How to Make Money Restoring Old Cars

George Doyle/Stockbyte/Getty Images

Classic car restoration can be a profitable venture, or it can be a monetary sinkhole, depending on how you go about the restoration process. Most restorers do so for love of a particular automobile, then purchase the make and model of their dreams and lovingly take years to restore it to its former glory. To make money at restoring old cars though, you need to treat the process as a business from the start. You’ll purchase cars not based on your desires but on what the market wants, and then sell the restored vehicle as soon as you finish the restoration process.

Determine which old used cars are in high demand among those seeking to purchase restored vehicles. You can find out which vehicles are most in demand by searching web-based discussion forums centered on car restoration or attending auto shows and discussing the most-wanted vehicles with other show goers. Make a list of the cars that are most in demand.

Locate an in-demand car for sale and purchase it. You’ll want to find a vehicle that’s as intact as possible without much in the way of rust damage. Keep in mind that the more original parts present in the restored vehicle, the higher the sales price you can ultimately charge. Search for used cars in salvage yards or in newspaper or Internet sales listings.

Break down the car by part, examining each to determine if it’s salvageable for use in your restoration or if it requires replacement. Make a list of all replacement parts needed to complete the restoration.

Locate your replacement parts through auto parts stores, dealerships for your particular car make or advertisements. Concentrate on original equipment, parts that would have come out of the car model that you’re restoring, to keep the resale value as high as possible.

Restore the automobile using period publications to match the colors of the paint, trim and interior. It’s not enough to have the vehicle run like it’s new off the production line, you need it to look as though it’s newly built as well.

Give the vehicle a thorough cleaning, including steam cleaning beneath the hood of the car. Detail the vehicle to give it a factory-new look. Create a brochure for the vehicle detailing it’s selling points, telling a bit about the car, the restoration process and how much of the vehicle is original parts.

Determine a selling price based on the selling prices of other vehicles of its make and model on the market. Make certain the selling price is higher than the amount of money placed into restoring the vehicle. If you choose one that was in high demand, you should be able to set a price that covers not only the parts, but the labor you put into the restoration process as well. Advertise the vehicle as widely as possible and attend car shows with your brochure, contact information and sales price. Be prepared to negotiate on price, but always maintain a sales price that’s above your cost of restoration.


About the Author

Larry Simmons is a freelance writer and expert in the fusion of computer technology and business. He has a B.S. in economics, an M.S. in information systems, an M.S. in communications technology, as well as significant work towards an M.B.A. in finance. He's published several hundred articles with Demand Studios.

Photo Credits

  • George Doyle/Stockbyte/Getty Images