Custom Car Builders USA | Classic Car Restoration

Finding The Best Shop For Your Classic Car Restoration Project


Classic Car Restoration – an exciting journey

Are you an enthusiast of classic cars? A hobbyist? Have you finally acquired the perfect make and model that you’ve had your eye for years?

No matter what category you fall into, from professional collector to weekend road warrior, one thing is certain, you’ll eventually find yourself working with a classic car restoration shop or custom car builder.

We’d all love to work on our own cars, but, not all of us have the requisite skills, experience and tools to properly and safely restore classic cars. Yet, with thousands of car restoration specialists just a Google Click away, many car owners find themselves frustrated, not knowing who to trust with their “baby”.

You’ve no doubt invested time, energy and a lot of money in finding the perfect set of wheels and you’re not about to trust just any shop with your ride. But how can you make sure you’re making the right choice?

This guide will help walk you through key steps in finding the best shop for your classic car restoration project, as well as what questions you need to ask before signing a contract and putting your hard-earned money to work.

1. Start with Due Diligence 

At this stage, putting in the work can pay off in spades later on.

Experience (but not just any type of experience)

When it comes to background, training and good old fashioned hand’s on experience, nothing beats a demonstrated track record and understanding of your particular make and model. Classic cars run the gambit, requiring specialized knowledge, tools and familiarity in order to get the job done right, on time and on budget. Be sure that any shops you’re considering have experience with your particular classic car.

That said, some jobs require less specialized knowledge as it relates to your vintage car. For example, chrome plating and painting, although specialized skills, are two restoration services that may not require specific knowledge of your particular make and model.

Demonstrated Track Record of Positive Outcomes 

There is a reason most custom car shops and classic car restoration shops take so many “before, during and after” photos and videos. The end results are a direct reflection of the care, passion, dedication and craftsmanship that goes into each project. Always ask to see the documentation of previous work to make sure what they do is in alignment with your goals, style and expectations.

Ratings, Reviews, and Customer Feedback

Ratings and reviews are a good way to learn more about not only the work a shop does, but in how they treat their customers.

When Vetting Reviews Consider:

  • Customer communication
  • Friendliness of staff
  • Knowledge of staff
  • Ability to meet deadlines
  • Ability to stay on budget
  • Billing policy issues
  • And more…

Look a the dates of reviews and filter based on what aspects of service is most relevant and important to you and your project.

2. Consider Recommendations and Referrals  

One of the most reliable ways to find a shop that does good work is to have one recommended to you by someone in your network who knows them personally, or has used them in the past.

Where to Find Recommendations 

  • Social media
  • Friends and relatives
  • Auto and classic car restoration forums
  • Parts manufacturers or other automotive professionals
  • Auto shows

Were They Recommended to You? – ask these critical follow-up questions

A recommendation is great. But it’s just the start. You still need to do your homework and ask the right questions to make sure they will be the right fit for your classic car restoration project.

Ask the Person or Company Recommending them The Following:

  • Were they able to finish your project on time with no delays?
  • Did they detail and explain all the work that was to be done?
  • Were they able to provide you with a price estimate upfront?
  • Was the final cost close to what they quoted you?
  • How satisfied were you with the quality of the work done?
  • What type of condition was your car or part in before they restored it?
  • Do you have any before and after pics I can see?
  • Did you request anything be “re-done” or modified after the project was complete and were they able to accommodate willingly?
  • What led you to choose that shop in the first place?
  • Would you use that same car restoration shop again?

3. Ask the Shop Owner the Right Questions   

Before signing the dotted line and moving forward with your project there are several key questions you need to ask.

Questions to ask the Shop Owner / Manager:

  • How long has your shop been in business?
  • How many years of experience do you have?
  • Can you provide me with a few references?
  • Can I see some past examples of your work?
  • What type of experience does your team have with this type of vehicle/restoration?
  • How much work is done “in house” vs sent out to other shops?
  • What type of insurance do you have in case something happens to my car?
  • Can you provide a transparent price quote?
  • Will you inform me of any unexpected issues that arise and the costs upfront?
  • How long do you expect the project to take?
  • When can you start?
  • Can you detail for me the process and what steps you’ll be taking for repair/restoration?
  • Is your work guaranteed? What aspects and for how long?
  • What is your payment policy?

Hire the Right Custom Car Builder or Restoration Shop Today

Once you’ve narrowed down your options, its time to commit to the best shop on your list and let them do what they do best. By following the tips in this guide you’ll be well on your way to finding the right man/shop for the job and towards a finished product that exceeds expectations.