1924 Buick Master McLaughlin Tourer
Vintage and classic car collection and restoration is not just a hobby; it is a way of life for many connoisseurs and car lovers across the globe. And this passion is growing with every passing year – a trend which is evident from the increasing number of participation at the vintage and classic rallies held in several parts of the country. But restoring a car to its former glory is a challenging task and a combination of a variety of factors determines your ultimate success or failure. So for those who want to tread down to part of collecting and restoring these ageless beauties, we have a few handy tips to share. Read on to find out.
Vintage or classic?
The one issue that needs to address at the very inception is whether one wants to acquire a vintage or a classic car. A vintage car is described as one which has been produced upto 1939, whereas a classic car is regarded to be one which has been manufactured between 1940 and 1960 with the notable exception of cars which were either produced or assembled in India. One also must bear in mind that though all the cars produced upto 1939 is a vintage, however, not all cars produced between 1940 and 1960 is a classic.
Spotting the seller
Honestly, there is no particular source of tracing someone who is keen to sell their car. The news can be generated through almost any medium and at any giben point in time. You will be surprised that sometimes, the news about vintage and classic can come from the unlikely of sources.
But generally collectors (or prospective sellers) can be categorised into three groups.
- Firstly there are those who own a vintage or classic car but don’t desire to sell it.
- Secondly, there are those who want to sell their cars but the ownership of the vehicle is disputed. My advice is ‘never touch these cars’ as you might get involved in uncalled for and unnecessary trouble.
- Thirdly, there are those people who have been planning to restore their car for several years or even decades but haven’t been able to do so, mostly due to lack of funds. These are the folks who are most likely to sell their cars if you quote the right number.
1912 Ford Model T
In the good old days (early 1960s to late1980s), owning a vintage or a classic wasn’t a very expensive proposition. Usually, the owner of the car would be more than happy to sell off their vehicle for merely a few thousand rupees and invest the money in buying himself a Fiat, Ambassador or a Maruti. They felt that they were selling off headaches and not cars because the new car would be more efficient and occupy less parking space.
But now the scenario has changed drastically. Today, owning a vintage or a classic car is regarded as a status symbol. Therefore, suddenly a lot of people have started buying vintage and classics not out of the love for cars but for merely for the sake of elevating their social status. Sad, but true.
Over the years, the number of cars available for sale is on the decline and the demand has witnessed a steady growth. This has led to a crisis of vintage and classic cars in the market and has made it extremely difficult for true car connoisseur and aficionados to collect more cars. Hence, if someone owns a vintage or a classic car and desires to sell it, he can charge an exorbitant sum of money for it depending upon the buyer’s profile. So if you want to pursue this hobby, make sure that you have deep pockets.
1947 MG TC
Assuming that you have already acquired the car, it is time to discuss about restoration. While restoring a car always bear in mind that the objective is to restore the car to how it used to be in that era.
• To begin with you need to gather all available information on the car which you desire to restore. Years ago, anyone who wanted to restore a vintage or classic car had to purchase expensive books that could teach them how to achieve their vision. Tips on car restoration were few and far between. But today, virtually everything is available on the Internet. In addition, there are clubs and forums where you can meet other likeminded individuals who also share your interest and can assist you in restoring your car. Best of all, you can find inexpensive e-books that can help you towards your goal in breathing new life into an old car.
• You have to put together a team of skilled mechanics. Preferably, look for people who have some prior experience and knowledge about vintage and classic cars and have a knack for restoration. The problem with modern mechanics is that they always want to replace parts and not repair them. Such souls will not serve your purpose.
• A lot of vintage and classic cars have a great amount of woodwork. So you also need to find yourself a good carpenter to get the job done.
• Chrome parts are present in almost all the vintage and classic cars. So finding an electroplating workshop is important. Unfortunately, due to lack of business, most of the electroplating workshops have wound up. Hence you have to make do with the ones which still exist, although some of them may not offer top class workmanship.
• Mechanical parts are not readily available in the market and there are very few stores which still have some old parts in their stock. So that’s a problem. Previously the spare parts used to come packed in paper boxes with details printed on them. And now that with time those paper boxes have either deteriorated or altogether vanished, identification of those spare parts has become difficult even for the shopkeepers themselves. Hence in many cases, when you are scouting for a spare in the market, you are likely to come across shopkeepers who are not aware of whether they have a certain spare in their stock or not. But if they allow you to scan through their old stock, you might just be lucky to chance upon what you are looking for.
• The good part of the story is that we have very good craftsmen in India and so you can literally fabricate almost any part you want. But this is only possible if the part to be fabricated is physically present irrespective of its condition. However, in the complete absence of the part, one has to seek guidance from an expert to find out exactly what is to be fabricated and how.
• Another major issue is getting the right set of tyres. Some of the Indian companies have the mould but they are no longer interested to manufacture an odd size tyre. So in most of the cases the tyres have to be imported from abroad at astronomical prices.
• Most of the old cars had a 6 volt battery. But at present, no reputed company manufactures 6 volt batteries any longer. So it needs to be replaced with the 12 volt battery and hence we need to throw away lot of 6 volt components and replace it with 12 volt components. 6 volt bulbs are also no longer available.
• Carpets, seat cover fabric, hood material and paint should strictly be as per the era.
1962 Volkswagen Beetle
One you have been able to restore the car, it time to start thinking about its maintenance.
• Storing your car properly is of utmost importance. You need an exclusive covered weather proof garage to store your car. Do not park your car in the open or on the street.
• Generally, the best season to drive your vintage or classic is from November to May. Avoid taking the car out during the monsoon and jack up the car when not in use. This saves the tyre life.
• Keep your car a little above ground level to avoid damp.
• Petrol tank should be drained out when the car is not in use. This will prevent the petrol from rotting and prohibit line clogging.
• Apply a coat of wax or lacquer on the chrome parts to retain the shine and prevent chrome degeneration.
• If the car has leather seats then they have to be polished with cream to prevent the seats from creaking. Even when the car is not in use the seats should be polished at least once every month.
• Before again using the car after the departure of the monsoon, the car should be fully serviced, cleaned and polished. Oil should be checked.
• Last but by no means the least, the car should be cleaned on a regular basis and started periodically.
1935 Austin 7
In addition to the vintage and classic car clubs throughout the world, there are car shows, rallies, auctions and online sites dealing with these ageless beauties. Ever since cars became a part of our lives, they have been prized by their owners. And never more so than right now. So if you choose to enter your car in a car rally, then you have to pay special attention to some important point.
- The car should be restored as per original manufacturer’s specification.
- It should be in top mechanical condition.
- You should not install any additional gadgets or accessories which do not conform to the era that the car belongs to; else it will lead to losing points.
- Leaking gear boxes, differential and engine sumps if detected will result in losing points.
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