I was in a similar position - wanted to restore my Dad's '69 2000.
I hired an experienced Datsun shop located far from my home to do the
restoration and paid them what I felt to be top dollar at the time (a
couple years ago). The process took roughly a year - a complete, frame
off restoration. I took this approach only because my car, purchased
new by my Dad, has great sentimental value to me.
Notwithstanding what I believe to have been the restoration shop's
honesty and good intentions, I have been very unhappy with the result -
from flaws in the paint to something as simple as a misaligned steering
wheel, all to my mind inexcusable in such a job. Often, and randomly,
the car won't start. To be fair, the shop's owner offered to fly out
and fix my issues, but by then I'd completely lost confidence in the
shop's ability to do quality work. Eventually, I'll find someone I
trust to clean the car up.
So, my advice: you need to be realistic about the result. What do you
mean by a "proper" restoration? If you want a show quality car, be
prepared to pay up ... way up. Hire the best of the best, and closely
and personally follow the progress. Unfortunately, it seems to me that
the best restorers have customer cars lined up a year or more in
advance, and are able to command tremendous prices for their work.
I think a true, show quality restoration is unnecessary for most owners
- but anything less will entail compromises. What are you willing to
forego? So, my advice: you need to be realistic about the result.
I believe Jay Leno has said that he likes to restore them to 98 points
and then drive them down to 20 or 30 - probably not exactly his words,
but close. I'm with Leno (if only I had his budget). If you want to
honor it, drive it. That said, I appreciate that there are hard core
car folks who love the concours world; I have no problem with that, I
like to look at perfect cars!
Communicate as much as possible with your chosen shop, and make sure
you and the shop agree on your expectations for the price paid. Hire
someone you think you can work with. And ignore the snobs, the marque
club world is full of them. Your car deserves better than a guy who
thinks of it as "low end." Who cares what the snobs think, anyway. As
you already know, it's all about what YOU like.
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