The business of restoring old cars - Alfa Romeo Bulletin Board & Forums
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post #1 of 21 (permalink) Old 08-19-2019, 06:33 PM Thread Starter
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The business of restoring old cars

I thought y'all might be interested in this piece I just wrote regarding the business of restoring old cars.

https://wordpress.com/post/inrestora...rdpress.com/72

-tj in the Cruz Mtns
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post #2 of 21 (permalink) Old 08-19-2019, 06:52 PM
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Can't see it.

Jim . . . '72 Super 1300, '70, 1750GTV, 2nd series,
'62, Lancia Flaminia Zagato3c, 2nd series
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post #3 of 21 (permalink) Old 08-19-2019, 07:21 PM
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I read it and what is evident is knowledge is key before starting a restoration. The less knowledge you have the more your repairer needs to have, it's a balancing act.

There are gaps in peoples knowledge, even the Alfa factory workers only worked in specialized areas so I think it unlikely one individual may have possessed all the knowledge to be able to have built all the car in the Alfa Romeo factory in the 60's and given the opportunity. (although it's possible for one individual to be highly skilled in most of these skills as a designer, welder, coach builder, panel beater, painter and mechanic and trimmer).

It's the poor condition of the 1900 body prior to any work starting that was the initial reason for the restoration for the 1900. I would hazard a guess to say that the restoration of the 1900 body would have a level of difficulty on par with the 3500 GT Maserati but much greater than that for a GTA. I'm not a panel beater or coach builder so I would not know if the nose on your 1900 was savable by a panel beater or if it needed to be remade by a coach builder from the start. Unlike the 1900 the 105's coupes don't have this lack of availability of panels. These are some body issues that will face owners of 1900 cars that may need specialist skills.

If I can use the 105 cars as an example: Over the last 50 plus years vast amounts of knowledge has been worked out for the mechanical side of the 105 car. Then we have in the last 5 years where the bodies repairs are getting close to factory standards. In the last 12 months the interior and colours are finally being worked out, thanks to knowledge extracted out of factory documents which is great.
But you also need to know other things that can be easily over looked in a restoration like the fasteners for the cars were made by the Lobo company, does you car have them? I think I can comfortably say no one has ever written a book about restoring any 105's to factory correct specifications, that is because factory correct restorations of 105's is a recent phenomena.

I'm not sure about other Alfa Romeo models like the 1900 etc if any one has written a book on a restoration of a 1900, but if they did, the repair of the panels and new manufacture of panels by hand would be a major part of it.

Last edited by Steve105; 08-23-2019 at 03:08 PM.
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post #4 of 21 (permalink) Old 08-19-2019, 07:39 PM
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Wanted me to log into Word Press.
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post #5 of 21 (permalink) Old 08-19-2019, 08:53 PM
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post #6 of 21 (permalink) Old 08-19-2019, 11:47 PM
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The only way to know what kind of work you are getting is to do it yourself, but when that work is beyond your ability, which for some people starts with something as simple as checking valve clearances, you’re at the mercy of someone who may or may not act ethically.

Absolute truth! Great article. Thanks for posting it here.

Jim . . . '72 Super 1300, '70, 1750GTV, 2nd series,
'62, Lancia Flaminia Zagato3c, 2nd series
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post #7 of 21 (permalink) Old 08-20-2019, 04:01 AM
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Great article TJ, restoration and this applies to not just cars, is so diverse and finding specialist, honest people is not easy. Actually Marque specialists have some advantage over non specialists restorers but competent restorers can work on most cars and do good work, it gets down to hand skills and a willingness to learn when something different presents itself.
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post #8 of 21 (permalink) Old 08-21-2019, 04:47 PM
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Great article. A good contrast to an XK120, where multiple books have been written expressly to identify was is factory original and what isn’t. Not perfect but probably 98% is known. Helps that so many were sold (that NOS parts and unrestored cars can still be found as references). Makes the restorers job much easier and less expensive.



John

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post #9 of 21 (permalink) Old 08-21-2019, 05:56 PM
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I can’t spray paint, and I can’t do body work. I can build engines, assemble major components, and I can manage projects.
My problem ^....my dad pasted and left me his 2002 he bought new in '72. Has been sitting in garage since 1987 , Interior almost perfect. Body 98% rust free ,original paint on 80%..That's the problem,was hit when new and the <cough> expert body shop at the BMW dealer did a sh*t job.

I would love to put it back on the road or maybe just try to sell it and find a GTV like I use to have.

I don't what to dump 15k plus + my labor to get the car back the way it used to be and sell it for 20~25K

Why didn't he buy a Tii?

“If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough”
Oo--V--oO There is a fine line between "Hobby" and "Mental Illness".
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post #10 of 21 (permalink) Old 08-21-2019, 05:57 PM
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I like the article and you have to find someone who can repair or replace panels. I know of two shops that will build an entire body out of metal. What an expensive and time consuming project. I personally will not restore a car if it needs more than 50% panel replacement. The shops that I work with are very small and most of them have only the shop owner and no workers. They tell me that it is difficult to find good help.

Last edited by kuni123456; 08-22-2019 at 02:46 PM.
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post #11 of 21 (permalink) Old 08-21-2019, 06:48 PM
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TJ, what an awful experience. And who hasn't at one time become a prisoner of hope?

A very well known restoration shop that had done very nice cars for multiple friends over the last decade was given a friend's car to restore. Little did we know at the time, but the top body/restoration guys had all just quit to open their own business.

The shop hired a couple of inexperienced kids and subcontracted other stuff out ordinary insurance-repair type shops. My friend's wife came down with cancer at the start of the restoration, so he spent all his time shuttling her around the country for the best care (she's ok now). But it meant he had no time to stop by to check on progress. He assumed that the decade long good reputation of the shop meant he could trust the owner to manage the project. My friends restoration wound up costing 2.5x more than it should have and actually nearly 2x what the car is worth. The worst part is the car went in as a 97point concours winner, and emerged actally worse than when it went in! He was and is still devastated by the experience. It isn't the multiple 6-figures wasted on a botched restoration that keeps him up at night, but more the total and malicious abuse of his trust by a person he thought of as a friend . And this shop is a major club sponsor which exhibits at all of our big events. Thus, My friend doesn't participate in the club for which he bought the car because he's too angry at the shop, and out of fear of ridicule by people who haven't yet been cheated by a bad shop.

Terrible business we dabble in, yes? one of us honest guys should start a restoration business...

John F.
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post #12 of 21 (permalink) Old 08-22-2019, 11:40 AM
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I remember telling you early on that you would be well pleased with Nicks..So good to see all things finally coming together
all the best
Chuck
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post #13 of 21 (permalink) Old 08-23-2019, 03:48 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bfeng View Post

Terrible business we dabble in, yes? one of us honest guys should start a restoration business...
Done: https://www.ThePaddockCars.com

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post #14 of 21 (permalink) Old 08-23-2019, 02:21 PM
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And my #1 piece of advice ... Never pay for anything in advance.

If the shop can't float my restoration costs for 1-2 months then they are too financially unstable to get my business.

When I do pay, in arrears, I inspect the work first or get an unbiased export to inspect.

Never the the shop get ahead of you, financially.
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post #15 of 21 (permalink) Old 08-23-2019, 04:10 PM
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Originally Posted by guillotineFI View Post

If you don't know how to do this, then the first sub-project is finding someone who can define all these smaller sub-projects.

Find someone who can do that for you. Simple.
Great advice. A restoration shop is first and foremost a “general contractor” who is supposed to have expertise in doing exactly what you just prescribed. The average joe who takes his newly acquired 101 Giulietta in for a show car resto likely doesn’t know enough to do the correct job breakdown, much less inspect and judge the quality of the work at each milestone. So, in the end I think it is very hard for an average enthusiast keep a shop honest. TJ, after his experience, is now likely very capable at spotting the bad guys and knowing when things are starting to go off the rails. But, TJ is not typical. The reason I know how to rebuild engines is because I paid a professional twice and got a motor that wasn’t right. That fixed me to learn to do things myself.

John F.
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