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Top 10 Affordable Project Cars; June Car Craft Magazine

Recently, I was looking back over some old posts from this web site. I was shocked at one that caught my eye. Back in 2009, Car Craft Magazine did a story predicting the future of car collecting. (Do you remember magazines? Some of our younger readers may not. Car Craft was a big deal back then.) Below is my response to their prediction. Today, that prediction seems as stupid as it did at that time. I have a slightly different perspective today. A few of these cars from the 1980’s may have a future as younger collectors move into the market. However, I am a big Corvette guy and I can’t imagine the C4 Corvette ever being a major player in the collector car world. What do you think of this list?

Here is the 2006 post:


The June 09 issue of Car Craft just hit my desk. As usual, I did my initial scan through the magazine, but the cover had me intrigued with what might be inside. Right under the Car Craft heading was the subtitle “Top 10 Affordable Project Cars”. This is everyone’s dream to know. What are the best deals on the cars we want to collect? I found the page and began to read. I was shocked.


Here is Car Crafts picks for the Top 10 Affordable Project Cars.

10. 1965 to 1972 Cadillacs

9. 1975 to 1979 X-Body GM cars (Nova, Omega, Ventura or Skylark)

8. 1978 to 1984 Fairmont and Zephyr

7. 1981 to 1986 Ford Granada and LTD II

6. 1983 to 1985 Mercury Marquis

5. 1983 to 1988 Thunderbird

4. 1978 to 1988 GM A- and G Bodies (Malibu, Monte Carlo, Cutlass etc.)

3. 1982 to 2004 S-10s and Blazers

2. Wrong Year Muscle Cars: 1974 and later Mustang, Camaro, El Camino etc.

1. C4 Corvette

Now, I have a few questions for all you gearheads out there. If you are going to do a Project car, don’t you want to take it to a cruise at your local Dairy Queen or one of the local shows? Most local shows and cruises have a 1972 cut off (but it isn’t always enforced).

If you are going to do a project car, you most likely are going to modify the motor. If it is post 1972 most areas want a smog test. How are you going to pass a smog test, legally?

If you agree with me that it costs as much to modify a 1967 vehicle as it does a post 1972 why not invest a few dollars more in the base vehicle and have what you want?

And finally, if you put a bunch of money into a project car and it comes time to sell it and move up; do you think you are going to get more of your investment of dollars and labor back out of a 1972 Cady, a 1988 Cutlas or a 1966 Mustang?

Nothing against any of the cars listed; I enjoy being different and driving what no one else does, but man, I will never invest time and money in a Fairmont or Zephyr!

Use the comment box below to tell me what you think. Are these really the Top Ten? What is your Top 10?

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I grew up and lived in Iowa for a good portion of my life before moving to Southern California. After 20+ years we now live outside Nashville Tennessee. I have been into cars since I was old enough to remember. I don't have a brand loyalty although I do prefer American Muscle especially the 1969/1970 NASCAR Aero Cars. (Check out our other web site at site) As long as it has four wheels and an engine I get excited. Few men are lucky enough to be able to share their passion for cars with the woman they love. Fortunately, my wife, Katriana, is also a gear head and many of our activities revolve around the cars. We have a small collection that includes at least one car from each of the Big Three. It includes a Best of Show winner, a survivor, a driver with lots of patina and several others. Katrina prefers all original cars while I like to modify them so we have a few of each. When we aren't playing with cars we are out working with or showing our miniature donkeys. You can see more about that part of our lives at

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  1. I bought a solid 67 Barracuda with a 72 (I think) 360 with a big cam. Not perfect–just enough required for me to not feel bad about making some changes. $4000 plus shipping from Kansas to NY. That’s a deal. you just have to look.

    PS. the next week, almost bought another, a 71 Ranchero GT/ 351W completely done $3000-thanks to an $800 typo in the listing that they stuck by. I was a day late after pondering what a divorce would do to me, my kids, and my financing. I guess it worked out in the end..

    Moral of the story: Both from poor college kids needing to cash out the father/son projects to survive. Taking advantage? Maybe. But good place for a deal.

  2. You are right on Greg. You are doing what can still be done; look hard and be ready to jump. There are lots of deals out there right now, more than you can take advantage of unless you have really deep pockets! It is just like the real estate market and stock market; if you have done your homework and konw your stuff you can make some great purchases. Congratulations on your find. I had a 67 Barracuda and liked it a lot. They haven’t received the attention of the 70 and up models but they are good cars and are a lot, lot cheaper. Plus it is good to be different.

    Plus, believe it or not; wife and kids are more important than a car!

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