A full auto restoration project is time consuming and can be very expensive, depending on the type of restoration you want to do. If you simply want a car to look as it did when it was first made, there are ways to cut costs on the project. If you're going for a full factory restoration, you can expect to spend a lot of time and money tracking down those vintage parts, if you can even get them at all.
Create a Plan
Break the restoration project down into steps. Make a list of everything you want to do to the vehicle, then call around to at least three different places, such as speed shops, auto parts stores and after-market parts stores, to get prices on everything you need. This helps keep the restoration on budget.
Once you have a list, organize the list in order that you want to do the project. Painting should be last on the list. You do not want to damage a new paint job by working on other parts of the vehicle. The interior on most cars is inexpensive to restore and can be done at any point during the restoration process.
Wheels and tires can be expensive, depending on what you choose. This can be done at the beginning, but if you do not have the money, save up for expensive wheels and tires. Put away some cash each week and add wheels and tires at the end. If you're looking to sell the car when you're done, remember that the new owner can easily add wheels and tires. The engine, interior and body are the main selling points.
When working on the body, remove the paint all the way down to the metal. Paint the vehicle in gray primer, then in black gloss. Go over the entire vehicle with a board-sander. High spots will be metal and low spots will stay black. This shows you where you need to give the body attention to remove high spots, dents and scratches. Once all of the dents, scratches and high spots are removed, you can prime and paint the vehicle.
If a fender has too many dents and scratches in it, it is sometimes cheaper in terms of time to purchase a new fender. Most body parts can be purchased and bolted on. If a rear quarter panel is in bad shape, you can purchase one, but you will have to be good with a welder and a cutting torch to put the new piece in so that it doesn't look like it's been replaced.
Always use a paint booth to paint. A paint booth keeps the paint from getting contaminated, plus it keeps chemicals out of the environment, as the overspray does not get released directly into the atmosphere.
Learning how to paint a car can change the look of your vehicle and take years off its appearance.