People often ask us what kind of MIG welders we use and recommend, since we use them so often when welding on cars.  However, there are lots of factors that you need to think about when buying a MIG welder to fit your needs.  What kind of material will you be welding on?  How often will you be using it?   What thickness of materials will you be welding?  The power supply in your shop/ garage?   After that, of course, you want the best quality for your budget.  We list below the features and review several welders below that are great options for most car restoration applications.

What is MIG welding?

What does MIG even stand for?  Metal inert gas (vs. tungsten inert gas for TIG).  MIG is a one-handed process with one hand holding the torch because the wire feed is automatic when you pull the trigger.  Therefore, you will not need a foot pedal or finger trigger to operate the gas. What about TIG welders? This post will focus on MIG welders, but please see here for our top car restoration TIG welders

Pros of MIG welding: MIG is faster and can run more continuously than TIG.   MIG can weld thicker materials together. MIG is easier to learn because you don’t need both hands, plus a foot pedal. Cons: TIG will give you a nicer finish, so if you want the details to look nice, if you don’t want to slap cake over your welds, then give TIG a try.

To simplify things: if you are going to be welding chassis only you can probably safely get a MIG welder and not miss the advantages of TIG.  If you are going to be welding sheet metal, you should get a TIG and learn how to use it!  Or if your workshop budget allows, get one of each.

Best MIG welders for you to work on your classic car:

One more note before we get into our list, the power of these welders is more complicated than just the output amps, but to just compare these welders’ power side by side it’s a good starting point. All these manufactures provide a curve with the power vs duty cycle.

Lincoln POWER MIG 140 MP Multi-Process Welder – K4498-1

We feel that the two most well-known brands of welders are Lincoln and Miller, so we’ll start by looking at this Lincoln.  This welder is pretty versatile, the main features it has are:

  • 120v power supply only
  • Material thickness:  Steel use for 24 gauge (0.024”) up to 3/16” Aluminum use for 18 gauge to 3/16″
  • Output: 95 Amps at 18.75 VDC, 60% duty cycle
  • Stick welding capable
  • DC TIG capable at 10 – 120 Amps (you will need to separately buy a TIG torch and foot pedal)
  • MSRP ~782
  • Warranty:  3-year labor and parts.  For Lincoln’s warranty details click here.  https://lincolnelectric.com/assets/ServiceNavigator-public/LINCOLN3/IMWS1.pdf
Best Lincoln Power MIG 140 Price Here MIG welder, Lincoln welders, car restoration, sheet metal welding, classic car repair

If you don’t need all these features, this next Miller MIG welder is similar, but doesn’t have the TIG or stick welding capabilities.

Millermatic 141 MIG Welder 907612

  • 120v power supply only
  • Material thickness:  Steel use for 24 gauge (0.024”) up to 3/16” Aluminum use for 18 to 14 gauge
  • Output: 90 Amps at 18.5 VDC, 20% duty cycle
  • No stick capability
  • MSRP ~875
  • Warranty: 3-year parts and labor.  For Miller’s warranty details click here: https://www.millerwelds.com/support/warranty
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Hobart Handler 190 MIG Welder

  • 230v power supply only
  • Material thickness:  Steel use for 24 gauge (0.024”) up to 5/16” Aluminum use for 18 to 14 gauge
  • Output: 130 Amps at 30% duty cycle
  • MSRP ~740
  • Warranty: 5/3/1-year parts and labor.  Several items are only covered for 1 year. The switches and controls have 3 years of coverage. For Hobart’s warranty details click here: https://www.hobartwelders.com/support/warranty
Best Hobart 190 MIG Price Here MIG welder, Hobart welders, car restoration, sheet metal welding, classic car repair

What if you don’t have 3-phase power, but you like the Hobart? Well, Hobart makes the welder above in a 115V version, with similar specs but not as powerful. You can save a bit of cash as well, see the best prices here.

Forney 322 MIG/TIG/Stick Welder

  • 120v power supply only
  • Material thickness:  Steel use for 24 gauge (0.024”) up to 1/4” Aluminum use for 18 to 14 gauge
  • Output: 60 Amps at 60% duty cycle
  • Stick welding capable
  • DC TIG capable (you will need to separately buy a TIG torch and foot pedal)
  • MSRP ~537
  • Warranty: 3-year parts and labor on all internal components.  The transformer and rectifier are 5 years. For Forney’s warranty details click here: https://www.forneyind.com/support/warranty-information
Best Forney 322 MIG/TIG Price Here MIG welder, Forney welders, car restoration, sheet metal welding, classic car repair

Other Brands

What about other brands?  ESAB:  these guys make a lot of welders!  After all, they make robotic welders and a lot of products for factory welding (to measure gases, all kinds of fillers, etc).  Their lines for a small workshop include Tweco and Turbo Torch.  The closest one in specs and prices to the MIG welders above is the Firepower 3-in-1 180i, for best price click here.

We have both Millers and Lincolns in our shop, they both get the job done and I would recommend them, you can’t really go wrong with these big brand names as long as the specs fit your application.

Thanks for reading and please let us know if there are other welders you want to be reviewed.  Or an explanation of welder specs and how to interpret them.  We could talk about welders all day long!  Check out our list of the best TIG welders.

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