10 Best Affordable Classic Muscle Cars To Turn Into Your Next Project

Choosing the right muscle car to turn into your next project will largely depend on which of the “Big Three” Detroit companies the buyer prefers the most. The important thing to remember, though, is that a car that needs work from the ground up is the most common type looked for, so it may make more sense to start with a muscle car that someone else has abandoned. In many cases, these can be picked up cheaper than one that is ground-up because the current owner wants it out of their hair.
Prices of classic muscle cars throughout North America can fluctuate depending upon the location, the time of year, and even the week. The prices of used cars are on the rise, so a car to be used as a project may be hard to find in what would be considered an affordable range, but they can be found if looked for hard enough. Listed below are a few options that can be found cheaper than a Corvette Sting Ray or a Charger, and can be just as lethal on the track.

10 1979-1993 Fox Body Mustang

One of the most common cars used as a project must be the Fox Body Mustang, which is why we started here. They are not as easy to find lying around as they once were, but there’s still plenty out there selling for cheap. It is best to look for the older years because they are not worth quite as much as the newer ones. Plus, many of these are already built well, so people that want to avoid building from the bottom up can simply make some modifications to get their own version of a muscle heavy car.

When looking through the current used prices of the Fox Body, it becomes apparent that it is one of those cars that went up in value in the last few years. The Price ranges vary from a couple of thousands all the way up to $6,300 for cars that run and are not total rust buckets. It all depends upon the motor that it has in it, the shape that the body is in, and where the car is found.
Related: 10 Most Popular Mods For A Fox Body Mustang

9 1965-1970 Chevrolet Impala

The fourth-generation Chevy Impala set records for sales that have never been matched by GM vehicles to date. This is great news for the project-seeking muscle car enthusiast because it means that there are numerous cars out there to be had for the taking. More than a million cars were made and sold in 1965 alone. The problem that does present itself is that a famous series throughout the nation brought the 1970 Impala into the spotlight. Hit TV show Supernatural is a household name, and the black car that they drove around the country is like no other.

Many of the fourth-generation cars are considered to be gas-guzzling eyesores by current owners—ones they want to get out of their backyards or garages. These are the people that need to be located in order to get the best value for a classic Impala. Currently, most of these are listed at around $11,000, give or take a few hundred bucks. However, if you find an example in rough shape, or if it is located as stated above, it could be yours for just a couple of grand.

8 1972-1977 Pontiac Ventura

This may not be one of the best options from a practical standpoint because very few of these were produced, compared to the other muscle cars of the generation. If you do manage to find a 1972-1977 Ventura, it will have a V8 installed in it already, and it is possible to get a car with a GTO package added to it as an option.

If found, they do make a good starting point for building a muscle car. You can pick them up for under $10,000, all the way down to $3,325 for a car that is not running. A ground-up built would not be necessary for these cars unless an engine swap is in the plans. Keep eyes open and money saved up so when one does come up for sale, you can snap it up immediately…before someone else does.

7 1973-1976 Chevrolet Laguna

The Chevy Laguna was an upscale version of the Chevelle. It was named in honor of the famous resort located in California that people flocked to every summer. A variety of engines were placed in these cars, including the 350 that is easy to work on and a big block 454 that could pound out some power and torque. The Laguna series had a complete redesign, inside, underneath, and outside.

Every car magazine article during the years of production gave the Laguna nothing but great reviews. It makes a great project car because they already had decent engines in them, just waiting for upgrades and blowers. These cars can be found throughout the country because there was a decent amount of them produced. The average value of these cars is around $5,200, with some in better shape going for more than 10 grand.
Related: Here’s Why The Chevrolet Laguna Was Underrated in America

6 1970-1974 Ford Maverick

The Ford Maverick came out with a 6-cylinder motor at first, but starting in 1971 the most common motor that Ford has ever put out was an option under the hood. The 302 makes this car an excellent choice as a project car because there are so many options and add-ons that can be installed. The Maverick replaced the popular Ford Falcon that also makes a great muscle car build.

The value of this car is low compared to the others of its era because it is a car that is often overlooked. A bottom-end one that needs some help can be picked up for under $2,000, but the lowest amount at auction that has been logged in was $4,510. Most of the models that are up and running go for up to $16k so keep eyes open and checkbooks ready when a well priced car comes up for sale.

5 1971-1977 Chevrolet Vega

The Chevy Vega is one of those cars that most muscle car builders are familiar with. They never came with a V8 under the hood, but they can easily be converted over. This car received numerous awards during its life span. In 1971, they were awarded the MotorTrend “Car of the Year” award, and in ’71 the “Best Economy Sedan” was awarded to it by Car and Driver.

This car used to be picked up for one hundred bucks, but not anymore. Today these cars have increased in value, just like every other car that can be used as a project car. With that being said, though, the value of it in decent running shape is around $2,000. Auction sites show this value is at the bottom end of the price structure, with the car going for an average of $18,138.
Related: Here’s What Everyone Forgot About The Chevy Vega

4 1971-1972 Dodge Dart Demon

The Dodge Demon is a high-performance version of the Dodge Dart that was an attempt to fill the gap between Ford and Chevy cars of the same size in the economy class, which is what the car was marketed as. The car came with lots of options, including the bigger 340 cubic inch engine that could produce 275 hp. The upgrades to the engine and design shaved off a few seconds on the track times, and it made this car more sought after than the base Dart.

The Dodge Dart Demon is a car that many muscle car builders search for, so their price went up throughout the last couple of years. They are valued at right around $10,000 for a decent car that runs. They can be picked up in bad shape for around $4,000, so that is the way to go, especially since the car is meant to be a project car.

3 1975-1980 Chevrolet Monza

The Chevy Monza was made to compete with the Mustang II in the midst of the downsizing of muscle cars to provide consumers with better fuel economy cars that met the new emissions and safety regulations. The Monza had a unique look, taking part of its outer styling from Ferrari models. When put head-to-head with the Mustang II the Monza was beaten every time because it was designed for “more than speed.”

The Monza is not one of the cars that people generally go for when building a project car simply because there are other options available to them that are already partially built up. The Monza is valued at under $2,000 for a running car, which is verified by current auction results. The car has sold for extremely low amounts, put it can be expected to pay an average of $8,525. Give or take a few hundred dollars.

2 1973-1976 Chevrolet Nova

Every car person knows what a Chevy Nova II is, which can be built into an amazing muscle car but is expensive and hard to find. Until 1973 rolled around when the car got a complete makeover. The square front became more rounded, and the sides were more streamlined. The Nova during these years came with a variety of motors, all the way from a small V6 to the most common engine for builders, the Chevy 350.

The Nova II cannot be touched for less than $30k, but from the ’73 model year onwards, they are not as sought after. They can be picked up for $8,100 in decent driving condition. The Nova already comes with a good engine and styling, so it is a project car that simply needs to be improved upon. Be careful when looking for these, unless a six-cylinder car is something that you can begin the build with.

1 1982-1987 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme

The Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme was another car that came with various engines, the main one being the 3.8L V6. The 442 was an option available for the car when originally purchased, so keep an eye out for these cars. Any of them will work as a project, but if one can be found with the bigger engine, fewer modifications will need to be done.

The 4-4-2 Oldsmobile’s are high-performance cars that are well sought after by builders and collectors alike. They can go for over $25,000 for one in running condition, so these are ones that we want to leave alone. The other versions with smaller powerplants are not as popular. They can be picked up for under $5,000 in great shape. These are the ones that attention should be focused on for any type of project car.
Related: Is The Oldsmobile Cutlass A Good Muscle Car?

Final Thoughts

There is nothing like building a car from the ground up. Once everything is put together, that first turn of the key is a rush like no other. Wondering if it will start, hoping that it will be the beast that it was built to be. And just maybe, the car will outshine all the plans and expectations.

A project car can be anything that runs, or that has been lifeless in a pasture somewhere. The important thing is that it comes with good bones. That means that the car that is to be the project is able to handle becoming a muscle car. Any car can be built into a beast, but when it is sound in body and structure it will make things go much easier.

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