Wheeler Dealers gives its top tips for restoring a classic car

Mike and Edd give their top tips for classic car restoration
Mike and Edd give their top tips for classic car restoration

Restoring a classic car can be a hugely challenging task, so the presenters behind the Discovery Channel’s hit TV show Wheeler Dealers have released their top five tips to get a used car back on the road to mark the launch of their new series and a new Haynes Manual.

First airing in 2003, with a twelfth series premiering on the Discovery Channel last night, the show follows the adventures of Mike Brewer and Edd China as they buy, restore and sell classic cars, and has almost certainly been responsible for inspiring enthusiasts across the globe to emulate their adventures.

The Wheeler Dealers Car Restoration Manual goes behind the scenes to reflect on 10 of the most popular car restorations from the first 12 years of the show, with numerous photographic sequences of the jobs carried out and additional insight from Mike and Edd into the buying, restoration and selling of each of the cars featured.

With more than 100 episodes and cars under their belts, Mike Brewer and Edd China have the experience and knowhow to turn a banger into a beaut in no time at all so following these tips could save significant time, money and stress:

1.       Choose the right car for you – Think about why you want to do the restoration work, is it a fun project, a car you plan to sell or one to keep as an investment?

You should pick a car that you feel passionate about and know what your aims are before you get started.

2.       Think about your budget­ – You should never start a restoration before you’ve had a chance to do the sums and know whether you can make it work. Are you aiming for a lighter, rolling restoration or something much more ambitious?

Will you be doing the work yourself or bringing in professionals? You should always ensure you have wriggle room in the budget because almost all restorations will throw-up unexpected problems.

3.       Do your homework – It is essential that you know in advance about the availability of parts for the car you’re going to be working on, as this can really impact on your budget.

If it’s your first project then you’re better off starting with something common as it will make your life much easier both in terms of sourcing parts and also getting advice.

4.       Talk to clubs and specialists – You’re not the first person to restore that model, so someone else will already know the pitfalls and they could be an invaluable source of help.

You should talk to someone before you buy as not only could this alter your buying decision but it’ll also be good to build a rapport with them, especially if they are a local specialist.

5.       Ask for help – Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you are struggling with a particular problem or aspect of the restoration. 

The whole project will be much easier and more fun with another pair of hands and it should make it safer too.

Mike Brewer says:

“Nothing can match the excitement of turning back the clock and transforming a rusting mess back into its former glory, it’s what gets me up in the morning.

We’ve restored more than a hundred cars for the show and each one has been a different challenge but one of the key things we’ve learnt is just how important it is to start with the basics and to look at your budget and consider the feasibility of the project before you make the investment.”

Edd China says:

“Restoring a car back to top condition can be a whole lot of fun, but if you don’t put in the early legwork and do your homework then you’re taking a huge risk.

Get out there and speak to other people who have restored the same car and get their advice before you splash the cash, it could save you a huge amount of time, money and effort.”

Wheeler Dealers has become one of the most popular programmes on the Discovery Channel network around the world. It all started in 2003 with the restoration of a Porsche 924, and no one – least of all Mike and Edd – knew just how big the show would become.

Its budget was tiny, with just £1,000 available to buy and restore the car, and while that might seem laughable now, until Wheeler Dealers came along no one had attempted to film the restoration of a car for a TV show.

Over the past 12 years the show has featured some amazing cars, from those that are familiar to just about every car enthusiast to some that are more than a little unusual and unique. From sports cars to luxury cruisers, from off-roaders to cars that float, and from the most vintage to the truly modern classic, there has been something for everyone.

The full list of the ten cars featured in the manual is as follows:


  •          Austin Mini
  •          Jaguar E-Type
  •          Lamborghini Urraco S
  •          Land Rover Discovery
  •          Mazda MX-5
  •          Peugeot 205 GTI
  •          Porsche 911 Targa
  •          Subaru Impreza WR X
  •          Amphicar
  •          Willys MB Jeep