New here. If what I’m about to ask is already answered in other posts on this forum, or if this isn’t the right place for this, please let me know .
I really want to start a project car. Eventually, I’d absolutely love to restore a classic (ideally American, but really anything) car to factory beauty.
At this point, I don’t particularly have a particular vehicle in mind - I just want to have a car to tinker with and make driveable. I don’t have a whole lot of mechanical experience. Mostly I just have the ability to read, ask questions, and follow directions. I’ve done simple maintenance and repair jobs before, things like oil/air filter changes, alternator and belt replacement, starter replacement, PCV replacement, and sealing a leaky taillight. Nothing difficult, and all stuff I could learn by looking at the vehicle, reading, and watching YouTube.
I’d be working in my driveway and I’m also definitely on a budget, so based on this and my current experience (and lack thereof), what is feasible right now and what isn’t? What cars are comparatively easy to work on and what cars are a pain in the neck for basically everything? What cars are super common and have cheap parts readily available? What cars have super expensive parts that I wouldn’t expect? (Obviously something like a classic Porsche is going to have more expensive parts than a Honda Civic, but beyond this, what should I look out for?) What problems are so expensive or require a shop with advanced tools and machinery to rectify, and what issues might seem daunting but are actually manageable with creativity, time, and effort? (Again, I understand that buying a car that, for instance, has a frame that is rotting away from rust or was totaled from an accident is probably a bad move, but I’m new here and looking for good general, applicable advice to these questions.) Do any of you have sample budgets you could provide, say for a good, generally economic build where it by and large went according to the plan and also a build that you thought would be straightforward but in the end required far more money than originally thought?
Besides this, what would be a good starter car for me? If restoring something in the neighborhood of 50+ years old is too much, where would you recommend I start to build up to this? Should I get a 90’s pickup with a decent body that runs but maybe poorly? Should I buy a $500 crank-no-start or poorly idling modern car on Craigslist so I learn to do things like check relays and fuel pump, timing, vacuum leaks, spark, etc.? Until recently I owned a Subaru, so I’m a little more familiar with their boxer engines than other cars. Occasionally I’ll see one for a couple hundred bucks with a blown head gasket. Should I buy something like that, try to replace the head gasket, fix up any other issues, sell it, and then move on to other projects to gain experience? I really don’t want to buy a project that I then find I’m incapable of completing, but on the other hand if I find a non-wrecked car of any kind for $300-$500 and I fail to fix it, I don’t see why I couldn’t part out what isn’t bad and then sell the rest for scrap to recoup my investment in it and then at least I learned something about mechanics even if I didn’t fix the car.
Let me know what you think. Thanks!