If you’re a car enthusiast, you will no doubt have heard about “barn finds”. These are vehicles that get discovered in old barns (hence the name) or garages.
Usually, their owners store those cars for an extended period, and they only get found after their death. Believe it or not, there have also been cases where cars get found, and the owner forgot they stored them!
Barn finds can often represent bargains for people looking to restore old classics. The trouble is: one can never tell just how good (or bad) a barn find car can be! If you’ve just got one, here’s how to restore the vehicle to its former glory:
Give the car a good cleaning
The first thing you need to do is determine the condition of the car’s body panels and shell. It’s likely that your barn find car will have years of dirt and dust covering it. To get a clearer picture of the condition, you should start by rolling it outdoors and giving it a wash.
If you’re planning to use a pressure washer, don’t go too close to the car with it. Otherwise, you might risk damaging a fragile panel. You should use a mist setting on your lance rather than a jet spray.
Try to start the engine
You won’t know if the motor is a runner or scrap metal without trying to make it start. Before you do anything, check that the engine is complete. The wiring should all be in place, along with the components it needs.
Next, turn the engine over by hand using a socket wrench. The aim is to check the motor has not seized. Assuming it turns over OK, you can proceed with the following steps.
An old car will no doubt have some worn items that you should replace first. Be sure to fit a new battery, spark plugs and wires. You must also carry out an oil change and fill the gas tank with a fresh supply of fuel.
Once you carry out those steps, you’ll increase the chances of the engine starting.
Does it drive?
Assuming the motor fires up and stays running, you need to determine if the gearbox is also working. Try driving the car a few feet at a low speed. If all the gears work fine, great!
If nothing happens, you’ll need to remove the gearbox and have it repaired. Before you do so, phone around for a transmission repair cost estimate. That way, you can decide whether replacing instead of repairing is a cheaper solution.
Restoring the car to its former glory
Do you have a rolling shell with a working engine and transmission? If so, you can now restore the car to its factory state. This will involve checking the body panels for rust and replacing them where necessary. You may also need to weld and seal any damaged parts of the shell.
A respray is also likely unless the car has sat in dry storage and had little time on the road.