Nearly everyone enjoys seeing a fully restored classic car rolling down the road, a reminder of the “good old days.” Whether the vehicle has been returned to its original factory condition or modified to enhance the performance and demonstrate the owner’s style and preference, a refurbished classic car almost always turns heads.While a restoration project can be an enjoyable pastime, the challenges can be overwhelming. Anyone thinking about taking on the endeavor should consider several factors before beginning.

What makes the chosen car model special?

66 Mustang
via ClassicCars

Undertaking a car restoration might be motivated by several different reasons. The selected vehicle may bring back a car from one’s youth. It may be a dream car from a favorite movie, or pure profit may inspire the project.

Experts suggest passion is the key to a successful restoration. Trevor and Simon Parfitt of Scott Automotive have more than twenty years of experience restoring classic cars. The father and son team claims an emotional connection to the selected classic is what drives the restorer through to completion.

Restoration takes time

While some projects might only require a few weekends dedicated to cleaning and rebuilding an engine, many projects can consume thousands of hours of labor lasting several years.

A restorer must be committed to devoting hours to asking for advice, looking for components, fighting with stubborn parts, rubbing, sanding, and damaging knuckles. Even outsourcing some work requires time to find a knowledgeable and reliable specialist.

The budget may be the deciding factor

Correctly estimating the size and cost of restoration before purchasing the fixer-upper is essential to a successful project. Some models can be restored for as little as $7,000, but they are hard to find. A $20,000 to $30,000 budget opens many more options.

A simple car with plentiful parts and expertise available is the right choice for a small budget project. Costs are lower for a restorer willing to do most of the work. Outsourcing requires a higher budget.

Skill level

Before purchasing a fixer-upper, the restorer should evaluate his or her restoration skills, including mechanical and engine knowledge, machining, welding, and body repair. Weak skills can be made stronger by attending courses at local colleges or online.

What is the restoration objective?

Even before a fixer-upper is selected, the restorer should consider the objective for doing the restoration. If the car will be sold at the completion, the restoration should be treated like any other investment. An accurate estimate of expenses and researching the current market value of the model selected is essential to determine the car’s potential return on investment (ROI).

For a project motivated by other reasons (like restoring the car driven to high school football games and the local A&W root beer stand on a Saturday night), the budget may not be as important.

Numerous classic car models make excellent restoration projects no matter what objectives motivate the restorer.

However, here’s why the 1965-1968 Ford Mustang Coupe is the best choice for a fixer-upper.

Selecting the Right Mustang for Restoration is Key

GT Cars are a good choice for restoration
Via: Premier Auction Group

No matter the motive for restoring a Mustang, the savvy restorer should select a model that collectors look for and make the improvements as if maximum resale value is the goal. Even if the owner has no intention of selling the refurbished car when starting the project, conditions may change. Sentimental value is nearly impossible to sell, but an authentic rebuild of a model sought after by collectors will sell quickly at a higher price.

To get the best restoration project ROI, the first-generation Mustangs prior to 1970 (1965-1968 being the best years) offer the most payback. These models are rare, long gone from junkyards, and hard to find in the average newspaper (or Craig’s List) classified section.

Standard Model, GT, and Shelby Mustang Rebuilds

In the 1960s, Ford offered the Mustang in several Trim and Options Packages. While the standard model could be purchased with just the basic equipment, the original buyer could also order the car from the factory equipped with high-performance options. A standard version Mustang fitted with the right options would easily outperform a Shelby Mustang at nearly half the price.

Although a restorer can add performance equipment to a standard model, the resale value will pale compared to the same model with original factory options.

GT Cars are a good choice because they are usually the best-outfitted models. They are often fitted with a higher-grade interior, top and bottom consoles, and pony seat covers. The exteriors featured stainless trim parts like side body moldings and upgraded wheels.

The best restoration investment is in the Shelby Mustang. Although it was not the best performer for the price, the racing stigma makes it desirable among collectors.

A Mustang Can Be Restored on a Budget

A Mustang restoration requires a garage and automotive tools
Via: Pacific Classics

For the beginner, a classic Mustang restoration should be a fun and satisfying process that can be accomplished on a budget.

The project will take time. Experts estimate the average restoration requires 1,000 hours, many of which are spent searching for parts. However, the novice can keep costs to a minimum by following a few recommendations.

Selecting a partially restored Mustang

The amount of work required, and money spent on any restoration obviously depends upon the car’s condition. Selecting a partially resorted Mustang, one that the owner lacks the time or money to finish, dramatically reduces the rebuild costs, but a higher purchase price is usually required.

Refurbishing or purchasing replacement parts

Salvaging some of the parts already on the Mustang and its engine is less expensive than buying replacements. Vehicle salvage centers (junkyards) are a good source for inexpensive scrapped parts. Members of online car collector groups often offer cheap Mustang replacement parts.

DIY projects meet low budget goals

The best method to restore a Mustang on a budget is by doing the work yourself. However, it requires a garage or other location shielded from the weather. A full set of auto tools, the Mustang owner’s manual, other instruction books, and lots of experience or access to a Mustang specialist, are necessary.

Outsourcing labor tasks are expensive and can quickly break the budget.

Replacement Parts are Readily Availability

Red Mustang on jack stands
Via: Ford Authority

Replacement parts availability is good for all Mustang models, although some convertible and fastback sections are more difficult to restore. The aftermarket offers a plethora of Mustang parts, and used components can be found from other sources.

CJ Pony Parts says, “the most costly repairs will be related to the chassis, bodywork, and paint. Even minor bodywork costs can add up quickly.”

A Mustang that has a bent frame, been severely damaged, or is rusted through, will be significantly more expensive than one with “good bones.”

Glass for some models may be difficult to find. As an example, quarter vent windows can run well over $200 each.

Conducting an inventory of required replacement parts on any Mustang restoration project is essential for estimating the total restoration cost.

Return on Investment for a Restored Mustang

Shelby Mustang
Via: Mustang Specs

Trade Unique Cars says: “Ford’s iconic Mustang was a triumph of clever packaging and marketing – the right car at the right time. Technically, it was a very conventional piece of machinery. But add some power and take them racing, and you had the start of the pony car era.” The classic Ford Mustang website goes on to say, “There’s no doubt these things have generally been a solid investment for their owners.”