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How long have you been restoring your car?

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You see the terms "easy restoration" tossed around quite a bit.  My experience has been nothing is easy about restoring a car.   I'm wondering what people's typical experiences have been?   I have a few data points at two ends of the spectrum:

 

1.  My dad has a Packard he has actively been restoring since 1965.  There were lulls (measured in decades) but he was always going on it in some fashion.  It should be done next year... maybe...

 

2.  I have seen deep pocketed collectors hand a car to a shop and say I want it down as soon as possible.  Even in these situations,  where 500-800k is being spent the project still seems to take 2-3 years.

 

3. I have a Stutz that I bought in 2005 and have been actively working the restoration ever since.  The work has been split between different specialists (engine, paint, upholstery, etc) and I have never told anyone to stop yet this project is over 10 years now and we are probably only 60/70% done.

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Benefits of AACA Membership.

I have been working on my first 1931 Dodge Brothers business coupe for about 50 years....life got in the way quite a few times.

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My dad purchased our Stutz in 1970 as a basket case (the prior owner took it apart in 1968) and it's still a basket case.  We have spent 10's of thousands on parts over the years though.  I have a letter my dad wrote to a guy who was reproducing exhaust manifolds in the 1980's (yes, he bought a set).  In the letter he said "this is a 30 year project," well, we're in year 46 of the 30 year project now,.   

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Jay Leno comments on this in some of his videos. If he really puts the pressure on he can have a complete restoration done in 2 or 3 years. Some of his projects have been languishing for up to 30 years. I doubt anyone spends more time in the shop, or has more resources of money tools parts and manpower than Leno.

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A rough estimate of a complete restoration is 2500 hours.  Some will be half of that and others will be double or more.  What kills the time line is when you discover, during assembly that a critical part is missing, which halts the assembly and takes six months to a year or longer to locate.

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6 1/2 years so far

 

Note how the thread is title, how long have YOU been restoring your car.  To clarify, my father and I have been restoring my car for 6 1/2 years.  The only labor we have paid for is to have the engine rebuilt and the cylinder head resurfaced.

Edited by 39BuickEight (see edit history)
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Dad did a kaiser darrin in 18 months.. Not sure how many years he was looking for the parts...   It was on three car trailers.. when he got it.. This car was a ground off restoration.. The first one was 13 years.. It is still stock..

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Edited by nick8086 (see edit history)

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Part time from 2003-2011, more or less full time since 2011. About one year to go.

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My 15 Buick Speedster project car has been the "lady in waiting" for about 20 years.  I bought this car in boxes along with parts mixed in from other cars.  The restoration continues until I need another missing part or until another project car gets finished ahead of it (five other finished Buicks now keep her company in the car barn).  I retired four years ago & have been working on my other cars to get them all in touring shape.  But after this summer, I plan to finish this car for next year's touring season.

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I only do frame off restorations and I do it for fun. when I was in my 20s a car took two years to complete and I did several. I am close to sixty now and each car takes about four years.

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You guys are all making me feel better, thank you.  The attached has been in my garage (or more accurately three garages due to moves) since 1994, photos circa 2002, 2004, and current.  I am doing all my own work and literally no other person has touched the car except the chrome plater and the machine shop.  But as we all know life gets in the way, my job is 45-60 hours a week and we moved in 2005 (major home renovation) and 2013 (preparing for sale of property and kitchen remodel in new).  Car was in offsite storage from mid 2013 to late 2015 while I waited for a new garage to move it to. 

 

I estimate over 2500 hours worked and the interior is still not done, but it is on the road and driving now.  A part timer in his garage has to absorb little inefficiencies that take longer than a pro--when I was in a shop working on mostly prewar Classics we estimated a nice round 2000 hours for a restoration, which if you do the math means 1 year at 40 hours a week but that does not allow for delays for waiting on parts or suppliers, so 18-24 months to completion was a better estimate. 

 

When I hear the "Fast and Loud" idiot on TV saying he will restore a basket case in 6 weeks I am ready to kill him through the TV set.  Thanks again to you guys for making me feel better here in the real world, Todd C      

       

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Edited by poci1957 (see edit history)
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How long it takes depends on a whole lot of things (like life). I do almost everything myself except plating and upholstery.

A "modern" car can take a long time because of the complexity. i spent 3 years on a '57 Olds.

But I did do a 1910 Buick model 10 in 3 months. A perfect original car that took almost nothing.  It is a VERY simple car.

And then there is a restoration that has been "happening" for 42 years!

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Well, I pulled my 1910 Buick Model 16 out of a field in Louisiana in about 1990, and it's not done yet, so that should tell you something.  I've done a few cars in between, of course.  Anyone who can restore a car completely in 6 or 7 months, wow, hats off to them.....my full restorations over the years averaged about 3 years, that was mostly big Classics (1934 and 1935 Pierce Arrow for example).....

 

Done correctly, down to each nut and bolt and bushing, it's time consuming.  As someone stated once, "you don't get much done in an hour".......

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I have been working on a model A coupe for 8 years. I did however take a 2 1/2 year break and rebuilt a '68 Chevy truck with my step son. I am in the middle of painting now. Hope to have it driving by the end of August. Upholstery will come next winter. Its hard working full time and having a family to get a lot of work accomplished. I am Lucky and have a wife who fully supports me and my hobby. She even comes out to the shop to help once in a while. She loves the upholstery and is looking forward to that part of this project.

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About two years and 2000/3000 hours. Did 4 and I'm sick of it..............Bob

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This is really a great subject. I am still "restoring" my first car, started on this one in 1884 when I took it off the road, since then I had restored 4 others for myself and was heavily involved on 3 others with my friends. I had just retired and so I was  ready to start now that I have more time. At the time I did not want to lay into it until I had all of the hard to find NOS parts, which I had acquired. So I was ready to go, not so another car has gotten in the way. I have had a lot of practice anyway when I get to it

 

I had done some damage to my 60 Impala a few years ago loading into the trailer, The car still had most of the original paint so I wanted to have the original lacquer paint blended in in as well as a few other spots. I owned this car 32 years and had great family memories with it.  Well the paint did not blend in well at all, looks like two different colors. so last year I pulled the body off did the frame, went through the mechanicals again and I am taking it to the restoration shop tomorrow to get painted, just have a few more pieces to prep. So my 62 Impala has to wait again......  

 

Finding the time and money is always a problem. When ever I had money I had no time I was too busy working to make the money, when I had time I had no money to spend.

 

TODD I LOVE THAT PONTIAC! GREAT COLORS

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This August marks three years since I bought my '26 Model T. I spent the first year piddling around with her, rebuilding the rear axle, yard driving and sorting out what needed to be repaired. The second year she basically sat. Last summer I pulled the body, completely rebuilt the engine and transmission, suspension, and repainted everything. Literally every nut and bolt has come off this car. I know... its a nickel-era Model T and not really worth the money but I bought the car with some money my Dad left me when he passed, so its important to me.

 

I hope to have the car done by the end of August, but that relies heavily on the lead times for the upholstery kit and seat springs.

 

 

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Edited by zdillinger (see edit history)
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I finished a 100 point restoration on my 36 Pierce 21 years ago, but its never finished. With 20k on the clock past the restoration, its time to spend some more money and labor to get her back to 100 again. just so I can drive it another 20K.

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2 hours ago, John348 said:

Finding the time and money is always a problem. When ever I had money I had no time I was too busy working to make the money, when I had time I had no money to spend.

 

TODD I LOVE THAT PONTIAC! GREAT COLORS

 

Thanks John, the green two tone is as original of course, with matching leather interior forthcoming.  When I got the car with faded original paint I was not thrilled with a green car and when I went to my first Pontiac convention the old timers assured me that fresh Limefire Green would pop and it does.  I appreciate your statement about time and money, I have dealt with that paradox my whole life too, Todd C  

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37 minutes ago, zdillinger said:

I know... its a nickel-era Model T and not really worth the money but I bought the car with some money my Dad left me when he passed, so its important to me.

 

I hope to have the car done by the end of August, but that relies heavily on the lead times for the upholstery kit and seat springs.

 

I think it is great and look forward to having a Model T myself someday, Todd C

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Bought my '29 Dodge w/ paper route money in '71...from '73-'77 I did a restoration the best I could w/ my low funds and drove her everywhere, including to college.....she sat for about 20 years during career and several moves and I started doing a 2nd restoration on her in '08. Here's a photo of her just last week getting back from paint & bodywork. I still have chrome, upholstery and other small things to do and hope to have her finished for more driving by the end of the year.

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Its been 4 summers now, I don't have heat in the garage. Its a "just gonna have fun with it" project, so while I've been working on it I was not about to attempt a PROFESSIONAL restoration. I don't have the $$$ or the expertise. I've been lucky so far asI was able to find all NOS parts or OEM reproduction parts. I am about to get it street legal I am just deciding many of my budget $$ i am going to spend on tires. 

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