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Top Ten Affordable Project Cars

Got A Hole In Your Pocket? You Don't Need To Be A Millionaire To Have A Cool Sled. Check Out These Affordable Project Cars.

Photography by , Marty Stromberger, Mike Yoksich

There are guys out there who will drop $15,000 on a rusted-out '67 Camaro body, but we don't want to know them. Our friends usually think more and spend less when it comes to scoring fast and cool. We can take advantage of cash-drained times like these, as hoarders of muscle car-era sheetmetal are sometimes forced to lighten their loads to pay for mortgages, alimonies, or their next tender. That opens the door for guys with a little less coin to get in on some sweet deals on project fodder if they know what they're looking at. As the prices for the really good stuff drops, pressure is applied to the dork who thinks his '80 wagon is worth 10K, making market prices dip there as well. So flash your cash at some of these prime pickin's.

No. 10: Cheap '65 to '72 Cadillacs
If ever there were a time to swipe a Cad project, it's now. There is virtually zero niche interest in these cars, as they are ignored universally by the tattooed rat-rod welder, the numbers-correct Barrett-Jackson broker, and the street/strip guy for fear of their sheer density and lack of double-sized spots for power parking.

But just because they are big doesn't mean they aren't great. Big cars have big factory engines, and cubes make power. Skip the expensive N/A builds and go right for the power-adders. Turbos, centrifugals, and nitrous spell huge grunt from huge inches, and these cars have the transmission guts and rearend beef to take it. We recommend you try the '65 to '75 Cads, since these cars were honored with having the best power-to-weight ratio of any base-model domestic car in 1965--and they were the first and only American passenger cars to enjoy a factory 500-inch powerplant.

Buy!
'65 to '75 Calais, De Ville, and Fleetwood

Avoid!
'67-and-later Fleetwood Eldorado, '75-and-later Seville

No. 9: '75 to '79 X-Body Drag Cars
Want to practice your tubbing skills? Try a wrong-year Nova, Omega, Ventura, or Skylark. The V-8 cars are so cheap you won't have to do the six-to-eight swap. Plus, aftermarket second-gen Camaro front end parts and '67 to '74 Camaro/Nova rearend parts bolt right on.

Classifieds Quick Peek
We jumped on Craigslist Los Angeles to see what was available as this was written. All three of the cars we found were clean runners: a '75 Nova with a 454 and a four-speed, $3,800; a '77 Nova with a 305/auto, $2,000; a '77 Skylark, mint with 52,000 miles, 350/auto, $1,800.

The Freak show AMC
Yup, they're still out there, and yes, they are still cheap. Despite our attempts to glorify Brand X with the CC/Rambler '67 AMC Rambler American project car, people still ask what is wrong with us. We have no money. There, we said it. If you want to get attention and burn smoky donuts in front of interested teenagers, get into an AMC.

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