There are many things to consider when buying a project level car. Almost any car is "Restorable" but not all cars should be restored. As much as you think you will NEVER sell the car you are restoring, it is more than likely that someday you will. It is important to be realistic about the possible value of a car, and keep that in mind while restoring it. You will almost never get more that the #2 level value for a car as listed in the most current edition of the "Standard Guide to Cars and Prices". If the top value is 14,500, it won't matter that you have over 25k in the restoration.
The Staff at CCC llc has a combined 60+ years of experience buying, restoring, and selling vintage cars. We have learned a bit about them along the way. Here are a few points to consider-
Original is generally best. While it is true that you can make many modifications to increase performance, comfort, drivability, ect. It has been our experience that all original cars bring the best prices.
Hot Rods are Tricky to Sell! Look at your driver's license. If it doesn't say "Boyd Coddington" or "George Barriss" chances are people are not going to attach a huge value to your ability to build a Hot Rod. Exceptionally nice pre-war Street Rods seem to be the only current exception to this rule.
Know the Pecking order of body styles. The body style of a vehicle can have a massive effect on the overall value. Cars of the same make/year/model can be up to 4 times greater/lesser value based on the body style. With a few exceptions it goes like this- 1-Convertible 2-2 Door Hardtop 3- 2 Door Post (sedan) 4- 4 door hardtop 5-4 Door Post (sedan) Then start at the largest engine available that year and work your way down. Bigger is always better (almost). Be aware of trim/performance packages. Do your research and know the difference between a "Special", "Deluxe" and "Bel-air". In the case of early 1960's Chevrolets an "Impala" trim car can be up to 40% more valuable than a "Bel-Air" trim model.
Be Realistic about your level of ability- Any car "Can" be restored, but if this is your first project the likelyhood of doing a successful frame off restoration on a car that is a basket case is very low. Start with a runnning/driving car in need of moderate cosmetic restoration. Know what you can do yourself, and what will need to be hired out. Get some idea from local shops what they charge to do the work you will need.
Be realistic about what you can expect from a vintage car. These are 30-70 year old vehicles. They are not going to be perfect, and even if they were "Like New" the technology that went into building them is still MANY years old. If you want a new car, buy one. If you want an vintage car with character, accept that it will take work, and more maintainence than a new car. We feel it is worth it.