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Classic Cars Do you just love the classics?
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Old 01-17-2022, 07:15 PM   #1
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Starting a Project - Advice Needed


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!
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