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While most people look for cars that are turn-key ready, there’s a certain subset of the population who lives for the thrill of fixing up a project car. When searching for the perfect car to invest your weekends in, be sure to follow these four tips to save you time, headaches, and money.

1121708840_9730ec437f_zSet a Budget

The first step in picking a dream car is to set a budget. Your budget should have two separate price points: how much you want to spend initially on the car, and how much you want to invest in repairs and upgrades. This second figure can be notoriously hard to predict, but do enough research before purchasing to determine at least a rough estimate.

Availability of Parts

The next point to consider in your search for a project car is the availability of car parts. Throughout the course of your restoration, you’ll likely need to purchase several replacement parts. While you may be able to salvage some of the parts already in the car and engine, it’s important to understand how much the replacements will cost. (Hint: rare vehicle parts always cost more.) Vehicle salvage centers can be a great source for affordable parts.


Although a project car won’t be “reliable” transportation when you begin your work, look for a car that is known to reliable when in working order. It can be really disappointing to put in thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours of work, only to discover that even in its prime, your specific model has major issues.

Fun Factor

Most importantly, pick a project car that will be fun to work on. You will likely encounter some rough patches when restoring your vehicle, but passion and love for the end result can help push you through.

Photo by dstone7y / CC BY