The big story Buying a classic project
Any classic saved is one more welcome scrapyard survivor
‘Projects add real personality to any sale’
Project cars – some of which end up landed with the ‘ barn-find’ moniker – have proved increasingly popular in the past few years. From slightly shabby cars in need of a bit of paint and interior tidy-up, to the downright down-at-heel, projects offer a great way into old-car ownership.
In some cases it’s a way of getting a car that would be otherwise unaffordable, while DIY buyers will be looking at a car where they might not be able to tackle all the work, and farm out the rest.
Projects of all ages add a touch of real personality to any sale: from the pre-war once-glamorous luxury saloon to a rotten Morris Minor, plenty of classics are crying out for some form of resurrection and, consequently, salvation. And any classic saved is one that’s not scrapyard-bound.
Recent classic projects that fired particular interest among buyers were the 1967 Aston Martin DB6 that Historics at Ascot sold for a cool £147,840 and a 1950 Lagonda 2.6 drophead (Bonhams, Aston Martin Works sale) that found a buyers for a rather more affordable £19,550.
As with so many luxury cars from smaller manufacturers, restoration costs can be high, and these prices need to be taken into account when looking at a project car. Mechanical work is expensive, but often isn’t as dear as sorting out rotten panels and chassis. In the case of some sports cars, the tubular frame on which the body panels are mounted can push restoration costs to astronomical levels that won’t be recovered come sale time.
Complexity and cost shouldn’t deter would-be owners from having a go, but for the buyer farming all the work out or the DIYer tackling most of the work it’s important to have at least some idea of how much work will be needed, from pricing replacement panels to knowing what the hourly rate is at the specialist
firm who is taking on the restoration work.
On a more affordable level than the aforementioned Aston Martin and Lagonda models, Brightwells’ last auction saw a 1958 Morris Minor two-door sell for £1110. It looked tidy, but if the paint-stripper revealed poor panels there would be no worry about having to resort to a specialist panel maker, thanks to the Minor’s first-class spares support
The same sale saw a 1969 Jaguar E-type project sell for £6600 – a price low enough to kick off its much-needed restoration.
Brightwells’ star project proved that you can still bag an E-type for less than £7000.