Editor’s Note: Longtime HPP contributor, Smoke Signals Editor-in-Chief, Pontiac historian, and all-around good guy Don Keefe has written this in-depth restoration book. Its 176 pages are crammed with info and 398 color photos to help you breathe new life into your old Goat, and the section on electrolytic rust removal alone may be worth the cover price to you. The soft-bound book is published by CarTech, and signed and numbered copies can be purchased through Don’s website (www.gtorestobook.com) for $24.95 with free domestic shipping. Here is a sample chapter to give you an idea of what’s inside.

When evaluating your particular car for restoration, be sure you have a realistic expectation of the project, your skill level, and your intended use. This assumes that your car will be restored as a weekend driver/cruise night car and not necessarily for concours competition. Hence, you need to define the level of restoration you’re willing to take on. This decision also dictates just how far down you intend to take the car when disassembling.

Planning, Tracking, and Budgeting

Use a ledger or spreadsheet to organize, review, and track the progress of your project. Track the parts you need to buy and the procedures to perform, and you can have the entire project broken down into stages. It helps you complete a component-group restoration, reminds you of all the important steps, and guides you through the entire process.

For a spreadsheet, assign columns to priority, procedure, parts, projected cost, actual cost, projected hours, and actual hours. In the priority column, assign a level of importance to each procedure in the restoration. In many cases, a restorer cannot restore every component or area of a car at once, so assign a level of importance to each task. Therefore, if you cannot afford paint right now, but can sometime in the future, you should assign painting a 4. However, say you want a strong daily driver, but the engine is blowing and leaking oil. You did a compression test and most cylinders are way down on compression. As a result, your engine needs to be rebuilt and that is a top priority, so you assign a number 1 to that project.

In the procedure, you need to define what you’re restoring on the car, for example, patch quarter-panel, install new seat covers, rebuild rear differential, and so on. Next, define the parts for the part job, such as seat covers, quarter-panel, or ring and pinion and carrier parts.

Once that is accomplished, determine a realistic budget for the parts and the procedures. If you are performing the work yourself, budget in the amount of time it will take and you can choose not to pay yourself. If you have someone else subcontracted to perform a procedure, such as priming and painting, then you need to allocate a realistic budgeted cost—use a body shop estimate. Finally, fill out the actual cost and hours of a particular procedure once it’s been completed.

In reality, you will find that the planned budget and schedule are often very different than the actual budget and schedule. You may have what you consider a realistic budget and time schedule for completing the work, but then the build is 15 to 20 percent more time and allocated budget. Why? Because even with the best-laid plans, there’s unforeseen work and circumstances that arise during a complex project.

Get Organized

When the time comes to disassemble your GTO project car, a few basic things must be taken care of before any wrenches turn and any mistakes are made. Plan ahead and make sure that parts coming off the car are not lost, damaged, or otherwise taken out of service. If they are broken or worn, that is one thing. If they are lost or broken because you didn’t properly manage them, it costs you additional time, money, and hassle. The idea of restoring a car should be fun, so make sure you are helping that idea along, not hurting it.