Are “Basket Case” Cars Worth Restoring?

In the field of automobile restoration, the term “basket case” means different things to different people. In general, it refers to a car that, no matter how amazing it once was, may be past the point of saving. If you truly love muscle cars, you may be able to see the promise in a basket case. However, it’s important to know when to walk away.

Recognizing a Basket Case

A basket case car needs more restoration and repair work than any other. It could be damaged, rusted through, broken or even in pieces. Some parts may be missing entirely, and chances are it won’t run. If you have enough restoration experience to deal with these issues and you come across a basket case muscle car you can’t resist, be careful as you consider whether or not to buy.

Understanding the Cost

There’s no getting around the fact that restoring one of these vehicles requires a large budget. The car itself is likely to be the cheapest muscle car you’ve ever bought, but the total cost depends on how many parts it needs, how hard those parts are to find, the amount of bodywork necessary and the condition of the mechanical components. Know beforehand if you have the time and money to invest in the complete restoration.

Asking Questions

Purchasing a basket case to restore can be tricky. Look over the car and discuss your concerns with the seller. Find out if any parts are missing, if the existing parts are original and if there has been any extensive work done on the vehicle in the past. Do your research to make sure you’re getting a good deal and that the seller isn’t trying to pass off what they have as more than it really is.

Being Safe

In many instances, basket case cars are past the point of being drivable. However, if you do find one that has all the parts it needs to run, make sure to test it in a safe place. Pay attention and get an idea of how the engine and brakes work to determine how much restoration they will need.

Following a Plan

If your basket case muscle car isn’t already in pieces, you’re probably going to have to take it apart. Getting it back together is like solving a jigsaw puzzle. You need to keep track of everything and have a clear picture of how you want the restoration to turn out. Divide the job into manageable sections and work through one at a time to avoid feeling overwhelmed.

If at any point the restoration becomes more than you can handle on a personal or financial level, it’s time to call it quits. Though bringing a basket case muscle car back to life is rewarding, you have to know when to disengage and move on.