Buying a Restoration Project, the Right Way

I realize now that when I bought my first classic car, I was looking through rose-colored glasses. I was so overcome with amazement that I was actually buying my first classic car on my own, that I started to look past many of the major problems with the car.

If you aren’t careful, this car really hurt you in the long run. I was fortunate to not pay too much and still get a decent vehicle for restoration. When you decide to buy your first restoration car, there are three important things to look for to make sure you are successful.

Before and After Restoration
The most important thing to take into consideration when buying a car for restoration is to determine your own level of skill to perform the job. There are lots of questions that you need to ask yourself. Are you going to be doing the work yourself? Are you going to pay a professional to do the work for you? Many people take on a project and realize early on that it is too much for them to do and it never happens.

The next thing to do is to decide what kind of car you want to restore. Many people choose cars based on what their parents had when they were growing up. No matter what car you choose, you have to make sure that it is a car that you are passionate about restoring.

When you know what type of car you are looking for, then the hunt for the perfect car to restore starts. Many things are to be taken into consideration when seeking a car to purchase. Depending on how you plan on restoring the car, you will need to look at things like condition, rarity, and availability of parts.

When looking at a car, give special consideration to the condition of things that for the most part cannot be restored. Are the frame rails solid? Is the car original? Have there been modifications to the car that cannot be reversed? If so, it might be a good idea to keep looking for a more restorable automobile.


Depending on what car you choose will determine how difficult it is to restore. Many common cars chosen for restoration will have readily available parts. More rare cars will be tough in locating parts. It is important to make sure the car is complete for the most part before starting restoration.

Other things to seek out on a car are the history of the automobile. Is the full story there? Is the owner trustworthy wit regard to the condition?

When checking a car over for purchase, always spend ample time in looking the car over before making the decision to buy. Is the drive train original? Does the car still run? If not, make sure the engine at least turns over freely. Looking for things like rotten floors and solid rocker panels are important. Many of these things can be repaired, but for an amateur restorer, this can be overwhelming.

Overall, restoring a car can be an amazing experience. Lots can be learned from taking on a project, but if the right steps aren’t taken, a restoration project can turn into a permanent shelf for garage clutter. Make sure when buying the car you are ready for the physical and financial commitment to the project.

What kind of car will you be restoring next?

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5 thoughts on “Buying a Restoration Project, the Right Way

  1. Hey goistboy95,
    This post was very helpful for me. I have been looking for a car to restore, and the choices in car really can make or break a restoration. I would like to restore a 1969 Dodge Charger, but as you said parts are hard to come by. Originality is a restorer’s dream. Finding original parts is like finding a gold mine for many reasons like you said. The picture that details where rust normally appears will help a lot of people when looking for a car. Restoring a car takes a lot of time and effort, but as you said, if you are passionate about the car being restored, it is all worth it in the end. This was a very good post and as well as helping me, I hope it helps many others.
    Emerson V.

    • Glad it helps! Like you said, its all worth it in the end! For a beginning restorer, it should be something that you will be able to stay interested in. As we all gain more knowledge about restoration, we will all be able to restore those more rare cars that take the extra effort to do. what we are doing is really keeping these cars and history alive!!!

  2. Goistboy95
    I have not yet started to seriously look for a car to restore, many because I can not afford to have a project right now. My goal is to work at a shop near my house this summer and learn what I can from the job as well as save money for a project car. My mother has told me I have to sell the first car that I restore so I am trying to find something that won’t cost me to much to restore and will sell for a good price. I think this blog will help me in my quest for that car. When looking for a car to turn around I will have to avoid rust and any major issues with the car. This will help me in the future when I am looking for the right car to restore and sell then I can start on the dreams cars I want to do.

    • timmkar22
      One of the best things you can do is wait and save money before purchasing a project. Many people save up just enough money and buy a project, but then are left in the dust so to speak, when they are out of money to fund any part of the restoration. Be sure to really keep close eyes on the car you plan to purchase, and you will be sure to make a good decision!

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