Carole Nash
Content Writer
Published: 19th September 2017

First time classics

There are loads of reasons to carry out your own restoration project. Not only will it enhance your engineering skills, it’ll also present you with a challenge that, once completed, has the potential to offer a return on your initial investment.

From vintage Aston Martins to fantastic Ferraris, the internet is littered with stories of how skilled enthusiasts have transformed clapped-out rust buckets into cars worthy of their exuberant price tag. However, if you’re looking at embarking on your first ever project, you’d be much better off cutting your teeth on a vehicle that’s much more basic – meaning you might want to put any ideas of transforming a vintage Lamborghini on the shelf (for now, at least).

Interested in finding out what we mean by ‘basic’? These motors should give you a clue as to what we’re talking about. . .

Citroen 2CV

Providing you don’t pick one up that’s more rust than it is car, a Citroen 2CV is a great example of a ‘simple’ project that won’t break the bank when it comes to sourcing parts. Basic to the bone, the engine of the early 2CVs were held to the car’s chassis by a mere four screws – a factor that has made this particular Citroen a real favourite within amateur racing circles – so it’s more than ideal for those who possess only a basic toolbox. The 2CV also comes with a fairly robust transmission set-up, which should save you from carrying out any major work on the clutch or gearbox.

Basic price: £500 – £2,000

Fully restored price: £5,000 – £10,000

Things to watch out for: rust on the chassis/bodywork, faulty brake discs, faulty ignition coil.

Mini Cooper

Again, providing the chassis is intact and not looking like a rusty nail, a vintage Mini Cooper is an excellent car to learn the basics of car restoration on. Helped by the fact that even the most niche parts are easy to source due to the number of enthusiasts currently online, restorers have no excuse when it comes to finishing the job. What’s more, Mini Cooper clubs – such as the Mini Cooper Register – are really popular, and they’re a great place to pick up tips or source parts from likeminded enthusiasts like yourself.

Basic price: £1,500 – £3,000

Fully restored price: £5,000 – £250,000

Things to watch out for: rust on the boot floor underneath the fuel tank, bubbling paintwork, custom parts and modifications.


Despite being extremely easy to tinker with, the thing that makes the MGB so appealing to newbies is the fact that they’re just so damn cheap – providing you don’t mind having a plastic bumper that is. Sure, the 1960s chrome bumper versions fetch a few more bob when complete, but if you’re a rookie looking to work on your first project, a cheap ‘n’ easy GT or Roadster from the 1970s or early 80s will suffice. From the electrics to the simple four cylinder engine, MGB parts are really easy to source – both online and at autojumbles – so you can rest assured, if you dive into one of these particular projects, you could have your MG on the road in next to no time.

Basic price: £2,500

Fully restored price: £3,750 – £25,000

Things to watch out for: rusted door sills, fake chrome bumpers, torn roofs of roadster models.

Triumph Spitfire

Due to their cult status throughout Britain today, there are loads of Triumph restoration guides available online and in print – meaning they’re perfect for beginners looking to learn from those who have already completed their own project. Again, the Spitfire’s price tag is a huge pull for rookies, as is the availability of parts. As far as issues are concerned, the vast bulk tend to be cosmetic – and providing you’re handy with a spray gun, or at least know somebody who is, you should be able to complete even the biggest restoration in under six months (providing you don’t dawdle).

Basic price: £1,500 – £2,500

Fully restored price: £3,000 – £6,000

Things to watch out for: rust, rust and more rust!