You've got the motivation, you've got the space, and you've got some cash, so the next step is to find that special car to fill the void in your garage. As exciting as a new project can be, don't let your emotions rule your wallet. Take a step back and look at what you're signing up for.
Today is the day you're going to (attempt to) pick your project; that's why you've come to the Pomona Swap Meet here in Southern California. It isn't unusual to see people from around the world walking the aisles. Just as the East Coast has Carlisle and Englishtown, we've got Pomona. The Pomona meet occurs seven times a year, though if you've been, you would think it's an annual event considering the immense number of attendees. One of the main events you'll want to look at is the Show and Sale section. There are hundreds of cars for sale covering everything from the '20s through the mid-'70s.
With all the choices, you need to step back for a second and think about what you want. The best advice we can give you is to have an open mind. If you're stuck on a '69 Camaro, be prepared to pay handsomely, but if you're OK with a '73 Firebird or '67 Cougar, you'll be amazed at the affordable possibilities. If you're stumped, and don't know where to turn for ideas, take a look at some of the designers we're featuring in this month's "Draw It!" story. A quick look at this story may convince you that a car you might not give a second thought to--like a '75 Laguna--can actually be a really cool car. Like we said, keep an open mind!
When shopping, there are three major concerns: the cost, your abilities, and your time frame. Figuring a budget for your build is no easy task, but it can be divided into two parts. One is the initial cost of the car, with the other being the cost to complete it. When searching for a project car, I really wanted to buy a fastback Mustang. Unfortunately, the prices of fastbacks reserve most of them for the wealthy. I spotted several fastbacks and coupes at Pomona; some were in great condition, some not. We've found that you can get a coupe in great shape for less than half the price of a fastback. If Mustangs are your thing, and you're looking for a running car on a budget, you just might be bringing home a coupe instead. Another factor behind the price tag is condition. You'll have the choice of buying a car that needs work for a lower initial cost, or a driver that's ready to go. That brings us to our second variable: personal ability. If you've got fabrication skills and have many of the necessary tools (as seen in our "Build It!" story), you could save money and do the work yourself. Maybe "builder" isn't in your resume, and you're looking to go cruising next weekend. In that case, a ground-up project isn't the best idea.
We walked the show, looking for cars in all different conditions and budgets, and came up with quite a spread. Each of them has pros and cons, and we thought it would be cool to show you the best and the worst. Yeah, we know; these cars may not be applicable for you, but it should give you a good idea of what's out there, how much things cost here in California, and what danger signs to look for in your hunt for a fresh project!