The $5,000 Challenge, test your restoration skills edition

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Go to any hot rod show these days, and you’re likely to encounter a “Built, not bought” bumper sticker or two. And with good reason, since nothing creates pride in ownership quite like restoring or building a car on your own, or with a minimal amount of outside assistance.

Enter the latest crop of $5,000 Challenge candidates. All need work, some more than others, to return to driver status, show status, or as-delivered-new status. In some cases, this may be limited to a bit of online detective work to track down a set of OEM wheels and an original (or period-correct) radio. In other cases, there’s rust to remediate, engines to rebuild or install, and interior work to tackle.

Whether the job is large or small, taking on any of these salvation-worthy selections is bound to deliver a sense of satisfaction, as well as an education in the skills necessary to restore and maintain an affordable collector car.


1984 Volkswagen Scirocco

1984 VW Scirocco

Volkswagen’s sporty hatchback was once a staple in high school parking lots and on college campuses nationwide, but the last U.S-sold example rolled off the assembly line in 1988, replaced by the upmarket Corrado. Finding a clean, surviving Scirocco can be a challenge today, since many fell victim to the tin worm or the tuner crowd over the years. This 1984 model appears to be an exception to the rule; apart from the aftermarket wheels and stereo, it looks to be largely stock, and better-preserved than most. We’d love to see the next owner right its few wrongs and return the car to an as-delivered appearance, since you don’t see second-generation Sciroccos in the wild with any regularity these days. The asking price? $4,995.

1984 VW Scirocco 1984 VW Scirocco 1984 VW Scirocco 1984 VW Scirocco


1974 Plymouth Satellite Custom sedan

1974 Plymouth Satellite

Owned by the seller for the past 15 years, this Mopar sedan has reportedly been in his family since 1978. Likely handed down through a series of drivers, it’s survived the decades without being cut up or heavily modified in the name of performance or style. It probably wouldn’t take a lot of work to make it a driver-quality car, though we’d love to see the next owner go one step further and source period-correct wheels, lower the rear ride height to stock and address the interior issues. The asking price? $5,000.

1974 Plymouth Satellite 1974 Plymouth Satellite 1974 Plymouth Satellite 1974 Plymouth Satellite


1952 Studebaker Commander Starliner hardtop

1952 Studebaker Commander

Here’s the good news about this particular Studebaker: it’s a two-door hardtop (what Studebaker called a “hardtop convertible”) with a V-8 beneath the hood, complete with all trim. The bad news? It will need bodywork, paint and upholstery to turn into a driver or show car, and tracking down Studebaker bits is generally more complicated than a trip to the local NAPA store. That said, it appears that the current owner is toying with the idea of parting the car out, which would be a shame given its complete and solid-appearing nature. The asking price? $5,000.

1952 Studebaker Commander 1952 Studebaker Commander 1952 Studebaker Commander 1952 Studebaker Commander


1966 Chevrolet C20 Camper Special pickup

1966 Chevrolet C20

Prices for second-generation Chevrolet C/K pickups have gone through the roof in recent years, yet first-generation examples – like this 1966 C20 Camper Special – remain affordable. We’re guessing it’s spent much of its life as a work truck, and while not exactly pampered, it does appear to have been cared for. We’d tackle the mechanicals first, followed by an interior restoration, before beginning the bodywork, and if we timed it correctly, the truck would be show-worthy just about the same time that first-gen C/K prices hit peak. The asking price? $3,900.

1966 Chevrolet C20 1966 Chevrolet C20 1966 Chevrolet C20 1966 Chevrolet C20


1966 Mercury Park Lane two-door hardtop

1966 Mercury Park Lane

In its current state, this two-door Mercury is best thought of as a life-size model kit, since its engine, transmission and assorted other bits are part of the package, but not currently installed in the car. We’ll count that in the “Plus” column, since it’s one less task in the car’s restoration process. Here, we’d tackle the rust and bodywork first, before confirming the mechanical state of the 410 V-8 and automatic transmission. The interior appears to be in very good condition, so we’d make every effort to keep this as original as possible, and once the work was done, we be on the lookout for a suitable vintage travel trailer to vacation in style and comfort. The asking price? $4,500.

1966 Mercury Park Lane 1966 Mercury Park Lane 1966 Mercury Park Lane 1966 Mercury Park Lane


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