Classic car collecting continues to be popular, with some industry experts estimating annual sales to be approaching $3 billion. Current world financial woes, now stretching into more than half a decade, have not had a negative effect on classic cars and, if anything, have only caused values to increase. There are basically two groups most interested in classic cars: those who have a passion for the machines themselves and those who look at the investment potential of these cars increasing in value and turning a handsome profit down the road.
The most expensive car ever purchased is a 1936 Bugatti Type 57SC Atlantic, only four of which were ever manufactured. One belonged to Dr. Peter Williamson, a New Hampshire neurologist who passed away in 2008. In 2010, Peter Mullin, a California-based collector, purchased the car for an estimated $36 million. When Williamson bought the car in 1971, he paid only $59,000.
The car’s third owner had substantially modified the Bugatti and the first thing Williamson did was to have it restored it to its original condition. This is an important point since the value of a classic car is greatly determined by how close it comes to being in original condition, including the interior.
Finding Proper Parts Can Be a Lengthy Process
The 1936 Bugatti Type 57SC Atlantic was originally upholstered in tan goatskin and the seats contained muslin-wrapped horsehair bags. To be true to its original manufacturing design, this requires restoration efforts to include materials as close as possible to factory specs. Classic car restoration includes three main areas of concentration:
· Engine/drive train
While many mechanics may be able to hammer out a dent or turn a wrench, few are experienced or capable in doing quality upholstering. For this reason, many will hire an outside professional for the upholstery work. It has to look good and look original, which is not an easy task for the inexperienced.
Materials Used For Car Interiors
While interior/upholstery kits are readily available for most popular older cars that had many units produced, for rare cars of limited production a restorer will typically have to start from scratch in an attempt to replicate the original design and materials.
Typical materials used on cars built from the 1930s through the 1960s include leather, vinyl and cloth (textiles). Each model, however, had its own specifics that take time and effort to reproduce. A 1953 Porsche 356, for example, had door panels made from muslin and corduroy, and were filled with rag wool. Hand stitching was prevalent in older cars, and specific types of broadcloth, some two-tone, were often employed. This needs to be researched and replicated as faithfully as possible to retain the full value of a classic collectible car.
Many older cars also used upholstery materials that were less durable than today’s cars, such as suede or velvet. While these won’t hold up as long on a restored car, they are required if originality is to be maintained.
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