Close up classic blue car

Classic Car Restoration Tips: Beginners Guide

Are you thinking of getting and restoring a classic car? Perhaps it has always been a dream and you are now ready to take the plunge!

Restoring a car is a fun and exciting project, however, there are many ways in which your project can go downhill. Today we are going to share with you our top tips of car restoration for beginners.

Choose the right car for the right reason

Classic cars lined up in a row

What level of restoration are you wanting to achieve? Is it just for you to enjoy or are you planning on showing your car? If you plan on showing it there are certain criteria that needs to be met to allow your car to be shown in specific categories.

The four types are;

  1. Driver Restoration – fully functioning condition. This usually includes part replacement as well as minor cosmetic adjustments
  2. Street Show – this level means getting the car to a fully working condition and repairing all major cosmetic problems. It will need to fall in the 80 to 89 point range
  3. Show car – getting a car to this form usually requires professional help. There will be judgements in the restoration and labour quality that must fall within the 90 to 95 point range
  4. Concours – this is the absolute highest level of car restoration possible. Cars made up to this standard are usually only restored by professionals and are intended purely for shows or collections and not to be driven.

Remember, restoring a car is a big commitment and is supposed to be a labour of love. So for a first timer it is probably a good idea to get a car that doesn’t require an abundant amount of work. You may get a good deal on the price of the car, but you may soon find yourself struggling financially when it comes to getting all the parts and labour necessary to restore it.

What to expect when buying your car

Classic car for sale

Even if you plan on restoring a car solo, we recommend taking along a friend or family member when looking to buy your first car. It’s always handy to have a second set of eyes and opinion when making such a big decision.

You should always take your time before diving into a purchase. Obviously you don’t want to waste the sellers time if you’re not really that interested but at the same time you should never feel pressured into a sale by the seller.

There are many websites that you can go on to see what car’s are available in your area up for private sale. You can also find classic car events all over the country that will be able to help you in your quest to find the perfect car for you.

There are also pages on social media such as Facebook where you will be able to get advise on all things classic car related.


Budget for your car

Classic car restoration isn’t a cheap hobby and multiple factors should be taken into account for your budget. You will need to not only consider the cost of the car itself, but also the cost of all the parts, tools and even your time.

The latter, surprisingly, being one of the more important factors. If you do not have the time to put into car restoration, you’re doomed from the start.

Be sure of the type of car you want to fix up. Regardless of the type or age of the car, make sure you take your time to really learn and understand that car’s production.

Cars can start anywhere from a few hundred to multiple thousands of pounds, so for your first car, we recommend you try to aim for something on the cheaper side that doesn’t require too much hard work and expense. The last thing you want is to end up biting off more than you can chew and end up never finishing the project.

Be sure to check all the nooks and crannies for any problems that may be hard to over come and especially be on the look out for rust!


Mechanic working on a car

As previously mentioned, not investing time into your car can end up being disastrous. The last thing anyone wants is to invest a lot of money into something that will just sit there, unloved and unappreciated.

Think about how much spare time you really have, not just on working on the car, but everything else that goes along with it. Searching for specialist parts, tools or mechanics can be very time-consuming.

It would be heart breaking if you bought a car with the best intentions but it ends up not getting the time and attentions it deserves and ends up rusting away.


There is a wide variety of tools you will need for restoring cars. You may even find you’ll be splashing out an awful lot on expanding your tool kit too!

While the list is almost endless, here are a few things we recommend you will definitely need before getting to work on your car.

Hand tools

Car dent puller

Every tool kit needs to have a wide variety of hand-tools for car restoration. You should have both box and open-end spanners, a screwdriver set, ratchets and sockets in a variety of sizes, standard and long nose pliers, vice grips and allen keys, a power drill, dent puller to name a few!

A well-stocked restoration garage needs a good selection of tools and you may even need metric wrenches for some vehicles. You could also need a car jack and supports, tin cutters, putty, patch pieces for rust holes and sheet metal for big repairs.

Large tools

Raised car in workshop

There are also other larger tools you will need to have access to. It will usually be cheaper and easier to rent certain tools than to buy them. These will include such things as an engine crane and stand, angle grinder, a hydraulic lift, drill press, auto jig and more.


Once your car has been restored, you will need to protect it so all your hard work won’t have been for nothing! There are many things you can do to keep your car in tip-top shape. For the bodywork, we recommend using a product such as Polytrol.

Polytrol is a colour restorer that penetrates deep into the surface of car bodywork, trims and bumpers to revive the colour and shine. When used on tarnished metals, it will bring back the shine and offer corrosive protection. This shields the metal from the damaging effects of weathering that leads to rusting and corrosion.

For cleaning and protecting metal or any moving parts, we recommend using a rust-inhibiting oil such as Transyl Oil. It is a product that wears many hats and can be used for a wide variety of things:

  • It highly lubricates, releasing fixings that have become stiff or seized from rust or corrosion.
  • Highly penetrating ‘wetting’ properties that allows the oil to spread quickly and penetrate deeply.
  • It cleans by dissolving grease, grime and dirt
  • Transyl protects surfaces by leaving a very thin protective film, shielding from the damaging effects of moisture and oxidation

And more!

More advice and information

Here are some handy websites about classic car restoration;

Classic Motor Cars

Classic Trader

Honest John Classic

Car & Classic

We hope you found this beginners guide to car restoration helpful.

If you have any handy tips or advice, please feel free to share it below. We love hearing from you!

To keep up will all things Owatrol, why not follow us on social media? You can find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest all at @owatroluk or #owatroluk

classic car restoration beginners guide - Pinterest

Owatrol Team
About Owatrol Team

Our team are ready and willing to support you with your requirements whether it is protecting your newly laid deck or renovating a luxury yacht, whatever the application Owatrol has the solution you are looking for.

2 thoughts on “Classic Car Restoration Tips: Beginners Guide

  1. Good Morning, I have a cream painted GRP boat which has lost it’s shine , ( even regular polishing ) presumably due to sun exposure. Inside the boat is perfect. I thought of using Polytrol then noticed it will not work on white. Will cream colour be ok ?

    Many thanks Colin

    1. Hi there Colin,

      Thank you for your query about Polytrol.
      As the surface is cream, it is unlikely that Polytrol will be able to help. However, if you would like, we are happy to send you out a sample free of charge so you can test it?
      If you are interested, please send your shipping details to and we will get this arranged for you.

      All the best,
      The Owatrol Team

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