Classic car restoration can be both a satisfying hobby and a lucrative career. In fact, the lucrative career usually starts out as the satisfying hobby. Such was the case with me. Car restoration to me was like a kid working on model cars at the table. Only my table was a garage floor, and my model would actually squeal tires when Ifinished. I have been building and rebuilding classic cars for 37 years now, and I have picked up some experience and lessons learned that I would like to pass on to you.
The first thing you need to determine is your budget. How much can you afford? Unless you are very rich, you probably shouldn’t shoot for history making classics. Model T’s and such are most likely not in your grasp. Realize though, that some of the cars that weren’t the hottest model on the streets in the 60’s really turn heads today when you roll by a crowd in the gleaming relic. One thing that will help you keep cost down is to find a car that is in already decent shape. The less abused, the easier and less expensive it should be to restore (not to mention the saved labor time).
You will also need to decide what type of car you are after. In this day and age of mini compact fuel efficient cars, muscle cars seem to be making a real comeback among collectors.
Then you will need to decide whether you want to go for a true classic car restoration; using all original parts, or a custom updated version of the classic. True classic generally will take alot more time and money. Tracking down the parts you want can be very difficult, though the internet has made a profound difference in the ability to locate parts. Specialty auto parts websites, internet auction websites and junkyards are all great places to find what you need. There is very little room for creativity in true classic, as your aim is to reproduce what used to be. In custom car restoration, there is plenty of room for expression and creativity. It is generally less expensive, but will also sell for less (much less) than a true classic. It is, however, very fun to put your own spin on a classic. Plus, with the right flare and twist, you can sell customs very quickly and easily.
Whatever route you take, I know that you will find classic car restoration to be a satisfying hobby and/or career. Always respect the vehicle, and above all, have fun!