Father and son project

I need some advice. We recently moved to the US from South Africa and my son has turned 16 this year. We are looking for a suitable type of car to start a restoration project on, so that he could something to drive with. We need something that is cheap, easy to work on (not a lot of electronics), has good fuel economy and suits the image of a hulk teenager. Do you have any advice for us on what type of car to look for?

Chevy Corvair convertible? Mazda RX7?

Most other older cars requiring restoration aren’t going to give you good fuel economy, even the RX7s didn’t have good fuel economy despite being quite light.

If he like 4x4 i suggest a toyota pickup. They’re easy to work on dependable and get good mileage. I recommend the 4 cylinder

I’m going to agree with the Toyota pickup idea, 2WD with a 4-banger. There would be anumber of advantages.

The 22RE engine is one of the most dependable and bulletproof made.
The longitudinal engine configuration is much easier to work on than a transverse-mounted FWD setup. Everything is easy to access.
The full box frame is more stable than a unibody. Unibodys, when they get body rot, can become unsafe.
It has shocks rather than struts…much, much easier to replace.
It has dual A-frame front suspension, much more rugged and durable than struts.
It has a solid rear axle with leaf springs, again much more robust and problem free than a FWD setup…and no CV joints to replace.
Parts are readily available at affordable prices. Even the tires are cheap due to their size.

In short, it’d be much more robust, much more durable, much easier to work on and restore, and parts are easy to come by and cheap. And I got 27 mpg with my carburated '89, even after hundreds of thousands of miles.

A couple of your objectives clash, IMO. Electronics have made cars run better, longer, and have improved fuel economy. To me, good fuel economy and not a lot of electronics conflict. You’d have to go to the something before 1980 to get “not a lot of electronics”. In the '80’s electronic ignition systems took hold and conversion from carbs to electronic fuel injection took place as well.

Perhaps a basic '70’s era pickup truck would work. Don’t expect much safety or fuel economy. Other 70’s cars on the road are either old hacks or restored muscle cars and you don’t want a teen in a classic Camaro V8, at least I wouldn’t.

By the late ninty’s and early 2000’s the electonics have been pretty reliable in most cases. I’d look for a 4 cyl Pont. Grand Am about 2000 to 2002.

Great idea. I’ve had 5 Toyota PU’s, three with this motor. Until recently the 22RE was used for so many years, it rivaled the Corolla in longevity of use. And when you’re done, it will actually be quite reliable and useful. Don’t be too afraid of modular electronic components like the ignition system, that are such an advantage, it would never be worth finishing w/o.

Depends on where you moved to. If you moved to Maine, Vermont, or Colorado, you’re choices would likely be different if you moved to Arizona, New Mexico, Florida or California, especially if this will be a daily driver.
If it’s gonna be a daily driver, you’re better off looking for an inexpensive late model vehicle and looking around for a project car to tinker with/drive on the weekends.

While it’s true that some components of a truck are more durable, that doesn’t mean they’re safer.

There are plenty of cheap cars around that are ten years old or less, and they have many of the latest safety advances including airbags. Speaking as a father, that’s paramount.

But at 100K+ miles they’re due for a tuneup, plus they have all the usual stuff that needs fixing (or if you prefer “restoring”) from time to time, eg brakes, wheel bearings, tie rods, half-shafts, exhaust systems, etc.

And lest we forget, it wasn’t so long ago that Toyota was sending those pickups to the crusher by the thousands due to rotting frames.

Most restoration projects won’t meet your requirements and won’t make good daily drivers. Why don’t you buy a vehicle that meets your needs, then you can teach your son how to perform maintenance on it and repair it when needed?

Buy a car that you can get parts for at a “pull-it-yourself” salvage yard.

Changing this project from a restoration to maintaining a daily driver is a very practicle suggestion.