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Good Beginner Project Car

I’m looking to get into car repair does anybody have any suggestions what would be a good first project car to buy? I want something a little older since new cars have a lot of computerized aspects. I saw an ad for a 1960 AMC Rambler which looked pretty awesome, but I’m thinking that might be a bit too old and parts would be crazy expensive.

The Rambler would be harder to find parts for - you’d be better off with a ‘big 3’ car, lots of parts, plenty of opportunities to modify once you get it up and running. Rust will be a big problem with any car of this era. Geven the current economy, there are lots of ‘project cars’ on the market. What cars interest you? You’ll learn a lot more working on a car you like.

Though not for the timid or tight of pocket book, I’ve been convinced that one of the more worthwhile and completion satisfying projects cars by two friends, is a Corvette. Rust problems for much of the car is replaced by a good “glass man” and mechanical parts and help is surprisingly quite available. The project is far from cheap as is any but the wow factor and bragging rights go along with the ownership of a car that even when not in a running state carries a sense of pride.

Upon completion, it’s possible to drive an awesome car that is as reliable as new and perhaps more so in some respects. The only foreseen problem I can see with one neighbor is his location. He, like me lives on a private road, best traversed by an SUV and better road maintenance may need to be included in his project.
So the Corvette has my vote…or maybe a John Deere.
Best of luck.

If you’re just looking for an older vehicle to tinker around with without necessarily doing any heavy duty restoration work, you can’t go wrong with a mid-60’s through mid-80’s full-size 2wd truck. They’re usually crazy-cheap, they were usually about 10 years behind cars technology wise so they’re simple and they have very roomy engine compartments that make them a breeze to work on. Plus they’re trucks, so they’re useful!

I’m pretty open right now as to what I want. I really like classic cars in general, but they’d be expensive. Right now I have a VW GTI so I have the little sporty car and I would want something either a bit more luxurious or a bit more practical. So I was thinking either a cadillac (or the like) from about any era, or a truck of some sort. But I have to admit that I have a soft spot for old Mustangs.

I heard that Cadillac’s can be tough because they were always kind of cutting edge, so they have some strange aspects to them. Someone suggested a Jeep CJ5 or CJ7, but I don’t want to go off roading and it’s not even practical so I don’t think that I’d like that.

I’m really debating on whether I want to just go straight for the dream car and let it take a long time, or I should get a random junker and work my way up to the dream car.

caddilacs are pretty easy to get parts for, and are dirt cheap right now. that and they come with engines with 470 CI+

If you get an old Caddy, you’ll get lots of experience repairing all the extra systems that break down - power this, power that, on and on. If you’re wanting experience working on the engine, etc, a simpler car or truck would be the way to go.

Jeep CJ, Wrangler? I’ve Never Owned One Or Worked On One, But I Believe They Are Fairly “Simple” And You Can Just About Walk Under It.

I’m sure somebody will tell you if this is bad advice.


They are nice to work on, the only trouble is that there’s enough of an enthusiast base out there than the prices are still fairly high even for old beat up ones.

Unfortunately, everyone has a soft spot for old Mustangs and finding a pre-74 one that’s not a rusted out hulk is expensive.

With the Cadillacs, you sort of have the opposite situation as with the trucks in that they tended to be a few years ahead, so for example they got fuel injection in the mid-70’s (and the older ones are also going to be pretty expensive). You’d probably end up an expert on whatever oddball FI system they were using, but it wouldn’t be as instructive as working on a carbureted car, where what you learned would apply to practically any carburetted car.

I’d say for your purposes a truck or just a plain-jane late-60’s through early-70’s big three sedan would work well. Especially if you find something like a Dart or a Malibu that had a muscle-car version, which will mean there’s still a lot of parts support.

Another possibility if you’re so inclined would be an air-cooled VW Beetle or Van. Definitely not luxurious and probably not really all that practical, but they’re definitely simple and the parts are plentiful and cheap because they still made them into the 2000’s in Mexico and Brazil.

Anything 1974 and older is free from emissions complications and testing…But you must learn an obsolete technology, kind of like computing with DOS as the operating system. Carburetors and points ignition…The Rambler would be great, but pay close attention to RUST which is critical in these early Unibody cars…Stay away from 1980 to 1990. That stuff was all junk…

Really the '80’s are out completely?? Is that true for all makes? Here’s a link to the Rambler that I was looking at:

It says that there are no serious rust problems. I guess that’s one perk of living in a desert.

Here’s another sweet looking car, but by the description it wouldn’t be much of a project. It seems to be in good shape as it is.

I recommend some training if there is a course offered. Tools and a car don’t make you a mechanic.

What about a second or third generation Buick Riviera?

Part of the motivation for getting into this was to teach myself how it all works. There are people around that I can ask if I get stuck, but I like doing this sort of stuff on my own as much as possible.

For practical, how about an El Camino or Ranchero, not sure what Dodge called theirs.
Bronco, Blazer, Torino, GTO, Continental, Cougar(similar to the Mustang, but not as big a following).
If I had the money:

It’s OK, but if there is a trade school (Vocational School) that has night classes and you are out of High School, you can really learn the good stuff and you can bring your 1979 Chevy pickup with a 350 or 305 engine with you. GM parts are the easiest to get. Chevy pickup parts and body parts are all over J. C. Whitney catalogs.