How to Restore Your Collector Car

Book Review

by Ryan King

Edited by Patricia Kalin

I just finished reading How to Restore Your Collector Car and I have to say I'm thoroughly impressed.

Author Tom Brownell and publisher Motorbooks International have teamed up to produce one very informative and interesting book on the subject of auto restoration that takes a reader through the whole process. It gives a very clear idea of what can be expected in – as well as how to plan and execute – a restoration.

I find that one of the most daunting things about any car repair or project is not knowing what to expect. The trepidation surrounding the repair or project can often times be the thing that takes longer to deal with than the repair or project itself, manifesting itself as procrastination.

I've long wanted to do a project as large, time consuming, and complex as a total restoration. However, to be truthful, I have been leery of stepping into one for fear that something will go very wrong. What if I get half way into it and realize I've gotten in way over my head, or I'm not able to afford to get myself out?

This book has helped to reduce those fears by giving me a very pragmatic perspective about what major and specific steps, tools, materials, parts, skills, knowledge, resources, and workspace are required for a restoration – as well as useful tips and sources for all of the above.

Not only is this book informative, but its greatest feature is the layout that gives the reader the information in a well thought out order that breaks the procedures of restoration down into easily digestible chunks. As a whole, the book gives the reader a clear picture of the process involved in restoring a car, but the individual chapters are focused and informative on their specific subjects, building on the information provided in previous chapters without being confusing.

The book starts out at the very beginning of a restoration project explaining why a restoration project is worthwhile and how to pick out a good candidate. The author then helps the reader figure out what results they are looking for from their project which includes an idea of the kind of work and costs involved in each choice. After that, the book details the steps and procedures needed to complete a restoration in the order they need to be done and finishes with an overview of how to take care of the car after it is finished. The author even shares ideas on what other people in the hobby do with their cars to enjoy them.

While this book is a great resource for those people still considering restoration as a hobby, its use is far from limited for those people who already have a project. Tom Brownell does a great job of providing a fresh and knowledgeable point of view which can help to streamline a project already underway (by saving time and money), inform a restorer about the best way to handle an unknown part of a project, or help get them out of a jam once they are in over their head.

How to Restore Your Collector Car was quite inspirational for me, I know I'm already avidly looking for more workspace so that I can get started on a restoration project of my own!

Here's a detailed look at the layout and information covered in this book:

  • Acknowledgments
  • Chapter 1: Why Restore a Collector Car?
  • Chapter 2: How to Select a Collector Car
  • Chapter 3: Restoration: What Does It Mean?
  • Chapter 4: Research: Uncovering a Car's "Life Story"
  • Chapter 5: Setting Up Shop and Working Safely
  • Chapter 6: Disassembly: Taking the Car Apart
  • Chapter 7: Restoring the Car's Brightmetal Trim
  • Chapter 8: Cleaning, Stripping, and De-Rusting
  • Chapter 9: Abrasive Blasting
  • Chapter 10: Metal Repair
  • Chapter 11: Smoothing Dents and Repairing Metal
  • Chapter 12: Applying the Primer Coatings
  • Chapter 13: Applying the Finish Coat
  • Chapter 14: Inspecting and Overhauling Car Brakes
  • Chapter 15: Restoring Mechanical Assemblies
  • Chapter 16: Renewing the Car's Wiring
  • Chapter 17: Restoring Your Collector Car's Interior
  • Chapter 18: Replacing a Convertible Top and Renewing Weather Seal
  • Chapter 19: Care and Preservation of Your Collector Car
  • Chapter 20: Showing and Enjoying Your Collector Car
  • Appendix 1: Concept 1957 Corvette Yesterday's Sports Car for Today's Highways
  • Appendix 2: Training in Restoration Techniques
  • Appendix 3: Resources
  • Index

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For more information contact Motorbooks on the web at www.motorbooks.com, by phone 1.800.826.6600, or by email at customerservice@motorbooks.com.