Repairing your Montecarlo – the real costs
So there it is – the Montecarlo you want on e-bay or one of the free classics ad. A good car (according to the seller) but been off the road for a few years but an easy restoration. The engine hasn’t been used for some time because they didn’t want to turn it over with the old cambelt and yes, the brakes are not doing a lot – but that is to be expected – isn’t it? Tempted?
Well an increasing number of us are, often based on the premise that there are hardly any cars coming up for sale anymore and we all set a “realistic budget” for bringing it back on the road, and then it all goes downhill.
I think it is really important that when you buy a car these days you consider just how the costs can rapidly build up. I recently tried to bring back an S1 Spyder that had been poorly done up by the last person following a period off the road from 1982. It is now finally back with us after 32 years off the road but you should be under no illusion – it cost more to do than the cost of many cars which are up and running.
In brief here is a breakdown:
• Initial purchase £2300
• Recovery £150
• Basic recommission and MOT £1200
• Tyres £200
• Parts £450
• Paintwork £850
• Panels £250
• Screen £200
So this was a car that looked half decent but needed a replacement bonnet, rear engine hatch and door lower skins/base repairs. Everything was done properly but economically and yet we still end up over £5,000. And what I have is a good road car – but certainly not excellent + there are still some jobs to do. To be honest I kind of knew what I was getting into by the state on collection and the fact that the car had previously sold on e-bay for around this figure but the deal had not been closed. If you had seen it cold on collection and close up the sad standard of the work would have been obvious.
Lessons learnt from an e-bay purchase – basically the seller misdescribed much of the car but a fascinating insight into some less than truthful (being kind here) e-bay sellers language – leather interior (actually OE brown vinyl), full bare metal respray (not true), minor work to make the bumpers fit for a concours standard (fit for the bin!), painted in original type paint (pity it wasn’t the right OE shade), bonnet replaced from another Montecarlo (totally rusted out), windscreen perfect (delaminated everywhere). Buyer beware…………
What are the disadvantages and benefits to restoring a car like this? At least when you do this work you get an invasive look at the vehicle and there should be no future horrors lurking. This car had a reasonable engine so nothing was needed on that front otherwise it would have uneconomic. In this particular case it had been in dry storage for so long that inner panels were better than most, with particularly good rust free turrets. Yet the bonnet and doors had both suffered badly in the 5 years it had been on the road since new.
The moral is if you can buy a really good car from the outset then do it – even if that seems an expensive option – as restoration costs of a Montecarlo will soon outstrip its true market value. So pay £8,000 or even £10,000 and get a really good car, drive it home to your garage, and then look after it. On the other hand, there is a certain satisfaction and achievement in bringing an old car back into use – but often this can be an expensive game.
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