The fun art of car restoration

For each and every car buff, the attraction of having a vehicle in mint condition, regardless of its age, knows no boundaries.

But when the vehicle in question starts to break down more and more frequently, with original equipment manufacturer parts becoming scarcer, its age starts to show - and that's not a good thing.

Fortunately, the Filipinos reputation as quality craftsmen and the abundance of surplus car parts has been supporting the art of restoration in the country - much to the delight of car nuts who want to breathe new life to their vintage cars.

"It helps to know people who have the same passion as you do," said Mon Santiago of the Ford Escort Club at the recent Hot Rod Festival and Car Restoration Expo.

"More often than not, it's these people who can help get you a good deal since some surplus shops would charge you a lot more for a certain part whereas if you've been dealing with them for a long time, they can even give you a hefty discount," Santiago added.

Santiago spoke from experience. He remembers almost giving up on his Ford Escort Estate Mark 1, which had already cost him P150,000 when only 75 percent of the restoration was completed. Now, with just an additional P40,000 thrown in to his project, his car is 99 percent done.

When you end up empty handed after scouring surplus shops, virtual space may just hold the answer for you, Santiago said.

"The internet, eBay specifically, is a very good source for surplus car parts. After looking through the auto shops in Banawe, Cubao, and Binondo, and coming up empty everytime, I finally found the pair of taillights I needed online on eBay," he added.

More than just coming up with a classic eye candy, car restoration is also a way of showing the pocket-pinching value of old cars, particularly those with small engines like the Volkswagen Beetle and the Mini.

"A lot of people think that old, carburetor-driven cars like the Mini consume a lot of gas, is harmful to the environment, and aren't safe to be driven anymore," said Pinoy Mini club member Dr. Joey Luad. "That's why we're here and that's why we have fun runs - to prove to everyone that the Mini is just as economical and just as roadworthy as today's cars."
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