Learning from the pros

by Paulo Rafael Subido | Jul 17, 2009
Let’s take a break from my project and hear what the experts have to say about the restoration game. Practical advice can indeed go a long way. [caption id="attachment_39" align="aligncenter" width="550" caption="At home in his shop. Alfred Perez gives old cars a second chance. "]At home in his shop. Alfred Perez gives old cars a second chance.[/caption] Our old school rides need not rust in pieces, that’s for sure. I had to prepare myself with as much information as I could find, so I decided to do plenty of research. I had to know everything about what I was getting into. I can maintain a car easily, but restoration is new territory for me. I do not want to screw up! I was cruising along the Kamuning Road when I decided to take a closer look at this shop with all sorts of vintage metal parked out front. Mustangs, Buicks, and old Toyotas were all over the place and I couldn’t help but stop to take a look. It was then that I met the proprietor of Alfred Motor Works, Mr. Alfred Perez himself. He took away top honors in this year’s Trans Sport Show. I fact, there was a news article about him on this website recently. Alfred has been in the car restoration business since he graduated from college in 1993, but his father owned a car repair shop for as long as he could remember. Today, Alfred still does all the standard repair jobs, but his shop is known for its expertise in car restoration—be it for Buick Roadmasters from the ’50s, old Mercedes-Benzes, and BMWs, or Japanese nostalgic cars from the ’60s to the ’80s. He tells us that the only drawback to having a car restored is the cost involved. It really is pretty expensive, especially with ‘vintage’ cars that are more than 40 years old, and ‘historic’ cars that push the 45-year-old mark. Regarding these types of restoration jobs, it was a thriving business five years ago when connoisseurs restored and sold their project rides. With the economic slump there was the obvious downturn, but for the most part customers still come to the shop. Most of the cars in the garage are being fixed up for sentimental reasons nowadays, but of course there are still a few gems that arrive now and then. Alfred is currently working on two significant historical cars--namely Manuel Quezon’s 1937 Chrysler Airflow and General Douglas MacArthur’s 1936 Cadillac V-16. Now how cool is that ? Alfred shares that there are a few things to keep in mind before tackling a restoration, and of course a few exceptions. If your ride is being restored for sentimental reasons there is no problem at all. But if you plan to sell your restored car in the future, make sure that it is a model that is desirable to collectors. The internet and car books can help you out in determining what cars are valuable and what aren’t. It is also crucial to have all the money ready as much as possible. Stopping a restoration job mid-way because of a lack of funds might lead to the car becoming a pile of useless junk. Leaving a car sitting at the shop for more than a year can lead the workers to forget which bolt goes where. It also pays to not scrimp too much on expenses. “For example, if you have an old car tapos hilaw-gawa lang, useless eh. Hindi sya well-restored,” adds Alfred. “Be prepared for the expenses and you can make it a good restoration.” The most important thing is patience though. You have to have plenty as sourcing some parts isn’t easy, especially if you want to get it right. For many of us, restoring a car is a labor of love. I fall under the ‘sentimental reasons’ category, and I definitely don’t have a whole lot of money! But, where there is a will, there’s a way. More tips to come, and if you have any that you want to share don’t hesitate to get in touch!
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