Truck Restorations: Choose Your Best Approach
Article by J. A. Ceschin
Truck restorations can be achieved in one of several ways and you may even be able to completely avoid the hassle of restoring a classic truck if you have enough money to buy one that has already been restored. But even if you have the money it may be difficult to find the exact truck you dream of, restored exactly the way you want.
The first decision you have to make is about the model of truck you want. There are classic pickups that look good and may be sold at a very low price but may be a problem to restore because of the lack of parts. A truck that you buy for a very low price may become a big headache when you try to find parts for it. Restorations may even be impossible in some cases.
Go to classic car and truck events and look around, talk to owners of classic pickups and look at the vehicles for sale. Check into something that matches your budget and ask more questions. Is the truck running? What would be the percentage of rust you see in it? Is it in its original condition or has it been modified? Would it be easy to find parts for it? How much fabrication would it be necessary in order to finish the pickup truck restoration? Is it a truck that would be relatively easy to sell?
Once you find the type of vehicle you are looking for and can afford, you have to decide what you want to do with it. Do you want to use it as a daily driver? Or do you want it to sit in your garage and be ready for an occasional ride? If the truck is running maybe you can just buy it and drive it away.
Even if it’s not fully restored it might serve your purpose. But if you want to have a precious jewel that is to be taken to car shows, one that has to be restored the way you want it, you have to do some serious thinking before you commit your hard earned cash and buy the rust bucket... I mean, the old truck.
As I said above there are several ways to do truck restorations. The most common is for the owner him(her)self to go ahead and work on the vehicle. Naturally you have to have the tools and the space available. You can’t restore an antique vehicle on the driveway of your house or in the parking lot of your bulding. The ideal place would be a spacious warehouse but a two car garage will do. As for the tools, the choice may depend more on your skills than on the tools themselves.
For some people the idea of getting involved in a pickup truck restoration project may sound crazy. But it isn’t necessarily so. A classic truck is a basic machine very simple to understand and to work with.
And you don’t have to do everything. You can use the services of specialists to work on your engine or your transmission or your electric wiring and soon. The same goes for body work and painting, upholstery, etc, etc. In other words, do what you can do and contract the rest.Truck restorations are not too complicated. You may be able to do most of it.
Another advantage of a restoration project is that it can take as long as it takes. There’s no need to rush since there are no deadlines. Even if you run out of money during the restoration of your truck, it’s not the end of the world. I know lots of people who have a truck sitting in a garage for two, three years or even more because they don’t have all the money necessary for the whole project. Do part of the work, save some money and do another part.
But if you don’t have the skills nor the space and still want to have your truck restored there are other ways.
You can go to a professional restorer and leave your truck there. They will do everything exactly the way you order. But beware! Most professional restorers are not cheap. They may charge you by the hour and the restoration will inflate the price of your truck by tens of thousands of dollars. But a professional restorer will give you a vehicle that will also be worth tens of thousands of dollars more.
And you can use a professional to do only the body work and painting. Take the truck home and look for another professional to work on the drive train, brakes, wiring and so on. Take the truck back home and look for still another professional to do the upholtery, sound system, air conditioning and so on. This installment type of restoration may take longer but may be more affordable.
The restoration of a pickup truck can be fun and may even become a family affair. Ask your wife to help you. Or your father, your son, your brother or your best friend. Take pictures during the process and take notes too. You’ll have a great story to tell for the rest of your life.
But truck restorations can become painful if you go over your head. Do yours only if you’re sure you can tackle the project. If not, hire the services of a professional after a thorough discussion of the project with him and after making sure you’ll be able to afford the costs involved.
The main rule about truck restorations is this: TAKE YOUR TIME! To restore an old truck is not like working on a newer vehicle. Your truck may be one of a kind and it deserves special attention and care.