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Create Your Own Classic

Restoring a classic ride yourself may be more satisfying than cruisin' — if you do it right

American males have long lusted after classic cars like the '66 Mustang, '69 Chevelle, '65 GTO, '67 Corvette, '70 Dodge Challenger, or any one of the other dear-to-our-hearts cars of the late '50s, '60s, or early '70s.

In fact, here are a few classic gems that land at the top of any gearhead's wish list—and tips for those brave enough to wield a wrench:

Ford Mustang

1964 1/2 - 1969 Ford Mustang
Locating parts for this job won't be a problem. Look out for rust and rot, but as long as you don't over-pay for the car, this isn't a big issue. All of the sheet metal parts are available. Replacing them is simply a matter of cutting, fitting and welding. As with most restorations, leave the upholstery, glass and body work to a pro—after all, it's all about having a sick looking classic car, so unless you have the experience let someone who knows what they're doing handle these jobs.

Chevy Corvette

1963 - 1967 Chevy Corvette
These fiberglass bodies are prone to cracks, and it's not uncommon to find an old Vette that has been repaired previously using lousy aftermarket body sections. A bad 'glass body can be very expensive to repair. Closely inspect the full-length frame to check for rot or collision damage. Even if you find areas of concern, frames can usually be saved by a good welder. Parts (from stem to stern) are readily available from Corvette specialist parts suppliers. By the way, don't be conned into buying all GM parts. Plenty of quality aftermarket parts are available, and sometimes cheaper than the Chevy dealership prices.

Chevy Camaro

1967 - 1969 Chevy Camaro
Like the Mustang, the early Camaro versions were and remain extremely popular, so any part you'll need will be easy to find. The most famous, and most collectible version is the 1969 Z28, which featured a high-output 302 cubic-inch engine, commonly referred to as the "Duntov" engine. This specific 302 engine is a little monster, and does require a few dedicated components (heads, crank, cam, etc.), so if you have the engine rebuilt (and you want to maintain the appearance of originality), don't replace the cylinder heads or the unique Holley carburetor if at all possible . . . have them reconditioned.

Think you're ready to tackle a restoration challenge? Read on for four tips to consider before you get your hands dirty.

Read More: Car Restoration Tips


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