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Corvair Car Restoration Costs

Updated on August 25, 2009

 The first thing one does after buying any classic car is to decide what extent they will restore the car, there are different levels. The two main ones are a "Daily Driver", where the quality of the restoration is much less but still nice. Then there is "Show Quality", which as the name suggests, is really the best it can be. With a DD, you tolerate small issues or flaws, such as a small tear in the upholstery, a gauge that does not work, not the greatest paint job etc.

Restoring a Corvair is no different. In the back of your mind, decide if you are restoring it just to resale at a higher price or just keep it. Having a car that is Show Quality will bring in more $$ in a resale, but the cost to reach that level may not make any sense, as you may only break even. When you see a Corvair list on Ebay for $10K, odds are the seller is trying to recoup the money spent on it. Some ask for $20K, which is really saying, I don't really want to sell it.

It all comes back to the condition of the car when you bought it, how much you paid, how much you are willing to spend on it. Restoring can quickly ramp up in costs even when the car bought is generally in decent condition, The methodolgy is to buy low as possible and get the best quality car. It is these cars that will most likely give you a profit margin when resold. Buying a show quality car may not and maybe at best, provide a modest amount of profit, if any.

For example, buying a Corvair in fair condition for $900. Odds are this price means the car needs a paint job ($2000+ min), wheel cylinders\brake shoes ($200), carburetor rebuild kits ($30+), new windshield ($250), Fuel sender for fuel gauge ($65). This car runs fine and is mechanically OK with minor oil leaks.  But look at the restoration costs just to make this a nice Daily driver: close to $2600. Thus far, a total of $3500 has been spent (including actual cost of car), and this is on a car with little rust issues or engine problems. We have not even addressed upholstery costs which are needed.

This Corvair might, at best, resale for around $4000, since it is Monza 110.  So, at best, one might make a few hundred dollars or break even. Now if you bought the same in show quality and paid $6000, you might be in the same fix since selling it for $6-7000 might be more difficult, even though you did no work on the car because none was needed.


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