Jay Leno is an avid car collector; he has three airplane hangars filled with cars. Protecting your classic car with an airplane hangar will not be an option for most people. (A high-quality car cover from CarCoverWorld.com is a more affordable option for most car owners actually.) But just because Leno has the money to buy the rarest, most valuable cars in the world, doesn't mean he's a car snob. “People always say, 'Buy the best car you can afford.' That's nice…if you're rich.” You don't have to buy a spotless, multiple-concourse-winning example to have some fun in this hobby though. “A friend of mine has a Bugatti. It's completely rotted out. You couldn't possibly restore it. But he bought it, and now he's in the Bugatti Club. His car is literally a burned-out hulk. It would take millions to restore it. But he can say he's got a Bugatti. He rescued it.”
A vintage Ford Mustang or Plymouth Barracuda is not going to sell for millions of dollars like the Bugatti (the 1936 Bugatti is said to be the most valuable car in the world. There were only three made and only two are intact). But it can still be a worthwhile investment. It is without a doubt a worthwhile project for restoration. Even if it won't be in a classic car museum, you will turn heads as you drive down the road once every weekend.
If your idea of a classic car is a Ferrari, Bugatti, or Rolls-Royce, you may find that collecting and restoring is intimidating and pricey. But if you refine your definition to include muscle cars and other made-in-America vehicles, you will that entry into this world is possible. No, you may not be playing on the same field as Jay Leno, but you're playing. Here is some restorable car project advice as well as some tips for finding collectible classic cars:
- Everyone wants a convertible. So look for four doors and sedans. They are not as “desirable” for collectors as two doors and coupes. But a classic is a classic. Wouldn't you love a four door Chevy Nova?
- Try more commonly produced and less commonly collected cars, including the four door Chevy Nova or Ford Falcon. These were mass-produced, which lowers the collectors' value, but again, a classic is a classic, and restoring a 1968 Ford Mustang to its glory is every bit as satisfying as tuning up a Ferrari.
- As Jay Leno advises, don't be a snob. You can find treasures in unexpected places, whether it is a burned out Bugatti or a fully restored Camaro.
If nothing else, buying and restoring a classic car is a tremendously satisfying hobby. The key to getting a good deal and starting your restoration career off on the right foot is knowledge. Know about muscle cars, know average retail prices, know where to go for information and where to go for sales. Redefining “classic” to fit a wider variety of cars opens up the field of car collecting for many more people. Even if you want to move on to Bugattis and Ferraris, start with Fords and Chevrolet classic cars. They'll give you the experience you need – and you'll love taking a car back to its prime.