Want to Restore a Muscle Car? Make Sure You Do This First

You’ve always dreamed of owning and restoring a classic muscle car. And you think you’re ready to make the plunge. Are you sure you know what you’re getting into? Save yourself some time, money and heartache by taking a long hard look at this checklist.

Reason for Restoration

Ask yourself why you want to get into muscle car restoration. Is it something you enjoyed in the past and want to start doing again? Do you have extensive experience and talent in the field of restoration and want to bring a piece of history back to its former glory? Perhaps you see restoration as an investment and want to sell the car once you’ve finished with it. Knowing your purpose will serve as a guide when purchasing a vehicle.

Make and Model

The type of car you restore is entirely up to your personal preference and should be the first thing you decide on. Check local used car listings, talk with junkyards or look in directories such as those offered by Hemmings to find your chosen make and model.

Total Cost

As you shop around for a vehicle to restore, keep in mind that you need enough money both to cover the initial purchase and to afford the materials necessary for the restoration. This includes budgeting for unforeseen expenses. If you plan to sell the car, you want to be able to make a profit while still charging a price that buyers will find reasonable.

Extent of Restoration

Never purchase a car for restoration without going to inspect it. You have to see the vehicle in person to determine how much work it needs to be returned to its original condition. Some may be so rusted out that they’re not worth the investment. Others could turn into money pits if parts aren’t easy to find. As a general rule of thumb, you want to avoid vehicles that have rusted or rotted through anywhere on the body and those that can’t readily be test driven.

Parts and Tools

Availability of parts and tools influence both the total cost of a restoration and how much time it takes to complete. The extent of your knowledge when it comes to restoration is also a factor. If you have to send certain parts out to an expert to be fixed up, that will add on to the cost of the process.


Proper storage is essential to preserve a car once you’ve restored it. Do you have a garage, shed, storage unit or other reliable area for the vehicle? Storage for classic muscle cars should be temperature controlled and free of humidity. A concrete floor keeps dampness to a minimum. Also be sure that your intended storage area is sealed well to deter pests and ensure security.