Master Class: Shelby Car Restoration Tips From Tim Lea
A leading expert on 1965-70 Ford Mustangs, Tim Lea recently won three Concours Gold Awards for his work on a pair of spectacular, rare 1968 Shelby GT500KR convertibles, one hailing from the Segerstroms’ collection Driving Line got a look inside. Join in our chat with Tim about the intricacies of embarking on a historically accurate restoration such as he accomplished on this award-winning KR.
1. Do your homework.
Whether its purchasing the car or choosing an expert for the restoration work, doing your homework will help ensure the process goes smoothly. Research shops, the builds they’ve done, their reputation and awards won. Tim also encourages to ask prospective shops for references before entrusting your car project to a builder/restorer.
2. Be patient and humble.
“If you go out like a bull in a china shop saying ‘I want this and I want it now,’ you’re going to push a lot of people away,” says Tim. Wait for the right car to buy and wait to have the best shop to work on it. Be confident about what you want, but humble enough to listen to the experts as well.
3. Hire an expert before buying.
“Generally, people balk at the fees to hire an expert to look at a car before buying it, because the fees almost always include travel expenses. But what might cost $800 to $1,500 up front will be the best money you’ll ever spend because you’ll know what you’re getting,” advises Tim.
When it comes to purchasing a Shelby, there are many small clues and tons of information to know that even Tim wouldn’t give out — noting the experts keep their tricks of the trade to themselves to discourage people using the information to create phonies.
4. Know what you want.
Not all restorations are alike. Is it going to just look good from afar, will it be driven much, or will it be restored to initial show-room quality?
“As a restorer, one of my initial responsibilities is to find out what the customer wants to do with the car," Tim notes.
Watch more from our conversation with Tim Lea in the video below, filmed LIVE for Driving Line’s Facebook channel or browse through the gallery of Shelby’s, many restored by Lea, in the Segerstroms’ car collection.