10 Most Badass Classic American Cars To Buy And Restore For Cheap

Looking to restore a classic car? It’s an admirable pursuit, one that will cost you time, manpower, money, and perhaps even your sanity. The art of restoring cars is not an exact one and filled with frustration, interminable delays, and issues that could test the patience of a saint – and if you’re working on a car, with like-minded individuals, saintliness is no longer in the picture.

Even if you manage to do all the hard work yourself, the parts and the shipping of them are still likely to be expensive. And god forbid if your restoration project involves a rare car because forget five figures, the cost of restoring something rare may even touch six figures.

So if you are looking to restore a car for cheap, we suggest you go with something that has been in production for a long time and was made in vast numbers as well, so that parts and panels come easy and cost easy as well. They may not make you the crème de la crème of the restoring crowd, but then again, if you want to restore something, do it for yourself, not the world.

On that note, here go 10 of the most badass classic American cars you can buy and restore for cheap…

10 1957 Cadillac Series 62

Via Pinterest

A little more than 32,000 of these classy, well-curved cars were made and sold during their heydays so finding one cheap for restorations is easy enough. The cars were made from 1940 all the way to 1964, becoming the Cadillac Calais thereafter. If you look for a hardtop, the interiors are unlikely to be in bad shape unlike convertibles although the latter looks better.

Via Mecum

The fifties look and style is an added advantage, and while you will have to scrounge for body parts in junkyards or so, mechanical alternatives are aplenty. These cars will make for a cheaper alternative to Chevies of the same time.

9 1967-69 Plymouth Barracuda

Via Hagerty

To be honest, if you look at body panels, the 1970-74 Barracuda gets better options but then again, they don’t come as cheap as the ‘60s Barracuda, so there that to consider. The aftermarket is also replete with factory-spec interiors, so you can do a perfect restoration if you want.

Via Hagerty

Mechanical parts are easy to come by and if you want more power, there are a plethora of aftermarket upgrades that can take your Barracuda to Hemi’ Cuda like performance, if not more. Do be careful though, because not everyone can handle that kind of power as Kevin Hart learned the hard way around.

RELATED: 10 Things You Didn’t Know About The Plymouth Barracuda

8 1971-72 Pontiac GTO

Via WSupercars

The 1971-72 model of the Goat may not be as stellar as the earlier ’60s ones, but considering we are concentrating on the word “cheap”, you understand our choice… There’s also a whole enthusiastic market for the GTO, so if you are looking to restore and sell for a tidy buck, make sure you do factory-spec restorations.

Via WSupercars

Easy enough considering the swathes of aftermarket factory-spec stuff available, plus plenty of mechanical parts from the original cars themselves. The Pontiac GTO is unlikely to fall out of favor.

RELATED: 10 Things You Didn’t Know About The Pontiac GTO

7 1968-70 Dodge Charger

Via Hagerty

Forget aftermarket, what’s the need to go looking high and low for authentic classic Dodge parts when the Chrysler-owned Mopar is here to provide? Since the Dodge Charger was made in large numbers, finding a project car for cheap is also easy enough.

Via Mecum

If you need more reasons, just look at any restored classic Charger and you’ll understand the appeal that comes with a perfect blend of beauty with power. Of course, the Dodge Charger R/T will cost a bit extra but the result may be worth all the pain.

6 1961-66 Lincoln Continental

Via CarForSale

If muscle cars are out of your league then the simple and sleek Lincoln Continental that came plush with luxury could be your poison. They came classy back then and today demand all the attention on the road. The catch to this car is that they came hand-assembled, so restoring them means you need a certain level of expertise or will need to pay for professional help.

Via Mecum

You only have to look at that black 1965 Lincoln Continental from Entourage to know why people love them so, so the extra hard work will be all that more appreciable in the end.

5 1978-82 Chevrolet Corvette

Via Mecum

The Chevy Corvette lagged a bit in the engine area in the late ‘70s, mostly because of the catalytic converters brought about by emission control. But what it couldn’t give in power, it more than gave in the looks department.

Via Mecum

A late ‘70s Vette looks pretty good and because it was a tad underpowered, you can get one in running condition for less than $10,000. Parts are aplenty because hey, everyone is a ‘Vette specialist, and if you need more help, there’s always Corvette clubs and fan sites.

RELATED: 10 Classic Corvette Restomods We’d Drive Over The New C8

4 1964-68 Ford Mustang

Via Hemmings

Need we say why? The Mustang makes for a perfect first-time restorer’s project because they come dirt cheap, considering the swathes they sold, and as far as aftermarket parts or mechanicals go, there’s a whole spawn of those as well.

Via Mecum

Much like the ‘Vette is America’s favorite sports car, the Mustang is everyone’s first choice in a muscle car so clubs, fans, and experts also abound. Dozens of companies are only too happy, making extra parts for the Mustang, and why not, even as projects, Mustangs tend to sell themselves.

3 1968-72 Oldsmobile Cutlass

Via HotRod

Most people tend to buy Cutlass’ and turn them into donks of sorts, thereby lowering the value of the car, because when it comes to restorations, most collectors and classic car lovers prefer their buys to be as close to the factory specs as possible.

Via Hemmings

Luckily, plenty of Cutlasses were made and most come cheap, plus a lot of its underpinnings and parts can be interchanged with GM A-body cars, so brake and suspension is a piece of cake. While the aftermarket isn’t as well developed as the other, parts are still possible and at reasonable prices too.

2 1968-69 AMC AMX

Via Silodrome

The AMX of these years is not just the best looking of all, but these cars also ran as fast as the very wind. That said, because the company and the marque went defunct, interest in these muscle cars has been low although, in recent times, they have been coming to the forefront.

Via Mecum

The cars were not made in huge numbers and the reproduction of the market is still burgeoning, but look hard enough and you will find the parts, especially since much can be interchanged with stuff from the Big Three. The good news is that these cars come simple, so restoring them is not as back-breaking as it could be.

RELATED: 15 Sickest Classic Muscle Car Restomods We’ve Ever Seen

1 1967-69 Chevrolet Camaro

Via HeacockClassic

You cannot mention the Mustang on one list and not talk about the Camaro on the same, even though both the cars have been in constant competition with each other since the day they debuted. Much like the Mustang, the Camaro is sold in droves as well so project cars, as well as rusty shells for parts and panels, are an easy find.

10 Most Badass Classic American Cars To Buy And Restore For Cheap
Via AutotTraderClassics

There’s also a huge market of aftermarket parts and reproductions and everything as reasonable as it can be, making the Camaro the Christmas of all restorations.

Sources: Hemmings, MustangsAndFords

NEXT: 5 Toughest Classic SUVs You Can Get For Cheap (5 That Cost A Fortune)


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