You wouldn’t carry a hundred dollar bill in a fifty cent wallet, so don’t tend to your priceless collector car in a garage that’s not up to par.
As you restore and maintain your classic car into the vehicle of your dreams, you need a myriad of tools, tech and other things at hand and at the ready. The garage is more than a place to park your vintage car — it should be an all-in-one service center to give the car the TLC it needs to stay running and looking immaculate.
Here are five must-have things that every classic car owner should stock in their garage.
The Garage Essentials
Before building an inventory of the various tools you need to care for your classic car, optimize your garage to be an ideal space that you’ll truly enjoy being in throughout your years of restoration and maintenance.
To declutter the space and ensure you can find all your tools quickly and easily, invest in reliable garage storage. Cabinets with sliding doors help optimize space and protect your classic car much more effectively than traditional swinging doors. Hanging brooms, rakes and similar long odds and ends makes things simple to store and easy to find. Installing adequate lighting ensures you can identify every blemish and every scratch as you work on your car, so go for mounted or hanging lights with bulbs bright enough to make your vehicle shine. Additionally, weatherproofing the garage with proper insulation and strips around the edges of the door protects the car from high and low temperatures, rain, dust, and more, so it may be worthwhile investing in a climate-controlled garage, especially if your vehicle will sit dormant for long periods of time.
Finally, select a workbench that speaks to both your needs ad your personality. It’s the operating table for all your projects, the easel for all your creations, so you’ll want to invest in a high-quality workbench with a durable and dependable vice that can last a lifetime.
There are a great many devices and gadgets that you’ll need to restore and maintain your classic car, and the list can go on and on. Here are a handful of must-have tools to focus on as you stock your garage:
- Impact Wrench: To remove lug nuts, nuts and bolts
- Creeper, Jack & Stands: To maneuver comfortably beneath the car
- Paint Stripper: Whether your car needs minor touch-ups or a full new paint job, a small amount of rust removal or significant amounts from the metal panels, you’ll never regret buying a reliable paint stripper
- Griner: A must-have for body work, the grinder can help with rust removal, cut metal, and buff sharp edges
- Dent Puller: To attach to the side of the car and remove the dents with suction
- Transmission Stand: To protect the car’s transmission whenever you remove it
- Auto Jig: To bore precision holes at exact measurements
In addition to these classic car restoration staples, you’ll want to stock your garage with reliable and high-quality hand tools such as a full set of good wrenches, a power drill, tin cutters, and even a drill press. You’ll never regret being overprepared, especially if your garage has been optimized to fit all the miscellaneous wrenches and wires your project may need.
For any garage, it’s a necessity to stock up on an inventory of all the types of oil your car requires, from motor oil to transmission fluid to engine coolant and more. Needless to say, this is especially important to the restoration and maintenance of a classic car.
Older engines are generally more fragile and susceptible to corrosion, so refrain from using everyday oils on your classic car. Vintage vehicles were typically created with cast iron and therefore more vulnerable to damage from modern oils. There are specialized oils available for vintage cars that contain zinc to protect the iron in the engine from erosion.
Additionally, stock up on waterless coolant that is designed specially to protect the engine of classic cars from overheating and their chassis from corrosion as it is a glycol-based liquid substance with a much higher boiling point than water-based coolants. Manual transmission lubricant helps classic cars to shift much more easily, while protecting the gears and the synchronizers in the transmission.
If you’re going to leave your classic car idle for a while in the garage, be sure to drain the vehicle of all liquids, such as oil, coolant and even fuel. Stock your inventory of replacement fluids in a cool, dark cabinet so that everything’s ready at hand whenever you need it.
Every mechanic, DIY or professional, enjoys getting down and dirty every now and then; however, keeping clean while you work in your garage helps maintain order among your tools and protect your classic car from accidents.
What happens in the garage, stays in the garage. Overalls or a jumpsuit will help keep all the stains, oils and spills that may occur while you work in the garage and out of your house. Gloves are an obvious necessity that some may be tempted to wave away, but it’s imperative to keep all oils away from the interior of your car. Latex gloves are easy enough to wear and throw away from mild tasks, but keep a good set of grip gloves to protect from the heat and for heavier jobs.
Disposable shop rags and reusable towels are essential to have nearby to keep your classic car, your restoration garage, and yourself clean and pristine.
As the saying goes, work smarter, not harder. An air compressor delivers much more torque and power than traditional electric tools, making any job from grinding to painting to polishing and inflating much easier to complete and in less time.
There are many different types of air compressors available, and for a wide variety of prices, so consider exactly your needs before investing in one for your garage. For minor paint jobs and light air tools, a smaller compressor with a 20-gallon tank and 2-horsepower motor should be more than sufficient. Your tools will include information on their required air flow, as rating by standard cubic feet per minute (SCFM), so use those measurements to guide your decisions. For example, a 1/4” ratchet typically requires up to 3.5 CFM, while a sander may require up to 13 CFM.
Additionally, there are both oil-lubricated and oil-free air compressors available. Oil-lubricated air compressors run much more quietly and generally last longer, but should not be used for paint jobs as it will contaminate the air line with vaporized oil.
Dreams don’t come true on their own — they take hard work and determination. Your dream car is the same way, requiring a lot of elbow grease and brow sweat, as well as a place to get down and dirty. Let your garage be that place and help bring your dream car to life.