Muscle Car Restoration Tips

Muscle car restoration offers you two choices: you can restore the car back to original condition, or you can customize the car and turn it into a hot rod. If you customize your muscle car, it may not be worth as much as a vehicle restored to its original condition, but it becomes yours.

Factory Restorations
Restoring muscle cars to their original condition is the same as restoring classic cars. You'll need to seek out original parts, which can be costly and time consuming. The end goal is a car that's as close as possible to what rolled off the factory assembly line, and that may be worth tens of thousands of dollars to collectors. When it comes to original-condition restorations, you lose value for anything new that you put on, and you gain value for anything original you can find.

Restoring a muscle car to your tastes is a bit different, in that you can change whatever you want on the vehicle. There are many different things you can do to a muscle car if you do not need to keep it in factory condition. While customizations don't command the same resale value as restorations, then can be worth more than the parts and your time, if you put the effort into creating something with a lot of power and a unique style.

  • Upgrade the engine. If you have a 5.7 cubic inch engine, upgrade to something larger. If you want to keep the same engine, but want a bit more horsepower, you can upgrade the heads to aluminum heads with larger valves and better flow. You can also add nitrous oxide, a blower or a turbo to the engine.
  • Change the paint. Choose a trick paint for the body. There are chameleon paints that change color and look nice on most muscle cars. You can also go with something old school, such as candy-apple red or a black body with flames rising from the front.
  • Change the seats to racing seats and install a rollbar or a rollcage. If you are upgrading the engine and plan on racing the muscle car, you'll need to do this to meet National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) rules. The rules vary depending on the top speed of your car.  You can find the speed times and the rules on NHRA's Web site.
  • French the door handles and locks.
  • Change the carpet. If the interior is a neutral color, you can change the carpet to match the outside paint. When changing the carpet, repair any rust spots on the floor. Floor pans can be purchased for most muscle cars. If the original floor pans are so thoroughly rusted that it is difficult to fix them, new floor pans can be welded in. Be sure to coat the underside of the pans with rustproofing after you install them, especially if you live in the North and will be driving the vehicle in the winter. Salt is corrosive to metal, and a real enemy of your muscle car.
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