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Auto Restoration Challenges to Consider Before Buying That Muscle Car

Muscle cars are a hallmark of the all-American experience. Sure, people like to sing the praises of baseball and apple pie but pastries rarely turn heads like a ’69 Chevy Camaro or a ’65 Mustang. While a lot of car models are doomed to fade in time, the great American muscle car has found second life in the popularity of auto restoration. But if restoring a classic car was easy, everyone you know would be rolling in GTOs and Hemicudas. The truth is that there are a few common problems that snag auto enthusiasts when they set out to make their historic dream cars into tangible realities. Depending on how you look at it, these problems can be a real pain or an experience-building challenge for an amateur mechanic.

The Search for Parts Can Hold Up Your Auto Restoration

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The ’67 Camaro has an abundance of parts, making it an opportune choice for restoration projects.

Easily one of the most daunting aspects of the auto restoration experience is finding that ever-elusive part. The good news is that there are models of muscle cars that are more likely to have replacement parts readily available. Camaro models from the late ‘60s make perfect examples. Sure, buying the Camaro in the first place can set you back, but you’ll have no trouble finding parts for it. In fact, the vast abundance of aftermarket performance parts for Camaros bring new meaning to the term “hell on wheels.” You can really turn a Camaro into a beast. Likewise, a plethora of companies are still churning out the parts for Ford Mustangs from the late ‘60s. Advancing technology may take the bite out of the problem of hard-to-find auto parts as 3D printing becomes more accessible, but that’s still looking to the future.

Working with Modern Emissions Guidelines

Here in California, gearheads have the extra hurdle of emissions regulations. Arguably, one of the best parts of restoring a muscle car is doing an engine swap, but California’s emissions guidelines make an already complex situation downright mindboggling. Just imagine the hassle of trying to fit an emissions system into a car that was designed when an emissions system of today’s standards would almost seem ridiculous. That being said, it’s not impossible. But even if you do hop, skip, and jump through the state’s emission hoops, you’re still looking at a pretty hefty price tag in outfitting a classic muscle car with a new and improved engine. There are some emissions breaks for cars over 25 years of age so with a lot of muscle cars, you’re in luck when it comes to emissions testing. However, engine swaps are still subject to some stringent emissions rules.

Yesterday’s Gas Mileage at Today’s Pumps

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The American muscle car isn’t exactly known for its eco-friendliness.

When you think back to America’s golden years, the times most associated with the muscle car, you may recall that the cost of gas was nowhere near where it reaches at the pumps today. It almost felt as though we had an endless supply of gas and engines were built from that perspective. Even the gas guzzling titans of today don’t hold a candle to an American muscle car which can easily toss back a gallon over the course of 10 metropolitan miles. In short: driving a muscle car is expensive. If this is a hobby car that you purchased mainly for restoration purposes, you may not really notice. But if this is your main ride, you could be pitting a significant amount of your finances into just getting around town.

Of course, all three of these issues can actually contribute to making the auto restoration process more interesting, especially for those of us who like a challenge. Bring a classic muscle car back to life takes commitment, both in time and money. If you’re just getting into car restoration, car clubs can be of assistance. And if you’re ever in a complete bind, an experienced auto shop can sometimes pull you out of the rut. No matter how you get there, it’s always a worthwhile feeling when you’re cruising through the night in a growling piece of American history.

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