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Colin Wood
Colin Wood Associate Editor
7/15/21 2:53 p.m.

You love the thrill of buying a new project car.

For us, this usually means dragging home something in rough shape that hasn’t run in years.

Does that sound like your kind of project? Or do you prefer a clean, fully running car that you can drive home?

Read the rest of the story

EvanB MegaDork
7/15/21 3:04 p.m.

I would prefer a clean, fully running car I can drive home. 


I end up buying trainwrecks. 

Trent PowerDork
7/15/21 3:15 p.m.

I buy running cars and turn them into trainwrecks

MadScientistMatt UltimaDork
7/15/21 3:37 p.m.

The last one I bought turned out to be both at once. I drove it home unaware that there was a tiny crack in the block which grew big enough to mean pulling the engine. And doing an LS swap. And after that was running around for a while, the transmission died.

preach (fs)
preach (fs) HalfDork
7/15/21 3:45 p.m.

My 914 fell into my lap, it still has yet to run. Train wreck.

My Opel drove home 80 miles with no issues. I don't want a lick of the drivetrain in it. Train wreck.

jgrewe HalfDork
7/15/21 4:59 p.m.

"Are you sure its a car?"

"Why are you taking it apart?"

Both phrases have been spoken in my general vicinity. They may have been directed at me specifically.

I will drag or drive anything back to my atelier.

untchabl Reader
7/15/21 5:15 p.m.

If I buy it, someone else decided that they were done with it. Sometimes it ends up being minor, sometimes it's a train wreck. Typically it seems my #1 criteria is that it doesn't run and requires being winched onto the trailer. I have learned my lesson and I avoid stuff that needs bodywork, I stick with mechanical issues.

Tom1200 SuperDork
7/15/21 5:31 p.m.

I bring home runners; my wife encouraged this because she saw how on happy I was with the one and only train wreck I dragged home.

I like driving cars not fixing them and while I enjoy small projects I do not enjoy large ones because that means the car will be down for months on end. I've got a 90 day window of attention span on non running vehicles. 

AClockworkGarage HalfDork
7/15/21 6:39 p.m.

I prefer running project cars. It may not be perfect but it moves under its own power. I'm far more likely to make a ton of small improvements while driving and enjoying the car than I am building a perfect car from the frame up.

volvoclearinghouse PowerDork
7/15/21 6:58 p.m.

I buy cars like I buy puzzles for my kids.  In 100 different pieces in a box.

Except with project cars, there's probably more than one box.

And some of the pieces are missing.

And there's no instructions.

And something will need to be welded. 

frenchyd UltimaDork
7/15/21 7:01 p.m.

In reply to Colin Wood :

I buy cars owned previously by Poseurs. Cosmetically they are shot. Mechanically they still have greatness in them.  Since racers remove everything not needed to go fast  I'm way ahead of the game. 

Woody (Forum Supportum)
Woody (Forum Supportum) MegaDork
7/15/21 7:02 p.m.

I prefer my project cars to be complete, but I don't really care if they're running or not. That's the fun part for me. 

I have been known to drag home fractions of cars though. 

P3PPY Dork
7/15/21 7:55 p.m.

I had this habit for a while there - I went shopping for cars like I thought I was smarter than any old poor schmuck on Craigslist who'd given up on his car and was selling it for scrap price. Seriously, I'm such an optimist about cars, here's how it went:

1. look on Craigslist for sale by owner, "not running" or "won't start" (that's where the real GOOD deals are!) $750 or less

2. Look on google for pics of the car on hotrod condition, preferably with $2,000 wheels and a $40k paint job, go to bed that night daydreaming of how cool it would be 

3. Buy it, too cheapskate to throw money at it, limp it around for a while

4. offload

Honestly though, it turned out okay a few times, enough to embed the belief until my last two. Never was much for non-bolt-on body work though. I am not a "finesse" kind of person. 

Purple Frog (Forum Supporter)
Purple Frog (Forum Supporter) HalfDork
7/15/21 8:06 p.m.

Most of the race cars I have bought, looked like the complete running cars the PO said they were.  So.. I took them home and did frame up builds before I raced them.   Turned out great.

The latest "big" project was started by a true craftsman who ran out of time and money (maybe 1/3 done, no engine etc.) .  I took over with both eyes wide open.  It was rewarding to both him and me when I had it finished and driving.

now, in more advanced age, will the next one be just a pile of parts, or something that  just needs buffing and wax?  wink

gearheadmb SuperDork
7/15/21 8:23 p.m.

Neon; broken timing belt, every valve bent

90 wrangler; burnt piston, it got a full engine overhaul 

65 mustang; complete basket case. Engine shot, no trans, no floors, the list goes on

Rallyx beretta; engine knocking and a suspension that was only there for decoration. 

My silverado was supposed to be a ready runner that turned into a surprise basket case. It got me home, but when I started inspecting it I realized every part of it was wore out or Jimmy rigged just enough to keep it moving. Ironically i probably had more money in getting it right than any of trainwreck cars.

APEowner SuperDork
7/15/21 10:58 p.m.

I've done both extremes.  I have no desire to do another build that requires rust repair but otherwise I'm open to pretty much anything.  I'm actually thinking that my next build might start with steel tubing and rolls of carbon fiber fabric.

RichardSIA HalfDork
7/15/21 11:57 p.m.


Almost anything running and old enough to be of interest is just too expensive.

Latest purchase was supposed to be virtually turn-key to be a DD , it is not. 
Not a basket case as most are, but still a work in progress.

Everything else is either a major project based on production car shells/chassis or a simpler project starting from a pile of parts and my tube bender.


bgkast PowerDork
7/16/21 1:56 a.m.

Mine came as bulk materials.

pirate HalfDork
7/16/21 8:20 a.m.

I've done both. The cars that are train wrecks offer more satisfaction when complete for me. I'm somewhat anal about cars and what and how the work has been done so like to do it myself and my way. I like the planning and work as much as the driving.

alfadriver MegaDork
7/16/21 8:45 a.m.

Add another who have done both.

Of the 4 project cars we've bought, one was completed to competition (the Challenge car, and done with a LOT of help), one was finished to a single debug autocross and later sold (a GTV vintage racer), one got about 80% completed (Giuletta Sprint) then sold, one was disassembled and sold (Giuletta Spider Veloce).  

Of the 3 running Alfas we have bought- one was enjoyed for a vacation (where we bought it) and sold on ('88 Milano), one was used for DD use for almsot a decade ('94 164), and one was used for competition for 15 years and is now used for pleasure ('73 GTV).

No more project cars for me.  

gearheadE30 Dork
7/16/21 9:15 a.m.

I've had projects my whole life, with only a few exceptions. I'm trying to break the cycle because time has become my limiting factor by a huge margin, but damn it's hard to spend the money to buy a nice example of something.

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner MegaDork
7/16/21 9:25 a.m.

Are we talking about buying cars that are train wrecks on purpose or by accident?

Ian F (Forum Supporter)
Ian F (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
7/16/21 9:38 a.m.

I seem to buy running projects that stop running.  It's me that's the problem. Not the car. frown

WillG80 Reader
7/16/21 10:01 a.m.

I bought a $200 Jag yesterday. Need I say more?


frenchyd UltimaDork
7/16/21 1:05 p.m.

In reply to WillG80 :

Great, which model ?  Will you race it?   

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