The 10 Best Cars to Restore for Profit


Maybe you’re looking to restore a car for your own car-loving gratification, and maybe you have plans to flip one for profit. Either way, the models on this list are all excellent choices to get started.

1. Mazda MX-5

One of the best things about this model is that there are plenty of models still on the market, so they aren’t hard to find or expensive to fix up compared to some other options on this list. That’s partly because different versions of this car were in production through 1998, so you’ll want to make sure that you are getting a Mazda MX-5 from the specific period and in the specific style you want. The earlier models’ frames are more prone to rust, but engines tend to be in much better shape than many classic cars of this period. There are also a lot of car restoration companies that specialize in restoring vehicles such as Mazda models, so there’s plenty of help available should you need it.

2. Citroen 2CV

This model may not be immediately recognizable to US or Canadian car restorers, but to those across the Pond it’s downright iconic. This mainstay of mid-century French automotive manufacturing was a common sight on roads across Europe throughout the 50s and 60s. Today it is a favorite with those who prefer French vintage cars, and people will pay a pretty penny for a restored Citroen 2CV, so if you have the model and know-how, flipping this model can be magnifique.

3. Jaguar E-Type

In contrast to the Mazda MX-5 and some of the other options on this list, Jaguar E-Types are comparatively rare and expensive. They aren’t the kind of car you should take on for a first-time restoration project. However, if you’re looking to “graduate” from more common and easy to restore cars to greater challenges, this is a great option to choose in terms of the sheer monetary windfall you stand to gain if you can pull it off. It’s sleek, elegant, can get up to 150 mph, and exudes 60s charm.

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4. Porsche 911

There is a healthy market for Porsches from the 70s and 80s as vehicles from that period move past being simply considered “old” and become “vintage” – but this model has already been a classic for some time. The Porsche 911 is one of the brand’s most enduringly popular vehicles, and with more than 70% of all models ever made still in existence, they are much easier to find than some other classic cars. Rust can be a problem on older models, but given how prevalent these cars remain, there are plenty of specialists out there who know how to restore them should you need help.

5. Austin-Healey Sprite

From its distinctive fog-eye headlights to its 948cc engine, this is an underrated classic of the mid-century British automotive industry. There are a few different variations to consider, from the original 1958 model to an updated 1961 version which featured a modified, slightly more modern look. These cars’ automotive construction is pretty simple, making them comparatively easy to restore, which in turn makes them a more affordable option as well. If you’re looking to restore a classic car that’s not too hard from a repair standpoint and isn’t overly common, this may be a good one to consider.

6. VW Beetle

Much like the Citroen 2CV, a VW Beetle instantly calls to mind a certain era. It’s impossible not to think of a VW Beetle without calling to mind the Beatles (“Baby, you can drive my car, Yes I’m gonna be a star…”) Hippies, Swinging Sixties, and tales of cross-country trips in “The Love Bug.” There are a lot of different models available, with VW having made many variations on its Beetle theme from 1938 to 2003, though it’s those in the late 50s to early 70s that are most fondly and nostalgically remembered. Because of that long period of manufacture, VW Beetles are easy to find, as are its parts, though you’ll want to make sure you’re getting the right parts for Bugs of the right era. Parts designed for a Bug from the early 2000s may not be compatible with a classic 60s-era version. You’ll also want to look out for common problems with older models, such as chassis rot.

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7. 1965 Ford Mustang

Really any Ford Mustang from this era is a good restoration option, but you just can’t beat this all-time classic Ford. You may have to spend several thousand dollars restoring the car, but the rewards can be rich, potentially getting up to the $70,000 range. There are parts aplenty for Ford Mustangs out there, though finding 1965-compatible ones may be harder.

8. Ford Cortina MK IV and V

Another Ford from this era to consider, the Ford Cortina MKs IV and V is another example of a car that’s a good choice for those looking to move on from first-time car acquisitions. Whether you choose the MK IV of the late 60s and 70s or the MK V of the late 70s and early 80s, you’ll likely get a good return on your investment as long as you avoid common traps, such as spending too much on respraying.

9. Chevrolet Corvette C1

Another car that’s tied into a specific time and place, it’s impossible to think of a classic Corvette and not think of the 50s and early 60s and a sense of classic Americana. Unlike more common classic restoration options such as the Mazda mentioned above, these cars are a lot rarer, making them harder to find and more expensive to find parts for. On the flip side, flipping them can thus carry a much bigger potential payday because the laws of supply and demand are so much in your favor.

10. BMC Mini

Another icon of British automotive manufacturing, there are several iterations of the Mini out there, with those from the 80s and 90s being among the most affordable to acquire, repair, and flip. There are a ton of parts available for models from those decades. That said, this is also another classic car that can struggle with rust problems, particularly in the arches, sills, and area around the headlights. Any one of these classic cars could be a great option for restoring and flipping for a big payday.

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James May

I use more of my time on cars than anything else. If you're like me, then you'll hopefully like what I am writing about cars on this website.

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