Sara Routhier, Managing Editor and Outreach Director, has professional experience as an educator, SEO specialist, and content marketer. She has over five years of experience in the insurance industry. As a researcher, data nerd, writer, and editor she strives to curate educational, enlightening articles that provide you with the must-know facts and best-kept secrets within the overwhelming world o...

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Written by Sara Routhier
Director of Outreach

Joel Ohman is the CEO of a private equity-backed digital media company. He is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, author, angel investor, and serial entrepreneur who loves creating new things, whether books or businesses. He has also previously served as the founder and resident CFP® of a national insurance agency, Real Time Health Quotes. He also has an MBA from the University of South Florid...

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Reviewed by Joel Ohman
Founder, CFP®

UPDATED: Jun 22, 2022

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There’s nothing quite like a classic car. Whether you’re a classic car enthusiast, or an entrepreneur eager to bring back the golden age of vehicles, you’ve probably seriously considered restoring in the very least a car or two.

As enjoyable as restoring classic cars is, it certainly comes with a price. If you’re working on a budget, or perhaps looking to flip a newly restored car for outstanding profit, then there are select group of cars that are recommended over the others. These classic automobiles will turn heads and, more importantly, quench your appetite for some of the largest engines that roar while you take a smooth ride.

In order to come up with this list, we considered a variety of factors. For the average hobby-oriented classic car enthusiast or mechanic just dipping their toes into the restoration market, affordability was a key factor. After all, it doesn’t really matter what cars for sale are available if you’re just stuck looking in the window.

Table – List of Classic Cars Original Price & Approx. Cost After Restoration

Vehicle / YearOriginal Cost / Base PriceRestored Cost (estimate only) or estimated value based on condition.*
Packard (1951 - 1954)$2,548$5,300 - 25,000+ avg
Buick Riviera (1963 - 1965)$4,333$9,400 - $49,100

Ford Model A (1928 - 1931)$500$10,000 to $80,000+ avg
Lincoln Continental (1961 - 1966)$2,812 approx.$12,700 avg
Cadillac (1965 - 1966)$5,419 approx.$13,000 avg
Pontiac Grand Prix (1962)$3,490$14,100 avg
Chevrolet Bel Air (1953 -1954)$1,741$17,200 avg
Pontiac GTO (1971 - 1972)$3,450 - $4,070$18,800 avg
Dodge Challenger (1972 - 1973)$3,082$20,000 avg
Ford Mustang (1964 - 1968)$2,602 - $2,814$20,100 - 250,000+ avg
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*This is the average price for a restored fair to good condition vehicle. Prices will vary.

1965 Buick Riviera
1965 Buick Riviera. Image for use, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

Part availability was also a major component, as classic car restoration with hard-to-find parts could take years and cost an arm and a leg. The cars on this list are all backed by large part supplies, which is why they are appealing for restoration.

If you’re serious about restoring a car, then you’ll find this list incredibly helpful in giving you proper direction to get started on your dream project.

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(1) Buick Riviera (1963-1965)

This car is very fast and powerful for its size. It’s one of the best-designed cars of its era, and as a result, many more people are beginning to collect and restore the Riviera. Many companies now offer replacement parts for this car, making it even more appealing to restore.

2) Chevrolet Bel Air (1953-1954)

The Chevrolet Bel Air is growing in popularity with collectors. The prices are very affordable for parts for this car and the selection is greatly increasing. Numerous high performance upgrades such as disc brake conversions are easily available as well.

3) Pontiac GTO (1971-1972)

1972 Pontiac GTO
1972 Pontiac GTO A very nice and rare Real 1972 Pontiac Lemans GTO

The 1971-’72 models of the GTO are more affordable for the average person, and a more basic restore. If you want to go a little pricier, consider some of the earlier models. There is also a large supply of reproduction parts for this model, along with many other parts to help increase performance of the car. The demand from collectors is steadily increasing for the GTO, which should make it an easy sell with a rising value.

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4) Lincoln Continental (1961-1966)

1966 Lincoln Continental
1966 Lincoln Continental. Image credit:

This is a super popular car with collectors. The upside to the Continental is that it is very affordable. The downside is that restoration parts are limited, but most parts can be found decently easy at a low price. It is not recommended for a first time restore, since these cars were hand assembled, so it may require the help of a professional.

5) Ford Model A (1928-1931)

1928-1931 Ford Model A
1928-1931 Ford Model A

This is one of the best cars for the first time restorer. Although there is a low demand with collectors because it is a readily available car, it is very cost effective to restore. Every part for the car is easily available, and there are plenty of experts who can lend help if needed. Even though you may not make much money restoring this one, it is cheap to do and will still have some potential to turn a profit. The availability of high performance parts for this car is increasing, and adding some of these parts could increase value and interest of buyers.

6) Packard (1951-1954)

1954 Packard Patrician Series 5426
1954 Packard Patrician Series 5426. Image credit:

Packards were some of the best-built cars of the fifties. Most parts can be bought new for a low price, but the body and trim parts may be more difficult to find. There is professional help available from clubs, and they will guide you to find any parts you need. These cars are easy sells, if restored properly.

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7) Ford Mustang (1964-1968)

The mustang is the perfect first time car for restoration because its parts are easily available. You can find the reproduced parts almost anywhere. Early Mustangs are an easy sell and are easy to find to start your job.

1969 Ford Mustang
1969 Ford Mustang

8) Dodge Challenger (1972-1973)

This car has a detailed and appealing look to it. The supply for parts keeps growing, which means that you can turn even the most unfortunate Challenger into a beauty. The problem with this car is that in order for it to have value, it must be restored to the original factory standards.

9) Pontiac Grand Prix (1962)

1962 Pontiac Grand Prix
1962 Pontiac Grand Prix Classic

The popularity of this car never seems to dwindle. There is a good demand for it with collectors. This high power car’s reproduction parts are easily available at decent prices. Although they are a bit more expensive, they are not hard to find, so finding a project will be easy.

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10) Cadillac (1965-1966)

1966 Cadillac Fleetwood Brougham
1966 Cadillac Fleetwood Brougham

The Cadillac is one of the most loved cars, with a luxury interior and a powerful engine. Finding parts is fairly easy, although you may have to settle for used parts in some cases. Some of the trim parts are difficult to find, but all are at reasonable prices. The Cadillac is surprisingly an affordable car as well, so it is also a good starter project.

Now that you’ve been introduced to 10 great cars that are perfect for your next restoration project, pick the one that best suits you and get started!

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