'76 Corvette, '85 Civic Shuttle/Wagonvan, or '40's era Jeep Willies - which would you fix?

I have all three - dead - cars above. My husband wants to restore the Corvette (t-top). I want to restore the Jeep Willies flatbed truck (with a SuperHurricane 6 engine, I might add). The Civic is only in the running because it’s “newer” and may be more fuel efficient.

I would have said the Willys until you said it was a flat bed. Then I’d go for the Corvette but do the Willys later.

Hubby corrected year on the Willys - 1959. It’s just so cool!

Hmmm, three dead vehicles. I hope it’s not contagious. ;=)

What a terrible choice to have to make. You would have had a hard time finding cars that appeal to me less than the Willys and the Corvette. I liked that generation of Civic, but can’t see the wagon being a plausible restoration project. The regular hatchback with it’s Kamm back end is attractive, but the wagon is ungainly (if practical). I’d toss a dart at the classified ads (dating myself) and restore whatever I hit. Odds are it would be more interesting than any of these, though with your luck you’d hit a Eagle Premier or Chevy Citation II. Thinking back, it’s astounding how bad the eighties were for cars. Plenty of practical cars, but most ugly and mechanically unsound. Even the seventies models were more entertaining, if no better made. OK, there were your Monzas and Mavericks, but they weren’t as dispiriting as their eighties equivalents. Worse, possibly, but more entertaining.

The 76 Vett I would sell as is were is. Not worth putting any money in. It will cost you way to much to restore it. Its just not one to even come close to getting any money out of it. Restored it may be worth $15-20k. You can buy a 76 Vett running with real nice paint for under 10k. The Willys is the one I would restore. Get a box for it instead of the flat bed. Yes you can sill find them. Also I would fix up the Civic as a driver.

Basic transportation needs first, so fix the Civic since you drive it to work (per other post). I agree with @oldbodyman on the '76, I’d much rather have an older or (much) newer one. Sell it and put the money in the Jeep hobby car.

It may be difficult to find parts for that Jeep engine. It is somewhat rare and getting rarer.

are these being fixed up to be daily drivers or weekend riders?
I ask this because you mention fuel economy

The word “restore” can mean a number of things and a wheelbarrow full of money so this leads to why fuel economy would even be a concern.

There’s a huge gap between a car needing a somewhat minor restoration and a half gutted rolling chassis that may be suffering from rust worms.

It’s unknown to me what the cars needs, whether rust is an issue, and how much of this restoration will be done at home or by being farmed out. It will be quite easy to invest more than the cars would ever be worth so it would have to be looked at as a labor of love.

Rod Knox@ you sill can get parts for that Willys. That motor was made well into late 60’s. It was just not used in that truck. You can even get repo sheet metal for it. I had one that I was going to make a hot rod out of it till a guy offer me way more money than I it was worth to me. Somebody makes or has parts for most of these old cars and trucks.

Willys-Overland out of Toledo I think claims to have tons of parts and imports and finishes the sheet metal. Not that I know anything about it but I just read a blog by a guy that restored one after reading this thread. He had a problem with the after-market oil pump after overhauling the engine. Replaced it with a NOS one that seemed to fix the problem. It would really be fun to have one of those.

We do have quite the collection:
2002 Dodge Ram diesel - I use with my work renovating houses and hauling a 14’ cargo trailer with antiques (my other job)

2004 Subaru Outback - my hubby is currently driving this one. I’d like it back for my longer drives.

1985 Honda Civic - bought for a once “short” commute of 1 hour between his work and home. I would love to fix it and let him drive it again for the very small amount of driving he does now at the new workplace.

1959 Jeep Willys - I thought would look awesome for the antiques business. It is a bucket of rust and has been vandalized (broken windows, stolen battery). The engine worked fine when it was last run (sometime in the '70’s). It would just look so cool done up with the antiques logo on the doors. I really like the idea of getting a box for the back, but also like the idea of building a lacquered stake box on the flatbed. I was hoping that this fix could be a business tax write-off instead of a money pit/labor of love (for me).

1976 Corvette - was running beautifully until my hubby let it sit in Puget Sound rain, uncovered, and not run for 1.5 years. It is now a tragedy: mushrooms in the carpet, not one part of either door works, and the lock cylinder has to be replaced (got instructions online on how to do it!). Hubby says he’s already in this beast $7500, so it is a money pit/labor of love (for him).

I also have a Victorian one horse open sleigh in better condition than the last three cars. I think I’ll get a horse…

Almost forgot the 1986 Mercedes that is almost sold… long story.

The ultimate goal is to have the truck for work, and two economy cars that can handle rain, high desert, high winds, snow, and mountain passes.

Are you sentimental or what? I would go for the Willys( that thing is pretty heavy duty) but its slower then molasses and rough,your palate doesnt seem to appetizing to me.If you have the restoration bug,get something worth restoring.If you go for thr Willys,you’ll be a lot happier with the pickup box and the old SH flathead 6 is easy to work on-Kevin

Re that engine. Excuse me, I should have done some checking. It was the Tornado engine that would likely be a problem keeping repaired. It was a short lived and strange piece of work. The flat head I-6 in much more common.

The way you describe the Vette, I’d get rid of it. If it’s growing mushrooms, it’s a lost cause to me.
Talk to your tax agent and see what they say about the Jeep restoration

Here is a nice 59 Jeep

Keep all 3, buy a new road runner for daily transport.

Here it is!

We had a Green Willy. Came with the Beach House in 1970. I didn’t have much interest in it since it was a real rust bucket-used to launch and pull dorys out of the ocean. Since we didn’t have a dory, the Willy sat keeping the mice and other wildlife warm and dry. I felt that when you can see the ground under under you, It was worth that much. Mom eventually gave the Willy away when the garage floor collapsed which just tells me that steel lasted longer than 2x12 cedar.