Mr. Mark Aquino, Classic Car Whisperer
Learn How To Restore Your Classic Car from Your Home Garage

Day 2- How To Restore Your Classic Car From Your Home Garage

Day 2- How to select the correct vehicle based upon your skill level and budget.

This is an important segment in restoring a classic car because the #1 reason people fail is that they choose a vehicle that’s way beyond what they can chew financially and/or mechanically.  So, you definitely want to be honest with yourself on your skill level and what tools you have on hand.  Some things may appear to be easy and then when you get into it, it’s real difficult and frustrating and may cost more than you think.  That’s why I’ve posted How-To Videos on my You Tube Channel, MrMarkAquino, so you guys can see tricks of the trade and learn from my mistakes before you pour out your own money and your time & labor.

To start, we need to evaluate your skill level.  Think about what you’ve done in the past, have you changed a headlight?  Services your own car? Oil change? Filter change? Tune up?  Have you ever done any body work?  Changed a bumper or a door?  Any rewiring, electrical rewiring?  Just evaluate what your past experience is and think about was that difficult or easy?  Again, the reason we need to ask this is because if the little things were difficult, then you may want to buy a car that needs more cosmetics than mechanics.  And this will help you determine which car to buy and which car you could be successful in restoring yourself from your home garage.

I made up a skill level gauge if you will.  It’s a scale of 1-5.  I would consider a Level I to be someone like my wife.  A level I person would be someone who has common sense and lots of potential.  It’s someone who’s changed a tire or serviced their own car before.

A Level II person is someone who has done tune ups, water pumps, alternator replacements, fender and door replacements, not necessarily doing it as a profession but is confident to replace a door or fender or door or hood.  It’s pretty straight forward, it’s replacing but because of the weight and bulkiness, I consider that a level 2.  And it take a little more skill to re-align the panel.

To be considered a Level III, I’d expect he/she to be able to rebuild a carburetor, valve job, trouble shooting and diagnostic, some body work repair like fixing dents, using fillers, spraying primers, some interior work, carpet replacement, door panel replacement, dash pads…not necessary interior restoration but confident in replacing parts of the interior.

Also a LEVEL III is beginning to have some kind of welding skills and familiar with, gas torches, arch welder, mig welder, confident enough to at least use them in minor projects.

LEVEL IV:  Mechanic wise can rebuild a front suspension, do complete brake jobs, stock engine rebuilding, is proficient in welding.  He/she can remove & replace body panels and suspension pieces and rebuild suspensions.  As far as a LEVEL IV body paint: sand and prep a car for paint including dent repair, rust repair, welding skills, body fillers, primer, and being able to spray a complete vehicle.

Interior is a very specialized part of car building.  Because interior is usually only done once, most people don’t invest in interior tools.  It’s not something you’d find in the average, wrenches and jacks to do mechanical work.  So, for a level 4 interior person, in my opinion, you would know how to restore a dash including rewiring, painting, disassemble and assembly and reinstalling headliner installation which is a difficult task to do right and very easy task just to do.

Finally, a Level V person, like myself, can do any body work, panel removal and replacement, floor removal & replacement, chop tops, body work to the most discriminating perfectionist, paint work included.  When it comes to mechanicals, a level V person can rebuild motors, transmissions, rear-ends, brakes, and basically everything you can possibly do to build a car.  Electrically, they should be able to wire cars from scratch, trouble shoot electrical problems, wire alternate systems,and pretty much any electrical you may encounter in car resto.

A note on upholstery. I’ve done dashes, replacement, restorations, headliners, which aren’t difficult but I’d rather not do…. I’d rather leave the seat upholstery & custom stitching to the experts because I can make more money doing others thing vs. spending ten hours doing a 2 hour job if left to the experts.  So, that’s one of those things that takes a lot of practice.  And again, you usually put one headliner in a car and there’s not much opportunity there for practice.  So, I tend to leave most upholstery work including headlining and seat upholstery to the experts.

Now that you’ve read these LEVELs, you can get an idea of where your skill level is and I’ll be referring to these levels when we go shopping for your classic car.  What I’m going to do is, post a video here on this post as well as on my You Tube Channel at MrMarkAquino, showing you how to gauge a car and how to match that car’s condition with your skill level and budget.  We’ll also do a review of Day 1 which goes over your tools, how to shop for your tools for your skill level and budget.  Once we get our skill level & budget down, find our tools and project car, then we can get to work!

I hope you enjoyed today’s segment, I look forward to hearing your questions on Day 3, next Wednesday at 3:30PM Pacific where we will discuss how to find, negotiate and purchase your Classic Car!

If you found this to be helpful and fun, be sure to leave your comments below, and share this with your friends!

See you!

Copyright ©2010 Marie Aquino. All rights reserved.

36 Responses to “Day 2- How To Restore Your Classic Car From Your Home Garage”

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    Hi Freddie,
    Thank you for your comments on Your constructive criticism is welcome! Please tell us how you’d like to see the information presented and/or organized!
    Aquino Staff

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    Aquino Staff

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  • Mark Aquino says:

    Hi Latricia!
    Thanks for the comment and question. We addressed your question on our radio show last Wednesday! Did you get a chance to listen to it? Here’s the link:
    We’re doing a show this morning called Day 10: Disassembly prior to Bodywork and most likely when you go to that link, the media player will play the most recent show, so you’ll have to click on Day 9: Bodywork 101 to get the show where we mention you and your question!
    Thanks again for your comments and feel free to call in with more questions during Shop Talk!
    Mark & Marie Aquino

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    First, look to see if they specialize in the same type of car you do. That’s the most important thing. Good luck to you and thank you for posting on our blog!

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    Hi Tad,
    Because we get sooo many comments, we screen them which is why you didn’t see your comment come up right away…there’s an approval process on our end. I appreciate your time and comments. Thank you for your compliments! Have a Happy Holiday Season and keep posting, we’re working on streamlining our site and you’ll be able to see more of what we got going on!

  • Mark Aquino says:

    First make sure they specialize in the type of car you have. That’s the most important thing. Good luck to you! Mark

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