View Full Version : So what does a restoration really cost these days?

02-14-2008, 06:22 PM
Hi All,
A friend is looking for a project TR4. However I have been encouraging him to go ahead and buy a nicely restored car. I think he'd rather pay for it gradually, i.e. to buy the car, later rebuild the engine, and so on. But my guess, and what I've told him, is that it costs more to restore a car, even a fairly decent one, than buying one already restored.

Here is an example project: Triumph TR4 project (https://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/1966-TRIUMPH-TR4-A-LIVE-AXLE_W0QQitemZ140205875012QQcmdZViewItem?hash=item 140205875012)

I have been out of the loop with restoration costs for a long time, so I don't know what engine rebuilds, body repair, chrome work, etc. costs these days.
What do you think the total cost would be to restore this TR4 to a correct original standard?


02-14-2008, 06:28 PM
I don't think that you really want to know the answer to that question.

I know that I don't, so I never add anything up.

02-14-2008, 06:54 PM
I have so many receipts, tickets and invoices it scares me to even think about adding them up. I will say that this "hobby" is the only thing I have interest in at this point in my life, (besides wife and twin 24 year old boys) and wouldn't have it any other way. I think, like I have seen others write about, that this hobby has brought me and my significant other closer together, plenty of hand holding drives in the mountains and picnics, too...
That said, adage is buy the best car you can afford, avoid one with rust and the resto will be alot cheaper. I'm heading to the barn to drill spot welds off the rear fender on my parts car, for it's removal. Have a nice nite! I will.

02-14-2008, 07:00 PM
It's simple; How fast you want to go, how much do you want to spend?

Pretty much applies to everything.

02-14-2008, 07:03 PM
It's cheaper to buy a restored car. And you get to drive it sooner too.

02-14-2008, 07:08 PM
$800,748,947,485.89 plus tax and shop fees.
Buy the restored car, and then enjoy it.

02-14-2008, 07:27 PM
Depends on what you mean by "restore"...and also, which car.

A car restored for participation in concours events may bring as little as 25 to 33 cents on the dollar. A rare car and/or "hot" item, like the Hemi Cudas of late may bring full value (vehicle cost plus restoration cost) or even more.

A nice "cosmetic" restoration say to a #2 standard on the more common LBCs is probably going to net you 50 to 75 cents on the dollar. I've got a friend that just finished a very nice Midget driver (finished it right before the divorce)...he'd be happy to get back $4000-$5000 for the $8000+ he has in it.


02-14-2008, 07:32 PM
Roofy must have worked a sneaky discount somewhere along the way.

02-14-2008, 07:39 PM
Roofy just made up that cheap figure just incase his missus reads this post...........

02-14-2008, 07:41 PM
Maybe not always true to purchase a restored car, Peter.

Afterall, my wife purchased a fuly restored TR6 and I got
67 miles total drive the first 12 months. Between major breakdowns.

It seems, almost any Triumph, except a Concours, should be considered a project black hole that requires almost unlimited cash thrown into it.

I say, unless the chap has barrels of money and is looking
for a long term hobby, he'd best stay away and forget about

I know my restoration shipping costs are high because of where I live but still I'm well over $40K and mine is a driver only. Nothing to show or brag about-


02-14-2008, 07:46 PM
Dale, sorry to break it to you mate but your wife didn't buy a fully restored car. Just because someone tells you it's restored, does not make it so.

If that were the case then we'd all have restored cars and Moss would be in receivership...

To the OP. Friends don't let friends buy projects. As everyone else has said, it's a total money pit. 50c on the dollar is charitable as a return rate, it depends where you live and what local labor rates are...

The car you are showing needs a diff and a tranny. $2500 for a pro rebuild for these. Rust repair - no idea, but not cheap. Paint 6k+, Interior - about 1k to do nicely, and about $1500 for rechroming. Budget another $2k for suspension, shocks and brakes. Then if it needs an engine, probably another 3-4k.

Turns a 6k car into (potentially) a 20k car. You can get a nice TR4 for less than that.

02-14-2008, 08:00 PM
I'm laughing at these post. and reminded of that saying "If you have to ask how much it cost, you probably can't afford it". I'm officially a retired person who went back to work to buy and support this car.

02-14-2008, 08:02 PM
I'm trying to finish my now or I'll never get to retire later.

02-14-2008, 08:03 PM
Dale, sorry to break it to you mate but your wife didn't buy a fully restored car. Just because someone tells you it's restored, does not make it so.

Alana- My point exactly!!!

Restored or project car--- seems to make little difference
in the money required to get it fairly reliable.


02-14-2008, 08:10 PM
Labor is the big killer. If you can do 90% of the work yourself it isn't to bad. I've got $7,000 in parts so far in a TR6 I have owned since '75 and it's not painted, engine not re-built, no interior.

I also have $3,000 in tools and things.

I expect to drop at least another $4,000.

Don't tell my wife...

02-14-2008, 08:13 PM
That's because you didn't really get a restored car even thought you did at the time.

I think yours might have been more aptly called a driver restoration candidate rather than 100% restored when you purchased it.

But now, after all of your hard work you have what might be called a nice driver. Like my 3A, not a show car, but major components rebuilt or replaced, nice running condition, and decent body with no noticeable damage.

Good work.

Oh, and the point of this. A "nice driver" is a great entry point of Triumph ownership. Buying a nice driver rather than a professionally restored TR will save you money, "let" you work on the car some, and give years of relatively trouble free driving.

02-14-2008, 08:19 PM
All I can say is be very careful when buying a "restored" car. If you or your friend is in the market for such, and you perhaps really don't what you are looking at, then get a really knowledgeable person, even pay for it, to thoroughly examine the car before committing. I have seen too many friends (Tinster included) that have paid premium prices for something that is less than premium value.

There are all sorts of caveats involved in purchasing a restored car. Check the current value of the model you want and weigh that against the cost of the potential purchase. Get lots of advice from someone you trust.

Interested in a resto-mod TR6 that has a weird clank upon starting? Make offer.

02-14-2008, 08:46 PM
I think this hobby is astronomically expensive, but exceedingly good fun. In terms of hours of enjoyment per dollar spent, it's a much better deal than most anything (except the obvious).

That TR4 looks great, but I wouldn't touch it for more than about $2500, even if I had the money and space.

02-14-2008, 08:49 PM
All I can say is be very careful when buying a "restored" car./bcforum/images/%%GRAEMLIN_URL%%/iagree.gif
Plus, if you plan to drive the car other than on and off the trailer, be sure to inquire about how far and how often it has been driven since being restored.

02-14-2008, 08:52 PM

Ain't it the truth? Paint!

The Mrs was so pleased when I finally got my "fully
restored" TR6 operational after two years of effort;
she graciously offered me $1,000. of her personal stash
to have the car professionally painted.

We got an estimate maybe of $12K to %15K, if memory serves.
I have not yet begun any engine work or replaced the tranny.

These cars are money pits that are fun to drive when they
are functional. My two months of driving have been a blast,
I admit.


02-14-2008, 09:10 PM
Thanks you guys. This is a great reality check. Can anybody speak to the cost of chrome work? I had heard some astronomical figures recently in connection with a 30's American car. And what does a full engine rebuild cost? Back a couple decades ago costs were about $500 per cylinder on average for parts and labor.

02-14-2008, 09:14 PM
I think the decision depends a lot on what you really want. If this is about money, buy the best you can afford and drive it. I agree with the other estimates of getting 50 to 75% of your expenses back on work you do. But, if you really want a project because you like to work on stuff (like me) then get a project car and consider it an entertainment expense.


02-14-2008, 09:17 PM
Depends what you want to get out of the process...

Buy a car already restored: you get somebody else's nightmare. Somewhere there is something that is not 100% and that will end up costing more money.

Build your own: sure it takes time, effort and resources but at the end of the day you will end up a better person from all the knowledge you will have acquired. I don't mean this as a joke, rather I speak from experience.

Some things you cannot put a price on. At the end of the day, you drive a machine you have built yourself and sorry guys, but that is priceless in my book.

As always, your mileage may vary...


02-14-2008, 09:33 PM
I am in the starting phase of my resto. Purchase 4300. Parts 7000 (this figure from the Moss catalog - I will get some discount through smart shopping). Supplies 700. Tools 1500. Total = 13500. Plus reality = 13-15k. My car ran when I bought it, and only has a little rust: two new floors and maybe two sheet metal repairs.

I will use my own labor... thus why I am doing it! I plan it will take 5 years, meaning 3k / year.

I figure, if I smoked a pack a day, I would spend 365*5 = 1.5k on cigarettes. If I went out for lunch every day, I would spend another 1.5k. So I figure my car is worth a healthy lung and gut! /bcforum/images/%%GRAEMLIN_URL%%/smile.gif

02-14-2008, 09:35 PM
As noted above, it's certainly more cost effective to buy a car that is already at the level where you want it -- assuming you can figure out if the car is as advertised (see Tinster and Pedro for that little buggaboo /bcforum/images/%%GRAEMLIN_URL%%/grin.gif ). I do like the pay-as-you-go nature of a refurbishment, as long as you can handle the costs. Saving up your money and just buying a good car probably takes the same amount of time, and costs less.

The car I bought was an unmolested, mostly original (other than paint), and complete running car with nearly no rust. I had it inspected by a fellow forum member, someone with a lot of professional experience restoring cars. It was exactly as advertised. It was also in no way a "project" car, and was priced accordingly.

Can't speak to chrome, but I was quoted roughly $3500 for a fairly stock rebuild (4-cylinder) -- this was for a reputable builder to do all the work. The more you can do yourself, the less you can spend. The faster you want to go, the more you can spend...

My friend estimated $10k - $15k above the $7k purchase price to get it all sorted and refurbished (to a very good driver level), and once I tackle the body work I'll be right at the upper end of that range. 50 cents on the dollar if I ever sell it. For me, it was worth it to know that the work done was done right.

02-14-2008, 09:44 PM
I say buy a nicely restored car; drive it and enjoy it.
Think it's cheaper; easier and seems more fun.

But then, you wouldn't hang out round the Forum so
much, and you'd be missing out.

02-14-2008, 09:46 PM
Someone once told me either buy the best or the worst. I kind of chose the later and have been getting them sorted out as I go as I learned how to handle welding and more advanced wrenching.

I had no idea what I was really getting into, and of course am now in way over my head. But I'm still well under the cost of a restored car...

Beaters rule!

02-14-2008, 09:46 PM

Welcome to the forum. Think about this BEFORE you buy anything. The Vintage Triumph Register and 6-Pack have a "surrogate buyer" network that will help an individual by looking at a car with or for them to access it's value and condition. There is no charge for this.

Many local clubs will do the same and nearly all have web sites. Many members of this forum will help you and even look with you when you find what you want. They are usually very happy to help.

Now for some costs. I just looked at a bill for the cylinder head that I had done in the fall. It was over $700. I refuse to look any further in that drawer full of invoices.

I'm looking at rebuilding a complete engine and if I go all the way it will be over $6000. I've decided that it's not what I want to do, so I'll do the block up really well, use my rebuilt head from the fall and sell off the other head.

The prices can begin to creep upwardly rather quickly as we all try to "do everything right".

Hook up with someone from here or a local club or the VTR / 6-Pack network and save some headaches right from the start.

If you want to see how deep you can get, look at some of the projects on my web site under my signature below.

02-14-2008, 10:04 PM
...what poolboy said... /bcforum/images/%%GRAEMLIN_URL%%/lol.gif

02-14-2008, 10:23 PM
...for every part there is m/c and visa

...the enjoyment of the hobby......priceless!!!


Bob Claffie
02-14-2008, 10:25 PM
The secret of restoring an automobile is selecting the "right" car in the first place. When I do a refresh/rebuild/restoration I keep very accurate records of what goes where so I never get ugly surprises when it comes time to sell. I do most of the work myself so I avoid the $85 per hour expenses and I figure my labor at $.10 an hour. I mean it IS a hobby for goodness sake. I have NEVER lost any money selling a "hobby" car, as opposed to daily drivers. My goal is to create "nice" drivers, not concurs, not trailer queens. When I ultimately get bored with a car and sell it I usually recover all expenses including registration, insurance fuel, etc. The cars that this formula has applied to include: 2 1966 Mustangs, 1964 Buick Riviera, 2 70ish MGB's, 1965 Alpine. Current projects incl a big Healey and a Cobra replica and they will no doubt accomplish the same results.
If there is a car that you absolutely MUST tackle then the above system goes right out the window. To be monetarily successful the head must override the heart. Bob

02-14-2008, 10:47 PM
I purchased an older restoration that was still in great shape but would still need 'freshening' (rubber suspension etc, seals). I went this route because the bodywork was done properly (pictures and receipts) and that's where all of the real money and time go unless you are a welder/bodyworker/painter.
I agree that a concours deal will often return .30 on the dollar. A friend professionally restores Mercedes 190sl's and an average ground up will run 150k (not including the original cost of the car). You might get 65k on the market if it is top end.
Actually LBC's are a great hobby car as parts are plentiful and reasonably cheap.
By the 'most' car you can afford after inspection and verification of condition.

02-14-2008, 10:49 PM
lets see I have a car worth about 12k that I paid 20k for, but I'll let ya know when I'm done..................

02-14-2008, 11:21 PM
A gentleman in our club once commented, "I ought to give the car and $2,500 away and remain ahead of the game".

02-15-2008, 01:23 AM
I bought a TR6 off ebay for $7,600. It looked pretty good, and had been sitting for some time and needed much attention. I've spent at least $3k on it since then and have enjoyed driving it when weather permits. My longest drive was a two day ride from Houston to Pennsylvania for a weekend visit, then back. This car is not 'restored', or a show car, but it was a hobby for someone before me.

Driving around in a 30+ year old car is worth a every penny and hour I've spent with it. Working on it is part of the fun.

I was given a TR3 for free. It's not completly apart, but the body is off the frame. I've been gathering missing parts (used) for it and have already spent over $10k on it. It will never be a show car, but I hope it will be a nice looking driver.

I could have purchased a nice TR3 for $10k but it would not be as much fun to drive.

02-15-2008, 05:04 AM
Experience seems to indicate :

Lucky- you spend 100% of purchase price in repairs
Average- you spend 200& of purchase price in repairs
Scammed- You spend 300% of purchase price in repairs
Pedro-ized- You spend 400% of purchase price in repairs.

Add a decent paint job and moderate engine/tranny rebuilding
and you can easily top out $70,000. for a daily driver.
But they are run to putt around town.


02-15-2008, 07:10 AM
Well, for me, I plan on doing everything possible on the car and if something's too difficult, I'll read and ask questions until I can do it - it does help that my uncle was a triumph mechanic! Still - I'll do all I can to it...it'll be amateur and full of imperfections, but if it drives, I'll be happy and proud that I made it so! Still, I plan on losing money in this endeavour - but I think of it like this: most people I know go through hobby fads - they'll get REALLY into skiing, or snowboarding - then on to mountain biking or camping....whatever it is, they drop a couple Ks getting into something. I'll just keep dropping $500 in parts here and there and keep the hobby consistent. I'll take a TR6 on a sunny day over winter sports, hands-down (though it is a good thing that hockey playoffs and summer don't overlap too much!)

02-15-2008, 07:51 AM

Good on ya. You're fortunate to have a Triumph mechanic
to assist. I also did the majority of the work myself.
I did not own a socket wrench set when I joined this forum.
I now have a garage full of auto tools!

The kind folks here on the BCF forum gladly shared their
vast knowledge with this totally non-mechanical architect.
Two years later, I now have a daily driver that was mostly
accomplished with my own hands and forum knowledge.

These quirky, unreliable Triumph beasts get in your blood,
that's for sure.

I am proud I learned a new skill, made many new on-line
friends and enjoy the heck of driving my car along the
beach and mountain roads. I would not sell my beast for
all the $$ total I put into it. /bcforum/images/%%GRAEMLIN_URL%%/savewave.gif


02-15-2008, 08:06 AM
I'm with all of you on purchasing a car that's in good nick. In fact, I'm in the market right now for another LBC. Strangely, this time I'm looking at the car <u>AND</u> the owner: I want to buy a car from someone who does their own wrenching and is skilled at it.

This time around, I won't consider a car that isn't in very good mechanical, running condition and ready for a long tour. Does this make the car prohibitively expensive to purchase??? Of course not, <u>IF</u> it's purchased from the right owner.

For example, there are many guys who post here on the Forum from whom I would not hesitate to buy their car. They are good mechanics, they've done most of the work themselves (i.e., less money invested) and if something's broken on the car, it gets fixed! When I see an ad for a car that "needs" something, I go on to the next car!

A good friend of mine who's a renowned Triumph guru was the first person I called. Sadly, he doesn't have one for sale now. But I'd buy anything he has: he buys at low prices, restores prudently and does his own work. Perfect!

THAT's my next LBC: from an owner who is skilled, and who maintains his LBC well at all times: this is the key to buying the right LBC, <u>and</u> cost-effectively, IMHO.

02-15-2008, 08:10 AM
So Mark,

Are you saying you don't want me to put Pedro in
touch with you for your next purchase??

/bcforum/images/%%GRAEMLIN_URL%%/jester.gif /bcforum/images/%%GRAEMLIN_URL%%/devilgrin.gif /bcforum/images/%%GRAEMLIN_URL%%/devilgrin.gif /bcforum/images/%%GRAEMLIN_URL%%/devilgrin.gif

02-15-2008, 08:12 AM
Pedro es un bien amigo, pero yo no quiero el coche de Pedro: es muy malo IMHO. /bcforum/images/%%GRAEMLIN_URL%%/devilgrin.gif /bcforum/images/%%GRAEMLIN_URL%%/wall.gif

02-15-2008, 08:16 AM
My 2 ...

Does your friend really know what he wants, and what he's getting into? He has wrenching skills and/or a reliable local shop? He has "little british car" experience already? And if money is at all an issue, there's some serious thinking ahead. If money is "available" - then jump right into the abyss!

Have a mechanic who knows Triumphs go along to inspect the car *before* any offer to purchase. Believe it or not, there are some folks who buy blind, never confront the seller with the lies that were neatly packaged in "the deal", and then spend a gazillion bucks. But if the money's there already - then it might be some real fun.

How many times have you read an ebay car description that says "I am selling this car because I have other projects that prevent me from doing the restoration for the next five years." (Those words are taken from this TR4 ad.) Five years - that means something, especially if the seller has restoration/wrenching experience. Compare what the seller says needs doing, with what your mechanic says needs doing.

My first priority while looking for my TR was to get something I'd enjoy for restoration and for driving. And that I could handle both the wrenching and the paying of the restoration part. I'm not a mechanic, I know zilch about body work, I don't have a garage, there's no shop within 10 miles, my income is $1100/mo, so I did all the work myself. But none of that work would have been possible without the incredible help of BCF members here.

This thread should be a "sticky" for reference to all those beginner's "Is this a good idea?" questions. Bravo!


02-15-2008, 08:28 AM
you can easily top out $70,000. for a daily driver.

I also did the majority of the work myself.

So, you're saying that you've put something like $50,000 worth of parts into your car so far?


02-15-2008, 08:37 AM
These quirky, unreliable Triumph beasts get in your blood,
that's for sure.

That explains the LBC infection - must result from the numerous cuts and scrapes...they literally get in the blood!

It's all what you're into - my mother's cousin bought a showroom 6 after his RX7 caught fire - he had the $$$ and isn't interested in mechanical work...that's cool, but I'm more for the project side of things - not a mechanical bone in my body, but I'm bent on learning.

I guess the best thing for the TR4 friend to do is weigh all these considerations - mechanical vs. body work, solid driver vs. showroom, immediate driving vs. upfront necessities.

When I bought mine, I had to resist the temptation to buy immediately and really look for the problems and decide whether I was willing to put in the time to fix them.

02-15-2008, 09:06 AM
If someone can't do their own repairs or at least is good friends with someone who can, I cannot recommend them buying a British car. Buy a BMW Z3 instead. It will be cheaper, run better, have AC and a good top. There are few mechanics out there now who will take in Brit cars. After I got my TR3 and got reamed on the first repair, I learned to work on them myself.

As far as restoration cost, I have over $8,000 in receipts for parts alone in my 64 Spitfire. And some of those costs are 1990 prices. I have done all of the work myself except for reassembling the differential. I would be fortunate to get 5k for it now.

So Mark if you are interested in a Spitfire give me a shout out. I don't really want to sell it, but the "free" Spitfire I got from Paul Slice on this site is starting to cost some bucks. And I need the space.

02-15-2008, 09:42 AM
Thanks, Bill. Right now I'm looking for, in no real order, one of these LBCs:

MG Midget (with a 1275, MK III if poss);
Sprite, ditto.

Depends on the condition as to which I purchase. I've never had a roadster before, and I've always loved Spridgets. Ideally, a nicely sorted MKIII Spridget would be my first choice.

If anyone knows about one, let me know.

02-15-2008, 09:55 AM
My rule of thumb:

For every $1 you spend on the car, you *might* increase its value by 50c. And that does not include the labor.

But for me its all about the therapeutic benefits of working on old cars, and the sense of achievement from doing it right. My wife thinks I'm nuts (but is supportive anyway) but I just love spending a couple hours tinkering on the old beast. Zen and the art of LBC repair (or something like that).

02-15-2008, 10:17 AM
I think my experience is exceptional. I had no LBC experience but have always done my own wrenching (I had 7 VWs in my younger days). November of 06 I bought my 78 Spitfire for $2750. It was the second car I looked at. 64000 miles,rust free, new top, new carpet, ran a little rough. I've put about 12000 miles on it and would be surprised if I've spent $1000 on parts. I fix it up as budget permits and maintain it lovingly. It still needs seats, paint, the door panels are getting a little rough but I love driving it and have to allow extra time on my errands because somebody always wants to talk to me about it. If it was a seldom running money hole I would still love it, but I wouldn't get to enjoy it as much. You can't look at it as an investment, it's an act of love.

Geo Hahn
02-15-2008, 10:28 AM
Experiences and results vary widely, but certainly a patient buyer has an advantage as waiting will eventually turn up a special car.

In my opinion buying the best example you can find of the car you want usually makes the most sense. I was able to buy my TR4 (not restored but nice original condition) for $1000 more than the paint job on my TR3.

Both my TRs really need nothing... still I set aside a $1000 per year to do things on them and have no trouble spending that much.

02-15-2008, 10:44 AM
For a $ figure, I talked to a friend of mine. He bought a TR6 freshly painted with a rebuilt engine for $5000. It needed 'reassembly'.

$12000 in parts later (and he did almost all the work) he has a nice reliable driver.

The engine was rebuilt btw - he didn't spend a penny there, nor on the diff or the tranny. He did have to patch one of the trailing arms though.

The 12k was mostly parts costs...

02-15-2008, 12:25 PM
22 years ago I bought a TR3A for restoration. It needed EVERYTHING. New chassis, engine, interior, electrics, etc, etc. I did all of the work bar the re-spray myself. It took me 9 years and cost me $40,000. I then sold it for $22,000. I didn't really mind the loss as for $2,000 a year I enjoyed the project.
The main problem was not being able to drive and enjoy this car, so I bought a scruffy TR3A to run around in. 16 years later I still have the car and I have gradually improved it. So far it has cost me just under $22,000.
These costs are maybe a little out of date now and TR values are higher over here than in the States.
It all depends on what your friend wants. A car to drive or a car to fiddle with.
Whatever he wants buy carefully. Some restoration projects are a great basis for a rebuild while others, like mine, will require a great deal of work. Similarly, some rebuilt cars are not as good as others!

02-15-2008, 01:29 PM
After graduating from college in 1973 I put my "rough but drivable" 61 TR3A in a barn. Three years ago, just after my father passed away,my two teenage sons looked at the TR and asked if they could get it running. I shrugged but realized nothing would have made my dad happier than seeing that old car running agin. Seven months later, new paint job $800.00, rebuilt carbs $450.00, electronic ignition, $150.00, brake rebuild $75.00, Top from ebay, $125.00, about 250 hours of body work (most of it me teaching them), rebuilt fender bottoms, floor pan and various additional items, $800, 4 wire wheels with good usable tread, $285 ebay, we got her running. (There is nothing like the first time we fired up that tractor engine without the exhaust at 2:30 AM in a residential area. Us and the neighboors still laugh)
She is not a show car, but she is what these cars were/are all about. A great little fun car.
Could I sell her, probably get around $6,000, would I, not for $600,000.
Its the trip not the destination.

02-15-2008, 01:39 PM
What an informative thread and thanks for so much good input. I hope it doesn't discourage anybody from restoring a decent TR, though.
It does strengthen my argument to my friend to buy the best car available. It is a fair bet that it will cost less in the long run.
This should also do away with the logic of restoring a car "to get the best price".

02-15-2008, 01:43 PM
"Buy the best you can afford"

I've said it before here, and I'll say it again: IMHO this ranks as one the most useless pieces of advice: it has zero practical use!

Say you have a choice of two cars, and one is half the price of the other, but has a hole in the fabric of the driver's seat. Then, according to the "best you can afford" rule, you should buy the more expensive one!!!

I feel like I'm missing the point of this old chestnut!

02-15-2008, 02:06 PM
you can easily top out $70,000. for a daily driver.

I also did the majority of the work myself.

So, you're saying that you've put something like $50,000 worth of parts into your car so far?


Sad but true, Bryan- I recently crossed the $46k line:
orig. cost, parts, paid labor, shipping, tools, mechanics
who got paid and never performed work, lift rentals, etc.
I performed the majority of the labor myself. The
professionals finished off my poor attempts at wrenching.

My case is unusual I admit but others have suffered similar
costly ordeals.

BTW: after 25 months of costly restoration , I now have
1,192 miles on the odometer to show for it- w/out a

I'm very happy with the car; a bit of a fool I was taken
so badly by Pedro's scam.

02-15-2008, 02:12 PM
Fairview - this thread has shown some really excellent viewpoints.

But to me it all boils down to "what car do you really want" and "what do you really want to do with it".

Unless someone's in it *only* for investment purposes /bcforum/images/%%GRAEMLIN_URL%%/crazy.gif, there's a lot to be said for wrenching on your own. May be hard to put a dollar amount on, but there's some excellent "internal" value in doing it yourself - and seeing the result.

It's 2pm EST. After weeks of miserable cold, wet weather, it's sunny today. I just went out to my TR, primed the pump, turned the key, warmed the battery, set the "choke", then hit the button. Three seconds later it was firing smoothly.

I just sat there for about 10 minutes, rpm around 2500. What a *great* feeling it was to look at the engine, the interior, the wiring, etc., and know that it's running (and looking!) so much better than when I got it one year ago. And I did it myself (with BCF guiding me every darn step of the way).

The feeling: priceless.


02-15-2008, 05:15 PM
I just have to chime in here. The key to success as a hobbiest is to either have real deep pockets, mechanical skills, or be willing to learn them. These cars were built in an era when parts were expensive, and labor was cheap. The opposite is true now. Although parts for LBC's May seem expensive, give a porsche dealer a call. They are a real good value, and availability is OUTSTANDING for 40 to 50 year old cars. Labor is another matter. I charge 91.50 an hour, and am at the local median price. You can spend THOUSANDS of hours on one of these cars with a chassis up resto. I always tell people to just buy the absolute best car that you can. Even if it needs more work, the better it is, the better off you are. I have a friend that does high end restorations on more or less expensive cars. An Etype resto can run to better than 100K. He recently did a 66 beetle from a POS beat car (family owned sentimental value thing) and it ran almost 60K!!They could have bought a nice done car for what 12K ,15K at the most?? So, buy a nice, COMPLETE car, that already runs and drives, and is NOT rusty, and you will be starting much closer to the finish line.

02-15-2008, 05:30 PM

No disrespect to your post, which does have some merit, but if a buyer can't distinguish what a better value is in a situation like that, they have a much bigger problem than getting a good car to start with.

Many times, people get into car restorations that they can't deal with because it seemed like the right thing to do at the time, even though it may not have been a fit for them either economically, or based on their (real, not imagined) mechanical aptitude and ability.

Jesse explains it well above.

02-15-2008, 06:24 PM
And many thanks to YOU, Jesse !!
Your professional instructions and diagnostics were
a big factor in turning my DPO Pedro POS car in a fun
ittle red beast that everyone enjoys seeing roaring
around Bayamon.

I still am convinced old cars are not for the weak of finger or weak of wallet crowd.


02-15-2008, 09:06 PM

No disrespect to your post, which does have some merit, but if a buyer can't distinguish what a better value is in a situation like that, they have a much bigger problem than getting a good car to start with.

Many times, people get into car restorations that they can't deal with because it seemed like the right thing to do at the time, even though it may not have been a fit for them either economically, or based on their (real, not imagined) mechanical aptitude and ability.

Jesse explains it well above.

I understand your point, but I was trying to highlight the inadequacy of the advice to "buy the best you can afford" by use of an extreme example. Typically when considering one of these old cars, the choice isn't so obvious ... the "best" is such a complicated equation to evaluate, and so subjective, the potential buyer isn't helped by being told to pick the "best" s/he can afford.

My advice, based on negligible experience compared with most of you here, is to post a question on this forum ... "Which of these cars do you advise me to buy, and why?" It worked for me ... /bcforum/images/%%GRAEMLIN_URL%%/cheers.gif

02-15-2008, 10:27 PM

I agree with your approach. And there is nothing wrong with using the experienced resources of clubs or VTR, 6-Pack, guys from here to help you look at a car either.

If asked, most experienced guys will at least meet with someone to help them look a car over.

If I wanted to buy a Jag or MG, I'd get someone familiar with those marques to help me.

02-16-2008, 08:08 AM
If you want to get into British sportscars, you must answer "yes" to the following two questions--

Can you work on cars?
Do you have a lot of money?

Buy British because you want a car with some soul, was designed by real people, and was built with two hands. Not computerized designed, robot constructed vehicles of today. Also, I don't know here you live, but even a ratty looking TR4 will turn more heads in the Wash DC suburbs than any late model Porsche, Ferrari, or Bentley.

About the costs. When I started my TR3 project 4 years ago I hysterically thought I could do a frame off resto for $6-$8k. Well I'm in at least on the north side of $30k, with only chrome and trim costs to go before getting it on the road. I'll probably spend $1500 for that. Try not to compartmentalize the major costs like the engine, body and paint costs, because that will probably only account for about 50% to 60% of the total restoration. Costs exists everwhere else like seat covers that will run $500, seat springs that will cost $150 a piece, carb rebuilds that will cost $300, horn rebuilds that will cost $100, new rubber that will cost $150, chrome that will cost $1500, and the list goes on and on and on. The term "nickel and dime" comes to mind.

The way I personally rationalize the investment is that the car will be practically new when I am done, and I know that it is done right. I'll know everything about the car, right down to the location of the clips used to hold the stainless steel brake lines to the frame. Also, at the end of the time and money commitment is something, opposed to a hobby where you have nothing but stories like football or golf.

The most important thing, even beyond selecting the "right" car for restoration, is having 1. spousal support for your project, and 2. a realistic assessment of your own skills and tool inventory. A car project will immediately turn sour if you don't have buy-in from the wife. About your skills and tools, if you don't have the skills, then you will have to pay someone for them, which aren't cheap, and about the tools --neither are these. A decent welder will be $450, wrenches, sockets and screwdrivers will be several hundred dollars.

About the right car to purchase. Spend more than you want to, but not less than you should have to. When I bought mine, I had a pyschological barrier to the $5k mark -- I could have spent $8k for one that was in infinetely better shape, but for some reason I wouldn't. That was a big mistake. In the end, the cheaper car needed much more and costs alot more in total restoration costs. Buy the most car you can possibly afford.

It is a very expensive hobby, but I think in my situation it is therapy.

02-16-2008, 08:23 AM

Well said, Mkutz.

When I started my TR search, I'd rule anything off my list that needed body/frame work. I have wrenches and wrench experience. I have no lift, cutting, welding or body work experience. And I have a *very* tight budget.


02-16-2008, 09:02 AM
<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Quote:]I'd rule anything off my list that needed body/frame work [/QUOTE]


That is probably the key to success with getting one of these, if you plan to do a lot yourself.

02-16-2008, 10:16 AM
To me that TR4A looks like a nice car to restore, I was looking at it myself, however, if your friend is planning on paying someone to do all the work, as others have said it would be better to find a car closer to ready to go.

But if you could do all or most of the work yourself that looks like a decent car to start with, rockers are kind of a pain to replace, none of the rest looks too bad.


02-16-2008, 11:26 AM
Buy British because you want a car with some soul; even a ratty looking TR4 will turn more heads (<span style="color: #CC0000">anywhere</span>)than any late model Porsche, Ferrari, or Bentley.

<span style="color: #CC0000">Even non-mechanic dale</span>
know that it is done right. I'll know everything about the car, right down to the location of the clips used to hold the stainless steel brake lines to the frame.

The most important thing, even beyond selecting the "right" car for restoration, is having 1. spousal support for your project,

Yupper on the wife comment!! When the Mrs is fairly
certain I've burned thru another $5,000. she books a
caribbean cruise as HER reward for my hard work. I've
been on many cruises this past 2 years!!

d /bcforum/images/%%GRAEMLIN_URL%%/jester.gif /bcforum/images/%%GRAEMLIN_URL%%/driving.gif

02-16-2008, 12:40 PM
In a weird sort of way, the restoration cost seems to approach what any given car would cost if it were available new, right now. Surely a new produced right now TR3 would be around 30K. The other "rule of thumb" is to take your worst case preliminary estimate, and at least double it. I have bought a lot of POS cars in my day (have owned over 100 at this point) Because I am skilled at mechanical work, many of those have gone on to a new life. I am no good at welding/bodywork, so that always figures into whether or not I buy a car. I know what it costs to get good work done, though, so I have learned to walk away if necessary. Therte are a lot of LBCs left (exporting aside), so with patience, a decent starting point can usually be found. I am way into a Corvair project. The car was FREE, the welding was done, but the entire rest of the car was in boxes. No suspension even. This is a great car for me, as I can make it exactly like I want it, but it still consumes money and time, little of which I have to spend on it.In the end, it will never be worth what I have in it, but I will have a "new" car built exactly to my specifications. How can you go wrong??

02-16-2008, 02:00 PM

What year Corvair? I had a 66 Monza convertible, 4 carb, 4 speed that I loved.

02-16-2008, 05:34 PM
67 coupe, haven't decided just how the powertrain is going to work out.I have a bunch of powerglides, and 1 four speed. The car is/was an automatic, and I need a 4 speed parts car to convert. I have a Porsche 5 speed though..... I may get to running as a PG car, and convert later. I will be happy to get it on 4 wheels(almost there) as it will be the first time since 84 that the car has been a roller. It is like putting together a giant model. Clean, paint, replace parts as required, and assemble!!

02-16-2008, 08:29 PM
My first 1966 was a blue coupe with PG. It was nice, but the 4 speed with 4 carbs was sooooo much better.

02-16-2008, 08:57 PM
Did they ever do anything about that hideous fan belt???

02-16-2008, 10:16 PM
Yes, Bill, they did. They sold many spares to carry as replacements.

Tinster would have loved a Corvair. All that room up front for spare parts.

Come to think of it, I think that he had a Monza as well.

02-17-2008, 06:01 AM
Yeah, Paul!!

I owned a 1962 Corvair Monza Spyder. Black with red bucket
seats interior. I got quite skilled with a 9/16" wrench and
fanbelts. The car's cornering capability was only exceeded
by my 'Ropa.

The Corvair plowed thru the heavy snows on western
Pennsylvania. It groaned up the mountains and tended to
overheat doing so.

The Corvair was a fun car to drive in PA, while going to


02-17-2008, 08:16 AM
Bill, what do you mean....weird clank?

02-17-2008, 08:38 AM
A gentleman in our club once commented, "I ought to give the car and $2,500 away and remain ahead of the game".

It's a tad off-topic but I once bought a 52 DeSoto that "ran when parked," and after a few years of frustration literally gave it away, just so I'd never have to see it again. Come to think of it, I worked the same deal on a Midget too, and my ex sold an AH 3000 BN7 (triple carbs -- fairly rare car) for $250 while I was out of state on a temp job...I think I may be doing this whole car thing wrong...

Steve Richardson
St Louis MO
76 TR7 (original owner)
50 Dodge Wayfarer

02-17-2008, 10:38 AM
WOW; 70 some odd posts here!

Well; I guess your friend should get the picture!

I really can`t add any more "Stuff" here!

Best Wishes,


02-17-2008, 10:39 AM
Bill, what do you mean....weird clank?

I had posted this in an earlier posting. When I start the engine, there is a strange clanking noise that sounds like it is coming from the front of the short block. Gonna put it up the air today and change my thrust washers, there is a little too much play there. The clank goes away after the engine begins to warm up.

02-17-2008, 10:47 AM
The car's cornering capability was only exceeded
by my 'Ropa.

Dale - you used to own a Europa?! I'm sure there's a tale or too there. Do tell more.


02-17-2008, 03:27 PM
After 5 years of blood/sweat/tears...my restoration is COMPLETE and free of expense...I can & have been free of that worry & now drive FREE!,,WHOO!RA!(Semper Fi)...BUT the costs were in the neighborhood of $8000.00 to $9000.00(50% paid by the PO the other 50% by me.
(PS;And its still being upgraded)

02-17-2008, 08:04 PM

Please continue to savor the moments, for they are few and far between.

Reality will be along soon, with cup in hand, to knock on your wallet once again.

02-17-2008, 08:49 PM
[quote=RobTDale - you used to own a Europa?! I'm sure there's a tale or too there. Do tell more.
Rob. [/quote]

Yup, good story: I was a blah, blah and arranged a bunch
of matertials and labor from one of my projects be donated
to construct a ball park for a poor kids neighborhood.

At Christmas, a rather large cashier's check was enclosed
in a card sent to me. I purchased a slightly used, hot
red 'Ropa.

It must be good to help those less fortunate. Being
raised a poor kid myself, I can appreciate small acts of


02-17-2008, 09:58 PM
Thanks again for all the great responses and input to this thread.

I thought I'd post the reason for the thread. A friend wanted an "easy project" so I went with him to see 3 Triumphs that were listed on Craigslist for Roanoke, Virginia. Here is a link to those cars:
Craigslist Triumphs Roanoke Virginia (https://community.webshots.com/user/fairviewdotnet)

After looking at those projects, I was curious about current restoration costs. I'm trying to convince my friend to drop the idea of a project, and go ahead and face facts and buy a TR that is ready to go. If he had the time to enjoy the work of a project, fine, but that isn't the case.

Thanks, Jeff

02-17-2008, 10:57 PM
I love every moment of it Paul.She's a lovely lady!The last upgrade were those wonderful 'Coker' whitewalls.A natural for this classic.

02-18-2008, 07:59 AM
I purchased a slightly used, hot
red 'Ropa.

Great story. So if it was "slightly used", I'm guessing this was late '70s early '80s. Quite a radical ride for that era. And lots of fun no doubt. Another side of the multi-faceted Tinster revealed. Thanks for sharing.


02-18-2008, 09:17 AM
Hi There roofman,

I just saw your car on ebay. What are you planning to get to work on?

Your write-up looks really good & accurate.

Best Wishes,


02-27-2008, 06:03 PM
I took 6 years to do a total rebuild of a 4a and by the time all said and done it was just over 24K. So the average expense on the family was about 4-5 grand a year for my hobby. The advantage is you get to know everything about the car, all the systems and how they work so if it has problems while on the road you know whats up and how to mend it, what parts to carry with you etc. When you finish the project the regular maintenance needs to be done so who better to keep ahead of Lord Lucas and other gremmies.

Notice the red 4a is missing the rear bumper-ettes that house the licence plate lights also the dash dimmer switch and wiper washer pump knobs are missing. The body work is the most expensive of all the restoration items so its important to really look underneath and especially at the back door posts where they come to the floor. I see rocker panel issues so a good poke below is in order.

When done these LBC's are a great drive and head turner. The wife has really come to love the club outings and get-a-ways or just that old fashion sunday drive. Thats why there are so many great people here on this form to ask questions for parts or ideas if you decide to tear one apart.

All the best and good luck in your quest.


Larry 4A

02-27-2008, 09:02 PM
As I sit here and get ready to order the parts for my new engine, I've come to realize that I will probably never get out of my car what I will have put into it, especially after this latest engine project. But that's not a reason for me not to do it.

As Larry said, it's a great hobby that I enjoy with my wife and we've made great friends with this hobby, me even more so than her. I've belonged to country clubs for over 30 years and I dread to think of what that has cost us, with nothing at all to show for it. At least I can go out and get in this and go for a ride when it's nice out. Or, if I ever wanted, I could sell it. Try selling your past 20 or 30 years of paid dues to any golf, tennis or swim club to someone. Great fun and memories, but no equity.

I'm preserving a piece of history and a part of our lives so that we can enjoy it whenever we wish to do so. The memories that I have with this car and my wife are worth more to me than the dollars that I've invested into it.

And when I'm gone, one of my grandchildren or nephews will hopefully enjoy it as well.