Unless you want to put the car back together and tow it around, you are going to want to get it to be able to run. If you know something about how a car works, you will be able to accomplish this relatively simply. If you have no idea about the mechanics of a car, now is a really good time to learn.
Begin by taking apart the engine parts and cleaning them. All of the mechanical parts and wires that are under the hood, or, in the case of a Volkswagen Beetle, in the trunk, must be taken out and cleaned.
The engine has to be rebuilt. All of the components that make the engine run, such as the starter, alternator, radiator, carburetor and distributor, should be rebuilt to the way they were when the car originally left the factory.
You want to use the same parts that were used to make the engine. This means you will have to do a lot of digging for the exact parts for the make and model of your car. All of the parts that you use should be new and in working order. It will probably take some time to get all of the parts and then you have to rebuild the engine.
The other mechanical parts will have to be taken apart and cleaned. Some parts may be easy to clean and repair and have a longer lasting life. Make sure that you check the belts, gears, any worn bearings, oil pump and the transmission. All of the moving parts should be cleaned thoroughly and restored to the specifications of the manufacturer in order to properly restore the car.
If you are an auto mechanic, this part of the restoration process will be time consuming, but not difficult. You probably know how to take apart an engine and rebuild a transmission, if you have been certified. If you do not have vast mechanical skills, however, this will be a very difficult, but crucial part of the project. Mechanical car parts are not cheap and to spend money on them only to not have it work, can be frustrating and expensive.
In addition to getting the engine in good working order, you want it to look as clean as possible. During the course of most car shows, the hood is opened and people take a look at the engine. You not only want the engine to work, but you want it to shine as well.
Chemicals to clean the grease and oil that accumulates in the engine chassis can be toxic and give off fumes. Make sure that you wear protective clothing, gloves and a mask when you are working on cleaning these items.
When you take the car to the first show, you want the interior of the car to sparkle as well as the exterior. Make sure that you not only get the engine in good working order, but that it is extremely clean inside. Some people polish the chrome parts of the rebuilt engine that are normally painted black and leave them in their natural chrome state to get them to sparkle.
Most of the older cars have a manual transmission and a gearshift instead of an automatic transmission. Be sure that you understand about working on a manual transmission when you begin your project.
Remember that working on the mechanical aspect of the job, although messy, is just as important as the body of the car. Although you may feel that “no one sees it,” if you want to restore a vintage automobile the right way, you will take just as good care of the engine and mechanical components as you will the exterior of the car.
Don’t forget that many classic cars may need each 10 years a diesel engine reconditioning, process, specially in older models.