BUY RESTORED or RESTORE AFTER BUY [Archive] - Chevelle Tech


Lee H Weber
Sep 16th, 02, 10:04 PM
OK...Bar the "fun" in doing your own resto work I am throwing a Q to the pit of professionals. I've owned 3 Chevelles. Each one better than the next WRT condition and value. All of them have one thing in common - I dumped a lot of money into them getting them to "my standard." I just read an article dealing with classic corvette buying (easy now fellas...I ONLY read an article) and hands down this guys was bent on paying a few extra bucks up front for the "VERY NICE" vice buying an OK car and trying to bring it up to snuff on your own. Opinion - agree/disagree. Cheaper to go at it yourself or drop the kids educational fund on the "perfect one?" I know this question is very broad in its approach (ie, the condition of the car your buying, tools available to oneself for the work, getting a deal of a life time, etc) BUT as a rule of thumb what do you say.....


Sep 16th, 02, 10:30 PM
Oh what have you started now?! I'll just give my nickel's worth and then sit back and watch. I always wanted to "do one right" and figured the only way to do it was go frame-off. Four yrs. and untold dollars later, it was done; altho I ended up cutting a few corners (the $ thing). I've never dared add up all the receipts, but I'm fairly sure I could have bought one "done" for the same or maybe less BUT, I truly know what's under the skin of this one and if I bought someone else's, I would never know for sure, even with "picture evidence". It still was a lot of fun and a real learning experience. Soooooo- what are you after, instant gratification or a learning experience or something in between?
It will be interesting to see where this goes...


Joey B
Sep 16th, 02, 11:04 PM
You can't even come CLOSE to building a car as cheap as you can buy one finished, and thats even if you dont factor in one red cent for your own labor. Thats not to say every restored car out there is a better deal than a rusty one in the field, cause theres alot of overpriced junk out there... just go to any Carlisle swap meet to see many examples of this. What i AM sayting is that if you don't care if its your own blood sweat and tears or someone elses, or even worse, if you plan on buying an unrestored car and paying someone ELSE to work on it... by all means, get a couple of auto traders, and start looking at restored cars. I say this, but yet I still cant keep from locking up the brakes every time i see a rusty hulk (or as we call them "potential projects") sitting along an edge of trees... i guess some of us never learn! The bad thing is, A restored car is (at least for me) never EXACTLY what you want, and if you MUST change things and correct things and make things the way you want them, these small "little" projects end up killing you. I just invested over 5 grand just "sprucing up" my underhood this past winter... A little cleanup turned into a major project, and now i have more money in it than it's worth... but i'm happy with it now, so i guess its "worth it to me." Just dont buy a restored car that isnt pretty much exactly what you want, cause the little "corrections" will eventually break you. I have seen some unrestored cars that wouldnt be a deal if the owners GAVE you the car, just figuring out how much money it would cost to restore them into something you could buy already finished. I'm rambling... hey, wanna buy a restored 69 el camino ? j/k

My 69 SS Elco (
engine (
interior (

Lee H Weber
Sep 16th, 02, 11:25 PM
Joey, I stopped counting the number of Amens I was chanting when you wrote about your "small project" turning into a down deposit on a home in Beverly Hills. My last project on my 68SS started as a engine compartment paint out to the correct semi-gloss....10K later I had a very nice paint job on my entire car....5 K on new interior...

Sep 17th, 02, 1:16 AM
I'm sure you can save money buying a completed car, but you never completely know what you are getting most of the time. As has been said above, by doing it yourself or having it done you KNOW exactly what you have. Me? I spent way more on my resto than I could ever hope to get out of my car (since I've now done it twice) but then my car isn't for sale so I couldn't care less what it's worth (for selling purposes anyway).

Sep 17th, 02, 1:19 AM
Oh, and I guess you'd have to ask yourself one more question: would you be content with a car which you yourself have not seen torn to pieces at some point? It sounds to me like you are the type to find lots of little things to do to improve the car no matter how well done it is. In the end, would saving money on the purchase really save you much by the time you "improve" the car to your own standards? Maybe, maybe not. There are good cars at good prices out there however.

Sep 17th, 02, 8:03 AM
A restored car that you did yourself will cost more money than buying one that is done unless it is numbers matching original SS etc. You know what you have in it when you go to a cruise or show and someone asks you about something on your car and you can say " been there and done that". and that leads to a healthy good conversation. Buying and owning a car that is done to me is boring, I am always looking for the n'th degree in restoration procedures and that is why I joined Team Chevelle the best!!!

66 SS396

Sep 17th, 02, 4:59 PM
Its usually alot more expensive to restore a car yourself (even if you supply ALL the labor) than to buy one already done...

Plus the time and hassle of finding pieces, making them worhty of being on your car, etc...

Also alot of questionable work goes into alot of those restos you see for sale... Is the body excellent, or is the bondo, chicken wire and newspaper going to fall out next spring...

You also have to take whats available, so if you desire a certain color combo, you might not find it...

If you are going to buy from someone you can trust, then its probably a great way to go, and you can always do little detailing things yourself...

IMO, this is a hobby for me. I like building, working on, restoring and modifying my Chevelles and other classic cars, and seeing them drive around, etc...

While I enjoy looking at some of the beautiful fully restored cars, they are not my cup-O-tea... I also question the owners love of the hobby, or is it because they can look cool to friends, and have a good investment... I will always put more "credability" on a car built by it owner than just purchased or professionally restored...

No offense to anyone, I know there are some people that either can't do the work either physically or due to a lack of space, etc. And it is cheaper in the long run... I can't really afford the initial cash outlay. What I mean is, I can afford it monetarily, but I can't justify it...


"Once you go RAT, you never go back..."
TC #1366
The Chevelle (
Dual Quad 396 (
Side View (

Sep 17th, 02, 8:43 PM
<BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by ftgallant:
A restored car that you did yourself will cost more money than buying one that is done unless it is numbers matching original SS etc. Frank

Ok...this one eludes me. You mean a numbers matching original SS will cost less if you buy it than restore it yourself?

I agree with everyone else here that buying a ~finished~ car is cheaper than building the same car with one caveat: Depends on what condition it is when you buy it and what you originally pay for it. Even buying a relatively pristine survivor and rebuilding it is dollar consuming.

From the FWIW department, I worked at a Chevy dealer in 70/71. Just for fun (we were really bored) we took the price of a new Malibu we had on the lot and compared it to what it would cost (our cost even) to buy it from the parts book. Parts alone was about 12 times the assembled MSRP and we didn't even get through all the parts - and of course labor wasn't included, paint, etc.

However, you never really know what you're getting unless you know the person that restored it.

TC Gold #92/ACES #1709
67 SS & 67 Elky

Dale's Place ( Team 67 (
Midwest Chevelle Regional Governing Council (
Integrity: If you have it, it doesn't matter - If you don't have it, it doesn't matter.

Sep 18th, 02, 12:31 PM
it all comes down to 2 questions.

Do you want to drive someone elses car.


Do you want to drive you own car.

Having the satisfaction of doing it yourself brings alot more joy to driving and owning your chevelle. It shows you have the talent to restore a car to very nice condition, then the satisfaction of saying "yeah, I built it".

Now if you go out and drop the bucks (not many of us can, thats why we build) you'll always just be driving "Bob's" old car, or "Steve's" old car. The feeling you get from driving a completed car could compare to just driving a used honda you just went out and bought. I'm sure you'd get the same amount of thumb's up, and way to go buddy's while you're on the freeway, but knowing those are going to you and your accomplishment feels alot better.

that's my .02c

Jaber Racing&Restorations
My Blown Alky 70 SS (
Current Projects, and past resto's (
Dad's 67 SS 396 Convertable Survivor (

Sep 18th, 02, 12:58 PM
I thought about this last night...

A trophy from a car show isn't really to recognize/award the car, it recognizes/awards someones hard work getting the car to that stage... Anybody can go buy trophys pretty cheap, and they really mean about the same...

I think there are two types of people here... Those who are hobbiests, and those who are collectors... and there are some that are both...

Steve R
Sep 18th, 02, 1:33 PM
It really depends on whether you have the time, space, knowledge, skill, money and patience to restore a car. Pride in your own workmanship can only go so far, just look at all of the ads for unfinished projects. If you have other priorities and want a car to drive around now rather have one torn apart in your garage for a year or more why not buy a finished car. I don't care if the person did the car themself, the only thing that matters if it is clean and well executed.

Steve R

Sep 18th, 02, 2:59 PM
When I first got my 67 chevelle, everyone said, "nice car,did you restore it yourself"?
I hung my head and said no.But now, I'm rebuilding the motor except for the machine work and welding the cracked block, I've redone the interior/dash,sandblasted/repainted everything except the body,some wiring and fuel lines/brake lines! All I've got to say is there is ALOT of satisfaction in saying "YEAH I DID IT MYSELF" !!!!!!!!

I'd rather walk than be seen in a ford!

Lee H Weber
Sep 18th, 02, 3:22 PM
Those that are concluding "have to do it yourself to feel good about your car" is really not convincing - not at all. I did a frame off, 980 PT car last year. The project took me over a year to do. I spent countless hours in research; found the right parts, dealt with countless folks across the country on acquiring parts, found the right motor, trans, etc. I did the book research to make the car "GM specs." BUT, I did not do the work myself. WHY? My occupation (LT in the Navy) does not allow for me to have a garage or an area I can swamp for years in putting together a project - I'm constantly moving. NOR, can I buy equipment that I lug around the country every 18 months... HOWEVER, I can say emphatically, that I was involved at every stage of the game - and tried to be present at all the major evolutions of the project. Did I feel good driving it around? You betcha. Can I swamp stories on how much a pain in the butt it is to get a car off the frame - yes. And, can I glance into the engine bay of a 68 and notice flaws and what needs to be done - yes. The question I originally posted dealt with cost issues on buying restored or something that needs to be restored. I really did not need to have psychoanalyzing of how you feel driving in car A or in car B. On that note - I do love this site - the pool of people and the in-depth level of knowledge each of you have is very impressive, and I for one, respect it. Thanks - even to the psychologist out there

Joey B
Sep 18th, 02, 5:00 PM
<BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by 1966_L78:
I thought about this last night...

A trophy from a car show isn't really to recognize/award the car, it recognizes/awards someones hard work getting the car to that stage... Anybody can go buy trophys pretty cheap, and they really mean about the same...

I think there are two types of people here... Those who are hobbiests, and those who are collectors... and there are some that are both...<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

I agree with this, and someone should tell this to the guys who show up at every show with their 98-up camaros, corvettes, firebirds, mustangs etc, and win a trophy for polishing on the factory paint. IThose guys crack me up.

My 69 SS Elco (
engine (
interior (

Sep 20th, 02, 8:31 AM
I知 not quite sure where I fit in all of this. I知 one of those people that wanted a car to drive. Not on the weekends or holidays but everyday. I don稚 know how you guys put all that time, money and effort into restoring your cars and look at them sit in a garage 95% of the time. To me the real thrill of owning a Chevelle is driving it. I knew if I went through the process of restoring the car myself I would have too much money in it and it would be too nice to drive on a dally basis. For this reason I choose to buy a car that was 80 to 90 percent complete. What I bought was a very nice driver. My budget was $15K. I was able to purchase my car for $12K. At the present time I知 about a thousand over my original budget due to a blown transmission. Although I didn稚 restore this car myself I have been into every nook and crannies in an effort to make this car a nice daily driver. When I wake up in the morning (at 4:00 a.m.) it puts a smile on my face knowing that I知 driving my Chevelle to work.

I知 done,

ACES member #04788
Maryland Chevelle Club member #075
Maryland Automotive Modelers Association
Have you ever noticed that those instruments designed to detect intelligent life in the universe are all pointed AWAY from Earth???

Sep 21st, 02, 1:25 AM
I have the same problem as you, i'm in the Marine Corps and stationed on an army base doesn't help, reason there is no hobby shop here. So, to make a short story great, I bought my chevelle took it to a recommended body shop and asked the b.s. owner if it would be ok for me to come and "work" on the chevelle while he was doing the car. I told him I was in no hurry for him to finish the car. The reason for the no rush, FUNDS. Plus, being a first time chevelle buyer, I wanted to do some of the work myself. I had the money to buy a redone chevelle, I sold my 92 mustang gt, but, after seeing this one, I decided that I could redo it and call it mine. But, I do agree with the other opinions, buy restored and get it over with, do it yourself and it will be done the way you want it done, and by you. Have a good day.

SSgt Allen,

Sep 21st, 02, 8:11 AM
For the price of my restoration, I could've bought a new Mercedes Benz for crying out loud. But who would want to drive one of THOSE things?

65 Danube Blue MALIBU 4 door wagon, 350/330hp crate with 700R4, Factory air, Factory am/fm stereo, tilt wheel.

Lee H Weber
Sep 21st, 02, 1:09 PM
UH-RAH SSGT ALLEN! It sounds like you did the best with your situation and actually acheived the best in both worlds - getting a nice Chevelle, and two, having the fortune of learning about YOUR car and maintaining a high level of envolvement with your resto project. Perhaps, one day I'll do the whole deal myself, but at this point the Navy won't let me pack air-compressors,tool boxes, paint booths, ect., on Destroyers! And BTW - congrats on your 1st Chevelle. By the time you make Gunney you'll be ready for your second!

Sep 21st, 02, 5:14 PM
Thanks for the comments, and i'm already ready for my 2nd chevelle, lol. I went today to get the new fender and some more "goodies". The small stuff i'm going to take care of myself, and I'm sure when you become the skipper of one of those ships, the CMC will clear out some space for your Muscle Car Garage. Good luck...OOH-RAH,


Sep 21st, 02, 6:24 PM
I'd buy a beat up car that needed a restoration in a heartbeat. For some reason I find an unrestored original more attractive than one fixed up. Makes the car seem older, and adds a cool touch of nostalgia to it. It's like if you bought a beat up '65 that was still drivable, it's be cool to think it's been on the road since then with no resto.
My Dad bought a 80% restored '68 vette and it makes a good driver but whoever restored it rigged a lot of stuff and a lot is still broken. In his case, he bought someone elses problems. The body looks nice but the mechanicals are iffy, the windows don't shut all the way, seams are uneven, and it doesn't have the original engine. On my car the body isn't that great but the mechanicals are just as the factory put them and in good working order. If I was an old guy wanting a classic car to drive I'd dish out $20k for a properly restored car than $10k for a half-restored, rigged up car even if it looked nice. It's either one way or the other with me. I'd rather drive an unrestored car that ran like a top but looked bad and worked on fixing it up myself than by previous owners.

1970 Chevy Custom El Camino (
Originally was & will be Green Mist & Silver w/Green Vinyl Top (now black/black)
350ci/300HP 4bbl & Dual Exhaust
TH-350 - 2.73 Posi Rear - Factory PS, PDB, PW, Tilt, A/C & More
1987 Chevy Caprice Coupe (spare car) (
Other Restorations - 1967 Sears Custom 600 Tractor (

[This message has been edited by Shawn (edited 09-21-2002).]

[This message has been edited by Shawn (edited 09-21-2002).]