I am often asked, " how much will it cost to restore my car".  Generally this question is followed by " I want the highest quality job and not cut corners".

The second part is easy, because we naturally gravitate toward the highest levels of quality and don't cut corners in our workshop.  It's the " how much" question that's the hard part.

If you have read anything about buying collectible cars, you will know that the best advice is to buy the best car that needs the least work, because the cost of a full restoration will always exceed the value of the finished product.  This is absolutely true, especially if you are paying for the services of a professional, start with the wrong car and you can quickly find yourself in trouble, even if you are doing a lot of the labour yourself.

The classifieds are full of cars described as "needs restoration and unfinished project", and you can bet that these owners have discovered that restoring a car is not as easy as they anticipated, their budget is too tight and the wife has had enough.


There are many reasons, but making financial sense isn't one of them, at least not in the short term.

One of the reasons is that very good cars are hard to find, you can spend a lot of time and money chasing all over the country looking at cars that are never as "nice" as described and you will probably have to sink money into that "nice" car when you get it home and dig below the surface.

So unless you are really lucky and find a good car, then it's better to have one restored to your specifications and know that it is done correctly, and know exactly what you are going to have when it's finished.

A quality restoration, with proper care will stand the test of time, so in the long term, apart from the enjoyment you will get from driving or showing your car,  the initial cost of the restoration will be offset by the steadily increasing value of collectible cars.

People restore cars as a hobby, they get a huge amount of enjoyment from the process, whether it be hands on work themselves or just making decisions and writing cheques.

And plenty of cars are restored for emotional reasons, because they have a family history, or a childhood memory or because some people just love old, abused and neglected cars.

Whatever the reason for restoring a car, breaking even or making a quick profit at the end of it should never be one of them.  The same as renovating a house, it's unrealistic to expect a dollar for dollar return on your investment, but we do it anyway because it enhances our enjoyment of life.  The only return that really matters is what it is worth to you.



I wish I could answer that question, but the truth is I can't.  Even if your car was sitting in our workshop available for close examination there is no way I can accurately estimate a final cost for anyone.  My own cars included, because each car is different and has travelled down many different roads, to finally reach here and now, some have been treated well but most have been abused, poorly maintained, neglected and badly repaired.

There is no way to tell what is hidden under the paint until it is completely stripped down ( sometimes a mission in itself).  We don't know how old collisions and damage is going to affect  the final panel alignment until all of the the body parts have been properly repaired and straightened.  Restoring an old car is an evolving process, as secrets of the past are revealed and have to be dealt with.



If someone gives you a restoration estimate over the phone, by looking at a few pictures or by walking around your car for an hour, I recommend that you run as fast and as far as you can.  This is why.....

  1. Once your car is in their workshop and disassembled you will receive the bad news that something they didn't or couldn't see has been discovered.  This is the first step up the ladder of escalating costs of your restoration. 

  2. As more and more things are "discovered",  you will soon be well past the point of no return, when you have invested too much money to easily extract your vehicle from that workshop.

  3. You can be certain that anyone who offers a guaranteed estimate up front is going to take every possible short cut to get your car "finished" at the estimated price.  You can "guarantee" that they are not going to lose money on your job.



At Adelaide Hills Panelworks, we restore cars on a time and materials basis.  We don't quote low prices to hook people in, we don't cut corners and we don't require payment up front.

We charge an hourly rate and invoice weekly for the work that has been completed and for the parts that have been received. 

The hourly rate that your restoration starts at  is guaranteed for the duration of your restoration if the vehicle is being consistently worked on.

If and when problems are uncovered we will always contact you to discuss how you want to proceed.  You will not be hit with unexpected costs.

A full frame up restoration could involve anywhere from 800 - 1000 hours or more depending on the restoration specifications, complications that may arise and the state of the original car.  If your car is that bad, we would probably recommend that you find a better car to start with.  Better cars will always require less hours to restore.

The best estimate we can give anyone wanting to restore a car is  - budget for the worst, be happy if it costs less and don't be surprised if it runs over. (anyone who has built a new house will understand)  


So you are probably thinking by now that you can't afford to have your car restored. 

But maybe you don't have to have the body removed from the frame, or maybe you will only need to hire someone for the most technical and critical parts of the restoration and complete the easier parts yourself.  Maybe your car doesn't need a full concours restoration or to win car shows, but just be something that you can enjoy at a smaller cost, it's all possible.

Call me to discuss your options.

      08 8388 0755