Ohio AMC Restoration
Now accepting reservations for summer 2013
Partial, Complete or Component Restoration
Auto restoration has come to mean different things to different people. A quick check of eBay Motors will show lots of "restored" cars which are actually nice original cars with only a fresh coat of paint or some new chrome plating. And while restoration technically means returning a vehicle to its exact original state, flaws and all, most of the cars that you see at shows are actually "over restored", meaning they are assembled and detailed far more carefully than when originally built. Although I prefer a more authentic "factory" look, I also embrace the use of some products which were not available when these cars were new.
This includes certain upgraded parts and finishes designed to maintain a long term factory fresh appearance. American Motors left many suspension and chassis parts unprotected (especially in the later years) in order to save money on each car built. This often allowed surface rust to begin forming even before the car was delivered. Back then it didn't matter because nobody looked underneath. But why go to the expense of restoring a car only to let it begin rusting all over again? That's why I prefer the use of clearcoats and other modern paints which look like bare steel, yet provide some protection from corrosion. I also prefer to paint underneath the battery tray and other areas vulnerable to rust which only received a primer coat from the factory. Another example of preservation is the use of reproduction stainless steel brake and fuel lines which look original but will never rust or corrode. I helped to develop the reproduction AMC lines for Fine Lines and use them (stainless or original) on all of my projects.
Beginning late in 1968 American Motors left many chassis parts unpainted.
Preservation also means maintaining as much originality as possible, especially when restoring a very clean or ultra rare car. This could include retaining the original textured undercoating, painted floor pans, or headliner if still in excellent condition. And while this may sound like cutting corners, it isn't! It's often more difficult to protect and preserve certain areas than to just strip and refinish them. For a unique car like my pink AMX stripping the unibody to bare steel inside and out would have reduced its value since the "00" paint code only specifies special order paint, not the specific color. I purposely left factory original paint behind the dash, on the floor pans and inside both doors.
And if a deliberate and selective restoration lowers the total cost of the project, that's even better! I love my AMC cars but have been involved with them long enough to know that most will never sell for six figures, at least not in my lifetime! So although there are general restoration shops that will gladly restore your AMX or Javelin for $75,000 or more, in the end you would have a gorgeous car worth perhaps $30,000 to $40,000. Instead I prefer real world restorations which take into consideration the owner's expectations, budget and intended use, as well as what parts and repairs are needed, weighed against the projected value of the finished car. This formula assures a positive outcome for everyone involved.
I begin each project with an initial inspection and hand washing of the outer body and engine compartment (if needed) before starting a careful disassembly process that includes bagging and labeling every nut and bolt, even if it wont be reused. All of the smaller take-off parts, including the seats, are stowed in a designated storage loft in order to keep everything together and safely off the ground. Parts needing to be chrome plated are processed right away in order to prevent delays later in the project.
Any previously used body panels taken from donor cars are media blasted to remove all of the original paint. To me this makes the replacement parts virgin steel again which now belong to the project at hand. I make every effort to duplicate the factory build sequence in order to paint the car at the same stage of assembly. This provides a cleaner, more original appearance with no paint lines or chipping of the body hardware from further assembly or adjustment. And while some restorers prefer to "sanitize" the application of seam sealer or the front end blackout paint, I have studied numerous original cars in order to replicate these areas as accurately as possible. Great care is always taken to avoid damage to the car or its components during each step of the process. Experience has taught me the best way to assemble a freshly painted car without damaging the finish when installing the drivetrain, bumpers and trim.
Of course it's the details which make one vehicle stand out from all of the rest, and this area is a specialty, from the careful restoration of individual components to sourcing rare original parts, and the most authentic reproductions available. I have developed techniques to duplicate many original finishes, and by researching a variety of AMC models I have built an extensive database of original service manuals, dealer brochures, period magazine road tests, and photos of original, unrestored cars. Some models had running changes within a single model year (the 1969 AMX had at least 20), and this information is crucial in completing an authentic restoration.
"A restoration is only as good as the parts!"
Beginning on the first day and continuing throughout the project I photograph and document every step. Periodic photo updates are then provided via email or posted online if desired. If you view my project photos or visit the shop you will see that I never set anything on the roof or hood of a car at any stage of the project. Each one is treated like the show car that it will be. I insist on an organized work area free of debris so I frequently sweep the floors and even dust all of the cars in the shop when needed.
I hope this very brief overview gives you a better appreciation of the work that I do. Because my shop isn't fancy my low overhead allows me to do this type of work at a much lower hourly rate than even your local auto repair shop. Questions regarding your particular project are always welcome! Please click Contact in the upper left hand column to receive a prompt reply to your inquiry. Thanks, Scott Campbell
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