How to modify or restore your car, for beginners.

The Plan
So you've decided you want to make some custom modifications to your car, or attempt a restoration project. This series of articles can help anyone who is intent on modifying, customising, or tailoring their car to their own tastes.

This information is intended for a complete beginner to automotive bodywork.Throughout I will try to explain everything clearly with pictures and examples so even if you have never touched a spanner you can get some decent results for little price.

First of all, and this is very important, you need a plan. I have worked on many varying projects and learnt the hard way that plans are essential. Oh, yeah you will make mistakes. Here is what you need to figure out for your plan.

Is it worth it?
There is nothing more depressing than seeing some clapped out rust heap 1.0 litre shopping cart come screeching around a corner with a ridiculous rear spoiler and comical paint job being driven by some 18 year old freak of nature. Don't do it.

What do I want?
Do you want a piece of automotive art with immaculate gold dipped exhausts and a million dollar paint job? If so, don't do it yourself, at least not yet. If you try to do something like this first you will inevitably end up disappointed, think small.
If however you are looking to really improve your car and have something you can be proud of, and also learn a new rewarding and valuable skill, this is a good start.

What is realistic?
Most people are going to be constrained by a budget of some sort. However with a bit of lateral thinking and common sense you can get a long way on relatively little. I'll try and tell you all the tips I have learnt. If you know of any more please e-mail them to me and I will add them to this article, and credit you with the information.
Another common constraint is time and skill. If you need to drive your project daily as you work on it you're going to have to keep the jobs bite sized.
Ideally you need a fully enclosed garage with room to move around the car, something to think about when your buying a project car is: How big is my garage?
If you do have the luxury of a large garage and another mode of transport you can tackle some of the serious stuff and really get your hands dirty.

What are my goals?
Do you want a custom interior, exterior, or both. Do you want to stop rust, or do a simple restoration? Decide what your goals are for the project, while remembering the other steps to a plan.

As I said before, most people are going to be working to some sort of budget. Budgets are a relative term when it comes to vehicle customising, for these articles I'm going to keep the budget as low as possible. Only because there is so much information already out there for high budget builds, obviously, there's more money in it.
I will try and give price estimates in both US dollars and Pound Sterling just so you have a rough guide which can help you with your budget.

One of the most important thing to remember about your budget is: You will go over budget. Unless you set your budget stupidly high you will almost definitely go over budget.

Write out your goals and plan clearly and neatly and put them up in your garage ready to work to and then go look for a project. You may need to alter your plan once you get the car home, but it does act as a guide.


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