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Car restoration guide

Modern Technology Gives Classic Car Restorations New Life

For most owners, classic cars are weekend joy rides that spend most of their time stored in a garage. 

And then there are those who prefer to enjoy their classic beauties everyday of the week running errands, driving to and from work and using them as much as possible.

However, as all classic car enthusiasts would know too well, is the difficulty and hassle of driving a classic car.

If you think about how easy and comfortable modern cars drive thanks to features like power steering, electronic braking system, and of course air conditioning —  

And now compare it to a classic or vintage car — no power steering, drum brakes, mechanical engine fans and inferior or lack of air conditioning, we can all agree there is going to be some struggle.

Thus this brings us to the notion of how modern technology can give new life to classic cars, making them easier, more comfortable and safer to drive.

Below is a list of upgrades that will give you a safer, more comfortable drive without taking away the integrity and originality of a classic car.

Electronic ignition system upgrade

Most classic cars use traditional breaker points ignition systems which turn coils on and off as necessary, sending a spark at the right moment to ignite the fuel at the top of the pistons stroke range. 

However, there are a number of issues with old contact breaker point ignition systems:

– Contact points deteriorate with age and are subjected to heavy wear and tear and erosion

– Contact breaker points limit power input to coils

– If points get wet — they stop working altogether

– Harder to mechanically repair, maintain and adjust

– Problems with starting on cold mornings, poor efficiency and overall drop in performance making it unsafe to drive

Benefits of upgrading to an electronic ignition system:

– Improve fuel efficiency

– Faster, smoother acceleration for a more comfortable drive

– Reduced exhaust emissions, better for the environment

– Increases lifespan of spark plugs

– Easier general maintenance, will start on cold mornings

Upgrading to an electronic ignition system is an affordable modification that improves drivability, saving you time and money on constant tweaking and servicing. It increases fuel efficiency, as well as provides you with a safer drive anytime of the year rain, hail or shine. 

Power steering upgrade

For those who are unaware of how a vehicle drives without power steering, imagine pulling a tonne of bricks in one direction while trying to turn, stop and turn the other way, and proceed moving again.

A classic vehicle without power steering can be harder to handle in tight spaces such as navigating through multi level car parks or inner city driving. Imagine not being able to turn quick enough to avoid the curb because the steering wheel was too heavy to turn.

Having power steering means you no longer have to do a complete arms workout just to get out of a car park. Power steering allows for easier adjustability when steering thus making it easier to turn at lower speeds and creating a more comfortable, safer drive. 

It’s overall weight is also lighter than hydraulic steering systems, giving a slight improvement on fuel economy.

Disc brakes upgrade

Most classic vehicles from the late 60s were fitted with drum brakes either in the rear or at both ends of the car. The drum is attached to the wheel and is spun freely until the brakes are applied, to which a shoe brake mechanism is pushed outwards and the friction between the shoe and drum brings your wheels to a stop.

However, this friction generates a lot of heat when braking and it can be hard to dissipate, which causes brake fading, overheating and other brake pad issues. Brake drums can also collect water which reduces your braking ability and increases the risk of an accident. 

For this reason, more classic car owners are turning to disc brake systems. The benefits of a disc brake system include:

– Less likely to experience brake fade

– Significant braking power with disc brakes in the front end of vehicle

– Disc brake systems are self-adjusting

– Easier to inspect without removing the wheel

– Is less likely to overheat

– Disc brakes are much more common, with many performance options available, as well as servicing and maintenance

Air conditioning upgrade

Imagine cruising top down, windows down by the beachside….in 45 degree heat. Air conditioning has become an essential part of Aussie living at home and while driving. 

It’s in our nature to always want the most comfortable option and that means air conditioning in the car. AC in older vehicles are not nearly as efficient or powerful as they are in modern vehicles. 

They also have a tendency to sap engine power and affect overall performance of the car. Upgrading your air conditioning system will not only improve the comfort of you and your passengers, but also increase performance and cause less wear and tear on the engine.

Electric conversions upgrade

With the future of EVs knocking on our doorsteps and set to kick off an electrifying future, two car enthusiasts, David Bernardo of Zelectric Motors and Michael Bream founder of EV West decided to whack an electric powertrain into a classic 1968 Porsche 912.

Starting off with nothing but a rusty shell, the two endeavoured to create a blend of past, present and future and built a 550 horsepower electric beast with over 6000 Nm of torque. 

The Porsche uses a tesla electric motor, inverter, rear diff, and throttle pedal. However, instead of using a Model S battery, a 32kWh battery pack from LG Chem was installed, which was split into 2 16kWh portions to assist balancing the weight of the vehicle.

However, not everyone is onboard with this modification, with diehard classic enthusiasts claiming that it is no longer a classic vehicle. They mention that it is “a desecration of the vehicle, and it has been turned into something it was never meant to be”. 

The idea behind owning a classic car is the whole authentic drive experience, which includes having a genuine classic engine.

On the other hand, taking a classic car that guzzles fuel, riddled with engine problems, and a safety hazard on the road, and restoring it with an electric motor is like busting out the defibrillator and bringing someone back to life.

It opens up the possibilities of owning a classic car for generations to come, and could possibly be the future of car collecting.

Where do you sit on the future of classic car restorations?
We have created a guide should you want to undertake such big project.
If you own a classic car and wish to drive with people who share the same passion, have a look at our WA club enthusiasts list.
If you do now own a car yet but are considering investing in one, read our guide to buying a classic car.

Buying car parts, all the more for classic car parts might be a challenge in Perth. Before you go ahead and buy new parts or second hand parts, read through our car part buyers guide so you know what you should pay attention to.