5 projects to keep you busy over the winter

Marketplace/Garth Cormier

WARNING: The following article includes major project-vehicle enabling by someone who can hardly finish a box of cereal.

As frosty conditions and snow tires become more frequent sights, plenty of enthusiasts are tucking their collectible vehicles in for the winter, readying them for a couple of months of storage. This is also the season when procrastination ends and projects can once again get underway, as there are long stretches of time perfectly suited for uninterrupted wrenching.

Perhaps you don’t have a classic car—or you do, and it’s been complaining of loneliness. Picking up a winter project can benefit sellers who don’t want to store an undriven car over the winter as well as buyers who will have the time to make the vehicle roadworthy.

We visited the Hagerty Marketplace to find vehicles that could be transformed over one winter (depending on your skill level and investment) and did some daydreaming to come up with the projects we’d tackle.

Here are five of our project-car frontrunners.

1963 Chevrolet Corvair

1963 Chevrolet Corvair front
Marketplace/Dane Heimerman

Asking price: $5900

The listing for this solid coupe notes that the door cards could use some freshening, so this rear-engined runabout would likely just spend the winter getting some cosmetic upgrades to the interior as well as a good detailing.

The resprayed paint is said to have some flaws as well; maybe there’s enough to allow some of the orange peel to be wet-sanded and buffed back to a good shine. If not, this sporty little Chevy still looks like a heap of fun for backroad jaunts next spring.

1993 Ford Mustang

winter project car 1993 Ford Mustang side
Marketplace/Blue Ribbon Classics

Asking price: $14,800

Since this Fox-body looks remarkably clean, we’d be tempted to leave it as is. However, we know we’d still spend the winter combing through eBay and various Mustang forums trying to scrounge up the perfect mid-’90s 5.0-liter speed parts to dress up the engine bay and get the small-block some additional performance with the right day-two looks. Perhaps we’d visit a wrecking yard and liberate a set of GT40 cylinder heads from an Explorer for a stealthy performance upgrade that’s still OEM Ford.

The aftermarket has not been slacking on Fox-body suspension, so we’d keep our eyes open there as well, with the goal of building a car that still looks appropriate for the era but performs a bit better.

1974 BMW 2002

winter project car BMW 2002 rear
Marketplace/Garth Cormier

Asking price: $17,500

Watching vintage racing has really put the BMW 2002 into the forefront of our minds, and this Teutonic two-tone had us from the moment we first saw it.

Unfortunately, there are some problem areas as the seller detailed several spots where rust is bubbling up. With this nimble two-door in-hand, our winter would be spent perfecting the art of trimming patch panels and MIG-welding them in place. Of course, a new paint job would be in order, and we’re not sure if we’d keep the Malaga and Pepper White two-tone or choose between the two for a more understated look. What say you?

1964 AMC Rambler wagon

winter project car 1964 AMC Rambler front
Marketplace/High Dollar Car Guy

Asking price: $6500

We’re already suckers for wagons. Throw in the fact that this one’s from an orphan brand and we are pining even more.

The bodywork on this long-roof Rambler looks to be rather straight, although the paint, or what’s left of it, is losing its battle to the elements. If you’d like to brush up on your spraying technique, this would be a good candidate to strip down and coat in primer/sealer, provided you’ve got a place that would be warm enough to serve as a spray booth.

As for the powertrain, we think that AMC’s venerable 4.0-liter inline-six would make for an excellent upgrade while keeping things in the AMC family, although we wouldn’t say no to a 360 V-8, either.

1974 Dodge W200

winter project car 1974 Dodge W200 side
Marketplace/Anthony U

Asking price: $7800

There’s a whole lot of potential in this 3/4-ton 4×4. Apart from taking on any chore you could throw its way, this could be the platform for a great adventure vehicle.

The 440 V-8 that’s been swapped in could be treated to a mild roller cam and an aftermarket dual-plane intake to really emphasize the mid-range power of the big-block, while the rest of the effort could be put into filling the bed with camping gear. If you pray to the Craigslist gods, perhaps a vintage camper shell will find its way onto this 4×4 and help make it a retro overlander, previously known as a “hunting rig.”

The listing notes that the bodywork is not the best, so perhaps keeping this former DOT truck as a workhorse in one of these roles is the best option.

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    I have a Fox body 5 speed so I would go with the Fox body, I luv mine and almost every time I take it out someone wants to buy it although I am sure they want it cheap and not pay Mecum or Barret-Jackson $$$$!
    But NOT for sale. That being said the Rambler wagon is kinda cool!

    The Corvair and the W200 are the most interesting to me in that order. I would like the Mustang more if it was a coupe, not a fan of flexi fox body convertible cars but love the coupes.

    I have a ’64 Corvair Monza Convertible and these a really cool cars. Plus you get to answer a lot of questions about them. Mine is probably a two year project right now.

    I’ll dump my ‘98 Dakota SLT rust bucket and take on the Dodge truck. My ‘98 (bought it last year with 240K miles on it) was used for hauling firewood and tree trimmings. This Dodge body can’t be as rusty and beat-up as the body on mine. (It would be a “work truck” for me relegated to hauling big items from the likes of Big Orange and Big Blue and the occasional informal cars and coffee gathering.)

    I don’t think I’ll ever buy another full project. There are still some earlier vintage survivors out there for the price of that mustang. I can’t stand mustangs. They for some reason always end up on the sidewalk.

    Reply to Thomas+L+Saxe. You’re absolutely right. I had a 63 Corvair Spyder that I rebuilt from the oil plug up, with no cost spared. Spent way too many hours on the project, didn’t even break even on it, but I sure know a lot about Corvairs. Go for a 64 since the suspension was better for the last year generation one Corvair. Clark’s Corvair’s in Shelburne Fall’s Ma. have many fair parts. Not many people can/will work on a fair, so you are pretty much on your own to do the work yourself.

    You guys have to remember the purpose of these articles is to build up undesirable/less desirable makes/models into eventual profit centers for Hagarty’s bottom line, whether insurance, running online auctions, etc. As the marque nameplates skyrocket out of reach for most “normies,” we are left with the turdlier remains to shine, restore, and……insure! Cynical? Yeah. Inaccurate? Nah.

    All of these are way overpriced IMO. By the time you get them sorted you will have way more than in then what they are worth. That being said, if you really love one of these then go for it. I have a 72 Corvette that I brought back from the grave and yes, way more into it than it’s worth but again, I don’t care as I really like the c-3 chrome bumper cars and I did not do this with the intention of making a profit (I know better) but with all new parts I know what I have. I do have 2 BMW M3. 1998 sedan Alpine White, Modena interior with 5 speed and 2003 vert with the SMG which I actually like as some hate. I think most of the haters have never driven one. Prices have gone mad as some have mentioned. Again, if profit is your motivation, these are poor choices.

    Why mig weld when there is panel bonding material available? Bonding on a patch may just save warping a panel or two.

    The 64 Rambler is an obvious for me! I have a 63 with a 4.0L… great combo! More power than the 327 V-8 those years, about the same as a stock 74 360/4V, actually. I’m also using the AW4 auto. The only downside is you can’t easily use the torque-tube rear with a modern trans — you have to change rear axle and build a suspension since the torque-tube is also the locating arm for the axle. But if it has a 232 six (a late 64 option) you can just hop it up and be good. The 287 V-8 is a solid engine too (if it’s a V-8 model), so that would make a good cruiser just repaired or rebuilt. The old 195.6 six is a good solid engine, it’s just expensive to rebuild (well, so is the 287) and requires a bit of maintenance that non-Rambler people don’t know about. For the big cars it’s just adequate power… and not much you can do to improve it without major work, and then you’re limited.

    Well, I can afford the Corvair, and I’ve been told that I’m unsafe at any speed, so this is a no brainer.

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