1st Rule in European Antique Car Restoration: Know What You are Willing to Spend

Posted 8/26/19

At European Auto Specialists, we’re proud of the car repairs we do on antique, classic and rare automobiles. That’s been a cornerstone of our auto repair business ever since we first opened our Sycamore Road shop in Cincinnati in 2001. There’s an art to restoring and maintaining a beautiful European vehicle — or really any classic car — and we love reading about what others bring to the craft.

In a Farmers Insurance feature, Josh Pfeiffer details some of his favorite restoration projects. Pfeiffer is a restoration enthusiast who has been rehabbing classic and antique cars all his life.

One of his first attempted restoration projects was a 1966 Volkswagen Baja Bug at the age of 17. He actually bought the fixer upper when he was 14, two years before he would legally drive it. That project proved beyond his teenager capabilities but taught him some important lessons in restoring cars — like knowing when it’s time to walk away.

Why European Car Specialty is Critical

“The Baja made me realize I should buy vehicles I’m familiar with, like the guy who bought the car from me,” Pfeiffer related. “He knew enough to diagnose the real cause of the Bug’s problems and how to get it running properly. He didn’t waste money on expensive repairs looking for a cure, which is what I did.”

Brand and model familiarity can be critical to understanding the nuts and bolts of a machine. That’s why at European Auto Specialists we always hire car mechanics that live and breathe European cars. It’s a speciality that comes in handy in getting to the bottom of a difficult repair.

Money Talks

One hard lesson we’ve learned restoring classic cars ourselves is to always budget how much you’re willing to invest from start. Classic car restoration can be a little like Vegas. You walk in with the best intentions — but you can stagger away broke. Always set a cap of how much you’re willing to spend.

Pfeiffer learned that lesson the hard way. He restored a 1969 Ford Mustang Coup he paid $3,000 for. He later sold it for $18,000. On paper, that sounds like a pretty rewarding restoration project, right? Until you realize he sank in over $28,000 for repairs. Ouch.

“I’d been on this mission for five years and had a pile of receipts to prove it,” Pfeiffer admitted. “I invested more than I planned to and was feeling the strain on our finances. I loved the car — and might even buy it back some day — but sometimes you just have to recoup what you can and move on. I sold it at a rather painful loss.”

That’s why we always try to be straight with our customers at our auto repair shop in Cincinnati. How much are you willing to invest in a classic car restoration? We’ll have it looking beautiful by the end, but you may have to spend.

The Torque Pro — Our Favorite Car Troubleshooting App

Need to troubleshoot your car problem to see if you need to bring it in to our Cincinnati shop for that check engine light? There’s an app for that — or more accurately several. Our favorite is the Torque Pro. You can see your car’s activity in real time, but you also OBD code defaults, which you can use to determine what kind of problem your car is having. You also get great info on gas mileage, driving habits, etc. The app does eat up a decent amount of your phone battery, so you might not want to leave it on all the time.