10 Classic American Cars That Are A Breeze To Restore
Turning an old car from a worn-out relic into a dazzling show star is no easy task. There’s a lot of money to spend, many sleepless nights, and long hours spent scouring the internet for the right parts. Car enthusiasts who want to look unique on the road and don’t care much about costs, we salute you! Because some of the finest restored classic cars cost a lot of money and time.
That said, this article is particularly aimed at enthusiasts who prefer a car that’s fairly easy to work with, costing only a handful of dollars to complete. The vehicles featured here are easy to find and inexpensive to acquire. And since most manufacturers now offer OEM parts for their classic carsrestoring them should be a rather quick and affordable process.
ten Ford Mustang (1965-’70)
The king of the pony car kingdom, the Ford Mustang, the most iconic American pony car of all time, kicks off this adventure. The Mustang single-handedly spearheaded the pony car segment in the 1960s and powerfully pushed the pony car arms race. The vehicle sold over 2.5 million units in the first five years of production, meaning the classic car market has plenty for sale.
Amazingly, Ford now builds over 9,000 officially licensed parts for classic vehicles, dating back to the 1909 Model Ts, and their catalog includes complete hulls for Mustangs from 1967 through 1970. With this kind of support and parts to Reasonably priced, plus plenty of how-to manuals available, a former Mustang project is a great way to get started in the restoration business.
9 Dodge Charger (1966 – ’70)
The Charger is one of the most iconic muscle cars and a great Dodge car to buy used. Decades after so many of them were damaged during the filming of The Dukes of Hazard Television series, surviving examples fetch very high prices.
The good news is that the Charger is a very nice car to restore. So even a destroyed example of General Lee can be brought back to life effortlessly. And Dodge still offers genuine parts for these half-century-old cars, from the smallest engine tag to the entire body.
8 Chevrolet Chevelle (1970-’72)
Between 1968 and 1972, Chevrolet sold over one million units of A-body Chevelles, nearly 100,000 of which were Go-Fast SS models. About a quarter of the SS cars were equipped with the big 454 V8 engine.
Today, nearly every Chevelle on display at auto shows is not just an SS model, but an SS 454, with a bulging “Cowl Induction” hood. The aggressive look of the A-body Chevelle has made it every customizer’s dream project car for years, and as a result, parts have never been a hindrance.
7 Pontiac 2+2 (1964-’67)
Between 1964 and 1967, Pontiac released a full-size 2+2 coupe based on the famous Catalina model. The 1965 and 1966 models featured a powerful 421 cubic inch V8 engine. The high-output version had 376 horsepower and 461 pound-feet of torque, enough to propel the beast from 0 to 100 km/h in 3.9 seconds.
Pontiac 2+2s were rarer than the brand’s other cars, and because of that they suffered from parts unavailability for decades. But that is not the case today. Original Parts Group offers just about every part needed to bring a beaten 2+2 back to life.
6 Chevrolet Impala SS (1965-’70)
In the late 1960s, the American performance space was dominated by mid-size muscle cars and pony cars. But that hasn’t stopped the Big Three from getting some serious performance out of their big vehicles. In the mid-1960s, the Chevy Impala was the best-selling car in the United States. Its Super Sport version featured the L72 427 cubic inch engine with a whopping 425 horsepower.
For gearheads who want to enjoy 1960s classics but with a little more comfort, the Impala Super Sport is the best option. The car features simple and very intuitive mechanics, and many new parts are on the market. The ease of restoration and medication means the big machine can be made into anything.
5 Pontiac Firebird (1977-’81)
The 1960s were massive for the muscle car segment, but by the end of the 1970s the muscle car was nearly dead. There were only a few examples left. While all those machines were dying, the Pontiac Firebird was still spitting fire. This was its second generation, offered between 1970 and 1981.
While most of these cars are available and affordable on the used car market, the models produced in 1976 and 1977 have exploded in value since their appearance in the famous movie, Smokey and the bandit. Later models of the second generation Firebirds are the perfect entry into the restoration hobby. And the healthy supply of genuine parts means the process is much simpler and faster.
4 Chevrolet Corvair Monza
Chevrolet introduced the Monza in 1959 for the 1960 model year, and it featured a long list of options that Ford largely copied when building the Mustang in 1965. The Monza Spyder arrived in 1962 as the second car turbocharged series ever built.
The second generation Corvair Monza was launched in 1965 – and it was pretty. And for those who can’t afford a classic air-cooled Porsche, the Corvair Monza might be an option. The best part of the story is the availability of genuine parts. The active community of enthusiasts makes it easy to acquire and restore a classic Corvair from a downed relic to an auction event star.
3 Buick Grand Sport
The Buick Gran Sport was the brand’s entry into the muscle car space. However, it didn’t receive as much love as its A-body counterparts like the Chevy Chevelle and Pontiac GTO. As a result, Buick approached the market differently. They called the Gran Sport “The Gentleman’s Hot Rod”. Its interior was very accommodating and under the hood was the 455 cubic inch V8 with the Stage 1 package.
The hottest Gran Sport, the GSX, was powered by a 360 horsepower engine with 510 pound-feet of torque, the highest torque ever produced by an American production car until the release of the 2003 Dodge Viper. Few Gran Sports were made, but a good search would reveal some perfect project models. And with the good aftermarket supply, despite the poor condition of the car, bringing it back to life would be a piece of cake.
2 Dodge Super Bee
The Dodge Super Bee was officially launched in 1968 as a no-frills beast with a trio of V8 engines and heavy-duty suspension. But the best of the Bees was built in 1970. It came with a split bumblebee wing grille and cool cartoon graphics.
Today, the Super Bee is one of the best restoration project cars, and Dodge remanufactures virtually every part needed to bring a dead car back to life.
1 Mercury Cougar (1967-’70)
The Mercury Cougar was officially introduced in 1967. It was a more luxurious sports coupe based on the famous Ford Mustang. Also, available with Ford’s 390 cubic inch big-block V8 engine, the Cougar won Motor Trend’s Car of the Year award in its first year of production. It had quickly caught the eye of middle-class shoppers and was becoming the darling of every block.
The car survived serious obstacles during its 35 years of life. And while all Cougars are great restoration projects, most gearheads agree that the best are the beautiful models produced between 1967 and ’70. For restoration, the aftermarket offers virtually every component needed to get an old cat back on the road. And compared to skyrocketing Mustangs, most Cougars are still a bargain to own.
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