Everyone wants to go fast. Obviously, the less money it takes to get you there the better. But the truth is, speed is expensive. As the saying goes, “How fast do you want to spend?” While that doesn’t mean you need to give up on your dream, it should put your budget build into perspective. Circumstances vary from situation to situation, but there are still some vehicles you should avoid if you’re trying to build a car on the cheap. The vehicles listed here are hindered by high initial costs or expensive aftermarket parts. Many of them are beloved models or platforms, but they can easily be priced out of the market for those with limited funds. So we say, here are the worst project cars on a tight budget.
Let’s start with the obvious contenders of the segment: Mopar B-Bodies. The B-body platform is what Roadrunners, Satellites, Coronets, and the ever-so-loved Chargers are built on. Back in the day, nobody wanted these cars, so many of them were left in garages or abandoned in fields. Today, more people are coming to appreciate these rides and would love to rescue them from returning to the earth.
With big blocks and 4 speeds, these project cars can be seriously fast and seriously fun to drive. But they’re cursed with an expensive aftermarket. Not only are speed parts pricey, but the sheet metal is too. We definitely encourage the rescue of needy Mopars, but if you’re looking to save some money, the B-body isn’t the best option on a slim budget.
BOP A Body
Mopar fans aren’t the only ones plagued by high prices and hard-to-find parts. GM cars can be subjected to this cruel reality as well. The A body platform was the host of legendary models such as the GSX, Cutlass, and the LeMans. For those who don’t know, BOP is an acronym for Buick Olds Pontiac.
Many people want to get involved with these uniquely-styled cars due to the illusion that it’s a product of Chevrolet and so must be fairly priced. BOP cars, however, have unique genetic characteristics that separate them not only from Chevrolet, but also from each other. Speed parts in particular can be very hard to find and extremely expensive. Getting involved with these projects cars will render a lot of preliminary knowledge about GM cars useless and will require a big wallet.
50’s Chevy Bel Air
Everyone loves a sleek 50s car. And the Chevy Bel Air is the undisputed poster child of 50s hot rodding. They’re big, they’re bold, and they look really good going fast. But to go out and buy one, even from a field, is going to run your budget right into the ground, straight out the gate.
Granted, much of the budget can be saved by using a GM drivetrain, but these cars are old and it’s very likely that body work is going to be in order. Sheet metal for these rides isn’t cheap and parts are not easy to find. We understand that good deals can be found if you’re willing to commit to the search, but overall, these are a poor choice for builds on a small budget.
Mopar E body
Aaand we’re back to Mopar. Challengers and Cudas are all the rage right now—and sellers know this. Finding a decent platform to start with is going to cost you a pretty penny, especially if it was paired with a good drivetrain from the beginning.
Now, a lot of these cars were well taken care of, so it’s easy to get lucky and find one with little need for body work. However, they’re still Mopars and even with a 340 small block and an automatic transmission, speed parts become very expensive, very quickly. They may be a little cheaper than a big block B-body to build, but still no budget project car by any means.
Even if we’re Mopar or GM fans, we can all appreciate a kickass Ford. For many, that’s the Torino. Everyone builds Mustangs, and everyone knows it can be done at a decent price with the right model. To break the norm, one might like the idea of getting involved with a Torino. While Ford engine parts aren’t Mopar-expensive, they definitely aren’t Chevy-cheap either. Not just that, Torinos are hard to find and so are the parts, making these tough cars to qualify for a budget project car.
We know topics like this are a little infuriating to say the least. And we know that under “ideal” conditions, people find project cars for a steal. But generally speaking, if you’re searching out Craigslist for a cheap build, these are some listings you may want to think twice about.