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Discussion Starter #1
Hey all,

I run a high school auto shop program and an idea we have tossed around is getting a few older cars to restore next year as a year long project. The different parts of the restoration would be broken down in different class periods and there would be different groups for each car.

Regardless of the dynamics of the restoration, we'd like to find some cars that we could sell for more than we put into them, or at least to recoup our costs so that we can do it again the following year. Considering all labor is free, I figured this would not be hard, as long as we find cars that have decent resale values, and that we could find parts relatively easily and cheaply. I must say that mustang fastback would probably be one of the best candidates considering that they really take as much money to restore as a coupe, but the value when done would be significantly higher. I do realize that there aren't tons of cheap project fastbacks out there, but I'll have a whole summer to hunt around for the right deal.

Either way, though I know this is the mustang forum, I was wondering if you guys could suggest any other cars that would be a good candidate for this project. I kinda thought it'd be cool to have a muscle car from each make- Ford, Chevy, Dodge. But I know I might not be able to find a good candidate for all three. I think the big thing I want to avoid is getting a car that I find out is impossible to find parts for. We're working on a Javelin right now, which isn't all that easy to get parts for, and in the end will not be worth as much as other cars.

Any general suggestions would be great too. I'm thinking that we'll want to look for cars that sell in the 10k-20k range. Then we can hopefully spend 1-4k on the car, and see how far another 6-10k can get us in parts. Being a school we do qualify for a lot of discounts, which helps. I can get anywhere from 10-70% off on O'Reilly's products. Anyway, I'd love to hear all of your ideas. Thanks!
 

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Aren't there a lot of fastback-specific parts that will drive the restoration cost significantly higher? I woul think especially if you were getting one in that price range, it's going to need a lot of work. I'd think you could get a solid V8 coupe, and with free labor, be at least able to break even. Parts are easy to find, and the cars themselves are easy to work on.

I guess what I'm saying is that if I were just starting this idea, I'd want something that has the lowest risk for a large loss, to see if it was possible. Buy a solid coupe for $2K, put $6K - $8K in parts into it, and with quality labor I'd imagine you could get $10K for it. I just picture a fastback project being much more expensive and setting you up for a big loss in the long run.
 

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Hey Teach,

Congratulations to you. I think the kids can learn a ton from the whole process.

Buying, fixing cars in my youth shaped who I am today. Instead of working my minimum wage job at $2.50 an hour gross, I found that I could make $1000 tax free in a month or less if I bought, fixed and sold a car right. The economics of the deal and keeping track of every penny spent really formed my business mind and put me way ahead of all my other teenage friends in the world of buiness later in life. So, good for you, you can really teach your kids fantastic life (and auto) lessons in your class.

The biggest decision is what car to buy and then buying the right car at the right price, so you are asking the right questions. The best thing to do is to work backwards. Look at what cars are selling for in your area that would be equivalent to your car when completed. Rarely do you see coupes sell for over $15K and most nice coupes sell for under $10k. You can usually add $10K to an equivalent fastback vs. coupe, and perhaps $8K for a convertible model.

Your thought on starting with a fastback is a great thought as there are very few unique and non-reproduced parts (I have a list). One of my lessons I learned is when I restored a 65 Falcon. It would have cost the same to restore a GT350 as my Falcon, but in the end nobody was willing to pay a large premium for a very nice Falcon. Finding a FB at a price that would work in the end will be the challenge. You should really pursue having a car donated. Put a list of cars you want and take the story to the news paper. There are a lot of these cars taking up space in the garage and you never know what you might get.

Besides a vintage mustang, a 240Z might be a good target car. I will think of more and post later.
 

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Is your shop set up for body repair (ie welding, media blasting, sanding) and painting? Most of the really cheep projects have major rust or body damage. This is the most expensive and time consuming part of restoration. That is why for the rare desireable classic models that you see at auctions for $$$$, just a clean body shell can cost alot.
A good paint job can also be one of the most expensive things to have done by a professional. A properly permitted paint booth with ventilators can be expensive too.
If you don't have the budget for the equipment, an alternative might be to find less desireable models with good body and paint that needs serious mechanical work. Or a (already painted) project that the owner didn't have time to put back together. And you probably can still sell them for at least cost or a modest profit when class is over.
 

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Sounds like a good and really cool program for the kids.

Other than fastback Mustangs, some projects you might consider would be 60s and early 70s (up to 1972) Chevelles and GTOs. You can buy a base Chevelle for a reasonable price and do a SS clone. Buy a Lemans and do a GTO clone. Base model Camaros are also fairly inexpensive, then restore as a RS, SS, or Z28 clone.

Same with Mopar. Take some base models, and restore them as Roadrunner, Charger, Super Bee, and GTX clones.

Whatever you guys do, I hope things work out well for you all. Keep us updated. Sounds like a fun class.
 

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Best "bang-for-the-buck" and profit potential is a coupe.
C-Code V-8 2bbl's are the cheapest to fix up and easiest to sell.
6's are a little harder to sell and cost almost as much.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
We have all of the equipment and funding that we'd need as far as paint and body goes. We've got some experienced (farm boy) welders and anything they'd need. The Ag teacher even told me today that he'd make a couple rotisseries if we needed them. Paint and body would be a large part of our restoration.

I am already thinking about the reverse engineering of this project. Looking at cars that sell in the range I want, and then researching the availability and price of parts. And I own ad have restored a 67 fastback. I found that there are only a few parts that are specific to it. One big thing that I learned is that you should never pay for parts that you are going to replace. My mustang was a daily driver, but since everything was somewhat tainted and needed replacing, I paid for the quality of a daily driver, and replaced most of the parts anyway. I might as well had bought one that was missing the parts. BUT, it had the folding seat, and interior and exterior vents/panels. So I have the big ticket fastback items.

I've done few restorations,l so I don't see a problems in making it profitable. Though I have mostly done mustangs, so I'm now trying to find other good alternatives. My brother suggested that we keep an eye out for chargers, they sell for a pretty penny even at the base model and can be found for 3k. 68+ corvettes would be decent as well. Though I am not as aware of the part costs for wither of those.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Best "bang-for-the-buck" and profit potential is a coupe.
C-Code V-8 2bbl's are the cheapest to fix up and easiest to sell.
6's are a little harder to sell and cost almost as much.
I still think fastbacks are the way to go (or convertibles). Assuming you can find one with the hard to find parts, it'd cost almost the exact same in restoration costs. Your cost for the car will be higher, but I'm not planning on paying retail, I'm looking for a wholesale car deal.
 

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Maybe a little VW bug? They're air cooled, simple, they are appealing to woman and some men, and they're usually in decent condition for under 1k. People just assume that because they're German vehicles that they are complex. Just make sure when you find the car it isn't missing any, or alot of parts. That way you can resell it cheap but still make some money back.

Maybe an old f100 truck from the 50's, also can be had for cheap, just a single bench seat to reupholster, and they're is usually alot of parts for them at junk yards, like engines, transmission, and rear ends.

Inexpensive projects you can resell for cheap, but make money back, cars that students/ parents can afford. After all they're probably going to be the ones most interested in the vehicles your students build.

I don't really see a student built car selling for above 10k honestly, that's more in the professional restoration area. Most people spend twice that amount paying for professional work and take a loss when reselling, so you have to take that in consideration.

I'd say it'd be best to start real low, and if things work out very well, then you can start spending a little more money on project cars. Don't want to cough up 13k on a finished project car, and have offers that top off at only 9k. Work your way up slowly and see how much people are willing to pay, for the work your students can execute.

Also do plenty of research, as noted above, about the current market values of the vehicles your considering to restore. So you can have a rough estimate, to know if the project is feasible.
 

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Generally there are two ways to make a profit, volume or quality.

When you restore a classic you inevitably run into a half dozen(minimum) unexpected items that increase both the time and cost required. This alone eliminates volume as a profit model.

Quality relies on having customers willing to pay significantly more than the value of the materials and labor. You must have some combination of an extremely rare car, high sentimental value to the customer, or a rare capability of the shop. But, Pebble Beach cars don't go to students for the obvious reasons.

I think you are focusing on the wrong aspect. You are not looking for a cool car, you are looking for the best cost to benefit ratio. I think your best bet is getting lucky with donations. Donations of vehicles, parts, guest instructors(a car is worth more if Vic Edelbrock worked on it and signed it, right?), tools, and fund raising. My suggestion... ignore the car, and focus on the cost benefit exclusively. If any amateur could make money restoring a cool old car, everyone on this forum would be rich.
 

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You might want the class to evaluate various aspects of restoring/fixing up cars.
o Used and reproduction parts availiblity. A good deal on a project car is not
a good deal if parts aren't availible.
o Is a project car likely at our budgeted starting cost. For example 65-68 Mustang fastback for $4000 is likely to be scrap heap.

Evaluate what can reasonably done at the school. Painting would IMO be a big potential issue. Many car people do there own painting, they develope the skill and do a fantasic job. In many cases the municipality would not allow it if it was publicly known. It would be educational if the students research this.

You may want to treat the class as though it's a resto shop. Keep track of labor hours spent on each part of the project. Then go through the figuring of actual cost/hour, actual total cost.

Wish they would have had a class like this when I went to high school.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Well, we've painted cars before and they have came out pretty nice. We typically select the best students to do the final spray, while everyone contributes to bodywork.

Anyway, any other car suggestions for something that sells high, but has a decent part availability. I'm also more interested in parts availability than price. Expensive parts can be budgeted, nonexistent ones are a bit harder.
 

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I still think fastbacks are the way to go (or convertibles). Assuming you can find one with the hard to find parts, it'd cost almost the exact same in restoration costs.
I agree. And then, obviously, the return will be much better on the fastback. No offense intended. It's just that the sheer numbers of coupes produced dictate that.
 

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While the 64-70 fastbacks do have high demand and a higher resale value, the problem is exactly because they are in such demand. You'll either pay a ton up front to get a solid car, or get into a project that's so deep that the guys you're trying to inspire might never see the end result. A lot of the available 64-70 fastbacks that are affordable will need both quarters, cowl work, frame rails etc., etc..

So for classic mustangs I think a coupe would work best if looking a 1970 or older. Now a nice 73 fastback in good shape might be affordable and available.

I like the idea of going through a classic truck. Trucks are affordable and there is a solid aftermarket source of parts for them, Ford, Chevy, whatever. And a side bonus is they are stupid easy to frame off the bed and cab. You could even do some old school weathered looking logo on the door using the name of the school. So if the school was named Smithville High, then make a logo saying Smithville Speed Shop or something similar. It would give the guys a chance to do some detailed paint work, and you could even make up T-shirts with the logo for the whole team. What a feeling of pride that would give them.
 

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Definitely a GM product from the mid-60s to about 72.

I'm thinking Chevy II's, Chevelles, Novas, maybe even Camaro's.

Any of these could be transformed into a clone SS/Big Block variant for cheap.

How about an Olds into a 442?
A Buick into a GS455?
 

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Discussion Starter #16 (Edited)
ATaylor- I like the ideas.

As for the cost of a fastback project, leave that up to me. Couple years back (just a couple) we picked up a 67 fastback than ran and drove, minimal rust damage... $600. Complete too. Is that typical... no... But being a teacher, I have all summer to skulk around people's barns... I know where a 71 Mach 1 429scj is sitting at this time. Last I talked to the owner he thought it was worth $3k in it's current condition. Though, it is in decent shape. Just all taken apart.

Deals are out there. I buy wholesale, I never pay sticker price for a car. You just need a motivated seller. This is why I am trying to figure out the cars that fit my mold. Sell between 10-20k, have available parts. Which is why I would not be able to restore a 1967 Ferrari 275... Because upholstering the seats would eat our whole budget.

Anyway, I appreciate the advice and ideas everyone is giving. My short list looks like this-

Mustang converts and fastbacks
Camaro
Charger
Roadrunner
Chevelle
442
GTO
Older Firebird
Maybe a Cougar XR7
Corvette, depending...

Or maybe even some older hotrod style cars.

Edit- A Cuda
 

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68+ corvettes would be decent as well. Though I am not as aware of the part costs for wither of those.
I have a 69 Corvette and my brother has a 72. The good thing is most every part is reproduced. The bad is that what you are used to paying for a Mustang part, the Corvette equivalent is often 2 or 3x the price. To restore the interior is probably 4x as much as a Mustang and a c3 doesn't even have a back seat. Another consideration is that Corvette value is very closely tied to originality. For instance you can buy a generic replacement fuel pump for $30 but a reproduction of the original fuel pump is available for $180. There's only a handful of people would be able to tell the difference but little things like that make the thousands of dollars of difference in price. I think the early c3s, the chrome bumper cars, represent a pretty good value, but if you were going to restore one with intention to make a profit, you'd need to pay close attention to NCRS standards. That may be more of a challenge than you want for a high school shop class.

For money back potential, I kinda like the "clone" idea or what some folks call a "tribute" car. Many of the special parts and badges that made a car a special edition are now available in Taiwanese reproduction. While they don't bring the money of the real deal, they sell for a lot more than what the base car would sell for. A "tribute" even allows a little more leeway in that you're just going for the look, but could use generic motor and driveline parts out of say the Summit catalog. That would likely net you more of those "discounts" or even some donated parts.
 

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Best "bang-for-the-buck" and profit potential is a coupe.
C-Code V-8 2bbl's are the cheapest to fix up and easiest to sell.
6's are a little harder to sell and cost almost as much.
Absolutely do not get a coupe or a six cylinder. Costs just as much to restore as a vert or fastback and not worth NEARLY as much when done. Bite the bullet and get a vert or fastback project.

And make it a great color combo (red/red is a good one) and restomod it slightly (disc brakes, GT look). "Eyeball" goes a long way.
 

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I know where a 71 Mach 1 429scj is sitting at this time. Last I talked to the owner he thought it was worth $3k in it's current condition. Though, it is in decent shape. Just all taken apart.
There's your project right there. If you can get that for 3K, do it. It's been awhile since I looked at the value of these, but last time I did, they weren't too far behind Boss 351's.
 

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Wish that I had an auto shop class around here that did stuff like this! (Hell, wish I'd taken an auto shop class at all in high school...)

Agreed on the coupe thing - better to go for a vert IMO. Fastbacks are hard to find in good shape for a low price. Though they do have a higher resale value than verts, I think that verts would probably be the best of both worlds. Easier to find, cheaper, but still a pretty high resale value. Just my $.02

As for other cars besides Mustangs... I don't know much about classics outside of Mustangs (yet), but a GTO clone, a Vette, or a Chevelle would probably do pretty well. Lots of parts for those ones, not really high priced. Cuda's are pretty dang expensive these days from what I've been told.
 
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