The idea of restoring a classic car is attractive to many car owners, but most owners aren’t fully aware of a restoration’s budget needs. Some may have the idea that a good restoration needs to be a costly undertaking, but this is rarely the case if you know where to look. Working with a professional can be a great way to restore your car, but if you’re more of a do-it-yourself type, here are several options and considerations for you to weigh when beginning your project.

Type of Car

This is one of the biggest factors in determining a realistic budget for your restoration. High-demand classics, such as VW vans, will be costlier than their less popular counterparts. Each car necessitates parts that are compatible with – or made for – that particular make, year, and model, which determines the overall cost. Moreover, it is important to assess the condition of the car you have purchased. Is it old and damaged from wear, or has an accident caused additional issues? The level of restoration necessary is another crucial element in determining budget.


How close to its initial incarnation would you like your newly restored car to be? If you are a fan of original parts, be prepared to pay a bit more to get it into working condition. If you are looking for functionality over authenticity, you may be able to find some savings. There are many parts that will get your car into working order, and opting for those which are utilitarian instead of those matching the original car may be a good way to save some money.

When it comes to authenticity and details like upholstery, working with a professional is typically the best way to restore the vehicle to as close to its original condition as possible. Details like this make the car look nicer and increase its value. Plus, this level of authenticity and attention to detail can make a world of difference in the final quality of a project.


When restoring a car yourself, you will likely need to invest in some specialized tools unless you or someone close to you is a mechanic. Many tools can be rented, which may save on some costs, but it is a good idea to take stock of which tools will be necessary for your project. At a minimum, most projects necessitate sheet metal scissors, electrical tools, wire brushes, and drills. Depending on the extent and nature of your restoration, others may be needed. Assessing the cost of tools is a good way to get a preliminary assessment of your budget.

Level of Restoration

Now the ultimate question: How fully restored would you like your car to be? There are various levels of restoration: driver restoration, which functions to get the car operational; street show, which repairs major cosmetic problems; show car, which often necessitates professional work and gets it close to its original condition; and concours, which is the highest possible type of restoration, taking the car to peak condition. Before embarking on your project, decide which is preferable and feasible for your financial and time budget.

Restoration is a fun and interesting way to bring a historic car back to its prior glory. It can be done on a variety of budgets, so assess what you are hoping to gain from your project and get ready to enjoy your newly restored vehicle.