Best cars to restore for a beginner?


My son and I would like to get something that we can work on together. We had an 1985 Jeep CJ-7 that we had a blast working on, but it got totalled after an 84 year old lady decided to cross 3 lanes of traffic without a signal. We’d like another jeep, but know the problems with rust and all the 4WD stuff. So, what’s a good project car that could still be a daily commuter car after a moderate amount of restoration or mods? We need something that we don’t have to buy a whole machine shop to work with. It needs to be something that still has parts readily available, but we don’t want a generic blah-mobile. We need something with “character.”


What about a half ton pickup truck from the 1950’s or 1960’s? Parts are not too difficult to find, especially for Chevrolet or Ford pickup trucks.


An old air-cooled beetle!

You need no special parts whatsoever, and they are notoriously simple to work on. Also, it’s easier to find parts for a 40-year old beetle than for most 10-year old cars-- sources like have every part for them, and they’re cheap. Also, they get gas mileage comperable to modern cars, so they’re still viable daily drivers.


er… special tools, that is.


Get another Jeep. Like you said, you “know the problems with rust and all the 4WD stuff”. You’re already pretty familiar with the Jeep, and that puts you one jump ahead of where you’d be if you were working on a total stranger.


55-57 bel air, mid 60’s mustang, chevelle, or camaro(they actually sell a body for the 69 camaro convertible right out of a magazine). though, you might want to avoid 65 chevelles, I haven’t been able to find replacement parts for some items(grille, front fenders). Just be sure to check for parts BEFORE you buy, don’t want to get into a project only to find the only replacement parts for it are a fiberglass hood and maybe headlights.


I friend of mine has been working on a chevelle project for about 4 years now, I haven’t seen it yet, he plans on finishing by the spring. Pick a car that you will enjoy when it is finished.


If you like Jeeps, you might consider a Ford Bronco or Chevy Blazer. I’m thinking of the old Blazer, not the lat 90’s variety.


Get a early 90’s Prelude . . . easy to work on and fast. You can really make 'em look cool (if you’re into riceburners)


I’m assuming you mean the full-size Broncos and the
K-5 Blazers. That would be great, but they’re scarce. I found a 92 Bronco with about 145,000 k on it. It had some rust problems around the window gaskets, and the guy wanted about 8 Grand for it. All the ones I see on the road have already been worked on, and if they’re for sale, the price is at least 10,000. I need a $1,500 piece of metal that I can start breaking down and piece it back together as I go. Thanks, though - those were on my list. Actually, my son would love to have one of the old Bronco’s - the ones that look like International Scouts. But again, scarce as hen’s teeth in any condition.


Are any of the CJ replacements worth fooling with? Iknow that I absolutely hated it when they showed up with the smaller body and the square headlights. But what about engines and stuff? Any particular years to stay away from?


Tha’s our goal - eventually. But those things have an intrinsic value. They’re hard to find, and when you find one, it’s either rusted out, the transfer case is shot, or it’s already been modified beyond recognition. And, they want $8,000 for them! I’d love a Ford or Chevy pickup from the late 80’s to early '90s, but they’re hard to find for less than $3,000, even if they’re not running. I’ve only got about $1,500 to put into the initial investment, and I’ll have to find somewhere in the back yard to “hide” it under a tarp so my wife doesn’t freak out.


Another good idea - but again, they’re hard to find around Jackson, MS. I’d like to find a Karmann Ghia convertible to piddle with, also.


I like the 75 Caprice and the 76 Impala because of the cheap headlights which are round and the looks of the body. The 350 engines are cheap and parts are all over North America. The seats look good in crushed velvet velour and there is room up front. Bench seats are the greatest thing ever. Replacement carpet is dirt cheap. The 2 door with the concave rear window looks great.


A 1987-1993 Mustang 5.0 liter H.O. (aka 302 cubic inch). The parts are ubiquitous, the cars are cheap and when correctly assembled outrun brand new cars costing more than 20 times (2000 dollars vs $40000 or more)their current market value.

The 1988’s through 1991’s are (to me) the best. Forged pistons, and MAF sensors. The 1987’s were “speed density” type computers and the 92’s and 93’s had hypereutectic pistons vs forged in the earlier models. These pistons tend to shatter/fail when exposed to higher compression from superchargers


Have you checked

The version where I live always has lots of cool old project cars that are usually very reasonably priced (seems to be a lot of “wife says I have to many car” ads there).


I agree with the late 80s/early 90s Mustang recommendation; especially the GT.

These cars are readily available at decent prices and look great when fixed up.
Trim and performance parts are everywhere and since these cars have roller cams also, they flat scoot even in stock form.
Here’s what they look like and this one ain’t bad at all. Pretty slick old sled.
Get a copy of Muscle Mustangs and Fast Fords and you’ll get an indication of what’s available from the ads; which constitute about 2/3 of that rag.


an old camaro like a 67, you can build one out of yearone, like order every part there is and put it together


I’d say an old 2WD pickup. Even the small Asian ones are pretty basic and simple up into the early 90s, and in that age range the parts are still pretty easy to come by. Also, lots of room to work in the engine compartment and room to roll underneath with a creeper.

An old '50s or '60s car would be cool, but finding parts and or a decent car to start with will be much harder. Late '80s to early '90s pickups are easy and cheap to find.


You know you could expand your horizons if you have the ability to tow the car back to MS. Craig’s list is in many cities and its still warm enough so you wont have to deal with weather for several motnhs yet.

Your wife wont care if you take a short road trip will she? and maybe you can hide the car before she finds out or someone opens their mouth!!!