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Documenting Restoration Process - September 2010 Resto Shop

Preserving The Past

Tony Huntimer Sep 1, 2010
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You've got your work cut out for you restoring a Camaro completely back to stock form. With any luck the car is still fairly original and nobody's performed a bad, or any, restoration on it. This will give you the chance to restore the car back to its original state without much guesswork. Maybe you're restoring your car back to its factory original state for resale value or to have it judged at concours. Either way, the value of your Camaro and its level of "correctness" after it's restored are completely in your hands. The most overlooked part of a restoration project is the documentation process during the car's disassembly. Twenty years ago, you had to take photos and get them developed, which was expensive. Then there was the bad photo factor. If your picture didn't turn out and you already started the restoration process, there was no way to go back and take a picture again. Today, you can purchase a fairly cheap and decent digital camera as part of your restoration investment and take as many photos as you want without the additional cost of developing your photos. You can also look at the camera's display to see if you took a good picture before taking more.

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It's possible that your Camaro has a rare factory defect like a body-colored firewall, crayon markings on the backside of body panels that are evidence of being powered by a 396, overspray spatters, or other great details that get blasted or washed away once the restoration process is started. If you don't have photos to help prove certain details existed before the restoration, you're out of luck, especially if your car has significant collectible value. Imagine restoring your car back to the way it was originally with a factory defect, then having it judged at a concours show and being marked down for having something out of the ordinary on your car. Without proof that your car originally had the defect before your restoration started, you wouldn't have a leg to stand on. Of course, photos can't prove your car hadn't been incorrectly restored in the last 40 years, but detailed photos do make a compelling case.

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The key to taking photos is being able to take good ones. Before moving on to the next photo, check the image to make sure it was in focus and that your flash didn't wash out the detail you were trying to photograph. Hold the camera still or your pictures will be blurry and worthless. A camera tripod is a good investment, too.

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Having photos will also add to the value of your car, especially if you end up selling it halfway through the restoration.

I've never met anyone who regretted taking photos of their restoration, but I have met many who deeply regret not doing so. Do yourself a favor and take photos of your project before, during, and after your restoration. These days, there's no excuse not to.



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