How Much Money Can You Make Restoring Cars?

Even if you love cars for their own sake, you don’t flip cars for the fun of it, but for profit. Still, the question remains – how much money can you make, and how can you project and maximize profits?

Investing and Restoring

The first thing that needs to be clear in this regard is that as with so much of life, when it comes to flipping cars, you need to spend money to make money. That means that, whatever you might yield from certain cars, as described below, not all of that revenue can be considered profit.

What’s more, not every car costs as much to restore. We’ll break down specific models and restoration parts below, but overall, you’re looking at thousands of dollars at least in expenses.

It is also worth noting that labor costs don’t come inexpensive, either. Unless you’ll be restoring the car entirely on your own, you’ll need to pay others to help you. Once again, how much this costs obviously depends on who you hire and for how long. Car garage prices are incredibly various, so anything from a few hundred to a few thousand could be feasible – and that’s just for hiring one expert, let alone if they have assistants to help them.

Still, that expertise is definitely something to be on the lookout for, as it can dramatically alter the quality of the restoration job but also its overall cost. The best experts in their fields tend to make more money than the average, and car experts are no exception. Moreover, there are plenty of experts who “specialize” in a certain type or brand of car. For example, there are a ton of Ford Mustang experts out there who are great at restoring Mustangs from across the decades. The same holds true for classic Chevys as well as muscle cars, which are a bit more limited to a specific time, such as Camaros.

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If you are restoring a hybrid or SUV, your chances of needing high-level expertise to do so are much lower. These cars tend to sell for a few thousand dollars on the resale market, so you should expect to flip them for that much and make a modest profit. The way to make money off of this kind of car flipping isn’t by selling SUVs and hybrids at exorbitant prices but by selling a lot of them.

However, if you are looking to flip luxury cars, the situation is completely reversed. In that case, you are probably looking to sell an in-demand classic or luxury vehicle to a richer buyer and thus make a higher profit in the process.

This underscores a final point to keep in mind here, which is that the audience to which you are selling matters as much to your prospects for profits as the cars themselves. If you are selling to families or soccer moms, chances are you aren’t selling to people who can afford to pay tens of thousands of dollars, especially for a vehicle that’s used and has been restored. These kinds of sales are best left to collectors and lovers of specific classic cars. However, that same audience of richer buyers would obviously have no need for a $7,000 restored Honda Civic, whereas a cash-strapped soccer mom looking to avoid huge costs might leap at the chance.

Evaluating Different Elements

One of the most important things to consider when restoring a car is the quality of the part you are using. While you always want to use the best parts possible, that doesn’t always correlate to the most expensive parts. Sure, you get what you pay for, but there is such a thing as overpaying for a part.

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Let’s say that you are looking to replace a chassis. This is a relatively common need for older cars, as chassises can start to rust over time. Prices for replacements can start at just around $100 and can get as high as $2,500. That’s a pretty big range. What should you choose? Ultimately, it depends on the quality of the actual chassis in front of you and how well it fits in with the car you are restoring. You don’t want to spend a ton of money on a chassis that doesn’t fit, but you don’t want to get an inexpensive one that brings down the overall appearance and quality of your restoration work, either. In the end, it’s best to just keep that basic price range in mind and then spend what’s necessary to outfit your specific car’s specific needs.

Considering Different Models

Just as important as the parts and frames you need to restore to flip a car is the car itself. Restoring and flipping a Honda Civic is going to be very different from a monetary perspective than a classic Corvette.

For example, classic Camaros and Mustangs can fetch several thousand dollars, with $5,000 being a good floor to start from. The ceiling depends on the yearly model and condition of the car. If you are offering a 1965 Mustang in pristine condition, you may be able to make several thousand dollars more than if you sold a less in-demand Mustang. To score the biggest profits here, you’ll need to know which specific years and models are the most sought after.

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You’ll also want to keep in mind how your location can impact demand. Purchasing, restoring, and flipping UK cars in the United States will naturally be much more expensive, but if you can find an interested buyer, that also means you can command a higher price given their rarity.

Finally, it’s worth remembering that some classic cars’ parts, like those for the aforementioned Mustang and VW Beetle, are much easier to find than others that are rarer. The rarer the parts you need, the more you can expect to pay thousands rather than hundreds for them, driving up the cost of restoration and thus potentially lowering your overall profit margin.

In the end, you can make anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand to even tens of thousands for a well-restored car – the devil (and restoration) is in the details.

Marko Mikulic

Why do you love writing about cars? I love writing about cars as cars are a huge personal interest of mine. I was raised in a car enthusiast community and ever since I was young, I always wanted to do car-related work.

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