|Scooters vs. Cars- How Hard to Restore?|
There have been a few Heinkel car projects on eBay recently, and several people have asked me how hard it is to restore a microcar compared to a scooter or motorcycle. I decided to restore a Heinkel car because I’d had a satisfying experience restoring my Heinkel Tourist scooter. Compared to restoring Vespas and Lambrettas, and I found the Heinkel to be a much more orderly and satisfying process. Maybe it was that I was just that much more experienced, or that the clubs offered excellent parts availability and efficient (though expensive) delivery options. Just by looking at a car anyone would know it would take longer than a scooter to restore, but how much longer? I estimated with my higher level of experience, parts network, and council of Heinkel experts it would probably take twice as long as a scooter.
- Engines: About the same effort. The engines are basically the same, and you can use the same specialized tools (but you can’t swap many of the parts).
- Electrical System: The parts and wiring are virtually identical to the 103 series scooters, with a couple of minor exceptions. The regulator tabs are different (car regulators have downward facing tabs, scooters have horizontally-oriented tabs).
- Fuel system (carb and gas tank): These are basically the same as well. Many cars have Pallas carbs, and replacement wear parts are not available new.
- Steering: The car has rack and pinion steering ; the scooter has a simple fork and handlebar setup. Aside from the fact that there are more parts (like rubber boots), the steering restoration is fairly straightforward.
- Hydraulic brakes: The scooter and car share the same rear brake setup, plus the addition of a hydraulic setup. Rebuilding the master cylinder can take a fair amount of time. Parts are available from the English Club (the German club does not sell them). Setting up and adjusting the brakes will also take much longer.
- Windows: The scooter doesn’t have windows to polish, cut and install. Scratch removal and polishing will take quite a while, and help from a few assistants. Purchasing new windows is an option, but shipping to the US is very expensive (batch all of your big items when you make an order).
- Upholstery: There are two seats that are complicated to say the least. Another area where the time far exceeds scooters.
- Interior: By definition, the scooter doesn’t have an interior. You’ll spend a lot of time on this as well.
- Suspension : This area is a huge time sink. Dismantling the suspension is hard work. Scooter suspension parts can be acquired new; some of them, like kingpins and roller bearing sets, are expensive. The cost and effort far exceeds any part of a scooter. Some of the parts, such as front shocks, cannot be acquired new and must be rebuilt.
- Bodywork: Repair and paint is expensive for both. If your car has rot, be prepared for incredibly expensive bills unless you can do the work yourself. Bodywork alone for a concours-quality job on a car with rotten floors could easily exceed $10,000. Floor parts are available in England, but will cost as much to ship the US as they cost to purchase (and you may have to arrange for the shipping yourself!).