Ten Best Salvage Cars For Restoration Projects

Ten Best Salvage Cars For Restoration Projects

There is something incredibly satisfying about restoring a battered car to its former integrity. It is a great way to learn more about automobiles on your own. Aside from being an often cathartic hobby, restoring cars can also be turned into a very profitable one, if you have the talent and inclination for it. 

Part of the excitement of attending a salvage auction is the possibility of finding one of those hidden gems, perfect for your next vehicle restoration venture. 

Here are ten great salvage cars for restoration projects you should keep an eye out for, the next time you head to an auction lot: 

1. Honda Civic Si  (2006 -2011)

Available in as either a sedan, or a coupe, these are great cars for a budget restoration build. Hondas are known for their endurance, making them pretty great even in salvage conditions. And as bestsellers in the Canadian market, they are an easy find. With the right tuning, you can have a great performance car on a budget. 

 if you want the complete package of beauty, power, and affordable customization, the Honda Civic is one of the best cars in the market
Source: Michael at Flickr

2. Mazda MX-5 Miata (2006-15)

The third generation of the legendary Japanese roadsters sold in the North American market was the NC version. An ideal weekend car, it is the perfect option for a restoration build. Close to ten thousand of these were sold in Canada, meaning you could spot one in a salvage auction with some luck. 

 Mazda MX-5 Miata is the ideal weekend car
Source: Top Speed.
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3. Nissan 240SX -S14

The second-generation variant of the Japanese sports car has a legendary fan following among car enthusiast circles. A well-maintained model with a regular title will burn a huge hole in your wallet, due to what they call the “Drift Tax.” That makes a salvage Nissan 240SX the ultimate find. But do be prepared for a bidding war! 

 Due to its insane potential for "drifting," the Nissan 240SX commands a high premium in car-enthusiast circles.
Source: Dave_7 at Flickr

4. Toyota Corolla

One of the best selling cars in the world since the 1980s, the Corolla lineup is filled with many variants. You can’t go wrong with any of them, especially if you can find one from the early fifth or sixth-gen models (E80 and above). They have an excellent chassis and offer nearly endless customization paths for you to take, through your process. 

Fifth Generation Toyota Corolla. Known for their custom lineup, and reliability.
Source: Toyota Motor Corporation

5. Chevrolet Impala 8th-Gen (2000-05)

These were built in Canada at the Oshawa plant in Ontario. If you can find the SS variant that came with a supercharged V6, that would be an excellent car for a project. Even the base variants with their regular V6 blocks offer decent upgrade options. As a common police car, these are very easy to find at auctions. 

The iconic 3 Series is one of the best selling models ever in the BMW catalog, making them quite a common find at salvage auctions
Source: Pixnio

6. BMW 3 Series E-90 (2003 – 14)

The 3 series is BMW’s most popular car model with the most sales in Canada and the rest of the world. They shipped more than ten thousand of these executive cars each year so there is a high chance of picking one up at the auction. With the excellent build quality and dynamics, it is a great car for restoration projects. 

The BMW 3 Series E-90 attempts to balance its appeal between the practical and daring driver. An industry standard in the sport-sedan classification.
Source: Herst Autos

7. Jeep Wrangler JK (2006-18)

The third-gen variant of the Wrangler series is a great starting point for an off-road restoration project. It is also quite easy to come by on the Canadian auto auction scene, given the thousands that have been sold each year. They are available in both two and four-door configurations. 

 3rd generation of the iconic Jeep Wrangler vehicle series]
Source: WheelsAge

8. Volkswagen Golf MK5

For those interested in a small, nimble salvage car for a restoration project, the Golf is one of the easiest to track down. The car is beloved by many for its strong engine and amazing driving experience. The base model here churned out 150 horses, with a GT edition upping it to 197 hp. 

The fifth generation: Volkswagen Golf MK5 was in high-production including popular performance and special edition variations, from 2003-2009]
Source: Telegraph Media Group

9. Ford Mustang S-197 (2005-2014)

If you want a muscle car that is easy to find and repair, the Mustang is the first thing you should be looking for. The older classic variants are harder to come by, but you can easily find the fourth and fifth-generation models on the used and salvaged car circuit. These Mustangs are available with base V6 as well as GT V8 engines. 

With their powerful V6 and V8 engines, Mustangs are great for restoration projects regardless of their age
Source: Tx-re at Wikimedia Commons

10. Lexus IS XE20 (2005-2015)

With a slick design and excellent engine upgrade options in the aftermarket, the Lexus IS has unlimited potential as a salvage car for a restoration project. You can kit them out as your daily driver, or weekend fun machine. The base variant had a Toyota V6 with 250 horses under the hood. For added oomph, they also sold a V8 variant called the IS F, with a top speed of 170mph! 

A Japanese coupe-like sedan, the Lexus IS (XE20), sold over 49,000 units in its first year on the market.
Source: Wikimedia Commons


You have the freedom to turn pretty much any old boring car into a mean machine. But these ten vehicles have some of that X-factor which makes them the best salvage vehicles for restoration projects. There are far more expensive (and rarer) cars out there, but if you want to find one with relative ease, cars like these are the best.