David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
9/14/09 11:01 a.m.

Let’s get one thing straight: Not every car is going to be rehashed in a single weekend. If you’re dreaming of investing a couple of days in a rust-to-race track rebuild, you might want to wake up.

The key is to start with the right car in the right condition—something new enough to be solid, but still old enough to have completely depreciated in value. For the most part, we’re talking about cars that are about 15 or 20 years old.

Since the salvage yard is going to be your friend during this project, it’s also easier to rehash something built in large numbers—or at least a model that’s based on something very common. Sure, you can probably score a decent Mitsubishi Starion hood on eBay, but then you have to get the thing shipped—and that means a nice bill from a trucking company. Save the bucks and get some exercise; go visit your closest salvage yard, and they’ll likely have the same part for a Civic, BMW 3 Series or VW Golf in stock.

Here are a dozen cars that can make easy resto projects. All of them were built in large enough numbers that they’re common on today’s market for two grand or less. They’re also all on the simple side, meaning most work can be done in the garage. And when done, each of them makes a great daily driver or fun weekend toy.

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