THE MINI MAG. Volume 2 No.7
  July 2000

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Home Restoration.
To Restore or not To Restore.

Car restoration is a long process, often painful and unrewarding until the car is finished. This is why there are so many partly-completed restoration projects for sale - it is much easier to dismantle a car than to put it back together.

 You must learn many skills to restore a car (depending on how much work you do yourself). Many of these skills, especially in panel beating, are a dying art.

 The satisfaction of reversing the destruction caused by time, and driving your dream car as though you had just left the show room.

 The attraction of driving a car with true style and elegance, or historical value (such as a car with racing history), attributes lacking in modern disposable cars designed specifically with recycling of the components in mind.

 It is important to ask this question at an early stage: Do you want to restore a car, or do you want to own a restored car?

Be honest - restoration involves vast amounts of money, time, and effort. Most cars are available in "show condition" for a lower cost than a restoration to that condition, even if the project car you are considering is only of nominal cost.

Types of Restoration
There are many different skills needed to restore a car. It is generally accepted that at least some restoration jobs are better handled by professionals with experience and a reputation. Other jobs are a balance between time, money, and your attraction to doing the job. The cost of accurate measuring equipment needed to rebuild an engine may be comparable to the cost of having the entire job done to professional standards. These standards can be replicated at home, but only at a price. The major types of restoration are:

 Professional Restoration. A restoration company is selected to do all the work. Depending on the model and the condition required, a final bill for thousands of hours of labour may not be unreasonable. This is clearly the most expensive method of restoring a car. Since so much of a car is hidden beneath the surface, and many parts can be made to look new with a coat of paint, be careful to select a company with a reputation for meticulous and thorough work.

 Part-Professional Restoration. There are many time consuming but relatively unskilled jobs in a restoration: dismantling the car, removing underseal and paint, and flatting back and buffing new paint. Doing these jobs yourself can cut a large amount from a restoration bill. However, a lot of these jobs are rather thankless.

 Home Restoration. All work is done at home. This is most expensive in terms of equipment needed and skills to be learned, and requires the most unwavering dedication. Some jobs, usually engine rebuilding and paint or panel work, may be done by professionals for little more cost than doing the work at home. The equipment for doing a good paint job is so expensive that it may only be worthwhile investing in if more than one car is to be painted.

Which Car to Restore?
This is one question to which there is only one answer: A MINI. They are simple, parts are cheap and widely available and with a little tweaking they are able to foot it with the most aggressive of modern traffic. They are also a collectible classic car in the true sense, having been in production since 1959, and the values of Mk1 & Mk2 models, like Cooper and Cooper S are presently rising.

Good Luck!