While attending Spring Carlisle I saw quite a few great cars in the car corral and quite a few nice project car opportunities as well. In fact, most of the cars at Sprng Carlisle were great examples or very fairly priced driver-level vehicles.
Despite the overall exceptional quality of most of the cars for sale, I also saw the kinds of cars that a person should never even consider as cars to restore or refurbish. These are those “projects” that put you irretrievably upside down financially from the day you buy it.
I see this quite a bit at car swap meets, but never have I seen so many cars that friends should never let friends buy. These are all cars that if you are considering, you should just say no and run, not walk away. Not only were these cars all complete messes, they were also priced quite high.
Remember: When you see that potential project at the next swap meet you attend to really take a long look at the car and determine for yourself if it has potential as a restoration candidate or if it merely a parts car.
The first just say no car was a Plymouth Satellite. This car was described as having a nice body but I would hate to see what the seller thinks a bad body looks like. It was also missing an engine, transmission, various front end components and a lot of interior trim. But the most astounding thing was the $5,900 asking price.
Next is another Mopar, this time a 1964 Plymouth Barracuda. I love the first-generation Barracuda but found no love for this car whatsoever. The seller said the car had no title but failed to discuss the prodigious amount of rust that was everywhere we looked. The price was a bit more reasonable at $1,800, but you would have to spend 10 times that amount to get this car to the driver level.
Next is this 1968 “undocumented” Camaro Z28. Now what exactly is an “undocumented” Z28. I suspect that it is a Camaro that the owner was told was a Z28 but is just a standard Camaro. This car is missing the Z28 302 V8 engine, transmission, interior and most of the chrome. The owner was asking a staggering $7,000.
Our next “winner” was this 1984 Pontiac Firebird, a complete disaster with rust everywhere, extensive body damage and an interior with no salvageable parts. The car did not run, was in various shades of paint and primer, and was at best a parts car, yet was priced at $3,000.
The best of the worst award goes to a 1969 El Camino. Even the president of the EL Camino club would run from this one. Literally every piece of sheet metal was completely rusted and we think that the paint was the only think holding the body together. The lack of most of the interior was also a definite issue as well. Asking price: $3,200.
Winner and champion of bad ideas for project cars was, sadly, a 1957 Corvette. This Vette had extensive body issues, no engine or gearbox, no interior but it did have accident history which “restyled” the front end a bit. It was also missing practically every single bit of chrome trim, the exception being the windshield frame. The punch line as that the seller wanted $13,500. To add insult to injury, in the car corral area you could buy a nice driver-level C2 model for $32,000.
Andy Reid's first car, purchased at age 15, was a 1968 Fiat 124 coupe. His second, obtained by spending his college savings fund, was a 1966 Ferrari 330 GT 2+2. Since then, he has owned more than 150 cars—none of them normal or reasonable—as well as numerous classic motorcycles and scooters. A veteran of film, television, advertising and helping to launch a few Internet-based companies, Reid was a columnist for Classic Motorsports magazine for 12 years and has written for several other publications. He is considered an expert in European sports and luxury cars and is a respected concours judge. He lives in Canton, Connecticut.