Classic Car Basics & How Authentic Restoration Is Judged

Many of our clients commit to an intensive authentic restoration of their classic car or hot rod because they want to show it off at a car show and have it entered for certain awards. In fact, a lot of people who bring their vehicles to us have done so after seeing our extensive restoration and customization work on Billy Thomas of Georgetown, Texas's 1939 Oldsmobile convertible that won the Don Ridler Memorial Award in 2016. So if you're looking for high-quality, authentic restoration, then you've c ome to the right place!

But what exactly does it mean to have a vehicle undergo authentic restoration? Authenticity is what many classic car events like Concours look for, but what many newcomers to the industry mistake is that authenticity does not mean 'original' but rather, 'like original'. After all, original vehicles are only original when they leave the manufacturing plant. During the restoration process, they can be restored to be like the original and how well it has been done reflects generally how well it'll be scored.

The Basics of Pro Level Show Car Judging for Authentic Restoration

Note, that there are many different types of awards and car shows and each show will have its list of awards it gives based on unique criteria -- for example, in 2017, Tracy Chapman took home the STREET RODDER Driven Award Presented by Lokar Performance Products for her 1949 Cadillac convertible due to both its gorgeous authentic restoration and its being a frequently driven restoration vehicle (at the time of the award, it had racked up about 12,500 miles). However, in general, the following is a quick look at what many judges are looking for with an authentic restoration:

  • Everything sits on an original body. There are 'replica' bodies that will almost always be disqualified from a car show. While there certainly can be many replacement and customized parts on a vehicle, a show car must begin with a proven original body.
  • Passes a thorough technical check. Even if you refuse to take your painstakingly restored vehicle on public roads, it will still be expected to pass a thorough technical check that shows that it can be driven without issue. These things range from headlight and brake light operations to the ability to operate windows without issue.
  • Suspension quality. The suspension system is a big deal for many classic car shows and it's one of the reasons why we put such an emphasis on the systems we put in our vehicles. Just as with the technical check, judges will look to ensure that tires, wheels, and shocks are all in outstanding condition and that modifications, where done, have been done well.
  • Interior quality. The inside is just as important as the outside. Upholstery, door panels, and even behind the visors will all be inspected for any imperfections and accuracy to how the vehicle might have originally been sold.

Learn More at CHRA

And we're just getting started! There's a lot a good judge will look for with authentic restoration vehicles. Learn more about show cars and how you can get your vehicle in show-quality condition by contacting our team at CHRA.