Home Restoration Topics Featured Cars and Trucks About
Left arrow


Right arrow
Author photo

Video Tour of a Restoration Shop

Part 1: Introduction

By Jeremy Wilson

This is Part 1 of a four-part series. Be sure to also watch:

Part 2: Classic Car Repair
Part 3: Selecting a Restoration Candidate
Part 4: Bumper Restoration

In this interview we meet Don Hawkins, the owner of Custom Automotive Restoration. With many years of experience performing concours-quality restorations, Don has assembled a top-shelf team of automotive craftsmen, ready to tackle any project. In this multipart video presentation we also meet some of his crew, and learn some top tips from the master himself.

Video dialog for this episode:

PR: First, Don, why not get us better acquainted with who you are and what you do? Tell us a little about your shop.

CAR: Really, we offer everything from minor repairs, even a taillight replacement, to complete restoration. Anything that has to do with body, paint, mechanical, electrical, we do it all. Repair work--anything wrong with your car, we can fix it.

PR: So what if someone brought you, say a Gremlin? Would you work on a car like that? Or do you just stick to the older classics?

CAR: Well, if someone did bring in a newer car, say someone brought in a ‘74 Gremlin, we’ll be happy to work on it. Everyone here has their own personal preferences of what kind of cars they like to work on, but we’ll work on anything that somebody brings us. We like classics, but a lot of our cars are from the ‘30’s, ‘40’s, ‘50’s, and as time changes, the year of the cars that people bring us changes. Right now, a lot of cars are muscle cars, Camaro’s, Chevelle’s, cars like that. Not so many ‘30’s and ‘40’s cars.

PR: What are your personal favorites to work on?

CAR: I like cars from the ‘50’s. Cars from the ‘50’s--it’s when I grew up, ‘50’s and ‘60’s, 70’s--a lot of my memories are from that era.

PR: So how did you get involved with doing restorations?

CAR: I got started in cars and restorations just from my family. Four older brothers that liked cars and even my mother and father liked cars. It started then and I’ve been doing it for 35 years.

PR: So did any particular car influence you?

CAR: In 1967, one of my older brothers worked three jobs in high school just to purchase a brand new ‘67 GTO. I remember the day he brought it home. It’s was a beautiful car.

PR: And how many restorations have you personally been involved with?

CAR: I’ve been involved in over 25 restorations and many other small repairs, engine swaps, transmission changes, and suspension modifications.

PR: Was there any one particular restoration that stood out from all the others?

CAR: A 1940 Coca-Cola Sedan Delivery. This car was originally used by Coca-Cola as a delivery vehicle. It was built by Ford for the Coca-Cola Company. So the paint color had to be exact and just knowing that I was working on a piece of history made it fun to work on.

PR: So how long would you estimate for a complete restoration? What kind of timeline would someone be looking at?

CAR: That depends on the condition of the car that somebody brings us. A lot of people wonder how long it will take. If the car is in decent condition, say it’s been in their family and hasn’t had a lot of abuse, it may only take a year to restore. But again, that’s a frame-off restoration, completely disassembled and reassembled. If they have a car they found in Grandfather’s barn, just a rust heap, that’s going to take longer. It may take a year and a half or two years--also depending upon the kind of car and how available the parts are.

PR: Can you estimate a price for a typical frame-up restoration? And what kind of variables would you consider in pricing?

CAR: The quote is always hard to do and it does depend on the condition of the vehicle we start with. It also depends on how available parts are for that vehicle. For some cars, the parts are available locally, and the average cost would be $75.000-$85,000. But if it is a car that we have to fabricate parts for, it can approach $150,000, again $200,000.

PR: Did you notice how clean that shop was? The work floor could easily be confused for a show room. We found out that Don outsources media blasting and chroming, which helps keep his work area’s tidy and debris free.

Continue to Part 2...
Prev Part1 Part2 Part3 Part4 Next
Click on any item below for more details at Amazon.com

Jim Richardson
Classic Car Restorer's Handbook: Restoration Tips and Techniques for Owners and Restorers of Classic and Collectible Automobiles
HP Trade, Paperback, 1994-11-01

This book covers a lot of ground in comparatively few pages, and while it has step-by-step procedures, the steps are often large. This book is a good choice if you want to understand the restoration process and all the pieces you’ll touch. However, it’s not sufficient to be your main guide to the restoration process.

L. Porter
The Classic Car Restoration Guide: The Complete Illustrated Step-by-Step Manual
Haynes Publishing, Hardcover, 1994-04-30
This book offers some excellent pre-purchase checklists, and spends much of its space on bodywork and interior restoration, but rather less on mechanical items. The book was written in Britain for a British audience, so some elements may be less applicable to an American restoration, such as the section on getting a car through a Ministry of Transportation inspection. The book’s focus is almost exclusively on classic British cars.

Burt Mills
Auto Restoration: From Junker to Jewel
Motorbooks Intl, Paperback, 1980-06

This book is a nice overview of the process, but does not go into great detail about restoration procedures. A good choice if you’re wondering what is involved in a restoration and want to know more before making a commitment.

Greg Donahue
How to Restore Your Muscle Car
Motorbooks, Paperback, 2005-11-07

This book covers all aspects of restoration in detail, with a focus on the special issues found in 1960s and 70s muscle cars. From car selection through engine and interior restoration, this book is full of photos, illustrations, and step by step procedures. Examples are given from all domestic automakers. Reviews have been generally positive, for example (from AutoWeek): “With clean vintage muscle cars skyrocketing in price, this second edition has good timing, providing updates on parts sources and restoration techniques. We didn’t use the book to restore a muscle car, but we found it clear and concise, with user-friendly disassembly diagrams and 1,300-plus step-by-step photos, from choosing tools and which muscle car to restore, to completing the restoration.”

Tom Brownell
How to Restore Your Collector Car
Motorbooks, Paperback, 1999-12-24

This book has a great deal of information on selecting a potential project car and setting up the workshop, plus a lot of detail on cleaning, stripping, blasting, derusting, bodywork and trim restoration, but comparatively less (just 1 chapter) on engine and mechanical restoration and 1 chapter on brakes. The book includes many nice color photos, however, and would be a good addition to a restoration library.

Featured Cars
Sponsored Links

Copyright 2008 - 2021 - PopularRestorations.com - All Rights Reserved

Contact information