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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Read next Up next: 1986–1992 Oldsmobile Custom Cruiser: All hail the traditional American station wagon!


    As said above: DO ALL the desired work your self–these are STILL somewhat simple, a browse in the wrecking yards will show you hundreds of nice newer cars: straight bodies, good glass, upholstery, even tires–WHY because they’re tooo complicated for most hobbyists and cost thousands in a shop–then there’s the BMW’s –a friend with a German car shop complained that every year he had to spend
    $2000 for new BMW tools!

    Yeah, the Corsair. That car nearly killed me more than once in snowy and dry conditions years ago. The problem is the weight distribution being so rearward. In snow country we had to put at least two heavy bags of sand in the front trunk in the winter just to get it to turn. At speed in dry conditions anything that unsettled it in a fast turn (think freeway ramp) could make it snap around 180 degrees unexpectedly. Fortunately mine succumbed to rust before it killed me.

    Enjoyed my 65 Rambler Classic company car till replaced with 67 Pontiac Tempest. Drove from Maryland border to New York border lots of miles driven Rambler great runner no problems. Six cyl three on tree and reclining seats very comfortable.

    From just looking at these little snippets, the Corvair looks like a good deal and that Fox body seems way expensive.

    I have a mint ‘93 Fox GT conv. I enjoy it and have avoided upgrades as there are so few originals. Comments on cruise nights reinforce that idea. I guess I’m saving it for someone else to modify.

    A lot of you guys are downplaying the BMW with a rather condescending tone. IMO, just saying, expensive to maintain, etc. and it’s not entirely true. As far as price goes, if that’s what the market is, that’s it. That particular model IS getting to a point that’s way past a regular used car. I have a 27 year old BMW convertible and I love it. It’s all about what is one willing to pay.

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