Where To Find A Project Car

You may already have restored a classic or vintage automobile and are looking for a new project car or perhaps you might be searching for that just right car for your first attempt at a restoration project. Think first about the type of car that you’d like to rebuild.

project cars

Find the Right Car or Truck

Project cars are not necessarily hard to find. Finding a cheap one is also not too difficult.

Finding the right car at the right price might be more difficult.There are many very popular models and the most popular can be hard to find at a reasonable price and price is important. You don’t want to spend a ton of money on the vehicle itself. You need to allow as much money as possible in for the actual restoration. Keep this in mind whenever you consider buying a project car. Restoration jobs that are done professionally can easily get into the tens of thousands of dollars and most of this cost is in labor.

Keep in mind that items such as painting can be costly because of special processes required to do the job right. Rust most likely requires steel replacement. When looking for possible rust you’ll want to look under rugs and on the bottom of doors in addition to the outside body. Outside of engine and transmission, these are the most costly and labor intensive issues. When you look for your project car pay real close attention to the body. Your goal here is to evaluate the work that needs to be done to restore the car to the degree you wish. Seek outside opinions if possible from local car club members.


Titles are Important

Make certain to look over any title carefully. Junked cars are often issued a salvage title. This type of vehicle may not be able to be registered as a normal car, even after restoration. Check VIN numbers to be certain that they match what is on the title.

Finding a Vehicle to Restore and Flip

If you’re restoring a car to sell for a profit then there’s homework to be done. If you’re restoring a vehicle for your own personal collection then showing a profit might not be important. In a perfect world, if your goal is to make a profit, there are cheap project cars that you can pick up and restore. Here we’re talking of paying perhaps just a few thousand dollars. Maybe $1,500. The lower the price you pay will most likely reflect the vehicles condition. Project vehicles are not necessarily all equal in price. If it’s a classic or vintage vehicle, the particular model will influence price to some extent regardless of condition.

project vehiclesMost of your success in turning a profit will have to do with what you pay for the non restored vehicle. The key is to make your project cost effective.

Once you get a reasonably priced project car restored, and without breaking the bank, then you can hopefully find a buyer that is willing to pay your price.

Your Project Car Might Be Sitting in a Barn

Believe it or not, some of the best project cars have been found in old barns. There’s stories all over the internet about these old cars and I’ve found them to be quite true. You may also have seen instances of this on certain reality television programs. If the vehicle isn’t in the barn then it might be behind it. Look carefully.

Some of the barn finds have included cars such as a 1927 Ford Touring Car, a 1965 Shelby, a 1954 Corvette and 1957 Corvette. In each of these cases the vehiclewas in very rough and non running condition. In some cases it’s simply the chassis and what remains of the body. What’s interesting is that often times the owner of the barn and/or property where the vehicle is located appreciates just getting rid of the car. The advantage here is that you’ll likely get a pretty good deal.

old cars to restoreThe best advice for barn or near barn finds is to go to rural communities and look hard. In my experiences I’ve gone on trips into the countryside and stumbled upon old vehicles at many places. Some have been just outside general stores, next to gas stations,  next to barns, outside rural hotels and homes, in vacant fields. I’ve accomplished this even without the goal of trying to find old vehicles.

It’s amazing what you’ll come across by just traveling through rural communities. Staying inside your car may not be enough. Park your car and walk around and look. I’ve known people who have located project cars by speaking with people at local rural diners. Some vehicle you hear about might be for sale and others not. The point is that the cars and trucks are out there and it may take some shoe leather and small talk to find them.

Finding a Project Car Online

Another obvious way to find vehicles to restore is on the internet. What’s more easy than to peruse project cars from your living room. These are cars ready to be restored. There are sites dedicated to this purpose. Selling project cars is an industry itself. The only negative to buying a project car on the internet, but certainly not a show stopper, is that you likely won’t be able to inspect the car yourself. As far as choice of project cars to consider, the internet is hard to beat.

cars to rebuildYou will need to rely on pictures and the vehicle inspection report for information on the actual condition. One way to remedy this concern is to arrange for a mechanic to inspect the vehicle prior to offering a bid. Sure, it may cost a few hundred dollars to have a mechanic inspect the vehicle but this relatively low expense can give you the peace of mind you wouldn’t get by bidding on the vehicle based only on pictures.

There are websites that provide both buyers and sellers with a place to sell and find project cars.  Just like vehicles you might find traveling through rural areas, the cars and trucks found for sale online are offered in a wide range of conditions. One of the largest sites is ebay motors where many of the listings are directly placed by current owners although dealer ads are also aplenty. Another site of course is craigslist.

On many of these sites you’ll find people who have have placed a wide range of ads to advertise cars to restore. You’ll find sites that offer vehicles directly from owners and others that are offered by dealers. There are many routes to finding a car or truck online.

As of this writing, below is a sample list of websites selling project cars…






car projectsNewspaper Ads

Anyone who reads a newspaper knows that there are old cars offered in the classified section. This is usually thought of as being the traditional way to search for a car or truck. One advantage with finding a vehicle in your local newspaper is that you likely won’t be in a bidding war that you could be on ebay motors or elsewhere.  Another obvious advantage is that you will be in a position to inspect the vehicle personally before making an offer to buy. Your local newspaper may not have a large offering of cars but there are advantages to buying locally. The same is true for the local auto trading weekly or monthly publications.

Local Car Clubs

Project car building is a hobby and something taken on by car and truck enthusiasts. Because of this car club members might know of a project car for sale or they may have a few for sale themselves. Many car clubs support this type of project and there’s likely to be one or more in your town. Take advantage of local car clubs to possibly get a good deal on a project car purchase and at the same time learn important information about rebuilding a car. It will be hard to find a car club without a member or two that hasn’t restored a vehicle.

race car projectsOther Sources For Finding a Project Car

Why not check a police department or city government website ? Here you might be able to find auctions to be held on confiscated vehicles. Police auctions can be a good place to find your project car at a very reasonable price. These auction sites also offer vehicles that the city and/or police department simply want to replace. If you’ve ever searched a police auction where they are selling old police cars you’ll know that Crown Victorias are dominant. Here also, because the government auction is likely held locally, you’ll have the advantage of inspection before you buy.

Another very obvious source for locating a project car is simply word of mouth. Friends and co-workers may know of a car or truck from a neighbor or relative that could fit the bill.

Probably the most amazing thing about finding a project car is that success often happens when you least expect it. As mentioned above, there’s many ways to find a project car from simply taking a stroll through a rural community to using the power of the internet.

When you do find that perfect project car at a reasonable price, and it will happen, just be sure to perform the due diligence necessary to make certain of exactly what you’re buying. Make a list beforehand of what you’re looking for and what you’re not looking for. Success in automobile restoration has a lot to do with what you do before actually beginning the restoration project.