As you can see I didn't do too bad. The car had lots of minor problems: there was only one front seat in the driver's position. I asked the seller and he told me that the front seat was broken and was going to throw it away. He said that I could have it if I wanted, Sure I did. The front windshield is cracked and not fixed yet. There was no muffler or tailpipe on the car. The ad had said that it needed a manifold. Luckily the exhaust manifold was fine, no cracks of broken pipe mounting studs, just no muffler. Wow did it sound loud and ugly! Straight sixes have a different sound than a V8 kind of unpleasant when it was that loud. The turn signals didn't work though one stop light did. The brakes seemed okay, manual drums. I hadn't driven a car like that in about forty years. Still I managed to drive it the seven or eight miles home without incident.
Lessons learned: By choosing a less desirable body style equipped with a six I found a fairly good car to start out with. Sure it's a six, but it was running and the motor and tranny seem in pretty good shape. A seized up or missing V8 would have been a lot more headaches, time and expense. The chassis and body are in generally good shape and later I can fix the shoddy body repair. The floors are really good.
Sometimes there aren't that many alternatives. Take Camaros for instance. Their early models are expensive also and there are only two body styles coupe and convertible. I don't think you will find a bargain there. The early second gen 1970 models are kind of pricey too, However the 74 through 79
models with the chrome log bumper are not so desirable. Since this bodystyle was made up through 1982
The plastic bumpered cars can be found at some fair prices. There are a few straight six Camaros out there somewhere but I haven't seen many for sale. The 80s models are more likely to have 305 or 307 V8 smog motors but these car be built up into pretty good performers. There are more likely to be more V6 models in the mix also during these years.
When It comes to 1950s and early 1960's cars there are still some cheaper picks. Mostly two and four door sedan ( post ). models. Hardtops will of course be more expensive. Compacts like Falcons, Valiants, and four door Chevy IIs. Four doors will usually be lots cheaper and in better original shape. many will have been used as everyday transportation until recently. Some of these cars are really in amazingly good condition .Whether or not a four door is worth buying depends on what you plan to do with it. A clean driver with nice wheels or low buck custom can be a smart route to follow. You don't want to put too much money into one though, because it will be hard to sell. Of course you could build up a nice driver and then use it as parts to fix up a rougher two door of the same model later on down the road. I once bought a pretty nice 56 Cadillac four door hard top that the seller had originally planned to use as a parts car for a much rougher coupe. He couldn't bring himself to tear down such a nice car and ended selling the coupe and holding onto the fourdoor instead.
Once you've got the car now you have to start fixing it up. Any project should always have it's final result in mind from the beginning.