94 miata 'project' car

hi all. my son is taking auto mechanics in high school. he wants a project car to work on over the school year then sell next summer. what he found is a 1994 mazda miata for $1000 at a salvage yard. if he buys this car to work on will he ever be able to sell it at a profit with a salvage title?

A salvage title becomes less and less relevant with time I think. If a car was “totaled” 10 years ago and has been a good car since, I don’t see the relevance of a salvage title in terms of the reliability of the car. A salvage title becomes even less relevant if the car has been overhauled and the salvage status is a decade or more old. I guess some insurance companies don’t like to insure salvage title cars, that would be the only ding against it.

Unless he customized this car and sold it as a ‘show car’ could he realize a profit. A $1000 salvaged car will need a lot of time and money to get it looking and running good. The chances of making a profit are slim and none, and slim just got on the bus out of town.

www.kbb.com shows this car will max out in value at $2,500. If he can get it showroom pretty and running like a thoroughbred for under $1500 in parts and labor, he may show a small profit. But, any engine or transmission work will kill that budget. So will a factory quality paint job. A Maaco $299 special will not cut it for showroom pretty.

Is the car wrecked? Some salvage yard cars don’t have a scratch on them. They have blown engines or transmissions…If it’s wrecked, I would pass on it. Trying to repair structural damage on a 15 year old car can be loves labor lost…But trying to make money on a '94 Miata will be tough. There are just far to many cherry late model ones out there for anyone to take much interest in your sons project…

This can be done, but generally not with the first project car. He (and you) need to wrap your heads around the idea that your first project car is for experience, not cashflow. He may even have to sell it at a loss. What’s the object of the exercise?

Can’t answer your question without knowing the condition of the car. How can we tell how much money it will need for repairs and reconditioning?

The Miata is a good car in general. Parts should be available. It can have value as either a street car, or it can be made into a dedicated racer and be sold as well.

Since the car is pretty popular he should have no problem selling it when he is finished. He will get back a lot of the money he invests, but a profit? Not likely. Still as a project car this choice makes more sense than most.

Buy it as a project and see where it goes. The profit is the knowledge/experience not money.