Anthony7
Anthony7
8/10/09 4:37 p.m.

Hello everyone. I'm new to this site. I'm almost 19 years old and I have a lot of automotive knowledge. I have never, however, restored an old car. It has been my dream to restore an old car so I plan on tackling the project relatively soon. But first, I need a car!

I want a small, simple, and convertible classic sports car. I was looking at the Triumph Spitfires and they seem nice. I also was attracted to the MG's.

I really just want something that is affordable (to purchase and to restore) and as simple as humanly possible. If the car meets all of those requirements and pre-dates 1980, I will highly consider it. Any opinions are welcome!

Thanks, Anthony

Tim Baxter
Tim Baxter Online Editor
8/10/09 5:13 p.m.

IF it's not rusty, MGBs are just about a perfect starter classic. They're easy to live with, robust, and fun. If they're rusty (and many are), run away. It's not a project for a beginner.

Spitfires are smaller and not really screwed together as well as MGBs (in my opinion), but they look great and are really, really simple cars. Since they're a separate frame, even rust is easier to deal with. If you can't find an MGB that hasn't rusted to bits, or if you just like the Spitfire better, it's an excellent choice.

Make sure you check out the Father/Son Spitfire restoration series from the magazine, and the Spitfire project car in the project car section.

KaptKaos
KaptKaos Reader
8/10/09 9:59 p.m.

First thing to look for is rust. After that, check for rust. If you still haven't found any, make sure you look for rust. While you're at it, make sure you look for rust.

This applies to just about any classic.

After that, its about what you want/like in a car.

Good luck and post pix of what you get.

ddavidv
ddavidv SuperDork
8/11/09 5:16 a.m.

Yeah, what he said. Do not buy a rusty project car. You're just asking for heartache. In fact, your first 'restoration' really should be a nice, serviceable, running and driving car that just needs sprucing up. Do not buy a full-bore, needs totally rebuilt from the ground up car to learn on.

I agree the MGB is probably the poster child starter sports car, though the Midget/Sprite is a close second. Spridgets will be cheaper to buy a nice one up front than a B. As much as I love the Spitfire's styling and flip front, the quality just isn't the same. They've got a lot of issues to suffer with.

Some other low cost examples would be Fiat 124s (much more powerful, better engineered and roomier than most British cars), Sumbeam Alpines, Datsun 1600/2000s. The latter two are a little harder and more expensive to get parts for but are just as rewarding as any of the others.

André Rousseau
André Rousseau Reader
8/11/09 6:20 a.m.

Yes stay away from rust.

And I can echo the room thing for the FIAT 124 vs my GT6.

A.

rconlon
rconlon Reader
8/11/09 9:30 a.m.

Anthony: Perfect name for a Fiat owner. Look for the best example in your price over any particular make or model. The right car will seem to call you when you see it. Don't over-think it but look around a lot and see what cranks your motor.

Cheers Ron

Anthony7
Anthony7 New Reader
8/11/09 11:29 a.m.

Thanks for the responses, everyone.

I personally love Fiat's and Datsun's. I'm not a very big fan of the Sunbeam's though.

Now I know that almost all of you have advised to stay away from rust. I understand that rust is a complete pain in the you-know-what. But I can't seem to find a car that doesn't have a least SOME rust underneath, on the rockers, or within the floors of the interior. What kind of rust should I stay away from? Rust within the engine area? Beneath the car (frame, suspension, etc)? Within the interior?

My price range is a bit too low to hope for a car without some rust. So I guess my question is this: What kind of rust is the easiest to deal with?

Thanks, Anthony

Joe Gearin
Joe Gearin Associate Publisher
8/11/09 1:37 p.m.

Anthony,

First off, welcome to the board!

Surface rust is usually very easy to deal with, but structural rust, and frame rot are not things you want to deal with as a beginner.

Look for cars that have strong aftermarket support ( MGBs, Triumphs, Datsun Z cars)

Also, it pays off to look for cars in areas that rust isn't as prevalent. Southeastern U.S., AZ, CA, NM, CO, all have relatively rust free cars for reasonable $$$. Traveling a bit to get the right car will save you time and $$ in the future.

Also, if you aren't currently subscribing to CMS do it now. We frequently run stories on how to deal with rust, and metalworking techniques.

Again thanks for posting, and good luck!

RossD
RossD HalfDork
8/11/09 1:47 p.m.

Alfa Spider? They made them close to 30 years, so that should help with parts.

Tommy Suddard
Tommy Suddard SonDork
8/11/09 2:44 p.m.

Spitfire!

I just finished restoring one, and I am 15.

Anthony7
Anthony7 New Reader
8/11/09 3:57 p.m.
Joe Gearin wrote: Anthony, First off, welcome to the board! Surface rust is usually very easy to deal with, but structural rust, and frame rot are not things you want to deal with as a beginner. Look for cars that have strong aftermarket support ( MGBs, Triumphs, Datsun Z cars) Also, it pays off to look for cars in areas that rust isn't as prevalent. Southeastern U.S., AZ, CA, NM, CO, all have relatively rust free cars for reasonable $$$. Traveling a bit to get the right car will save you time and $$ in the future. Also, if you aren't currently subscribing to CMS do it now. We frequently run stories on how to deal with rust, and metalworking techniques. Again thanks for posting, and good luck!

Triumph's have strong aftermarket support? I had no idea...

I am in MA. I don't know if that is a bad thing, but traveling to the states that you listed is not exactly realistic for me at the moment. Am I going to have a hard time finding a car in my area that is in good condition?

Thanks, Anthony

Travis_K
Travis_K HalfDork
8/12/09 3:45 a.m.

Keep in mind that reparing a rusty car (by that i mean anything that needs new metal welded in) will most likely take at least as much time and money as going to get a non rusty car from california (unless you already have experience with rust repair and the equipment to do it).

ddavidv
ddavidv SuperDork
8/12/09 5:38 a.m.

Ugh, MA. You're not in a good area. Unless you can find something that's been stored indoors a long time, rust will be a real problem.

You've got to look at where any rust is and how the car goes together. A rusty rocker panel may not be a horrible thing to have replaced, as it's usually not a big piece of metal and has pretty obvious joints. A rusted quarter panel (say, over the wheel arch) is a huge piece of metal and a lot more costly to replace. "Patch panels" are not as simple of a solution as you may think. There's a lot of trimming and welding to get those to fit correctly.

If it's just floorpan rust (pretty typical on any convertible) floors are not a quick job but the upside is crappy amateur welds won't really be visible to the casual observer.

Remember, whatever rust is visible will likely require an area twice as large be cut out to eradicate it from spreading.

So we're back to "buy the best car you can afford" again. Save money, buy a more expensive but solid car or get yourself in a position where you can shop south of at least New York state to find something.

Tim Baxter
Tim Baxter Online Editor
8/12/09 8:30 a.m.

You're going to have a miserable time finding a decent project car in your area.

If I were you, I would do two things:

1) cozy up with the local car club(s). You should be able to find some in your area in our clubs section. Most likely they'll love the idea of bringing a younger person into the hobby and will trip all over themselves to help you find a car and give pointers.

2) seriously consider going as far south as you can and bringing one home. I know it sounds expensive, but trust me, the cost of fetching a solid car will quickly be outweighed by the cost of fixing a rusty one.

Joe Gearin
Joe Gearin Associate Publisher
8/12/09 9:51 a.m.

Anthony,

Anyplace where it snows and they dump salt on the roads will be a difficult place to find a decent car at a decent price. Also keep in mind that a "rusty" car in South Carolina may mean it has a quarter-size spot of surface rust, where a "rusty" car in MA may mean it has literally rusted in half!

I'd look for cars that have recently moved to MA, or scan Craigslist, Classicautotrader, Ebay, and the CMS and GRM listingsfor out of state cars. I'd also plan on spending at least $3,500 for a decent running MGB, Alfa Spider, or Spitfire. You can find them for less, but solid examples are abundant at that price point.

Mass is a beautiful place (I was born in Weymouth), but unfortunately it is one of the very worst spots in the U.S. for rust.

Anthony7
Anthony7 New Reader
8/12/09 2:40 p.m.

Thank you for all of the responses. You guys have been a great help. I will bump up this thread if I have further questions (which I'm sure I will have!). If anyone else has any advice please post. Every opinion is welcome and very appreciated.

Thanks, Anthony

rconlon
rconlon Reader
8/12/09 3:17 p.m.

Anthony: Do not ingnore the Miata. It is as simple as they come. There are a ton of the first generation series out there and it would be great to learn the process. The end product should be reliable, simple and cool yet modern. All the above comments would apply but you would get a good bang for the buck if you get a rust free one. I have one that my son has used as his university car. Check your local listings and there will be a lot that were only driven as summer cars. Cheers Ron

Cosworth1
Cosworth1 New Reader
8/12/09 4:36 p.m.

What everyone else said. Buy something that YOU like, it's very easy to lose interest in a restoration if its on a car which really doesn't float your boat. Research out the price of parts and availability of them before you set your sites on any one car. Some cars are tough to find parts for, so prices on them will be at a premium. Cars that can basically be built from a catalog tend to have more reasonably priced parts. Also, keep in mind appreciation value of the car. All cars appreciate in their own time, at different rates. If you really love the car you built, it just may become part of your retirement savings later in life. You're still young, but I already have one of my cars 30 years.

ronbros
ronbros New Reader
8/12/09 7:08 p.m.

a cheap way to start is, buy another mans DREAM, unfinished.

usually at a good price, because of loss of work income, divorce always a good one, medical problems, and plain loss of interest

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