done and the exterior is in amazingly good shape with only a little fender rust to be repaired. Both the 225 slant six and the Torqueflite should be bulletproof. It's in the shop of the local Mopar club president right now to get routine maintenance and a few upgrades, but it's not being converted into a hotrod on my watch. Look for it at a cruise nite soon out in "car crazy" south central Pennsylvania. My dad had three 1960 vintage Dodges and I'm thrilled with my Dart. My wife thinks I'm nuts ;-)

  90. Phil Portland, OR

    I've got a '67 Cougar XR7 that I would like to keep in the "As Is" mode, but I know it'll need some repair/restoratioon in the near future. The vinyl roof is just, just starting to peel with some rust underneath around the back window, small rust spots on the doors and rear quarterpanels, plus some other issues. Good solid car that needs some TLC.

  91. Paul Windish Tinley Park, IL

    My advice is to check your resources, then take a good hard look at what your car needs and go from there. I got a '76 Avanti last year, deciding I wanted a nice driver, and put a fair amount of money in updating the motor, transmission, brakes and tires to make it as trouble free as possible on the road. I will not do a full restoration because it would cost more than the car would ever be worth. If you want to do a full restoration on a vehicle, just be aware there's a very good chance you will not get your investment back out of the car when it comes time to sell it.

  92. Bill & Anne Benenati Chesterfield, Mi. 48051

    1939 Plymouth P-8 DeLuxe 2-door touring sedan-74K Received Aug.20,2011. One needs to have that TOTAL committment before they go off venturing for a classic-Pre-or-Post war. I knew that 100% going in to it at age 65. Seller was HONEST, I knew every detail before we bought. Then comes these two serious issues: 1. MONEY set aside to assure you do not just stare at it and move and work hard to bring her back! 2. Research before hand, that you have the SOURCES available CLOSE to home to GET THE JOB DONE! We live in the MOTOWN heaven area, EVERY thing we needed was within 20 miles of home! Brakes factory restore, Front end and steering gear 100% restore, Glass, Engine , trans, even a stainless steel restore shop 5 miles from home, DONE. All I had to farm out was the Instrument Panel glass to California, the radio to Pa. for restore, and the Trico wiper motor to N.Y, for restore. Chrome shop 10 miles from home, and Interior trim restore man and wife live two doors from us. One year of restore done in less than 9 months. Thats our story anyway.Bill & Anne, my wife who supported this adventure 100% from the day way saw the car! Team or family agreementn sure do make life sweet.

  93. Duane Louisiana

    It all depends on how much you want to spend and how easy the parts are to get. I was recently given a 1963 Thunderbird Landau. The owner died and his wife hated the car. It had been parked behind his business for about 14 years out in the elements but yet the body was still in fair shape. Yeah there are some rust holes in the body; one would expect as such from a car sitting out in the weather. The issue with this car is locating original replacement parts and the cost of these parts. Thunderbirds were not that popular and in '63 only about 11,000 Landau editions were produced so in my book that makes them a collectable. I know I've seen them sell for anywhere from $7500 to about $20,000 on ebay and I'll probably spend about $5000 to fix everything not including paint. My suggestion about the truck is, fix it, drive it, enjoy it because you only live once. Take the kids for a spin and even let them help with the restoration. One day they'll tell their kids about how they helped restore a classic. See the 'Freebird' kc5mhb.com

  94. Duane Louisiana

    It all depends on how much you want to spend and how easy the parts are to get. I was recently given a 1963 Thunderbird Landau. The owner died and his wife hated the car. It had been parked behind his business for about 14 years out in the elements but yet the body was still in fair shape. Yeah there are some rust holes in the body; one would expect as such from a car sitting out in the weather. The issue with this car is locating original replacement parts and the cost of these parts. Thunderbirds were not that popular and in '63 only about 11,000 Landau editions were produced so in my book that makes them a collectable. I know I've seen them sell for anywhere from $7500 to about $20,000 on ebay and I'll probably spend about $5000 to fix everything not including paint. My suggestion about the truck is, fix it, drive it, enjoy it because you only live once. Take the kids for a spin and even let them help with the restoration. One day they'll tell their kids about how they helped restore a classic. See the 'Freebird' kc5mhb.com

  95. Tim Georgetown Texas

    Restore the beast to a good driver. Its a shame to watch what some people do to the cars. A Classic Car should be just that a Classic. Something that not everyone has but I believe it should be restored to as close as possible to it orginal condition, so that future generations can see and feel what the orginal owner saw and felt as they drove down the highway.

  96. ron bethlehem pa

    I have a 1968 ford mustang conv i have it stored in my garage i dont want to change or modify the car i just want it to run good enough for the road just running low on money until then i will start it every once in a while any infromatiion you can give i would appreciate it. thanks

  97. Eric TEXAS

    I am living this dream/nightmare scenario that is presented here. I have a 1955 Mercury Montclair Convertible that I inherited recently. My father purchased it brand new & after 35 years on the road he had a shop he trusted "restore" it in 1992. Everything was restored except the engine compartment & engine. Since receiving the car, I have brought the car to a reputable restoration shop with the intent of rebuilding the engine,restoring the engine compartment, and converting it from 6 to 12 volt. I was given an estimate as to time involved and cost expected. As the job evolved, hidden problems were discovered and I had to decide how far do I go & how much $$$$$$$ to invest. Since this was my Father's First Car and I myself grew up riding in the passenger seat, there really wasn't any question...whatever it takes, do it.It has been in restoration now for 3 months & the engine gets fired up tomorrow, then the instrument panel,under-dash components,radio,new carpet & front seat go in.I am so looking forward to get this car back. I do not ever intend to sell this car, it will be handed down to my Father's granddaughter. Next:1959 XK-150 S....

  98. Eric TEXAS

    I am living this dream/nightmare scenario that is presented here. I have a 1955 Mercury Montclair Convertible that I inherited recently. My father purchased it brand new & after 35 years on the road he had a shop he trusted "restore" it in 1992. Everything was restored except the engine compartment & engine. Since receiving the car, I have brought the car to a reputable restoration shop with the intent of rebuilding the engine,restoring the engine compartment, and converting it from 6 to 12 volt. I was given an estimate as to time involved and cost expected. As the job evolved, hidden problems were discovered and I had to decide how far do I go & how much $$$$$$$ to invest. Since this was my Father's First Car and I myself grew up riding in the passenger seat, there really wasn't any question...whatever it takes, do it.It has been in restoration now for 3 months & the engine gets fired up tomorrow, then the instrument panel,under-dash components,radio,new carpet & front seat go in.I am so looking forward to get this car back. I do not ever intend to sell this car, it will be handed down to my Father's granddaughter. Next:1959 XK-150 S....

  99. Eric TEXAS

    I am living this dream/nightmare scenario that is presented here. I have a 1955 Mercury Montclair Convertible that I inherited recently. My father purchased it brand new & after 35 years on the road he had a shop he trusted "restore" it in 1992. Everything was restored except the engine compartment & engine. Since receiving the car, I have brought the car to a reputable restoration shop with the intent of rebuilding the engine,restoring the engine compartment, and converting it from 6 to 12 volt. I was given an estimate as to time involved and cost expected. As the job evolved, hidden problems were discovered and I had to decide how far do I go & how much $$$$$$$ to invest. Since this was my Father's First Car and I myself grew up riding in the passenger seat, there really wasn't any question...whatever it takes, do it.It has been in restoration now for 3 months & the engine gets fired up tomorrow, then the instrument panel,under-dash components,radio,new carpet & front seat go in.I am so looking forward to get this car back. I do not ever intend to sell this car, it will be handed down to my Father's granddaughter. Next:1959 XK-150 S....

  100. Letras I have got a very good hint for you to keeping the nice old DOHC Engine in good shape with toydas ultra dry eco fuels: Use 1:100 API TC two stroke oil / fuel mix as regular driving fuel, that keeps the old fuel-system gaskets, rubber parts, alloy parts etc  and cast iron metal surfaces of those vintage engines in excellent shape and it also lubricates the valves and upper piston regions. Most Porsche vintage owners in Germany do so Also keeps carbs and tank clean and rustfree

    I have got a very good hint for you to keeping the nice old DOHC Engine in good shape with toydas ultra dry eco fuels: Use 1:100 API TC two stroke oil / fuel mix as regular driving fuel, that keeps the old fuel-system gaskets, rubber parts, alloy parts etc  and cast iron metal surfaces of those vintage engines in excellent shape and it also lubricates the valves and upper piston regions. Most Porsche vintage owners in Germany do so Also keeps carbs and tank clean and rustfree

  101. Letras I have got a very good hint for you to keeping the nice old DOHC Engine in good shape with toydas ultra dry eco fuels: Use 1:100 API TC two stroke oil / fuel mix as regular driving fuel, that keeps the old fuel-system gaskets, rubber parts, alloy parts etc  and cast iron metal surfaces of those vintage engines in excellent shape and it also lubricates the valves and upper piston regions. Most Porsche vintage owners in Germany do so Also keeps carbs and tank clean and rustfree

    I have got a very good hint for you to keeping the nice old DOHC Engine in good shape with toydas ultra dry eco fuels: Use 1:100 API TC two stroke oil / fuel mix as regular driving fuel, that keeps the old fuel-system gaskets, rubber parts, alloy parts etc  and cast iron metal surfaces of those vintage engines in excellent shape and it also lubricates the valves and upper piston regions. Most Porsche vintage owners in Germany do so Also keeps carbs and tank clean and rustfree

  102. Bill Peterson Dayton, Ohio

    I have a 1965 4 dr. Chevy Nova that originally belonged to my Grandma. It has been in a garage all this time and is in very good condition, only missing two pieces of trim. I have no intentions of restoring the car but I have had to do some mechanical repairs to get her running good. Stock is fine with me.

  103. Cynthia Long Island, NY

    I think it depends on what type of "car enthusiast" someone is. Some people only want the shiny impeccable car to win trophies at shows and some are happy to drive a beater, and just keep it running. There are plenty of shows out there to show off the beaters and plenty of folks that appreciate that these cars are kept somewhat original. When you look at a weathered paint job with a patina that only time could produce, you might not to sand it down and paint over it.

  104. Michael Viggiano NJ

    Just a point of clarification. The F-100 series Ford 1/2 ton pick up didn't start until 1951. The truck in question, "Restore or Not Restore" is an F1. The choice is purely personal, I chose to restoemy F1.

  105. Raoul Michaud Seymour Ct

    My brother-in-law passed away and my sister gave me his 1976 Chevy C10 step side cheyenne truck that was located in Newark Ca.When I flew to CA.to get it I opened the door to the garage an couldn't, be leave my eyes . The truck he left me was all original and looked like it was almost new and only 32,000 original miles . I have never seen a truck in that shape and not restored. I had it transported to CT. I can remember him telling me how he always maintained and cleaned and waxed it ,but didn't think it was that great condition . He did a fantastic job keeping it in this condition for 35 years sense he and my sister bought it in 1978. I have never owned a truck before but have many classic cars . I am going to try to keep this truck in this condition .I put the truck in two car shows and received two trophies . I hope Bob my brother-in-law is happy that his truck is a trophie winner .great job Bob.

  106. HubieLee Maryland

    Having restored a 1961 Ford Thunderbird Coupe, I have learned that the more money you put into the car and the finer the restoration is, the less you will drive the car. You won't be so eager to lose the value through dings and dents and pot holes and bad roads that are unavoidable when cruising in 'any' car. You have to determine how you will use the car before deciding on how much is the right price to spend on fix-up and restoring. If you plan to race the car is one thing, if you plan to show it and go for trophies is another. If you are just tired of the 'new car trash' and want a reliable car you can work on and drive to cruise-in's is another thing to consider. Having fun is really what it's all about. Your wallet will determine how far you should go in any category. Do what makes you happy and let the next owner create what he wants.

  107. Angel G Abilene, tx

    I have a 1976 chevy nova and when I found it I fell in love with it. Not only cuz its style but because the owner told me how he bought it for his son after he graduated and years later, his son buys a new car and asks his dad to sell it. The great thing about this is I had just graduated so my dad decides to buy me the nova. To me it has enough history of love from father to son to get every penny into to get 100 percent the way it originally was to meet another father and son down the road. History of a car doesnt get you far in some car worlds when it come to priceless moments, but effort and hardwork do restoration shouldnt just be about having a show car that just sits and gather dust it should be as if it just rolled off the factory and be ready to drive on whatever road it takes. But if its just a car to be sold or shown off to a perfect top shape I think all the original trim, emblems every thing on a build factory sheet would be the perfect show display car. Just fix up the interior exactly how yhe orignal was and the paint dont change it up any try to keep it the way it was when uou bought it. That is a restoration and money shouldnt matter if you go for a full restoration in the long run it will count and pay off.

  108. Tony Powell MD

    I am the original owner of a 4 door 1981 Honda Civic with 167000 miles. It has been sitting in my garage now for about 10 years. It hasn't been started in years and the tires are now dry rotted. While it was never wrecked, it will need a lot of work to get back on the road. I'm not sure it is worth it. Thoughts? I really don't want to spend more than 5k to get it going again.

  109. gene broughton clinton, md. 20735

    i own a 1991 grand marquies & i would like to take another trip to louisiana to see my daughter. milage on my car is about 72000 miles when the speedomona cable broke & cannot find a replacement. i only have a 10 minute drive to work every day & i estimate about maybe 80000 miles. where can i go to have my car checked to see if i can drive it ldist. thank you gene

  110. wayne evensen United States

    sent my story and picture never saw either on web site how do i find it

  111. Ken Williams Canton, TX

    Great comments in the article. I have a 67 Galaxie 500 2 door hardtop, originally bought new by my uncle. My interest is in putting it back close to original, knowing there may be things I can't find (such as the chrome down the side). I want it to look nice, so body work and a paint job will be needed, along with interior and mechanical work. My intent is to be able to drive it anytime I choose, not store it in a museum or a personal garage and get no enjoyment from it. How a car is brought back to life is, in my opinion, strictly up to the owner and what they intend to do with their vehicle.

  112. Bob Singer Bend Oregon

    I would love to have some opinions from you folks. I just bought a 1963 Cadillac Coupe deVille that is 100% original. It only has 48,700 miles on it and it's in amazing condition. It has some small dings and scratches, but the paint is original. It even has the clear plastic on the seats that has kept the fabric looking practically new. The chrome is like new as well. Still has original carpet in the car and the trunk too. I have the owners manual, shop manual and service book as well. And the business card from the salesman who first sold the car at the Cadillac dealership in SF. The only things that don't work are the radio, clock and the tilt control on the electric front seat. So the question is, should I repaint it? Also, there are a couple of discolored spots on the vinyl doors and speaker deck. What should I do?

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