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Purchasing a Project

Purchasing a Project Published: 24th Apr 2018 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

Purchasing a Project
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Before you decide on what classic to make even better than brand new, speak to the relevant owners’ clubs for advice and tips.

Visit as many shows as practicable this year and talk to owners who have been there, done that and lived to tell the tale. They may even know of cars that suit your requirements. In general terms, it’s best, and perhaps cheaper, to buy a vehicle with a sound body but worn mechanical parts than the other way round because this is where most of the budget will go on.

Yes, it’s project – but still treat buying one just like purchasing any second-hand car. Are documents such as the V5C registration document included? If not, you are going to have to sort out legal ownership with the DVLA and that’s a hassle you don’t need…

Basically, there are three types of restorations: light, involved and the basket case although it mostly depends on your levels of skill, experience and above all else – enthusiasm and dedication for the task which will be the decider.

Light restorations generally implies that not a lot more than a bit of TLC is required. Nothing too bad or costly hopefully, and it can even be used and enjoyed while a running restoration is taking place although it’s usually better to lay the car up and get stuck in.

The term involved means just that. Adverts proclaiming “would suit enthusiast” is the classic car equivalent to estate agent jargon and you shouldn’t underestimate what needs to be done, even if it’s still a legal runner.

However, that’s nothing compared to a basket case, which is a wreck – full stop – and is better considered once you have a few restos under your belt and feel a bit more adventurous!

A fair compromise is to consider a ‘part restoration’. This is where a project has stalled for a variety of reasons. Often as not, a lot of time and money has been spent already on the vehicle and you can snap up a real bargain with most of the hard work sorted out already.

Or why not consider buying two cars to make one good ’un? Say you find a good Triumph Spitfire or Midget that’s falling to bits but good mechanically; you search for bodily good one with poor oily bits and simply swap them over, saving you time and, in most cases, money – a perfect way to ease yourself to the game. Don’t limit yourself to like-forlike either; you can build a nice Herald or Minor out of these sports cars, too, for example, plus have a copious amount of spares left over.

When conducting any deal, check to see if any other spares are included – after all, if they are getting rid of the car, they won’t need them, will they – and see that a V5C and keys are also present and correct.

Let’s end on a word of warning. Don’t procrastinate! While you should never rush the job or make it an act of duty, it’s a stark fact proven time and time again, that if you haven’t made decent headway with the project within the first three months or so, then it’s odds on that you’ll never see it through to the bitter end…

Best buys


Should be the cheapest route plus you get to meet the owner who may be now desperate to sell – but why? Check all the relevant papers


Dealers often have projects to sell for a variety of reasons, like a trade-in or cancelled order as many traders can source a car for you


You can snap real bargains here (such as Beaulieu) but you must know your stuff plus you’re bidding against others. Do a few dry runs first of all

Top five tips

Small steps

For your first restoration, it’s best to choose a classic that’s relatively simple and cost-effective to restore so you gain confidence. Rare cars will be a pain to source parts for and you may end up disillusioned and out of pocket with the hobby

Reality check

At the end of the day it’s just an old car, so don’t rush and buy the first you see. Unless it’s a real rarity, there are usually plenty on sale so treat it as just another car that you are buying – if possible!

On the run

While many have carried out a ‘running restoration’ with success, it’s far easier to lay the car up and get stuck in. A half-hearted job is going to be a waste of time and money in the long run

Level of difficulty

Deciding what level of restoration to tackle largely depends on how much time, energy and money you can devote to it. Don’t set unreasonable targets that won’t be met and never lose sight of the fact that this is supposed to be a hobby


Don’t think of a DIY resto simply as a means to save your hard earned because it probably won’t. A good rule is to calculate a budget – and then double it!

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