ford truck restoration
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A Brief Glance at Ford Truck Restoration

According to some financial advisors, the best investment to make right now isn’t the hottest new tech stock but a vintage Ford truck.

Ford’s early generations of its best-selling F-Series are expected to attract a lot of money on auction blocks, but that certainly isn’t the only reason you may want to take on restoring old Ford trucks. You’ll gain a sense of pride bringing a classic vehicle back to its former glory with your own hands, and you’ll have fun driving it and showing it off at car shows.

If you’ve been considering restoring an old Ford truck, here’s a general glance at what’s involved and what you need to know before, during, and after your truck is road and show-ready.

Choosing the Right Ford Truck to Restore

It’s quite easy to find an old Ford truck to restore, especially with so many listings online as well as auctions and even old barns. Choosing the right truck to restore, however, can be a little trickier because there are several important factors you need to take into consideration.

Only 30 percent of vehicle restoration projects end up back on the road, mainly due to the owner running out of money. Some trucks may require a lot more work, time, and funds to properly restore them which isn’t always so obvious when you’re looking at the vehicle.

To avoid disappointment, you should determine what kind of budget you can afford that you’re willing to put into your restoration project. Some parts can be costly while others can’t be purchased any longer, which means you may need to buy a similar part from a different manufacturer.

Before taking the plunge, talk to other vintage Ford truck owners to get a sense of what challenges they faced while restoring their truck and how much the project cost them. Visit truck restoration forums and go to car shows to talk to other truck enthusiasts. Their insight may save you from taking on a vehicle that is beyond your restoration expertise and budget.

If possible, take a restoration expert with you when viewing vintage Ford trucks for sale so they can give you an honest assessment of what needs to be repaired or replaced as well as advice on the best old trucks to restore.

Making Room for Your Ford Truck Restoration Project

While it’s tempting to leave your vintage truck outside during the restoration process, keeping it inside an enclosed space is much better because this will protect it against weather, animals, and theft.

You will need to make sure the space is large enough to take on the extent of your restoration. Even a standard home garage may prove to be too cramped once you start removing parts.

Try to keep your truck in a garage large enough to accommodate parts, tools, safety equipment, and all other materials you will be using. Grouping parts together and labeling them will make repairing or replacing sections of the truck smoother and the job less stressful. You will also be protecting your parts from getting damaged or stolen.

It’s also a good idea to document your truck’s restoration with photos and videos, in case you want to share your success story and experience with others.

Preparing for long term storage should also be part of your truck restoration plan. If you don’t plan on driving your vehicle during the winter months, you’ll need to take these precautions.

Tackle the Mechanical Parts First

When someone new to restoring old Ford trucks takes their new baby home, the first thing they want to do is clean the car and shine up the paint job. You’re actually better off saving sprucing up the exterior for last, because the vehicle is most likely going to get dirty anyway during the restoration process.

Most restorers like to begin with getting the vehicle’s engine running smoothly again. Even if an old truck’s engine starts up, oil and fluids will need to be replaced along with any needed parts. This can involve anything from replacing a few components to building a full new engine, which is why accessing a truck’s condition before purchasing it is very important.

Next you’ll need to replace any wires, belts, and hoses and work on the drivetrain. New transmission fluid will need to be added and the clutch may need to be repaired. Most likely your old Ford truck will require new tires, particularly if it hasn’t been driven for several decades.

Restore the Truck’s Interior

You’ll need to restore or replace the truck’s interior area including the seats and floorboard. A vehicle’s upholstery often becomes a haven for rodents, particularly if the truck has been stored in a barn for many years. If the upholstery is in good condition, it’ll still need a good cleaning to remove dirt and stains and you’ll also want to repair any tears in the fabric.

Old truck floorboards are susceptible to rust. The truck’s carpeting or floor covering will need to be removed to access the rusty areas. There’s several ways to repair rust; some owners prefer lead-free body soldering to fill in holes while others rivet sheet metal into place.

Your truck’s bed liner will also need to be cleaned and potentially restored.

Restore the Truck’s Exterior

Now it’s time for the fun part: making your old truck shiny again. This may require treating rusty areas and giving the body a good waxing, or it may mean stripping the old paint and preparing the exterior for a similar or new color.

If you’ve purchased an old truck with a wooden bed, such as an old Flatbed Ford, you may need to replace the bed with new wood parts.

Taking Your Truck on the Road

Restored vintage trucks tend to stand out both on the road and at car shows, so your newly restored beauty is bound to be a conversation piece wherever you drive it. On-going maintenance will be required to keep your truck in tip-top shape, and talking to other restored truck owners at meets and shows will help you keep your vehicle drivable for years to come.

If you’re interested in restoring old Ford trucks, check out our huge selection of auto repair manuals to help get you started and our section on DIY auto repair.