The Best Cars to Work On

A first-time project car needs to be one that is fairly easy to fix up. Leave the exotic cars for later when you're more experienced. When shopping for your first fixer-upper, get one that has readily available replacement parts and doesn't require any rare or specially-made tools. Make sure you can find good sources for repair instructions and advice, too. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, don't spend too much money on your first automotive handyman special. Here are the answers to question you may have about the best cars to work on.


Is an old Ford Mustang a good car to restore?

Yes, Mustangs are excellent fixer-upper cars, if you can find one for a reasonable price. They are such iconic classic cars that people are selling them, even if they're in poor condition. If given the opportunity will charge an arm and a leg. Models produced between 1964 and 1973 are the most sought-after. The upside to restoring a Mustang is that they are easy to work on and don't require any unusual tools. Another advantage to restoring a Mustang is that lots of experts have restored them. As a result, there is a nearly unlimited number of readily available sources for repair advice.


Is there a Ford that's cheaper to restore than a Mustang?

Yes. Go back to the Mustang's roots and restore a Ford Falcon. The Falcon chassis was used for the original Mustang. Models manufactured from 1960 to 1963 have the preferred body style, but the 1964 to 1965 models are good options, too. Restorable Falcons are readily available and less expensive than Mustangs. They also have a basic, straightforward design that makes them very easy to work on. Resources for Falcon restoration are available online.


Are vintage Camaros easy project cars?

Yes, Camaros make good first-time automotive fixer-uppers. It is easy to find parts for them, and they don't require any special tools. Lots of people have restored them, so resource material is easy to find. The most desirable models are those produced between 1967 and 1969. Restored Camaros are so desirable you will have no problem making money on the project if you decide to sell it after you're done. The one problem with fixing up an old Camaro is that, like the Mustang, a fixer-upper is not cheap. Plan to spend well over $2,500 for one that is at all restorable.

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Are Volkswagen Beetles easy to restore?

Yes, Volkswagen Beetles are great first-time restoration projects. Old, restorable VW Bugs are fairly easy to find because there were so many of them made. In spite of that, they are highly collectible. Even though Beetle production began overseas back in 1938, it wasn't introduced in the United States until 1950. Any Beetle produced between 1950 and 1979 will be a good restoration project. Volkswagen stopped making them after 1979 and didn't produce them again until 1998. Parts are easy to source, and good restoration advice is easy to find.


Do old trucks make good first restoration project?

Yes. Old restorable trucks are easy to find and easy to work on. If you get an old Ford or Chevy, parts will be readily available as will restoration advice. Chevy C10's from the late 1960's and early 1970's are highly collectible. When the restoration is well done, resale value can be quite high. For example, someone paid $44,000 for a 1970 C10 and $51,000 for a 1969 C10 at a Barrett-Jackson auction back in 2015. Of course, you shouldn't expect to get that kind of cash for a first-time restoration project, but the resale value is there. A 1970 C10 sold for $8,000 on Craigslist at around the same time as the Barrett-Jackson auction. Ford F-Series trucks built between 1957 and 1960 are gaining in popularity among vintage car enthusiasts. Any of them would be good fixer-uppers. 1956 F100's are highly collectible and fairly easy to restore but expect to pay over $5,000 for a fixer-upper. A restorable 1958 F100 can be had for about half that price.


Are Honda Civics easy to restore?

A Honda Civic is definitely one of the best cars to restore. Parts and restorable Civics are readily available. The 1999 Civic SI would be a very easy first project. You wouldn't make big money on resale, but it would be an inexpensive learning experience, and you would have a nice little car to keep and drive. Expect to pay around $1,000 for a restorable 1999 model. If you decide to go back a little further to the previous generation, plan to spend a little more. A 1994 Civic SI 3-door hatchback fixer-upper will cost at least $1,500.

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