This time I have an interesting letter from Deanna from Las Vegas, Nevada. It says,
“Dear, Pat. I found a great deal on a 1956 Buick and would like to know if it makes sense to restore it. Thanks.”

Oh, does it make sense to restore that old car? That is a real question. Number one, you have to determine what you want out of the car. Do you want it to be a show car? Or do you want it to be just a nice old car that you can drive on weekends? See, the criteria are considerably different for the two.

The next thing that you want to do is find out exactly how much that car is worth. So you go to the books, and there are lots of them. And you have to look at the values in all of them, simply because there will be a wide range of value.

This ‘56 Buick, for instance, ranges anywhere from $650 up to over $17,000. Well, you see the problem most people have is they see that $17,000 and they automatically think that’s what the car is going to be worth. Don’t think that way. Think of one of the lower numbers, hope for the best, plan for the worst. That way you don’t get buried in the car. Very few of them are worth that extremely high book value.

Now what do you do with the car itself? You check it for structural rust. You know, rust in the wheelhouses and in the rocker panels and so on. You check the frame for rust and everything underneath it. Then you pay attention to a lot of the details.

Like here’s a common problem that people often overlook. This glass is delaminated. The film between the two layers has changed color, and it’s happened on just about every window on this car. It needs all of the glass replaced, and that’s a major expense. Also, look at the chrome. If the chrome is in bad shape, you could spend thousands of dollars re-chroming and restoring all of those pieces. The rest of it is pretty simple. You don’t pay a whole lot of attention to things like surface rust on the body of the car. This doesn’t mean anything. It’s just sanded away during the paint process. It doesn’t really have any affect on the structure of the vehicle.

But there are other things that you need to do as far as getting this car checked out. It needs to go up in the air. The floor pans, the wheelhouses, the cowl, everything on this vehicle needs to be checked for rust that you may not see in other circumstances. You also need to check the drivetrain. Is the engine good? Is the transmission? The differential, the bearings, and check the brakes, the steering and the suspension. And the big thing here is to make a list and get an estimate on every piece that needs to be fixed or replaced. Total it up, then you know exactly how much you have to spend on the vehicle. Do your homework and you won’t waste a lot of money. You will have a nice car.