Stuart Simonsen of Billings, MT is an enthusiast for restoring cars, and recently completed a rebuild of a 1961 Corvette. In the following article, Stuart Simonsen discusses the art, and science, of automobile restorations.
Much of today’s world is enthralled by innovation and futuristic designs, but there exists an echelon where the thrum of would-be-silenced engines and sleek, now-vintage curves are lauded, the charming realm of classic cars.
Yet, this beautiful sphere wouldn’t exist without the expert car restorers who play a highly significant role in the preservation of the globe’s automotive heritage. Paying homage to manufacturers, designers, and drivers of times long passed, is the art and science of vehicle restoration, formally known as oldtimer restauratie.
The passion-driven effort revitalizes classic cars, guaranteeing their stories and historical influence continue standing the grueling test of time. If it weren’t for meticulous restoration endeavors, car aficionados and museums alike wouldn’t have these glorious vehicles to delight over.
Stuart Simonsen Explains that Restoration is Integral to the Preservation of Automotive Heritage
Vintage vehicles carry their era with them, acting as a tangible time capsule that reflects the design, craftsmanship, and cultural significance of their age. Enthusiasts, armed with the skills, experience, and dedication, carefully restore them, honoring the historical value and encapsulating the very essence of automotive heritage in everything from the bodywork to the interior’s trim to the sound of the engine.
Stuart Simonsen says that unbeknownst to those outside the car world, it isn’t just about breathing fresh life into individual cars. Instead, it’s about conserving and preserving the wider automotive heritage. The revival and maintenance of classic vehicles safeguards the greatness left behind by industry pioneers, designers, and manufacturers.
Onlookers can consider them living artifacts, narrating the stories of their time and allowing present and future individuals to revel in, appreciate, and connect with the rich history of the sector. Without them, it would all be confined to pages of textbooks and grainy, sepia images uploaded to the internet by passionate curators.
Three Approaches to Car Restoration
Stuart Simonsen of Billings, MT explains that at the very core of oldtimer restauratie lies the talent and craftsmanship of the restorers themselves. Whether it’s refurbishing the engine, fabricating new metal parts, restoring the bodywork, or reconstructing the interior, each stage necessitates exceptional level of detail and scrutiny to achieve nothing but perfection.
Restorers toil to safeguard vehicles’ authenticity by sourcing original parts, using traditional techniques, and finding period-correct materials to ensure the finish is as gorgeously created as the day it was originally fashioned.
With that in mind, FIVA (Federation Internationale Vehicles Anciens), the federation committed to protecting motoring heritage, details the three approaches expert car restorers take when working on vintage automobiles — better-than-new, factory new, and substance-preserving, notes Stuart Simonsen of Billings, MT.
According to Dr Marcel Schoch, a previous conservator and project manager in land transport at the Deutsches Museum in Munich, better-than-new restorations are the most requested and praised within the market today. It refers to the production of an optical and technically flawless vehicle condition.
Typically requested by private, individual owners of vehicles who want that perfected finish, full functionality, and daily use suitability. Stuart Simonsen says that this aptly named restoration approach removes all structural defects as dictated in the customer’s request. The engine is replaced, braking system improved, sheet metal re-fabricated, and bodywork entirely painted with new-age paint systems. Essentially, all previous usage is erased.
Experts are quick to note that this method does not truly preserve the integrity of automotive heritage as the only resemblance to the original vehicle is the appearance. Instead, it’s conducted only as a private request from personal owners.
Factory New Restorations
Factory restorations are followed primarily by museums, but also some private owners who want to restore the vehicle to its original condition at the delivery time.
In this approach, restorers utilize old manufacturing methods, original parts, and era-correct materials. Full functionality is restored without fixing construction-related technical problems or improving the original inner workings. Stuart Simonsen explains that factory museums are particularly partial to this type of restoration.
That said, it still doesn’t leave the individual car’s history or patina on the car.
When protecting automotive history is the name of the game, restorers use the substance-preserving method. According to this approach, historic vehicles are time capsules of information about their manufacturer and usage. The restoration’s aim is to retain the substance in its present state to permanently keep all information about the technology and its story.
Stuart Simonsen says that this approach is favored for museum vehicles, but increasingly for collector’s vehicles that are intended to be standing objects for demonstrations of otherwise time-lost techniques.