10 Ford Projects You Can Afford … We Have Video Too!

We hit the Carlisle Ford Nationals and find swap-meet gold!

Buying a project car has never been easier. With the advent of the Internet sellers have an expanded audience that is just one click away from the convenience of their couches. As a result, traditional multi-purpose venues that host car shows and sell cars, parts, and other services have taken a hit. While convenience has its merits, there is nothing like physically seeing what you’re buying and haggling for a better price. With that in mind, we put our Car Craft hat on and took a trip to the Carlisle Ford Nationals to check out the car corral to see what bargains we could find for a modest amount of cash, with that number capped at the ten to twelve grand range.

In terms of cars, the window we were working with was anything from the 1960s to the 1990s, with an off-the-beaten-path flavor. We considered what could receive a proper restoration, and what would be a good candidate for something like a Coyote swap. Car Craft is brand agnostic, so we weren’t fixated with originality, or keeping things in the same gene pool. We also pondered candidates for the ever-popular LS swap. While that might get the Ford folks a bit salty, LS swaps are a real thing, and that was a box we were checking on our list. The other thing we took into consideration is that at venues like Carlisle, good deals aren’t exclusive to the car corral. Walking the swap meet area is also a good place to find cars for sale that are usually parked on trailers. We found a nice round number of eleven cars that we really liked, and with real-world price tags, too!

1966 Mercury Comet
Price: $12,500

The name “ Mr. Twister’s Ugly Sister” painted on the side of this 1966 Comet pulled us in. The asking price of $12,500 was just above our threshold, but the OBO meant there was some room for negotiation. This one was just plain cool. The patina was spot-on, and when you take into consideration the work that had been done to the car, it seemed like a realistic asking price. It was back-halved with a Dana 60, a warmed over 390 FE, and a Borg Warner T10 four-speed.

1971 Mustang Mach 1
Price: $5,500

This 1971 Mach 1 was missing its engine, but was included in the $5,500 asking price. According to the sign on the car, it is an original 351 Cleveland-equipped machine with an automatic. We couldn’t verify the condition of the engine bay because the hood didn’t have any hinges, but we did see that the interior was in poor condition. Overall, the body looked like it was in decent condition but we did notice Bondo on the driver’s doorjamb, which probably meant a quarter-panel replacement at some point. This car looked like a good candidate for a restomod conversion.

1985 Mustang GT
Price: $2,500

WEB: PHOTOS 3, 9, & 7 HERE

In our estimation, this 1985 GT was a good buy. Originally with an asking price of $3,500, the owner had slashed it down to $2,500. The car was complete but very dirty. The body was solid, but the paint had seen better days. It had been sitting for five years but fired up without hesitation. While we were looking this one over, a guy came along and bought it within a matter of minutes. Score!

1960 Thunderbird
Price: $5,000

We found this 1960 Thunderbird sitting on a trailer with a flexible asking price of $5,000. The completeness of this car is what attracted us to it, and a chat with the seller gave us a bit more info. It is a second-owner car that is still wearing most of its original paint and was originally part of an estate sale. The chrome and trim was in decent shape and all still in place. There were some signs of rust noticeable in places like the doors, lower rockers, and quarters. Mechanically the car ran, however, we were told that the rear was making some noise and needed repair.

1974 Ford Maverick
Price: $9,900

With a price tag of $9,900 (which had been reduced from $14,900) this 1974 Maverick looked like a good buy for someone looking for a low-mileage car with only 35,000 miles on an original 302 cubic-inch V8. The body and interior were in excellent condition. If you can’t get past the ugly 5-mph mandated safety bumpers, conversions to the earlier smaller bumpers are fairly easy to do. This was our top pick for sleeper status.

1973 Gran Torino Sport
Price: $10,500

Priced at $10,500 or a best offer, this 1973 Gran Torino Sport was equipped with the Q-code 351CJ and an automatic shifter on the column, and advertised as numbers-matching. Overall, the car was in nice condition and the engine was wearing a fresh coat of paint, which led us to believe that it had been pulled and given a refresh.

1970 ½ Ford Falcon
Price: $11,900

This 1970 ½ Falcon really caught our eye. Priced at the high end of our limit, it checked off all the right boxes. The asking price was a negotiable $11,900. While this may look like a Torino, but the difference lies in the rear window shape and the trim levels available. These were low-option cars and were produced in very limited numbers. Engine choices ranged from a mild-mannered 250 cubic-inch six-cylinder and 302 cubic-inch V8 all the way to the 429 Cobra Jet. This one was equipped with the 302 cubic-inch mill mated to a 4-speed. The interior was really clean, while the exterior had been resprayed. We think this might have been originally equipped with a vinyl top because of signs that the bodywork was popping through where the chrome trim would have been installed. Overall, it was in nice shape.

1973 Mustang Mach 1
Price: $6,500

We found this 1973 Saddle Bronze Metallic Mach 1 in the swap meet area with an asking price of $6,500 dollars. It was missing the engine, transmission, and interior, but we were informed that the interior and transmission were included in the sale price. Not included was the 351-2v “Ram Air” engine. With both the interior and drivetrain missing, we were able to see just how nice this car was. This was a good candidate for a restoration, or an engine swap.

1979 Thunderbird
Price: $3,500

This 1979 Thunderbird was priced at $4,250 and in excellent condition with only 35k on the odometer. We spoke to the owner and if someone flashed $3,500 it would have sealed the deal. The interior was in great shape and the body was as well—still wearing its original paint. The inspection sticker was from 1995 and we were told that the car had sat for many years.

1992 Mustang LX
Price: $10,000

This 1992 5.0 LX was another candidate we found in the swap meet area on a trailer. The asking price was $10,000, but was flexible. This one was equipped with the 5-liter V8 backed by a 5-speed. In our estimation this was an ideal purchase for someone who was looking for a turnkey car that just required some cleaning up. Fox body prices are on the rise, and finding nice ones like this one can often be a challenge.

1968 Mercury Montego LX
Price: $8,100

The Mercury Montego was a new model in 1968 that rivaled the Torino on the Ford side. This one up for sale was in very good condition and had a negotiable price of $8,100. In LX trim, these models were well-equipped with such things as AC, power brakes, and power steering. This one had a rebuilt 302 cubic-inch small-block with a four-barrel which would be the optional 230-horse engine. It was also equipped with the Merc-O-Matic automatic transmission. We really liked this one for its overall condition.

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