Restoring retro cars isn’t always business. It can also be a great hobby and the opportunity to expand your knowledge about classic automobiles. Most of us have a specific classic car in mind that we’d like to own. However, a major setback and issue that prevents us from doing so is large price tags that these cars can have. Well, to be frank – not all cars are Ferrari 250GTO’s or Mercedes 300 SL’s. There are interesting and affordable retro cars that you can buy and restore.
Disclaimer: in this article, we will only talk about cars made before 1985.
1. Porsche 928
The 928 is a special car in the long and very illustrious history of Porsche. It was a car with one of the longest production spans and was the very first Porsche to have a V8 motor at the front. A lot of people might believe that the 924 or the 944 Turbo is their best choice when it comes to affordable Porsche restoration. However, the latter two are quite common while the 928 is much more exclusive and rarer, meaning your project can become a great investment. Besides, the 928S models pump out 300+HP, meaning they are very fun to drive.
Estimated price for a project car: 7,500-9,000 €
2. Peugeot 205 GTI
When it comes to rally legends the 205 GTI is in the same class as the Audi Quattro, Ford RS2000, Lancia Stratos, Lancia Delta and others. However, it is a lot cheaper to buy and will likely go up in value soon. The car is moderately powered for today’s day an age with somewhere between 105 and 130 HP. The older cars are less powered but they just have that raw rally feel to them. Driving down a windy mountain road in a 205GTI – for a petrol head it can’t get any better than this.
Estimated price for a project car: 4,000-5,000 €
3. Ford Escort RS2000
Yet another rally legend – the Ford Escort RS2000 is powered by a 2litre 110BHP engine. It won Ford the WRC title and established its place amongst the off-road racing greats. Even though it is a lot more expensive than the previous entries on our list, it is that much rarer as well.
Estimated price for a project car: 12,000-15,000 €
4. Ford Ranchero
This one is trickier to find, but only if you are not in the United States. These pickup trucks or pickup utility cars were mostly popular in that part of the world. If you are into auctions or happen to find a Ranchero in Europe, pick it up as a project car. Our advice – look for the V8 powered cars and shy away from Inline 6 engines.
Estimated price for a project car: N/A, varies from 1,500 to 10,000 €
5. Ford Mustang
Continuing with the theme of Fords, the Mustang is peak and a most prized gem for a lot of car collectors and petrolheads. A V8 roaring powerhouse and that muscle car appeal is unmatched by probably any other car in this niche. Besides, Mustangs are so desirable that you can add all kinds of customisations like an individualised steering wheel and dashboard. Curious? Check out this website to find out more. Just remember to look for first or second-gen Mustangs. The third-gen isn’t worth your time, sorry.
Estimated price for a project car: 1,500-7,000 €
6. Fairlady Z
Datsun (Nissan) Z cars are the predecessor for the 350 and 370Z. Back in the late 60s and early 70s, the Datsun Z cars were the peak of Japanese car sex appeal. There are two main cars that you should notice – 240Z and second-gen 280Z. The former had a 2.4 litre 151 HP engine and the latter was powered with a 2.8 litre with 180HP. If you want to be noticed and feel cool, the Fairlady Z is definitely the right car for you.
Estimated price for a project car: 7,000-9,000 €
7. Pontiac Firebird
This muscle car is iconic and has had a ton of modifications over the years, especially what concerns the engine. In general, most Firebirds have a V8 with somewhere around 280-350HP. We recommend seeking the Trans Am models as they are much sexier. Another advice – post-oil crisis (post-1973) models have a significantly reduced power output.
Estimated price for a project car: 5,500-11,000 €
8. Cadillac Eldorado
Eldorado is one of the most luxurious American cars ever. It has been around since 1952 and especially the earlier models were a peak embodiment of the American dream. Owning and driving a land yacht is an experience worth having.
Estimated price for a project car: 5,000-10,000 €
9. Volvo P1800
An exotic sports car from Volvo. Sounds odd, right? However, back in the 60s’ and 70s’, the P1800 was one of the coolest and most intriguing cars in Europe. The most powerful station wagon 1800ES had a 125 BHP engine that allowed this car to be one of the most exciting cars in the world at the time. Used P1800’s parts are quite hard to come by so restoration costs aren’t the smallest, but it’s an amazing project you can undertake nevertheless.
Estimated price for a project car: 4,000-6,000 €
10. Fiat 124 Sport Spider
The old convertible from the 60s and 70s was probably Fiat’s most underappreciated car. Even though the manufacturer is best known for building compact little cars like the 500, the Punto, etc., a 124 Sport Spider was a breath of fresh air. If you happen to find a variant with a 1.8 litre engine with 116HP, you can get the best little Italian sportscar not made by Ferrari, Maserati, Lancia or well, anyone else. With that being said, this is still a great, affordable rebuild project.
Estimated price for a project car: 3,500-5,800 €
11. Jaguar XJS
Made in Coventry, England, the XJ-S was a front-engine, RWD GT car, usually powered with a massive V12. The earlier cars were mighty powerful, producing close to 300 horsepower. It’s definitely a worthy investment, especially if you can revive an old car.
Estimated price for a project car: 4,000-6,000 €