Restoration or rebuild, what’s the difference?

Is there actually a difference between a restoration and a rebuild?

If you’re a classic car lover thinking of taking on a restoration project, you may find yourself asking what the differences are between a restoration and a rebuild.

Online, in magazines, at events and on social media, your fellow enthusiasts will all point out the major differences between the two; including that restoration can be a mammoth, often painstaking and expensive task – and they’ll be right!

In contrast, a rebuild can be more fun and easier on the bank account, with the added freedom to choose parts based on accessibility, cost and personal preferences.


Restoring a classic car means returning the vehicle to – as close as possible – its original condition, with authentic parts and factory specifications. Not only can this be hugely expensive, but it could get tedious and take the fun of the project.

You’ll need to strip it down to its bare minimum and go piece-by-piece, often having to spend additional time sourcing exactly what is required at each stage of the restoration process.

However, if you have the cash and you have the time, then it can still be a very rewarding undertaking. Knowing you’ve painstakingly returned a car to its former glory, part for part, can be very satisfying indeed and something to be immensely proud of.


If you opt to rebuild and/or refurbish a classic car instead, you are free to get creative with your approach, making the endeavour less expensive and more fun along the way.

From easier access to parts and certain elements of labour, to more freedom of choice, a rebuild project will also mean you can express yourself and create a truly unique vehicle.

In addition, whilst a restoration will teach you all sorts of specific things about that particular car and its history, a rebuild project will provide you with a broader understanding of mechanics and motoring as you get stuck in to your refurbishment project.

Whatever you choose to do, keep it fun and be sure to share your adventure. After all, that’s what classic motoring is all about.