Restoring classic cars can be a lucrative venture. A forgotten clunker can be someone’s dream car — just add a bit of money for parts and some elbow grease for repairs. Of course, you’ll need to turn your garage into a proper workplace, and that can require a bit of preliminary investment.
You’ll need space to work on your projects. Motorcycles might require less space, but cars require space both above and below. A 2-car garage should be enough — especially if it has adequate ceiling space. You’ll need to lift your cars to work underneath, especially if you need to replace a few old parts. Relying on a mechanic’s creeper can be uncomfortable and dangerous — and you might develop chronic back problems with prolonged use. Make your job easier by installing a 2-post or 4-post car lift. These lifts will cost around $2,500-$3,500 (with installation) and should only take 2-3 days to set up. Car lifts allow you to work on every inch of your car, and you won’t be cramped as you would be with a creeper. Displaying your classic cars on car lifts also makes a more elegant presentation. It also allows you to keep more cars locked in your garage, particularly your most expensive and rare restorations.
Lay Down Some Tiles
Get rid of roll-out mats, plastic tiles, or vinyl flooring and switch to porcelain tiles. Working on old cars can get messy, and clean-up can be a bit of a drag. Porcelain tiles will make cleaning up after your mess a whole lot easier, and oil and other chemicals won’t do a thing to your floor. Opt for a singular color to make things more visible as you work and to make your restorations appear more professional on the final photos. Opt for larger pieces to reduce grout lines and make clean-up easier.
Light It Up
Lighting is essential for every workspace. Bright lights can keep you alert and focused, as well as keep the smallest nuts and bolts in plain sight. Opt for cool overhead LED lighting and additional lighting in strategic areas for when you are working under your car. You can also opt for movable lights, but well-placed static lighting is always a better option.
Organize Your Tools
Repairing cars requires a lot of tools. The usual Philips screwdriver and Allen wrench won’t cut it, as you’ll need a host of tools to dig into your cars. Most mechanics have tool chests or cabinets, and you can easily find some online for less than $400. A proper cabinet allows you to organize your tools as well as the bolts and nuts that you’ll be using in your restorations. Dedicate a cabinet or shelf to particularly important builds — especially when you’re tracking down parts to complete a classic car or motorcycle.
Note Your Progress
Recording your work is so much easier with new technology. You can make a record of your repairs on your phone or through a few cameras mounted in strategic places. Keeping a visual record gives your restorations an additional level of authenticity, which your future clients will appreciate. You’ll never misplace a tool again, and you can always check on the video for possible mistakes or improvements that you can make. Recording your process on video also serves as a learning guide for your kids, buddies, or maybe a few interested people on YouTube.
Spend on Supplies
Keep a few supplies on hand, especially hoses, fans, ducting, and fittings. Spills will be common, so buy cleaning rags in bulk to keep your garage neat and clean. Store a few cans of paint — particularly the most common ones you use as primers. A few LED lights should make repairing headlights or turn lights easier. Keep a small number of welding supplies for quick patch-ups when replacement isn’t necessary.
Lock Down Your Garage
Working on expensive cars requires a heightened level of security. A few extra cameras might be enough to deter thieves, but unsecured entrances can allow vandals to wreak havoc on your restorations once they get inside. You’ll need a proper garage door as well as more secure windows. Install a few alarms — particularly ones that connect to your phone or the police. Spending a few extra dollars on security shouldn’t be an issue if you’re planning on restoring cars that can sell for hundreds of thousands — if not millions — of dollars.
Turn your garage into a grease monkey’s paradise and start turning clunkers into money-makers. There’s big money in restoring cars, but it also takes a lot of work and dedication.