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The perfect project/restoration car

hello everyone! i am starting at an automotive school, lincoln college of technology, and when i was up there the other day i saw a couple of amazing cars and that made me think that i should definatly get a car to restore. one i think i could do is one that still has a engine and trans in it most are just shells. anway what im asking is what do you think would be the perfect car to restore?

I think an old VW Beetle would be a good choice. It is simple, air cooled, and owning one will make you into a mechanic if you ever want to drive it on a regular basis. Also, there is a really good book called (something like) how to keep your Beetle running that makes a great guide.

lol. me in a beetle . man id love to have one my neighbor used to. but unfortunately i dont think id be that comfortable you see im 6ft 7in

Restoring an older car is a good idea, but you may run into some issues in getting parts. Perhaps a newer, old car would be cheaper to buy and bring back to a servicable vehicle that you could drive daily. Chevy made a car called a Corsica for instance. Or a late '80’s Pontiac 6000 with a V6 would be a good project. You’ll be working on cars that at least have some modern technology such as electronic ignition and fuel injection. But not the traction control and anti skid controls of the most modern era cars.

The Pontiac 6000 with a V6 was a pretty zippy car and even a bit fun to drive.

hmmm i like the idea of having a somewhat recent model. hmm the 6000 and corsica are really good looking. what would you suggest if i wanted something that when revved would blow your socks off? pretty much something with serious power

You’d be surprised! Though you’re very close to your front passenger, they actually have pretty good head and legroom for such small cars, especially small cars of that era. I think the major advantage to an old Beetle as a restoration project is that you can buy pretty much anything for them right off the shelf and the parts are usually pretty cheap. The major disadvantage is rust, which can be really bad on them. (although this is true of most older cars to varying degrees).

Another option would be an older domestic pickup, as these are also very simple, have a lot of room and generally good parts availability.

I owned a 1988 Buick Century, which was the same thing as the Pontiac 6000 (and Celebritys and Cieras), and while it was a pretty nice car with pretty good power and it was relatively easy to work on, it probably wouldn’t really be much of a project.

pickup like the early 90s or 80s fords and Chevys. i always wanted to get my hand on a dual fuel tank ford f250 but im pretty sure that’s 90s and seems pretty close to current doesn’t it. what would you suggest for a good pickup?

What kind of employment prospects is your school predicting? Here in Tucson things are so bad that BMW has stopped it’s “step student” training program. The graduates have 50K in bills and no job prospects. Hope you didn’t buy into that 100K job after 2years promise. Things are not good at all for new mechanics now. Be prepared to start out around $14.00 flat-rate with 20-25hr weeks,just telling it like it is.Kinda hard to do a resto. on those wages.

Any mid-60’s through mid-80’s or so domestic full-size truck would be a good candidate. Mechanically, trucks changed very little over this period and, unlike the cars of the same era, they weren’t overly burdened by crummy emissions equipment. In the late-80’s and early-90’s they started getting fuel injection or, even worse, heavilly-smogged carburetors, which added a lot of complexity and, at least in my opinion, kills the fun in working on them.

It kind of depends on what the market is like where you live, but in most places you can find pretty decent '65-'85 2wd half-tons (Ford F100, Chev. C10, Dodge D100) in the $500-1000 range.

here in texas the auto bubisness is stable but diesel is really booming and thats what im taking im taking a combo class of both automotive and disel do ill be all set whn i get out.

I had an '89 ro '90 Pontiac 6000 SE or SES, whatever the “sport” model was called. It had really good power, special wheels with wider tires. Perhaps not “serious” power but enough to be sporty and fun to drive. I guess you could put a turbocharger or supercharger on the V6 motor. Putting serious power into a FWD auto transaxle is probably going to overstress the unit. If you want to hop up something into the “serious power” territory best to find something with RWD.

very nice. but ya a turbo charger or supercharer would more likely over stress the unit. do you think a truck would be a good project? like an 80s ford or something in that area?

This will keep you busy for a while.


If the Beetle is too small, you could always check out a VW Thing. With the top down there is lots of headroom.

Think ahead a bit, once your project car is done what then? Do you intend to keep it? Is it a daily driver? Is it a fun weekend car? Take to the races or drag strip car? Haul stuff around on the farm? Is it going to be sold to pay off the costs of the restoration?

A young person in rural Texas (if this the case) could always find a truck useful. It’s just if you make it into a real “serious power” wagon it will get horrible gas mileage and you may not want to drive it much. Think some more about what you plan for the future and where this project car fits into the picture. That will lead you in the right direction.

I think you could be a good candidate for a Chevy Monte Carlo and there was a Buick with the same rear wheel drive set up. If you can find one and restore it you’d have a good project, a fun car, and decent value if you need to sell it.

How’s your budget?

If it’s sketchy you’re going to want to find something to which aftermarket parts are readiily avilable and affordable, and something you’ll be able to work on without huge investments in space and equipment. An old air-cooled Beetle is a great choice. Parts supplies are still plentiful and affordable, it’s real basic to work on, and when you’re done you’ll have a cool econocar. If you can get a drop top it’ll be even cooler.

Newer cars have computers, transverse engines with transaxles and half-shafts, emissions equipment, and some expensive parts…even some as simple as the charcoal canister. Some use constructions that require the dropping of the entire front chassis from under the body to remove the engine. Avoid these.

If you have a conmfortable budget, why limit yourself to existing vehicles? On one of the local roads this morning I saw a “T” body (drop-top) with a V8 engine and the front end of a motorcycle…making it a trike! In NH trikes are legally considered motorcycles and are exempt from emissions inspections that cars are subject to. And this thing was beautiful.

I’ve seen numerous trikes built from the rear ends of VW Beetles also. Perhaps this is an option for you.

Don't listen to all those guys.   What you need to do is to find an old VW bus five passenger with the opera windows.  Now you work on this project until you get it right, then you give it to me, so I can test it out for a few years to make sure you got it right.  Then if it is good, you should find one for yourself.

I’d suggest a Mustang, Bel-Air, Chevelle, or Camaro. Parts are pretty readily available most anywhere so you can shop around different places and not be bludgeoned to death in prices by Guido who owns the only shop within 5000 miles for that rare Bugatti that was linked earlier.

The trouble is that finding one of those that isn’t a rusted hulk for a reasonable price is pert near impossible these days. VW’s and domestic trucks have the same generally good parts availability, but can be had for cheaper.

any car/truck i choose id probably make it a daily driver and if not that itll be a racer. but first and formost i want it to be a daily driver. and good point maybe just normal power with a bit of a punch will be better for now huh?