The Best and Worst Project Cars to Buy

The Best and Worst Project Cars to Buy


Rev up your engines! Today I’m going to talk about, picking the
best project car for you to fix, now when I was young and didn’t have any money,
every car me and my friends bought hey, it was a project car,
we had maybe $100 to buy a car, so the project was, to go to the junkyards
and buy the cheapest parts we could possibly get to get that $100 car running so we could
actually drive it around and get places, but today most project cars are different,
somebody wants a particular type of car that they want to fix up for various reasons,
either to show it, or to race it, or to just have a cool old car they can use on the weekend,
now over the years I’ve had many customers that had fun project cars that I helped them
out with, but I also had a lot of customers that bought
the wrong project car and they just got stuck in an endless money pit,
so you don’t want to do that, so the first thing you need to decide about
a project car is, one, how much money do you want to spend on
that car, and two, how far can you go for fixing certain
parts of it, lets start out with the car itself, lets say
you got a limited budget well, your not going to be going out and buying a 65 Mustang and
fixing it all up, it’s going to be too expensive to buy in the first place and to get it really
nice it’s probably going to cost way too much money,
so in that case, say you were into Fords, why not look for something like a 65 Falcon,
find something that wasn’t quite as popular, it might even be a little more unique if it’s
an old car, and you can still have fun with it but not
spend a small fortune, and when it does come time to buying a project
car, realize that there’s one myth out there that
people are always believing and I don’t know why,
but they think that, all old cars are worth a lot of money and even classic cars, they
value them way too high, it’s very easy to say, this car is worth $60,000,
but if your one of those guys that’s planning on fixing up a car and selling it for $60,000
you might think twice, most of the people I’ve known that have done
that, all lost money,
because it’s real easy to talk how great these cars are,
but when you got to get money for them from someone else,
it’s often very hard to sell those things, the market fluctuates a lot and really,
guys are very picky and the odds that you have the exact one they want are pretty slim,
and also talking about money, realize how far can you go to actually fixing problems
that your car has, certainly your not going to have all the tools
I have lying around being a mechanic for 50 years,
so you have to decide what kind of shape is the car going to be in that your going to
buy as a project car, a lot of guys hey, if they want an old Toyota
they just find one that it seems to run good, the engine and transmission runs and shifts,
and if it needs a little body work and they want to do that great,
but as for actually rebuilding the engine and the transmission, most guys probably aren’t
skilled enough, don’t have the tools to do it right, you don’t
really want to mess with a car like that, because I’m warning you right now, I’ve seen
it so much before in the past, one guy will say, man I got this really good
460 engine and I’ll sell it to you cheap for your project car,
and then you find out that engine isn’t good anymore,
now if you’re going old car, like 60’s, 50’s, even earlier,
hey the engines were a lot simpler then, maybe you want to try to rebuild one,
but in that case, you want to make sure your buying a vehicle that you can readily get
parts for and that parts aren’t going to be all that expensive,
so in this case, buying something like a Porsche, hey big mistake, the parts cost a fortune
for those things, and there’s millions of Toyota’s out there,
parts are cheap there’s plenty of them in junkyards,
same with GM, Ford, there’s a lot of cheaper parts available and there’s a lot of new parts
for the old ones too because people tend to collect them and fix them up,
but when it does come time for find a project car,
you want to know a little about it’s history, lets say you got a car that looks really good
and it seems really cheap, make sure that it wasn’t in hurricane Sandy
or some other kind of flood, because one they’re flooded the electronics
get destroyed and it would be such a hassle to fix that as a project car,
and here again, you really have to have it set in your mind, what your planning on doing
with this project car, if it’s a thing that, your going to go drifting
with on the weekends, hey you’re going to do a lot of modifications, it doesn’t have
to be street legal, so there’s a lot of little cheats you can do where you don’t have to
worry about it passing state inspection and stuff like that,
because you’re not going to be driving it on the street,
and if your going to buy a car for a project that you’re only going to drive on the weekends,
and you’re going to spend a long time fixing it up,
hey you can take your time, you can buy parts from say, China that will take months to get
here on a boat, but you don’t care because you’re not in that
big of a hurry, if it’s a fun thing you’re doing and your
going to toy around with it on the weekend, hey let your imagination run wild,
but if you’re going to do a project car and your going to do it as an everyday driver,
make sure you get one that’s easy to get cheap parts,
pick a model that’s sold widely so there’s a lot of them in salvage yards that you can
get parts off of and save a fortune, as an example, I had a customer that had a Honda
Accord, he got it really cheap because the whole back quarter panel was all smashed in,
the tire was at a 90 degree angle, but he found one in a salvage yard and he bought
the whole clip and the axles and everything and it only cost him $350 for all those parts,
that’s why it’s a good idea for your area, just take a trip to some of the junkyards
and see what kind of stuff they have lying around, then you’ll know,
hey if I get this particular project car I know there’s a bunch of wrecked ones I can
get a lot of good parts off of, and if you’re serious about your project car,
realize that welding equipment is a lot cheaper than it use to be,
this is a real solid welding thing, I paid like $150 for it,
it really does solid arc welding, it’s very easy to learn arc welding,
hey you don’t need to go out and buy a super expensive tig welder that the pros use to
make everything perfect, if you got a project car and you need to weld
some serious stuff on, a stick welder works great,
and if you’re into that rat car look that a lot of people are into now,
hey the rougher the better, when you’re done sanding it all down and then you just clear
coat all the metal parts, so it’s old and looks ragged but it’s clear
coated so it won’t rust, anybody can do that,
it takes a real pro to get a good shine on a normal looking car,
but a rat car, hey anybody can do it, that’s probably one of the reasons they’re getting
so popular, now here’s some good advice, especially if
it’s your first project car, don’t let your eyes be bigger than your wallet,
don’t go out and say, oh I got get a classic Corvette or a classic Mustang, those markets
are just crowded with people charging too much money with cars that are basically falling
apart, you’re going to put too much money into one
of them, think a little bit lower for your first project
car, and especially if you live up north in the
rust belt, but really cars can move anywhere, so you want to go under the project car before
you even buy it, get a flashlight and a jack, and if you see
the frame and everything is all rotted, walk away,
once the frames are rotted, it’s really not worth fixing up a project car,
but don’t be disheartened because there’s a lot of fun cars out there that you can make
a project out of, that don’t cost all that much money,
you can learn a lot and hey, you can have a lot of fun when you’re finally done fixing
it, so if you never want to miss another one of
my new car repair videos, remember to ring that bell!

About the Author: Michael Flood

100 Comments

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  2. Do note you can buy frames for early Broncos, Jeeps, and Ford F-1s.

    I was considering buying a 1970s Jeep J-4500 (pick up) until I found out that you can not buy new doors or pickup bed panels, not even from China (ordered parts from China even for my 1985 Ford van 4×4). End of that project before it started.

  3. I saw a cool ole 77 T-bird with T-tops. Think I might have a go at it's restoration with a 429. Thanks for all the good advice. I learned antique and vintage watch repair from good folks like yourself sharing your knowledge. And I make money off that one LOL!

  4. I feel like I totally scored on my first project car just recently. I bought a 1985 Cadillac Sedan DeVile with 184,000 miles for $200! The car looked horrible because it had been sitting with the window down for a few years, but the inside actually cleaned up really well and I'll only need to fix the torn seat and the headliner.
    Luckily the original owner also kept every service record. I found out that the cars engine had been professionally replaced in 1994 with 100,000 miles on it, which means the engine that's in the car now only has 84,000 miles! Now as soon as I get a battery in it I'll have fun classic comfortable car to drive to school when I want and take out on weekends.

  5. Whats about an old Car which has been sitting in a Garage, doesn't run and has 18.000 km (RX7 fb) The guy said The harness has to be re-done and he took the Starter out of the car.(I would make an Harness myself to know it's good quality) He wants 1.800 Euro and so far it looks great. My problem is: I think, he removed the starter, so nobody could take a Spark plug out of it, disconnect the Fuel pump and listen to the Engine(<< Edit: I want to hear if it makes good compression from 3 equal "whistles") . I just don't know this way if the Engine is working or has broken apex seals… (Edit: I could use an "spy – cam" on a stick any try to put it in there) It is even an RX7 with the Seats in the back, and these are more difficult to find than those without them.

    Sry if i misspelled anything or made some mistakes, English isnt my native language. Greetings: Moritz.

  6. I want a 2000 Celica GTS project car. I had one new for about a year before some one wrecked it. I think I’d have fun with another one.

  7. I’ve been trying to figure out what car to do. I’m torn between the 20-30 year old corvette or a 90s MR2 maybe even a Fiero that can be modified. Any suggestions?

  8. But….Toyota's and Honda's are easy and relatively inexepensive to fix and you can learn how to do it right here on YouTube.

  9. Why did I know he was gonna bring up Toyota 🤦🏽‍♂️can he make one video without talking about Toyota

  10. I hate it when you see an older car that’s in terrible condition on Craigslist, and the seller is like “$10,000 at the lowest”.
    It doesn’t have a floor board, but hey, they still have the title!

  11. 80's-early 90's pickup trucks(any brand) are good cheap projects. My 1st project was a 86 dodge d150 that I paid $300 for. My current project is a 2000 nissan maxima.

  12. Gotta give Scotty his props. He's kinda getting up there in years and can still climb out of a trunk. I'm 26 and get stuck all the time lol

  13. Wait to see the GM cars made in China now! (Chinamen also eat dogs and fetuses…imagine the cars they build!)

  14. See…I was planning on making a 91 celica gts as a project car so it could run really nice for emergency. Buuut, it was crash because my brother said where are you going to find parts for it. My reply, find stuff online

  15. Best project car is an old Civic. You can put a huge spoiler on the decklid, put a big loud exhaust tip on it, an unpainted body kit, A pillar gauges, and that will make your 1.5L SOHC as fast as any V8 powered car.
    Don't forget to have 15° of negative camber so it out handles any other car on the road.

  16. My dad bought a rusted out 1957 Ford Fairlane Victoria with a 312 v8. He paid $2,200 for it. He is doing the body work himself using fiberglass mesh and metal patches.

  17. Instead of a project car, think project truck. They are cheaper to buy, cheaper to restore, and you can do just about anything you can imagine to them. Plus, trucks are always cool

  18. Good advice on project cars, even if you're from a country where being able to afford a car (with the specs, budget and capabilities you have in mind) is a distant dream

  19. Hey scotty I also live in Houston, Pasadena area and there's no good pick n pull junk yards around me. Got any recommendation to where I could go?

  20. Nissan 240sx is the best hands down. I’m lucky that I got a s13 before the drift tax hit! Best Buy ever

  21. Before, most cars were quality for their time. Unlike all the trash about today with "superior" technology

  22. Jeep xj, same suspension for 18 years, practically the same engine, parts are coming out of my ears and they are going up in value, and besides a full size work truck i dont know of ANY vehicle that has solid front and rear axles after 2000, PRO TIP: get one from oregon or Washington, no salt means no rust and oregon has a strange love affair with the cherokee

  23. The worst project car you can buy is a car you can not fix yourself. If you cant fix it. Dont buy it. !! 😐😐

  24. Best type of project vehicle is a truck. Big tires, lifts, shocks, roll bars, bed bars, tire racks, 4wd conversion, front and rear lockers mod, winch, snorkels, steel bumper, rock crawler mid, prerunner mod, solid axle swap, long travel IFS, etc. These stuff goes on and on and it's fun.

  25. My project is a 92 Subaru SVX! I fixed it’s misfire, and next on the list is the power steering. Parts are hard to come by, but I enjoy taking my time with it.. as if I’m not tinkering on it daily 😉

  26. I have a 68 falcon that I'm going to put an LS2 into. It's gonna be a hell of a project, and im gonna have to spend about 3500 to notch the shock towers and change it to coilover suspension. But it's gonna be fast as hell.

  27. You forgot about the drift tax, where anything no matter how shitty it is, just because it’s rwd people bump up the price

  28. Falcons were everywhere in Australia and were really good! Also F100s are great to and were also popular.

  29. I always thought of the crazy idea of turning a Honda Fit into a Hillclimb racing car. But just as a first car project would the Fit fit the profile of the video?

  30. Arc welding is an umbrella term for using electricity to weld. Eg. Tig, mig, stick. Oxy welding is not.

  31. my first project car is a 1989 dodge w150 power ram 318 powerd Im 15 years old
    and can fix 90% of things only things are wiring and transmission work.

  32. I have an old Prelude and i bought another two for spare parts because in Europe you can't find parts . Now i have two cars in parts and in 10 years i needed just a vss sensor, cv joint and brakes 🙂

  33. Love love love your channel Scotty! Always great advice. You encourage people to enjoy the car culture with truth and honesty. Thank you.

  34. thank you again scotty. been having trouble finding something in my budget that's good to go so I was thinking of rebuilding one. didn't think about seeing what's in my local scrap and working off that. thanks for sharing your expertise again!

  35. One of my friends daily drove 1964 Falcon in Australia and now has a 2011 Falcon Ute that he switches between, still driving the 64 often.

  36. advice i got at 14, pick the project car that makes YOU happy, cuz your never gonna get your money back. I'm 38

  37. My Project Car is a 2012 Volvo S60 R T6, it has about 325 horsepower, I'm going to try and get it up to 400-500 HP

  38. Just got a mk3 gti vr6. It ran great when i teat drove it but when it was dropped off, it started idling weird. Ive spent over $300 changing spark plugs, ignition wires, and o2 sensor, did nothing lol 😂 but! Just found out the maf sensor is bad. Hopefully it helps! Wish me luck lol

  39. Hey Scotty I have an opportunity to get a 1978 dodge d 100, it has 45000 miles on it and was babied by my great uncle. Would it be worth fixing up?

  40. Ten years old ish. Take a walk through the junkyard. I look at what is there near or under 10 years old. A good supply of parts is important. Not to expensive. Audi Quattro B5 60,000 miles. Given to me free. Low mileage. Needs good once over. Lots in the junkyard. Note

  41. I got a 90 300ZX for free with an "R" title. I'm so excited to have some fun with it. Since it's an NA automatic it wasn't worth anything even with a clean title, so the sky's the limit to make this a nice, fun, weekend car show car I can still take to auto cross events. Already got Nissan's 4.5L V8 ready to be rebuilt and put in. For body work, if you aren't in a rush, don't be afraid to contact a local trade school! Many will fix and paint it for materials cost, or even redo the engine and trans.

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