If you love hot rods or classic cars, and you know your way around a mechanic’s toolbox, you may have gotten it in your head to open a hot rod shop. Indeed, what mechanic or DIYer hasn’t, at least once, had visions of chrome-plated engine parts dancing in their heads, and making hefty profits selling them to other hot rod enthusiasts? “Open your own hot rod shop,” the voice in your head suggests, “You don’t want to work for someone else the rest of your life, do you?” Then, if you’ve ever been to a classic car show or, better yet, an auction, it might be dollar signs dancing in your head.

What better way to make a living than buying hot rod junk cars and turning them into hot rod gold on the auction block, or restoring hot rods for enthusiasts? Hot rod restoration is indeed a passionate activity, and enthusiasts from DIY level to professionals expend a significant amount of their resources – blood, sweat, tears, time, and money – perfecting their craft and restoring classic cars to their former glory. More heart, still, goes into customization and performance upgrades. For enthusiasts at local and national classic car shows, as well as on auction blocks, there’s nothing better to talk about than restoring and outfitting these remnants of automotive history, except perhaps profits.

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Passion vs Profit

Watching “reality TV shows,” one gets the hint that hot rod customization is just a matter of having the right team, but there’s so much behind the scenes that never gets talked about. Timing is a big one, where it seems like it takes a week to turn that barnyard wreck into an eight-second hot rod – really takes several months of hard labor. Finding the right parts might take weeks, if not months, before work can even begin! Another is restoration costs, which are almost never mentioned. Once you step beyond the looking glass, the reality of the situation can be a frightful sight, which is why hot rod restoration and classic car customization is almost exclusively a labor of passion. After all, if you don’t like what you’re doing, why would you do it for what might be considered just a living wage?

On the other hand, there are profits to be made. First, working for other enthusiasts, restoring, maintaining, and upgrading other people’s hot rods, classic car specialists demand a higher wage than typical mechanics. At the same time, it isn’t as consistent. The classic car and hot rod market is constantly fluctuating, so it’s feast or famine for the average hot rod shop. Of course, there’s the “big fish” that everyone wants, to be able to flip hot rods for high auction prices. Unfortunately, often it’s exactly the opposite. For every million-dollar baby, there are many thousands of cars that barely break even or, worse, sell for far less than was invested.

Can a hot rod enthusiast build a successful hot rod restoration or classic car customization business? Absolutely, but don’t go into it without taking an objective look at the reality of running a shop and making a living. As a side hustle or a full-time profession, don’t go into it thinking you’ll make it big. Instead, your passion is what’s going to pull you through. Don’t expect to make it big but rejoice in a hard day’s work and a job well done. In the end, doing what you love might pay off, but don’t get downhearted if it doesn’t.

If you are in the market for classic tires and wheels, browse our wheel and tire packages. Or check out our vintage tire collection for your classic beauty https://www.performanceplustire.com/antique-tires/

Here is one enthusiasts view of “flipping” a car

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