Is it such a thing as a easy learners restoration car?

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rjbell
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Joined: 2012-10-03

I've been considering buying my first money pit. I have no
mechanical knowledge at all but like many have a dream of restoring a car. Is
this just pie in the sky and heading for a big fail? Is there such a thing as an
easy car to work on for a beginner, something cheap with plentiful parts? Or if
I’m going to spend the money doing something up its just as well be something
you really like?

Marty Mac
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Joined: 2012-10-04

Depends what type of car you're thinking of, but a MG of some kind might be a good place to start, great club support and loads of parts. I've had to finish off several restorations where the owners have hit the wall in regards to time, talent etc perhaps look into doing some classes in restoration to see if you've got the aptitude. What would you really like to restore?

Nuno Granja
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Joined: 2011-09-13

rjbell,

From my point of view, based on real experience at portugal classic car scene, I think that amateurs can't do a proper job.

Of course there are a few exceptions but in most of cases, the restauration projects leed by amateurs take a lot of years and when they finish, (because a lot of them end as set o baskets full of pieces..) the cars are less than usable with a lot of annoying gremlins here and there.

A car is a very complex machine that need a lot of different skils, from interiors, to electricity, from brakes to steering sistems, from engine to gearbox, and a big etc.  

Even the skills for the same area could be completly different from one brand to another, for example a VW aircooled engine is tottaly different from a Ford Kent, even if both are 4 cil, and have 1200, 1300 or 1500cc variants.

I'm tired of seing cars lost forever, by the action of enthusiasts who begin projects by putting cars to pieces that will never be together again.

Another common mistake is the usual thinking  "I gona do it by litlle steps" or" it will be cheaper in DIY". It will take eternity and the final price will be at least equal, as amateurs tend to do a lot of attemps to solve a problem that a skilled professional (not allways easy to find one...) will do on the first attempt. The restauration budjet for the great majority of cars is a lot higher than the market value of the same car in good shape, so its makes more sense to buy one and start to enjoy it, instead of loosing years of money triyng to put a bad one together.

 

Across the portuguese classic car web community, this kind subjects are commom and with lot of "nicks" saying, "Go for it! If you really want it, you will do it!"... wrong of course you will neet to "want it a lot" but you will also need a lot of money, time and skills.

The best way is invest on your professional skills, earn some money and save part of it. Read magazines as CSC, meet the club of your favorite brand/model and listen to the experts. Then buy a car in good order and keep it maintained by a good professional.

Thats my point of view based on real experience on the portuguese scene and mediterranian "easy going" culture.

 

 

nuno granja

 

Coventry Climax
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Joined: 2012-02-16

I cut my teeth on Citroen 2CVs, which although unorthodox in their engineering are about as simple as a car can be. They were specifically designed so that an unskilled person could repair them, everything comes apart really easily, and parts availability for the later cars is unbeatable (you can buy virtually an entire car off the shelf as parts).

The only real pitfall an unskilled restorer should watch out for is serious rot in the bodyshell, although if you think your welding skills are up to the job all the panels you'd need to rebuild one are available. Otherwise, they're like a giant Meccano kit and very easy to work on.

If you don't fancy welding, the Citroen Mehari is an even simpler restoration project: 2CV chassis and running gear, but with a Jeep-like ABS plastic bodyshell. If anything, parts backup is even better than for the 2CV, with virtually 100% available brand new off the shelf.

Both cars are easy to live with once you've finished the restoration, and both are great fun to drive.

rjbell
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Joined: 2012-10-03

Thank you guys. I wasn't planning on doing everything myself, but was worried about spending £10k-£15k on a car that looks restored only to find it a rust bucket in 1-2 years time. At least over seeing work and putting some hours in myself i know whats been done.  My favourite affordable-ish vintage cars are the Volvo p1800, Opel Manta a, Alfa 105, Bmw 2002, Cortina mk3 2dr, Capri mk1, VW type square and fastback, Audi 100 coupe s.

Chris Martin
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Joined: 2011-08-20

rjbell wrote:

Thank you guys. I wasn't planning on doing everything myself, but was worried about spending £10k-£15k on a car that looks restored only to find it a rust bucket in 1-2 years time. At least over seeing work and putting some hours in myself i know whats been done.  My favourite affordable-ish vintage cars are the Volvo p1800, Opel Manta a, Alfa 105, Bmw 2002, Cortina mk3 2dr, Capri mk1, VW type square and fastback, Audi 100 coupe s.

I would suggest most of the above are probably going to have some problems for a first timer. While your choice of cars is fine if you can find a good one at the right price, as a restoration case, the Volvo, Opel, Alfa, BMW or Audi could all end up being complex restoration cases that usually end up costing more than their resale value, And even if you could find a complete and rust free example of either of the Fords, and the mechanical parts are still available, the little detail trim parts will be getting hard to find - and then again, what is a fully restored one going be worth?

The VW is probably the best choice for a beginner, assuming you can find one with a solid platform. All good VWs have a solid following and while other models popularity may be subject to the fluctuations of fashion VWs have always been wanted and continue on a slow but steady upward path to collectability. The type 3  would be a good choice due to rarity while all mechanical parts are readily available.

To generalise further as to what makes a good 'beginners' resto' project and casting our theoretical nets wider, I would recommend the tried and trusted favourites for a good reason, there is a plentiful supply of donor cars, parts and also books, clubs and the  freely given advice that most enthusiasts are blessed with. So on that logic, we have Mini, VW, Morris Minor, MGB etc, or further afield Mustangs are easy to work on and good value, If the budget allows, by all means go to the more expensive Triumphs orJaguars, and so on, but there is another way to look at it.

Vintages are easier still to work on, and equally rewarding to drive as long as it is not your only every day car.

The less a car has on it to start with, the less there is to fix, hence the enduring popularity of Ford Model Ts and Austin Sevens, but that logic still applied in the fifties for early VW Beetles, Fiat 500s and Citroen 2CVs.

Let us know how you get on.

Chris M.

 

Nuno Granja
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Joined: 2011-09-13

wise words Chris.

Personaly and based on real experiences here i still have a lot of doubts about the amateurs  possibilities.

 

nuno granja

Rimmer Bros
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Joined: 2013-08-01

Buy yourself a classic Triumph, simple mechanics, most  use a seperate chassis so mechanical restoration is possible at home, whilst bodywork can be done later by a specialist, great spares availability and good possibility of getting your investment  returned with interest.

Rimmer Bros