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Dan Marx

What cars not to restore

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OK, of the cars made prior to 1960, which ones would not be worth any effort to restore. Let's say the car is a #2-3 condition, and hasn't been setting in the Michigan winters for ever. Just curious. Plan on doing body and paint, minor rust repair, interior, engine , brakes, etc. Not a concourse quality. Any ideas out there?

Dan

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I'm gonna say most four door sedans (not including four door hardtops with no center posts). Seems like everything else is desirable. Of course, if you are doing it to turn over and make a profit, you would be better off in Vegas at the slot machines.

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Not to split hairs but I would consider #3 a typical restoration that is not perfect but still pretty nice, #2 quite nice, capable of winning locally and perhaps in certain regional situations, and #1 absolutely flawless. I would not touch a legitimate #3 original and certainly not a #2.

I suspect you are thinking of #4 cars, complete but likely would benefit from restoration, which I think is really an individual case by case decision. Most if not all restorations won't pay, but if you are planning a full restoration (either DIY or pro or some combinaiton) I would stick with traditionally desirable cars and the best bodystyles of them. All of this is obvious, so I am not sure how much value this adds - we probably could do a better job if you threw out a few candidates for discussion, Dan. That said, if you have say, a '50 Plymouth that has sentimental value restore away. You will be under water bringing that #4 or worse to #3 or #2 condition, but if you love it, that should be secondary. \

If you are unsure what project you want to tackle next, that can be an advantage - IMHO you may want to approach a little differently, look for condition, condition and condition within the range of cars that interest you, the better the start, the better the finish! :)

(and blog it in the projects section!)

Edited by Steve_Mack_CT (see edit history)

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I hesitate to doom any old car as not worth any effort, especially in the condition you describe. Most drivers are in about #3 condition and a #2 car is nice enough to drive and preserve as is IMO.

But if you revise the question to about #4 condition and a situation where you MUST do minor rust repair and body & paint then I would have to agree with keiser31 that we would start with most four door sedans. Really, if you look at it, MOST 1946-60 models that are not convertibles or higher end two door hardtops or wagons would fall into this scenario if you are talking, say, $12,000-$15,000 in addition to their purchase price. And a proper restoration would cost more than that.

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Almost all cars are worth restoring (condition #5 or higher) if you have a sentimental attachment to it. There are very, very few cars that can be restored for less than their value when finished. Restore a car because you want to, not to make money on it. Restoration is a love affair with a vehicle...

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Almost all cars are worth restoring (condition #5 or higher) if you have a sentimental attachment to it. There are very, very few cars that can be restored for less than their value when finished. Restore a car because you want to, not to make money on it. Restoration is a love affair with a vehicle...

Yes, +1 on that

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I agree with everything that has already been said and will throw another thought out there. I would not restore any #4 condition car that will end up costing more than I would pay for a nice older restoration. Example: Model A Fords. Why restore one when the market is flooded with older restorations looking for a good home? I am sure there are many other older restorations coming on the market now that can be picked up at a fraction of the restoration cost.

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I agree with everything that has already been said and will throw another thought out there. I would not restore any #4 condition car that will end up costing more than I would pay for a nice older restoration.

I agree with Mark on that.

I have been saying for a while that older restorations are the best value out there--value for the dollar AND a value in that you do not have to disassemble them and be off the road for a couple of years working on them. Todd

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Don't forget...its not always the end result that is desired but the journey itself.

I honestly see myself involved in one project or another for the rest of my life. Its a great diversion from the stresses of life and is also a group activity to enjoy with friends and family.

Just pick something that fits your financial ability and tickles your passion for the hobby. Do that and the rest will figure itself out....

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I'm gonna say most four door sedans (not including four door hardtops with no center posts). Seems like everything else is desirable. Of course, if you are doing it to turn over and make a profit, you would be better off in Vegas at the slot machines.

____________________________________________________________________

While not quite as desirable, I wouldn't count them out. If your collecting Cadillac's for the first time it may be the car you could afford. I'm seeing four doors more and more often these days at car shows. A few of favorites;

http://assets.hemmings.com/uimage/9801346-425-0.jpg?rev=1

http://assets.hemmings.com/uimage/9341952-425-0.jpg?rev=1

http://assets.hemmings.com/uimage/7943250-425-0.jpg?rev=1

D.

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____________________________________________________________________

While not quite as desirable, I wouldn't count them out. If your collecting Cadillac's for the first time it may be the car you could afford. I'm seeing four doors more and more often these days at car shows. A few of favorites;

http://assets.hemmings.com/uimage/9801346-425-0.jpg?rev=1

http://assets.hemmings.com/uimage/9341952-425-0.jpg?rev=1

http://assets.hemmings.com/uimage/7943250-425-0.jpg?rev=1

D.

I don't really count them out. I used to have a few four doors that I loved. Just sayin' those are the most affordable to purchase to start with. May just not be worth as much when finished if you are going for a big profit of any sort.

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That said, if you have say, a '50 Plymouth that has sentimental value restore away. You will be under water bringing that #4 or worse to #3 or #2 condition, but if you love it, that should be secondary.

That, in my opinion, is the nugget here.

I'm actually reasonably happily underwater with a car that started as a #4 and is now a #3+/2-. The investment that I have made is in the joy I have felt bringing it back.

(numbers changed to match Steve's points criteria)

Edited by j3studio (see edit history)

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I hesitate to doom any old car as not worth any effort, especially in the condition you describe. Most drivers are in about #3 condition and a #2 car is nice enough to drive and preserve as is IMO.

But if you revise the question to about #4 condition and a situation where you MUST do minor rust repair and body & paint then I would have to agree with keiser31 that we would start with most four door sedans. Really, if you look at it, MOST 1946-60 models that are not convertibles or higher end two door hardtops or wagons would fall into this scenario if you are talking, say, $12,000-$15,000 in addition to their purchase price. And a proper restoration would cost more than that.

I'd prefer any four-door hardtop, and even a four-door sedan to a post coupe or a station wagon. Merely my own person perspective.

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Almost all cars are worth restoring (condition #5 or higher) if you have a sentimental attachment to it. There are very, very few cars that can be restored for less than their value when finished. Restore a car because you want to, not to make money on it. Restoration is a love affair with a vehicle...

Hooray for you. No old car should be condemned. Somebody somewhere loves every one of them, and the street rodders are making them all scarcer every minute of every day.

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All cars put you underwater if you restore them. If you want one like that, had one like that, inherit one like that, forget the money and enjoy your car. People who are all into the money when it comes to the old car hobby, aren't really old car hobby collectors. It's nice to see a profit, yes, but I never have. Yet when the car was done I was either personally satisfied or I got rid of it. Meanwhile I enjoyed the ride trying to get it to where I wanted to be. Anybody who has a boat, plays golf, bowls, chases women, drink booze, never get their money back. We get some of it back. Be thankful.

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Almost all cars are worth restoring (condition #5 or higher) if you have a sentimental attachment to it. There are very, very few cars that can be restored for less than their value when finished. Restore a car because you want to, not to make money on it. Restoration is a love affair with a vehicle...

Thats it in a nutshell !

You restore a car for the love of the automobile and you'll never be disappointed....

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There has been some great input to the question. Yep, it is for the love of the project, No booze, one woman (39 yrs), no boat, no bowling, no cigaretts, GO ARMY (ret), and two grandkids. So, a guy has to have some vice!!!! Big garage, more tools needed (wanted), engines to work on, music to listen to, and problems to solve, ie: who bent that skirt for the "28 Essex!!!! No wonder the fender and running board doest fit right!!! . Can it get any better?

Dan

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I look at restoration kind of like fishing.

I have 2 vices... Fishing and the 30 CJ.

If I were to figure what a fishing trip cost, with gas, snacks, time, lures and the boat depreciation, I could take my family and most of the neighbors out to a great oyster bar.

Its a relaxation thing and a way to hone skills.

Bill H

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Two more quick thoughts:

1) Dan you mentioned grandkids, if there is any interest or hope of interest, and you are not "married" to a particular make or dream car, why not involve them in the search. If something excites them it may be a lot of fun.

2) Heard this on another forum on car prices and love it referencing the poster's recent purchase: "I love it and would not sell for anything, I can make more money next week"

The part about making more money is a good point.

Good luck on the search, that can be a big part of the fun!

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Hey, where do you get the body quality measurement from? #2 #3, etc.

Is there a scale that people use, and where can I find out more? Thanks!

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Will keep this short and to one post so as to not hijack Dan's thread, but it is sort of related. There has been some talk of this before but not sure under what tite so it would be hard to direct you to the thread(s). Generally I follow these numbers - can't call it a "standard" but I think a lot of folks use it as well"

#1 - Perfect, as new condition. IMO less than 1% of the cars out there. Rarely driven if at all.

#2 - A high point restoration, while some concours winners are #1 cars, I have personally seen several #2 cars that win at concours and major AACA or marque specific judged shows. Lightly driven cars. Maybe less than 5% of the cars out there at shows, etc.

#3 - The category most nice restorations fall under, likely local show winners and respectable finishes in judged shows. Could be a very nice original also, or combination of the above. not to split hairs but being as though this is one of the larger categories, I would say here is where the most validity to plusses and minuses are.

#4 - complete cars, generally usable drivers, but nearly all aspects are in need of attention for "show competition"

#5 - restorable project cars that need everything and are generally not usable as is without major attention.

anything less than a #5 is a parts car.

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