How do you tell the difference between a classic and a scrap from the 1980s?
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How do you tell the difference between a classic and a scrap from the 1980s?

Restoration of classics is a very popular hobby in our country recently. Check how to buy a classic still suitable for restoration, and avoid buying scrap!

For some of them it is a hobby, for others it is an income. Restoration of classics is an interesting activity, which may cause a lot of trouble. However, when the work is completed, the satisfaction and happiness from what you have achieved is unimaginable. Old cars are bought on the cheap and then turned into a project that enthusiasts spend weeks, months, and some even years on. In this article you will learn how to protect yourself from buying scrap and choose a classic from the 80s, which after restoration will look like new!

Material for a classic – what criteria must it meet

You need to know what vehicle can be considered a classic car. In fact, it can be any car that is over 25 years old, is in good working order, and the parts are largely close to the original. The stairs begin when the restorer looks at the vehicle, as he or she will make a positive or negative decision on the car. First of all, he checks the VIN number, as it turns out that cars abroad were registered in the computer system much earlier than in Poland, and those which didn’t make it were entered into the register later. If after the VIN number comes out that the car is accident-prone, it will not be admitted as a classic car. You also have to reckon with the fact that even cars from Polish owners once came to us from abroad. Maybe less than 10% of potential antique cars are from Polish showrooms, so it will be hard to find such a gem. In 2020, it is best to choose vehicles manufactured between 1980 and 1985. If you are going to work on it for several years, choose a slightly younger model. But let’s get down to specifics, there are two main aspects you should look out for when searching for and inspecting a potential classic – these are corrosion and parts availability. We’ll describe a bit about each of these


We’ll start with corrosion. Rust is the natural aging process of metals. The effects of time and weather conditions are merciless, and after 25 years there can be a lot of corrosion. However, it is worth knowing the limit, too much rust, especially on parts of the car that are next to each other, may mean that the car had an accident in the past and was not properly repaired in that area. When the rust covers many parts of the car, there is however not enough of it, it is probably the copy you are looking for. The VIN number will help you check for this (if the car has a documented history, of course). You can use it to find out whether the car is accident-prone or not.

Availability of parts

The second aspect is extremely important. So what if there is little rust, when you will not be able to replace a single element without spending months looking for individual parts? It is better not to go into something like that. So you need to realistically assess whether you will be able to repair a potential classic. It may be that parts for it are no longer produced. Sometimes it is possible to find matching parts from other makes and models of cars. Unfortunately this is rare, moreover on scrap metal after years of sitting on shelves, or worse in the open air, a part may not be usable.

If you are just starting out and are not yet experienced in vintage restoration, choose cars from other enthusiasts, why? Because they are either too busy with the project or simply don’t have time for it. In most cases you will be able to buy all the necessary parts from them along with your potential vintage. Avoid vehicles imported by dealers. It is better to pick up the car yourself. It may have been sitting in a barn in Sweden for 10 years and the owner only found out about it when his grandfather bequeathed the barn to him.

Beware of cars from Polish production or Polish showrooms

It would seem that such vehicles will be the best for restoration. After all, they drove on our roads, driven by Poles. Unfortunately, it is quite different. Even 30 years ago, it was not difficult to get a driving license in Poland. Inexperienced drivers often landed in ditches or trees. Then the vehicle was repaired, there was virtually no trace of the accident. Of course, at that time nobody bothered to write it down anywhere, computers were known from the radio, and no one had heard of a register yet. So what if you check VIN number, if you don’t find anything interesting in the history of the car? Then it is best not to decide on such a copy, or to inspect it carefully to find the slightest signs of collision or accident, which could make restoration not so easy, and sometimes impossible.

To sum up

Follow the rule of limited trust when you choose a vehicle for restoration. Remember what the Polish law says about vintage cars. Don’t choose cars from the 1980s that have too much corrosion around one area. Before buying a potential classic, remember to check it at the registry, be prepared to possibly buy spare parts, and if those are hard to come by, just look for another candidate. Thought that cars from Polish production or operated in Poland are a good choice? Nothing of the sort, best look for offers from enthusiasts or private individuals from other countries!


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