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How to Choose a Vintage Vehicle for Custom Car Build

For true automotive enthusiasts, vintage cars are a holy grail. They hold a special place in every petrolhead’s heart. The allure of finding, restoring, and then customizing a piece of automotive history is a childhood dream come true. But before you embark on this thrilling ride, it’s crucial to start from a solid foundation and choose the right vintage vehicle. 

The choice of a classic car is as important as finding a professional custom car shop in Orange County, CA with ample experience in custom car building projects. The choice of vintage car sets the stage for your entire custom build operation, influencing everything from the project’s complexity and overall costs to its final look and performance. In today’s blog, we take a look at 8 things you should keep in mind when picking a classic vehicle for your custom car build.

How do I choose a car to build?

While juggling practical considerations like budget and parts availability with your personal goals and passions, bear in mind that the right vintage car isn't just a vehicle; it's the foundation of your dream project, a canvas for your creativity, and a future source of pride and joy. Take your time, do your research, and choose a car that will make the journey just as enjoyable as the destination.

1. Define your goals

Begin by clarifying your goals for the custom build. Are you aiming for a faithful restoration, a restomod (restoration + modern modifications), or a truly unique custom creation? Whatever you decide, your end goal will have a significant impact on the type of vintage vehicle you should choose.

2. Reflect on your personal preferences

Ultimately, your personal preferences should play a decisive role in your decision. Choose a vehicle that excites you performance-wise and ticks all your aesthetic preferences. Stay true to your passion because it’s your motivating fuel that will drive the entire project.

3. Set a realistic budget

Budgeting is a vital step in the process. Without a certain amount of planning and restraint, vintage car projects can quickly eat up your budget, especially if you’re dealing with rare models or extensive modifications. Set a realistic budget that includes the cost of the vehicle, parts, labor, and a contingency fund for unexpected expenses.

4. Research potential models

Do your homework. Research various vintage models that align with your goals and budget. Consider factors like the availability of spare parts, community support, and the car's historical significance. Online forums, car clubs, and auto shows are excellent resources for gathering information and advice.

5. Consider parts availability

One of the biggest challenges with vintage cars is finding the parts. Some models have a robust supply of reproduction or aftermarket parts, while others may require you to hunt for original parts, which can be time-consuming, costly, and sometimes even futile. 

6. Evaluate the vehicle's condition

When you've narrowed down your choices, it's time to evaluate potential vehicles. While the car interior can play an important role in your decision-making, it’s more important to pay attention to rust which can be a significant issue in older vehicles. Other areas you should inspect include the engine, transmission, electrical systems, and frame.

7. Think about resale value

While this is not the primary concern for most custom builders, it’s wise to consider the potential resale value of your finished project. Some vintage cars hold their value better than others, especially if they're restored or customized in a certain way.

8. Seek professional advice

If you're new to vintage cars or harbor any doubts, don't hesitate to seek professional advice. A knowledgeable restorer can be of great help in assessing the vehicle's potential and identifying any red flags. While it’s always smart to lean on their expertise that can save you time and money in the long run, keep in mind it’s ultimately you who’s making the decisions.

How can I get in touch with the leading custom car shop in Orange County, CA?

With a skilled team of dedicated mechanics who love what they do, the latest in equipment and technology, and significant mileage in all things vintage cars, Chimera Motors is the leading custom car build specialist on the entire West Coast.

From advice on what to avoid when doing a classic car build and pointers on how the custom car build process looks like to a vast choice of vintage car modification styles, we’re your one-stop shop that does it all. Give us a call while you’re driving home down California State Route 39 and we’ll quickly go full throttle to put the wheels on your custom car project. Reach out to us today!


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