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Cougar69

Car Restoration Need Help

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I have recently purchased a 1969 cougar and want to do my first total restoration. Everything on the car is working and operating but I want to modernize it. I plan on doing a complete frame off restoration but I never had done anything with cars and honestly have little clue what order to do things and when to do it. I want to replace the entire suspension, rebuild the engine/ Transmission, four wheel disk brakes, paint the body and frame, replace the chrome, replace the interior, and any other parts. I want to do the most on my own to save money but need advice on what to do first. At this point in the restoration I have everything out of the car except functional parts (it can run and drive). My budget for the entire project is about $17,000. I believe my next step is to remove the engine and everything else from the car, and get the chrome done and rebuild the engine and trans. While that is getting worked on then take the body off the frame and sandblast and paint the frame. Then buy a full performance suspension kit and take it to a local shot to put together. Any tips and advice on what to do next would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

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If you haven't ever done anything with cars before, I suggest leaving your project to a professional. It's defiantly not as easy as it looks like on television. I've seen way too many people, with the same intention as yours, take a car apart and then look around and see the mess they've created and realize that they are way in over their head with expenses and work to be done, and just give up and try to sell of the car in parts to try to recoup their losses, which never happens, and end up destroying a car, and loosing a lot of money. At least read some books on the subject before going any further. I can't remember the title, but one by Matt Joseph comes to mind, and there are many others.

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You are wildly under estimating the cost of what you propose to do even doing most of the grunt work yourself.

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You are wildly under estimating the cost of what you propose to do even doing most of the grunt work yourself.

this. There will be costs you never even thought of. Supplies, tools, rental tools, tools you never knew you would need, alone will be well over $1000. "Getting chrome done" can easily be $10,000 depending on what you mean by that. Your budget based on what you have said needs to be $50,000 conservatively.

The only way to do something like this yourself is to have an expert by your side. My expert is my father.

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this. There will be costs you never even thought of. Supplies, tools, rental tools, tools you never knew you would need, alone will be well over $1000. "Getting chrome done" can easily be $10,000 depending on what you mean by that. Your budget based on what you have said needs to be $50,000 conservatively.

The only way to do something like this yourself is to have an expert by your side. My expert is my father.

Me and my father drove around the state looking at shops and I totally agree with underestimating the pricing. We threw out the idea of disk breaks and total chrome. Didn't realize that good brakes are 5K. There are 6 pieces that need to be chromed including the bumpers and front grille trim. Also do you recommend going the more expensive route with the chrome to last longer? I will buy a buffing wheel and polish to fix up the rest of the chrome. We moved our total budget to 30,000 total. We bought the Cougar running and driving with no rust or repairs needed with engine, trans, ect, and everything with that checks out. How much would it cost to do a two tone paint job (Black and silver) including all body work? is it a good idea to media blast the car with walnut shells to save money or is that something that if done incorrectly will set me back further in price for the shop? Also we accounted the shop hours and our preference suspension kit was 1,000 and to get a shop to install it, it will cost another $850-$1000 in labor. We have spread out the time to 2 years (my senor year) to get everything done without mortgaging the house. Is there any cheap alternatives that I could do to save money? Thanks

.

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I am doing my car as cheaply as you can (not in terms of quality, but in terms of labor expense). We use a small 5 gallon off-brand sandblaster, a large single stage air compressor, proper ventilation and protective gear, and Black Beauty fine media when we "sand"blast parts. Do you have somewhere to do this? It is the biggest mess you can ever imagine. If you go through my car's thread you can see some of the blasting we have done. As long as you use fine media you really can't hurt anything. You can sweep it up and reuse it too.

Other costs that can add up quickly, for example, if you need and use AllMetal, it's $35+/quart. Will you be welding anything? Those costs include wire, gas, etc. Many hidden costs across the board. You many very well find rust when you blast it that you could not see with paint on it. When that happens, things slow down and costs go up.

If you get the body ready, paint can be anywhere from $1000-$50,000. Realistically you can get a "decent paint job" for a few thousand dollars, but there are 1,000 questions that any painter will want to know before quoting anything.

Just plan on running into issues so when you do, it's not a big deal because you were expecting it.

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I am doing my car as cheaply as you can (not in terms of quality, but in terms of labor expense). We use a small 5 gallon off-brand sandblaster, a large single stage air compressor, proper ventilation and protective gear, and Black Beauty fine media when we "sand"blast parts. Do you have somewhere to do this? It is the biggest mess you can ever imagine. If you go through my car's thread you can see some of the blasting we have done. As long as you use fine media you really can't hurt anything. You can sweep it up and reuse it too.

Other costs that can add up quickly, for example, if you need and use AllMetal, it's $35+/quart. Will you be welding anything? Those costs include wire, gas, etc. Many hidden costs across the board. You many very well find rust when you blast it that you could not see with paint on it. When that happens, things slow down and costs go up.

If you get the body ready, paint can be anywhere from $1000-$50,000. Realistically you can get a "decent paint job" for a few thousand dollars, but there are 1,000 questions that any painter will want to know before quoting anything.

Just plan on running into issues so when you do, it's not a big deal because you were expecting it.

Do you recommend chemical paint strippers? there are a lot of flat surfaces on the car to get most of the paint of then there is a media blasting place up the road where I might be able to rent a spot to reach the little areas. Or should I buy a sandblaster? If so what setup and equipment do you have? I do have to weld some things to make the body more ridged and to install some parts such as a monte carlo bar for the engine bay. Luckily there are welding programs at my school where this should be very cheap and effective. I work in 3D modeling so they have done metal work for me before. If I want to paint the engine or frame of the car should I go with the cheaper spay can alternatives at eastwood? They claim that the engine paint holds up in temps and the frame paint is durable and rust preventative. Also for interior there are kits for vinyl seats and headliners. Would it be wise for me to buy these kits and pay an upholster to install them? To do the entire interior and trunk would be 6,000.

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I really don't know anything about the process other than what I have done to my own car, with my father's lead. We used tractor paint on the frame (this holds up very well) and OE type engine paint on the engine that a Buick restoration company sells. I have a parts car for my interior. The advantage to having your own equipment is convenience, but if you don't have the space, it doesn't matter. Depending on where you live you can't sandblast without proper permits, etc.

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Do you have any pics? Would be a lot easier to advise if we could see the condition.

Ben

I made a before album on my profile to see the car.

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Looks like a darn nice car to start with. I wouldn't get that deep into it. If you want to change the color just get some quotes to sand and paint it.

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Looks like a darn nice car to start with. I wouldn't get that deep into it. If you want to change the color just get some quotes to sand and paint it.

I do want to change the interior, paint, suspension, exhaust, and wheels. Other than that just add some modern touches that are simple and easy like LED lights, Electronic headlight door kit, and anything else that improves performance. Here is what I want the paint to look like. Not so much with the wheels in the image. post-101241-143142562458_thumb.jpg

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Wow, lots of negativity in this thread. To the O.P., good for you. The only way to learn is to dive in, make mistakes, and learn how to correct them. Whatever you budget, the real cost will be considerably more, but the beauty of doing the work yourself (in addition to the feeling of accomplishment) is that you can proceed at a pace that matches the availability of funding. I do everything except upholstery myself, and I've spend the last 40 years learning how to do that by making mistakes. I did not have the benefit of a mentor. I read everything I could then dove in. Hands-on is the only way to learn.

By the way, you'll be hard pressed to do a "frame off" on that Cougar, as it has no frame. It's a unibody car. ;)

Good luck.

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"We bought the Cougar running and driving with no rust or repairs needed with engine, trans, ect, and everything with that checks out"

STOP right there! PLEASE do yourself a favor and drive the car for a while. That is the only way to know whether the engine, trans, steering, suspension etc. suit you or not.

Once you drive it your plans may change. It might be that the engine and trans are fine and all it needs is some nice wheels and a paint job.

I would suggest you got through the car first and clean it up. Do not throw anything away that might be a car part. That piece of plastic, rubber, or metal that can't possibly be part of your car, always turns out to be something irreplaceable.

Make a list of what it needs to get on the road. Tires, battery, brakes, etc. Once it is on the road clean up the interior and exterior and drive it around.

By the time you do that, you will have some idea what it takes to get an old car on the road, and that is barely scratching the surface. The kind of project you describe, would be like stepping into the ring with Vladimir Klitschko . You have to train for that kind of match, and work your way up to it.

So don't overmatch yourself on your first car. It sounds like you have a very decent old car there, that just needs a few things. This should be a learning experience and it should also be fun. Endless years of work and expense are not fun. Do the basics on this car, go to a few old car events, meet some guys with similar interests. You will have some fun and learn some new skills.

Next winter you can work on it some more, like do the engine, paint job, interior, whatever it needs most. By this method you can restore or modify it little by little, and never kill yourself with work or expense before you have something to show for it.

Believe me, I made the same mistake starting out and so have most of the guys who read these boards. I only wish I had smartened up sooner, I would have saved a lot of time and money, had a lot more fun, and not destroyed some decent old cars.

Edited by Rusty_OToole (see edit history)

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Your first step should be to buy the factory manual for your car. They turn up on Ebay and at automotive flea markets. It is worth its weight in gold if you do your own repairs.

Do repairs as necessary until you work your way through the whole car. You should not need different engine, trans, suspension etc. What is under your car is as good as anything they make today and in some cases better. You might want to tweak things a little bit, like urethane suspension bushings, heavy duty shocks and a good alignment job. But basically you have everything you need already.

I know the temptation of a big motor but you should keep in mind things like practicallity and gas mileage. What use is the fastest car in town if you can't afford gas for it, and it sucks to drive?

What I am saying is, you need to start with the basics and work your way up. You don't start with the hardest job and work your way down. Tiger Woods didn't start by winning Augusta, it took him 30 years to work up to it. I am suggesting you start with small jobs you know you can handle and work up from there.

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This is not negativity. It is reality.

Negativity would be to tell him to start tearing his car apart to the last nut and bolt, and not be there for him when he can't finish the job. Because he took on something that would challenge Jay Leno (who has been messing with old cars for 50 years, and is a gazillionaire).

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DO NOT strip the paint. Take it from someone who worked in body shops for 20 years. It is about 10 times harder to get a good paint job if you strip the paint. There is no problem painting over old paint.

I'm sure there will be people who will tell you that the only way to get a PERFECT job is to strip the paint. They are right. What they do not tell you is that a PERFECT paint job cost $25000 and up, for just the paint, no bodywork, one color, nothing else. And, the kind of shop that does that quality work will not touch a car that someone else has stripped.

If you got a new video game you would not start at the highest level unless you wanted to get killed. The kind of job you are talking about is the highest level and it will kill you. I know you see those guys on TV do a job like that in a week but there are some things they don't tell you. 1) there are six guys working on the car, all skilled professionals 2) they farm out a lot of the work to other shops 3) it didn't take a week, it took 6 months. They just edit the tape so it looks like a week 4) the car is not as good as it looks. It is a 20 footer that looks ok on camera but if you saw it up close you would see the corners they cut and 5) They had an unlimited budget, you don't 6) TV is all fantasy in other words, don't listen to their bullshit.

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Cougar69: it's alread hard enough to restore a car like it was when it left the factory. Now, you intend to "improve" it; the modifications you intend to perform are needed a lot of knowledge and money; it's difficult and costly to make an old car drive like a modern one. However, it's your car...

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Thank you everyone for the advise. The best thing I did so far was drive it around and find quotes and prices for the car and what really needs to be done. As far a progress I have taken everything out of the car, but can still run and drive around. I realize that there are 4 rust blisters in the normal areas like around the bottom of the door. As far as paint I realize that It is better for one shop to do everything so if I mess sonthing up it won't cost more. Also I found interior kits that include fome and all that my mother can put together no problem. However for the headliner and carpet i will go to a professional. To pass time to save money for paint and body I will be restoring the old rim blow steering wheel and front grill. Also tough up and salvage chrome because it is surprisingly expensive. Overall I know this process more realistically and pace myself over the next two years. Thanks for the help thus far.

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Cougar69 I looked at your pictures and you have a real nice car there, surprisingly original too. I suggest you clean and wax it and enjoy it. You might want to get some better tires. Service it by the book, meaning oil change, trans fluid change, make sure brakes are good, etc.

Another thing not many people know about, put on a new set of heavy duty shock absorbers. Koni, Monroe or your favorite brand. Get the front end checked out, get an alignment with new shocks and a set of Goodyear Eagle tires and you will think you are driving a new car. This is surprisingly cheap, 4 new shocks and an alignment job around $200 bucks.

Then go out and enjoy the summer.

You might also look into getting a body shop to fix just the bad spots and blow in the paint.

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It is the easiest job in the world to take a car to pieces. It is very difficult to get it back together again after it has been restored and the bits are all stored ready. It takes strength of mind to see it through and there are many stalled projects available for not much money.

Another way is to remove something, refurbish it, and put it back. Work your way through the car like this, starting on the easy bits you can do. Then you can still enjoy it most of the time. By the time you get to the hard bits, you will have learnt a lot and will be more able to tackle them. I am trying to do this, but it requires discipline to only take ONE piece off at a time for refurbishment. Once a fair bit is done, it is easy to take it off again and do the bigger piece it all attaches to.

The engine is a large chunk of money. Leave it till later, nearer when it is needed. It doesn't do a new engine much good to sit and wait.

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