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Muscle Car Restoration To DIY or Not to DIY?



If you own a muscle car, chances are that you bought it with the intent to restore it, either for personal use or to resell. Either way, you have several different options for how to restore it, and several goals: authenticity, simplicity, and manageable cost. Your first decision then, is whether you want to perform your own restoration, or hire a professional to do it for you.

Do It Yourself:
If you choose the do-it-yourself restoration option, the largest benefit is that you'll be able to translate your vision into the car you want, without having to explain it to someone else. Unfortunately, there are also many disadvantages to DIY restorations. They include:
  • Lack of Experience: If you haven't restored many (or any) muscle cars, you might not want to be your learning experience to be on the car you plan to drive. You can make up for this lack by taking a class from a local community college or restoration shop, but be aware that if you plan to resell, a poor quality restoration is going to reduce your earnings and might even raise your car insurance quotes.
  • Availability of Parts: When you restore your own car, you'll have to also find all your own restoration parts. There are numerous magazines, owners clubs, and gearhead forums to help you find this, but you must weigh the time spent searching and the individual price of each part against the final result.
Hire a Professional:
An alternative to doing your own restoration is to hire a professional. While this will cost more initially, you'll be paying not just for the work itself, but also the greater experience of a professional mechanic and their knowledge of what parts are needed and where to find them for the lowest price. You'll still be able to tell the restoration shop what you want, but you won't have to exhaust yourself doing the work.

Which is Most Cost Effective?

Ultimately the cost effectiveness of DIY vs. hiring a professional is somewhat subjective. If you plan to resell your muscle car, you'll get a better price if you can say it was professionally restored by a licensed mechanic, who has certified the parts and their work. If you plan to keep it, and time isn't an issue, the DIY project may be more difficult to accomplish, but it will also give you memories you could never buy, especially if you involve other members of your family in the process.