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Is it still worth the time and effort to restore vintage vehicles?


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My brother, Madison, recently unexpectedly died at the age of 56. Since Madison was in high school he loved to work on cars. At 18 years old he attended a trade school in Colorado to learn how to paint them and his car collection started. When he passed away we were only able to find three  locations he had vehicles. He was secretive of his garages. I can only imagine he did not want any criticism. I have sold some of the vehicles and there are others we as a family would want to keep and restore in honor of him. I have found it very costly to even have a vehicle painted. As much as $30k to paint a vehicle without even first taking a look at it. Other places say they won't do it because they make more money changing two panels on a Fed Ex truck and they do not have to paint the whole truck.  I have sold most of the vehicles. I just have a Chevrolet 1996 Blazer to sell. We would like to keep the 1940s Chevrolet DS Coupe, a 1960 Rambler American, a 1972 Corvette, a  1994 Ford F-150 Supercab. All the vehicles are in need of paint jobs and restoration in one way or another. Now that it is on screen I see how unrealistic it is to have all these restored. Oh I did not mention the 3 motorcycles I like to keep.  I have been trying to learn how to do some of the work myself. I have all of my brother's tools and autobody equipment. I will keep going to auto body shops near me in Jersey to find someone who still has the passion to help restore these beauties. The vehicles aren't worth much, but I want to see my brothers efforts not die with him. I want to help complete his dreams for his vehicles. Even if I sell it to someone who will love them and restore them..but I am not there yet. 

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Edited by T Grace Buta (see edit history)
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  • T Grace Buta changed the title to Is it still worth the time and effort to restore vintage vehicles?

Since it's a hobby, you have to love the process for that reason only.... just like any other hobby. Sentimentality is another reason for restoring, which is where it sounds like you are at the present time. If you find yourself moving into the hobby of collecting/restoring old cars, then that helps take the "sting" out of the costs. There is hardly ANY car out there that is monetarily "worth" restoring. 

Good luck, and keep us posted on your progress. Welcome to the AACA Forum. There is a heck of a lot of good knowledgable people here to answer questions along the way.

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JOIN A LOCAL AACA region. there will be people there to give you advice as to who can help at a reasonable cost of things you can't do or want to possibly learn to do. It will make the process so much easier to accept and you will see progress made. PROGRESS is important - it gives you inspiration and hope knowing that the car will be closer to being back on the road the way your brother wanted them to be. Decide what ones appeal to you the most- styling wise. Older cars may be easier and simpler mechanically to get back on the road in working condition. PATIENCE is what you need most of . Start to work on one - don't try to get them all working at once. Frustration will set in as will lack of funds .

Keep us informed of how you are doing.

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Pick your favorite car and get rid of the rest.   You will never finish all those cars and it will only overwhelm you.   If you are not sure which one to pick, take the car in the best condition or maybe the 72 Corvette as that will be fairly easy to get parts for.

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You don't have to spend $30K on a paint job.

Pick your favorite and find a local club or Cars & Coffee, see what others are doing and how they are doing it.

Be willing to lend a hand and learn a bit. If you have a shop do it all it is going to hurt and hurt for some time.

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Sorry for the loss of your brother. He may have had a passion for cars but if you dont it will be a futile effort. Awhile ago my son told me as soon as I was gone he was going to get rid of my cars as he had no passion for them (his attitude has change recently though). I told him once Im gone I could care less what he does, just get a fair price, LOL. Dont let your brothers dream become a burden for you. Taking care of multiple cars and motorcycles is a job in itself. Having a car restored is not for the faint of heart. There are basically 2 types that do it. 1. the person with deep pockets that will send something out to a shop and bring it home finished, after paying at least 3 times the value of the finished product to do so. This is someone that is extremely passionate about a particular vehicle. 2. is the person that likes working on cars as a hobby, makes some spare time to do so and after many years has a finished car. The overall expense is also more than likely twice the value of the car.

 

Sounds like your brother may have fallen into the #2 cat. He liked working on cars, accumulated things he thought were cool, or that he wanted to work on. Too many in this hobby think they need to get as many cars as they can get there hands on and finish none of them. The vette you have is most likely the one that will retain more value than the rest. The pickup looks like a good cleaning and polish would result in a decent sale. Unless you have very deep pockets and willing to spend it with very little return other than a few cars that will need upkeep, get rid of them. 

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I agree with the advice to pick one car and sell the rest. The idea of having a stable of old cars is an idea that a lot of us, myself included, get carried away with. We end up with too many cars that we can't handle, sometimes we can't even drive them all, and we get bogged down. Selecting the one that is the best condition is also a good idea. If there is a specific car that your Brother drove or cherished, that would be a good choice. Most of the cars are fairly "late" models. I suggest that you take the "maintain, preserve, and improve" route. Don't get misled by the desire to restore a car. Just choose one, and get it into a proper storage place to begin to preserve it. A good paint job is very expensive, but there are many production shops like MAACO, that will do complete repaint at reasonable prices. I have used a local indie paint shop that repainted my '70 Mustang, did the front bumper on my Navigator, and did a dent repair on my Son's Boxster.  Their lowest price basic paint job starts at 800.00 and goes up from there. I'm thinking of having my '96 Mustang repainted there and it will probably cost me between 1,500 and 2,000 dollars. It won't be Concours quality but it will be a major improvement.  Good luck and take your time. 

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On 1/29/2024 at 5:05 PM, T Grace Buta said:

He was secretive of his garages. I can only imagine he did not want any criticism.

 

I think this says it all. 
Your brother apparently wasn’t interested in sharing his hobby with you, and I’m not even sure what his hobby was.

It appears though that it was neither the collection of historical vehicles, or leisure time use of the skills he acquired as a car painter.

Let’s imagine for a second that, instead of some fairly recent, still fairly decent, cars he had stashed in varied places, he instead liked to acquire old steam trains or some of the humongous tractors common to the late 1800’s and early 1900’s.

In life, you seem to have travelled in separate lanes, and it strikes me as a bit weird that painting and restoration of cars he, himself, didn’t take time, or have interest in restoration, or even maintaining, now gains importance as a matter of sentiment. 
If you are not a person who looks beyond the shiny chrome and dazzling paint job of a car, and actually enjoys anticipating what is next in reassembling a pile of odd parts into a old car, sell them all and use the money to buy some nifty RC airplanes or boats.

Jack

 

 

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Best thing is to sell everything for what you can get and move on.  Fishing for the best price can take hours, days of frustration, messages, phone calls from lonely people and promised visits from people who don't show up.  Sell it and forget about it.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Well since I'm new here, and I have a bit of experience with collecting older stuff, Ill dive in and cause tr...  The goal should be collect till you die!.  The reason being you are holding on to history and maybe just maybe some young person might just might come along and restore it.  One of the most expensive vintage 1930's Bentley was a complete barn find and not worth restoring. I believe at last auction was way over 1 million.  Now the ford in this case I dont think will get there but then again?!1960s Ford Mustangs??$$$ and why? cheap car cheap motors drove and road badly yet $$$. If these rusting hulks were not kept then there would be no Steve McQueen Mustangs.  Paper last longer in this world than does the object that the paper/ article or picture that describes  it.  We need to save more of the real things, alas modern world frowns on this; regulation for one thing :gated communities ; environmentailist, and A.I. will help speed this up also.  Want to drive a Model T? Here put these goggles on, (or in the future contacts). Its a wonder Hagerty and the other company is still around.  In the end someone has to keep vehicles Like Buicks , Rolls Royce, LaSalle etc.  Tucker seems to be safe at this point in time, but I believe it took a Village oops Movie! 

At the end of the day it takes far more to restore a Royce or woody, what is it with fords anyway? (Real ones are Estate Wagons)  The mustang is much cheaper to restore, less chrome for one thing.  Think of the poor guy with a 1958 Buick anything.

My end point is that the odd old man or even that young guy of 56 should be applauded for saving history, for a possible future restoration. This relic may even have a few scraps of paper in the trunk showing what it looked like and its benefits for you.

Burn more paper save more steel!

Clint

 

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