Equipped with the necessary tools and a passion for auto restoration, a small but dedicated group of people make it a point to resurrect old cars, and some incredible work is included in this list. The transformation of some of these rust buckets will really surprise you!
The Time Traveler
This 1970 Plymouth Barracuda was fixed up by Mark Worman and his crew on Graveyard Carz, an automobile TV show that follows him as he fixes up and restores classic muscle cars in as bad of a condition as he can find. Many cars on this list are the product of his work, as credit is deserved where credit is due. After he was done with this one, it looks so new it’s as if it traveled half a century forward in time.
This Porsche was restored by Jon Sibal, an incredible artist who reimagines auto bodies. It’s painful to think that the RWB Porsche was neglected for so long — in what universe is that white patch an acceptable way to treat such an awesome sportscar? After Sibal was done, though, the car lost the classic Porsche hubcaps as part of his effort to truly make it his own. People don’t usually want rivets to be seen on the exterior, yet here they really pull the car together.
A Master of Disguise
So many people passed by this Aston Martin in the scrapyard, unaware of its potential just as they were unaware of its prestigious past. It makes sense that James Bond drove one of these luxurious British beauties. This 1959 Mark II Sports Saloon can fetch hundreds of thousands of dollars at auction, which is hard to believe considering the condition of the car before it underwent restoration! The beautiful red finish gives this car its classy sheen, and that’s how we like our Aston Martins.
Up for the Challenge?
This 1970 Dodge Challenger T/A, definitely a collector’s item considering that Dodge only made 2,399 of these beauties, was lying around out in the open, allowed to rust for years. You’d think it was supposed to be red in the front! Just look at the hubcaps… the truck lid also looks like it’s completely caved in, bearing testament to how badly this car needed love. Luckily, someone spotted this rare vehicle and saved it from ending up getting scrapped.
Check Out the Charger
This Dodge Charger doesn’t look anywhere near as bad as some of the others on this list, but that doesn’t make the finished product any less magnificent. Although this car wasn’t yet in the junkyard, where cars go to die, it was making its way there with its rusty finish and lack of luster. Any shine it had was ancient news, and it finally got the much-deserved facelift. The redone upholstery is beautiful, but the hubcaps on the bottom are the cherry on top.
Here’s yet another Plymouth Barracuda, this time a 1971 model, that’s undergone a complete refurbishing. It’s a crime how many of these ‘Cudas have been abandoned or sold for parts, but isn’t that just a testament to how well these machines were built? Indeed, they were one of the premier vehicles coming out of the U.S. at a time when “American car” meant power, and they were powered by the impressive Chrysler Hemi engines. One downside of emissions control legislation was it took Chrysler decades to redesign a popular Hemi engine.
How Could They Af-Ford This?
There isn’t that much information surrounding the following car transformation. What we do know though is that it is a ’69 Ford Mustang that is owned by a couple by the names of Tim and Cici Spencer. As you can see, it was once a shadow of its former self. However, with the help of Goolsby Customs, the vehicle underwent an incredible reconstruction – so much so that it won the Mothers Shine Award back in 2015. And it’s understandable why.
BMW = Best Makeover Winner
There’s not too much online information surrounding the context behind this incredible transformation, but it sure is a sight to behold. This BMW M3 had certainly seen better days. In fact, you could say that this is an absolute understatement! With a lot of hard work and persistence, this shell of a car had many new parts installed, including wheels and an engine, and to finish off the transformation, it underwent a paint job with a completely different color, and a sleek, shiny finish.
A transformation completed by the well-respected Project Owners Club, this Subaru Impreza looked more like the Delorean from Back to the Future when this team first got their hands on it. However, with some deep digging, hard work and patience, they managed to bring the car back to its former glory. They found the appropriate bumpers for the car, while also giving it a neat, red paint job. Now, this Impreza lives up to the name, and is extremely impressive, to say the least.
Putting the “Toy” in Toyota
There is an entire online forum surrounding the radical reconstruction of this Toyota GT86. Without a hood or bumper after a number of road accidents, the owner thought that they would have to write off this car completely. As proven time and time again, no car is a lost cause. It did take a fair amount of money though to get the job done. $4250 for the repair parts and another $2500 for the modifications, to be precise. Seems like it was worth every penny.
French repair team Transformation Auto Body does a pretty neat job of taking severely damaged cars and restoring them to their former glory. Take this, 2006 Nissan Altima, for example, which had suffered a lot of damage to its front left. Its left headlight was completely decimated and the bumper needed a complete replacement. Needless to say, this repair team had everything under control and made the car look as good as new, providing a new headlight and a new bumper.
Return of the Pontiac
This Pontiac lowrider was completely down in the dumps when repair team Serpents CC took it and restored it to its glory days! Not only had it already lost its hood, but it was left in a garage to rust and rot for years. Then, these guys took it, installed and replaced the necessary parts and gave it a much-needed glossy paint job. When everything was said and done, the new and improved Pontiac looked like a completely different car.
The Phantom Menace
This was a truly special episode of Graveyard Carz that diehard and casual fans alike simply could not miss. The team was alerted to a ’71 Phantom ‘Cuda that in their words, had been left for dead after it suffered a terrible accident in a hotly contested driving race. It ended up getting a truly comprehensive “soup to nuts” restoration. After all of that hard work and persistence, the ’71 Phantom ‘Cuda is back on the road and ready to win some races!
All it Needed Was Some TLC
This before and after photo was shared by Collision Works and shows how a GMC Sierra went through hell and back before being left completely for dead. Even the windows had been vandalized, which hits home just how neglected it had been. However, a team of dedicated repairmen gave the wreckage a ton of TLC and after a few months, the Sierra was as good as new. In Collision Works’s words, “Jaws of life were used on roof of this truck!”
Porsche, of Course
A car repair team posted this incredible split of a Porsche 997 Carrera S that had suffered tremendously from a nasty road accident. Not only did they heal the severe wounds, they also gave the car some beautiful modifications, most notably the hints of red on the wheels and on the side-view mirrors. If there is one car brand that simply can’t be ignored when it comes to its appearance alone, it’s Porsche. This team treated this 997 Carrera S with respect.
Restoring Plymouth Pride
These Plymouth Barracudas keep showing up on this list, and it’s no surprise why they’re so popular among Mark Worman and the Graveyard Carz crew. Actually, good job to them for correctly identifying this 1970 ‘Cuda, because it’s so stripped down that someone without as sharp of an eye could have easily gotten mistaken. The body is in great condition, despite the rust all over. Completely replacing everything took a lot of effort, but they boast that they prefer cars in as bad of condition as possible.
This renovation was done by a Redditor showing off his restoration job, which only cost $5.26! On the inside, the car was already in better condition, as there’s a bottle of 409 there to make sure the dashboard is spick and span. He still needs to go back and fix the hubcaps, which look kind of rusty, but it looks like all the original parts are still good. If it’s in working order, a thorough cleaning and paint job can do wonders.
A Complete Facelift
Another awesome piece of repair work by Transformation Auto Body came when someone brought a 2008 Nissan Sentra Spec-V to its parking lot. Similar to the other Nissan, this one had suffered even more damage than the previous one. It appears that the car must have crashed into the back of another car or at the very least, hit a hard surface. Not only was the bumper destroyed, but so was the hood and the engine. A complete overhaul of the front was required.
Road Runner, Road Runner!
It’s shocking to see just how the incredible Mark Worman and his crew can bring previously unrecognizable cars back to their former glory. When you look at the before picture, you can see this Plymouth Road Runner being prepped for its new paint job. The bent chassis needed a hammering, and there was extensive metal work needed to replace all the rusted out parts. But now that’s all in the past, because now that the Graveyard Carz crew is done with it, they added a lemon twist paint job, replaced the missing components, and attached the car’s namesake: Warner Brothers’ Road Runner character.
“That Thing Got a Hemi?”
This Charger R/T looks like it had been through a lot before getting the special treatment it deserved. Actually, it looks as wherever it has been, it decided to leave most of itself back there, too. But when you look at the paint, it bears witness to the frame being in much better condition than its stripped-down appearance would have you believe. Make no mistake: it needed a lot of work before the mechanics added the “Hemi” finishing touch on the side.
AC Ace, Always Classy
The 2-liter AC Ace is one classy car, with the prestige of having placed seventh in the 1959 Le Mans race, with all six cars coming before having the benefit of a 3-liter engine. However, this car had seen more than its share of tough days before it arrived by trailer to this auto shop in Redding, California. It took an immense amount of effort and almost three years before the finished result was unveiled, but they weren’t dilly-dallying! AC stopped making these cars in 1963.
A Laudable First Attempt
Done by a muscle car enthusiast, this 1969 Ford Mustang had been stripped down to an unrecognizable skeleton. He did a fan-tastic job, yet the amateur admitted getting a dose of reality when the car broke down on the way back from a vintage car show — initiation, he said, into the community of vintage car owners. While these cars doubtlessly require upkeep and deft mechanical skills to get into tip-top driving condition, the beauty of this amateur’s restoration is a clutch maneuver in itself.
A Rare Bugatti
Before Bugatti became well-known for selling expensive, high-end exotic supercars, they were a manufacturer of classics like this type 57S Atalante. This rare Bugatti disappeared shortly after its purchase over half a century ago by his owner. When it was discovered in the garage, this magnificent car was in a state of neglect and rusted over, as we can see. But this 80-year-old beauty made a comeback and was restored before finally being evaluated and then sold.
Smooth Like a Jaguar
The Jaguar XKE was one of the most iconic cars of the ‘60s. This particular XKE had been parked in the same location since the 1970s, in a simple carport. Finally, in the ‘90s, the owner of this beat-up beauty listed the car for sale, and the new buyer then had it restored and thoroughly cleaned, and afterward, the car was still intact and healthy. Today, this Jaguar XKE looks impeccable, harkening back to its former days as one of the most beautiful cars on the planet.
The Datsun 240Z was from the first generation of Z GT two-seat coupes produced by Nissan, and the car was reliable and fun to drive. Unfortunately, this particular one has seen better days, as the back wheels are missing, the door’s about to fall off, and the whole thing is in an utter state of disrepair. Luckily, this ’73 240Z was given new life and a second chance. We think this brown, hard-top is a pretty sleek color. If you’re picking one up for restoration, know that these cars like to rust from the inside out.
Oh La La
As we can see, this classic Ferrari from the 1950s was in pretty poor shape when it was found unused in a barn in Italy before its exciting uncovering. It was then bought for a small amount of $8,000, and its discovery surprised those in Ferrari collector circles. Now, all it needed was to be spit-shined to its former glory, and as we can guess, that’s precisely what happened next. The gleam from this car’s restoration is a monumental achievement of revamping.
The Best Shade of Orange
This Camaro has had its fair share of time in the sun. The first-generation Camaro, from 1967-69, was a heavy-hitting car that can take on the Mustang. Unfortunately, this one wasn’t willing and able in its current state. As we can see, in its beautiful orange, restored sheen, this ’69 Camaro could take on any Mustang. This car originally had eight engine options when it was first released, and by the end of the first batch, that list grew to 12 more.
The Bird of Thunder
Another absolute classic in the car collector world is the first rendition of Ford Thunderbird. This version of the Thunderbird was the best and also final real Thunderbird. The iconic styling set the standard for future cars, even though the following generations would slowly let down their clients and wander further away from what made this car spectacular. The owner of this one didn’t know how valuable the car could be if it were well maintained. A car in this pristine condition is quite rare and could fetch quite a sweet bundle.
33 Years Later
Peter Trant is a restorer of old and rare cars, and this is his prized possession, the Canadian-built, 1944 McLaughlin Buick Series 80 Victoria Coupe. He paid $300 for this dilapidated mass in 1966, when it was 35 years old. In 1979, he then proceeded to take it apart for restoration. He finally finished the renovation 33 years later. It just goes to show that if you really put the time in to make something pristine and beautiful, you can succeed.
This 1970 Dodge Challenger R/T only had its frame to identify it for what it was, but Mark Worman once again managed to work his magic. Looking back on this, he remarked that it was one of the biggest transformations the show ever did. They made sure to redo the sunroof, all the power windows, added houndstooth design in the interior, and more features to bring this car back from the graveyard. While the engine and luggage rack were nice, it was the 8-track that tied together this vintage vehicle.
The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air
The second-generation Chevrolet Bel Air was a very iconic and classic car. There’s no mistaking it when you first catch a glimpse: it’s spherical bubble top combined with sleek, dramatic rear fins. The Bel Air was sold from 1950 to 1981, and this is the version collectors are most interested in. These cars have been steadily climbing in value in recent years, glorious versions like this teal beauty are in high demand if you can get your hands on a second-gen model, though, do it.
Catch That Bird
The Pontiac Firebird was first introduced back in 1967. It took inspiration from both the Pontiac GTO and the Chevy Camaro, but it was also its own animal. This 1970 Firebird Trans Am was found in rotting in a barn, and as we can see, the wheels were misplaced, and it was in terrible shape. But boy, did this restoration team do a fantastic job of bringing it back to its former glory, and fit for any open road!
A Beautiful Creature
This next classic holds an extraordinary place in the hearts of hundreds of thousands of US citizens. This is the 1964 Chevrolet Impala, and this specific generation of Impala was produced from 1960 to 1964 and was the third generation of what would become one of the most iconic sets of wheels on the Chevrolet market. They are still in production today! This beautiful piece of US history was restored at Bills Auto Restoration and Repair in St. Petersburg, Florida.
What these mechanics did was truly a service to this classic Plymouth Barracuda convertible. They were only produced for a decade, as the line was discontinued in 1974, which makes this car a very special collector’s item.
Dang! Must Restore
It’s not really surprising that Ford Mustangs have a lot of die-hard fans, so when a few of these Mustang fans saw the sad state of this model, they took it upon themselves to make sure it looked like a proper Mustang should! This car must have been abandoned for ages before people spotted it and decided to take matters into their own hands. Instead of an elegant curve guiding your hand along the body to the door, it looked like someone kicked it in.
Work on this wreck had actually already been started by someone else, but restoring old cars is just plain hard work. It’s hard to blame them for giving up, and it was important for them to pass it on to someone who could take care of this car’s restoration. Thankfully there are saints like the one who saved this 1956 Ford Customline from the scrapyard. According to the guy who finally fixed her up, this cruiser had “an amazing amount of original pieces still on it.” Kudos to him for the phenomenal finished product!
Bring Back the Beetle!
A blast from the past, this 1971 Volkswagen Super Beetle was in storage for many, many years, which explains why the original paint was still in such good condition. Despite that, the rest of the car had been allowed to wallow in disrepair for years. The first issue you’d probably notice is that every window has completely shattered, but that’s not the only cosmetic improvement done to this vehicle. A mechanic also had at the engine, making it practically new.
Practically Back From the Dead
This Chevy had a long, fulfilling life before it was left to sit in a lot for years. Classic cars like these, though, should never be allowed to retire, and thankfully someone else feels the same way. After cleaning it up, replacing each of the individual parts that were broken or missing, and adding a new coat of paint, this old car was given a fresh look that it hadn’t had in years. Let’s hope the new engine gives it’s owner better mileage than it did originally!
Road Trip to Catalina
This 1968 Catalina looks like it had been sitting on someone’s front yard for quite a while. But presto! With a little love and a good paint job, it’s sleek and stylish and ready to turn heads like it did when it came off the Pontiac assembly line. This model was part of the company’s full-sized line. In fact, the Catalina was the premier model in this line and might just be the perfect way to cruise down to Catalina Island.
Hitting the Track
When this car was picked up from the junkyard, it may not have looked like it could race the streets of Monte Carlo. But with some hard work and a lot of elbow grease, the car turned into a vehicle you could picture James Bond and some beautiful yet dangerous woman in. Imagine swerving around the tight corners of the tiny kingdom that is known for casinos and the rich and famous!
That is One Cherry Paint Job
The Ford Mustang has been an iconic muscle car for decades, but one of the most iconic and most collectible is the first generation, like this 1966 model. So when this person stumbled upon one that needed a little love and care, they knew they had found a gold mine. After some buffing and painting, along with tons of work under the hood, they ended up with this amazing vehicle. There is no way they don’t look cool riding down the streets of their town with the windows down and radio blasting.
Coming in Third is…
The 60s and 70s were known for their muscle cars, and one of the biggest was the Pontiac GTO. In 1970, which is the year of this model, it was actually the third most purchased after the Chevelle and the Road Runner. This classic car enthusiast clearly wanted to stick with the stock paint job and recreate this fast and imposing car in all its glory. Just looking at it, it’s like you can hear the rumble of the engine!
Love This Bug
In the 60s and 70s, the Volkswagen Bug became a popular choice for many people across the US. These cute little beetle shaped cars even starred in a series of beloved films. They have found a place in the collectible heart of the country. As a passion project, this car enthusiast picked a 1972 model up from the local junkyard and rebuilt it into a beautiful red love bug.
Sports Cars and Coastlines
There is nothing like sporting up the coastal highway with beautiful vistas around every turn. Nothing that is except doing it in this fantastic 1973 sports car. The car had seen better days when a loving individual came upon it and knew he had to restore it to its former glory. Taking it out for a drive, he must have realized the best place to take the final picture was with a stunning backdrop.
From Zero to Hero
Whether you call it a Pontiac Trans Am or a Firebird, this 70s and 80s classic is just plain cool. In the late 70s, this car would become synonymous with the hit movie Smokey and the Bandit, but that model was a ’77, not a ’74. Even so, this car still has that fast and smooth vibe that any kid of the 70s would love to recreate. Luckily this Trans Am had been sitting in the garage and had little to no rust, which made it easier to get back into shape.
What a Transformation!
When most people think of classic cars, names like Mustang, Camaro, or Challenger usually come to mind. But this 1985 Buick Grand National is just as cool of a classic car, especially once it is all fixed. The gloss black paint adds a little style to what typically would be more like a family car than the hot rod reconstructed vehicle we have been looking for. Guess that just goes to show you even the simplest car can be something special with just a little love and a ton of hard work.
Let’s Go Off-Roading
Up until now, we looked at sport or family cars but there are some mighty cool old trucks as well. Like this Dodge! This truck looks like a junker when you see the top image, but with a fresh coat of paint and a little bodywork, it turns into a nice looking truck that can easily be taken off-road to enjoy a weekend in the wilderness.
Don’t Spoil This For Me!
This car really didn’t have a whole-body restoration, but that front end definitely required a little attention to get it race-ready. The Honda Integra was a car that could be turned into a race car easily, and in fact, many street racers favored this model.
Too many cars from America’s classic muscle car era lay somewhere forgotten, collecting dust in pieces. As painful as it is to see, this renovator did something about it and picked out an awesome example of the kind of car that is a pleasure to work with. You see, here the rust isn’t too bad on the body itself. When it comes to the engine, that can be replaced, but it doesn’t matter how good your engine is if the car starts breaking up on the highway.
Some Things Aren’t Meant to Be Understood…
Somewhere in China is a lot with a number of luxury and collectors’ cars, just sitting there exposed to the elements. It’s hard to tell why these cars have been allowed to just sit out like that, but in a decade or two, these cars will be more than ready for some restoration! Let’s hope the owner, who probably has a lot of money, comes to his senses and just buys a garage to store these absolute beauties.
Here we have a 1970 Dodge Challenger. Although this R/T — “Road/Track” — performance model is now considered a classic, it had a relatively short run upon its release before disappearing altogether until the 2008 revival. In any event, after this particular car in the photo was stripped completely of its colors, it was then repainted this brilliant blue. The car was also internally repaired. SE (special edition) features were added including leather seats, a vinyl roof, a smaller “formal” rear window, and an overhead console that contains three warning lights — door ajar, low fuel, and seatbelts.
Datsun — Reliable Yet Fun!
Upon its release in 1969, Datsun 240Z — also sold as the Nissan S30 — was a huge success. The first generation of Z GT two-seat coupes to be produced by Nissan Motors, Datsun 240Z cars quickly gained a reputation of safe and reliable yet fun! If you’re interested in restoring one of these beauts, it’s important to note that they tend to rust from the inside out. If the 240Z you come across appears to be in pretty decent shape already, make sure that you’re attentive and thorough when it comes to checking for rust before getting it up and running…
Fourth Generation of Luxury
There’s really no denying that the fourth-generation Lincoln Continental was one of the most luxurious lines — and as a matter of fact — still is. After all, its solid construction reflects the very fact that Ford was committed to making the finest mass-produced domestic automobiles of its time. While someone that may want to restore this kind of vehicle won’t have a huge issue finding parts, it might be good to know that pricing isn’t necessarily affordable. With that being said, though, this customized restoration could easily be one of the best projects you’ll ever take on…
Although the Land Rover Defender made its debut in 1983, it wasn’t until seven years later — in 1990 — that the Defender name was used in order to distinguish the existing vehicle from the then-new Land Rover Discovery. Arguably the most iconic body style for this vehicle, the LR90’s iconic look is still highly valued to this day. The Defender is one of the best cars to restore. With that being said, while the diesel may be argued as more reliable, chances are you’ll want to restore the car with at least a V6 engine for optimal performance…
Late ‘60s Ford Mustang
The first-generation Ford Mustang, manufactured from March 1964 to 1973, introduced a new class of automobile that we all know as the “pony car.” There’s no denying that the Mustang’s sleek styling proved to be wildly popular among consumers and inevitably inspired much competition. In any event, you really can’t go wrong by restoring and customizing a classic like this. It makes no difference what year or trim you ultimately choose — it won’t be a problem finding cheap and readily-available parts.
A Few Tears for a Masterpiece
Well, well, well — what do we have here? Yet another classic American muscle car…the Dodge Challenger. It seems as though many of these vehicles have been abandoned by one only to be rescued by another. Just look at this car, for instance. Before its restoration, it was nothing more than a rusty piece of junk. We can only assume that it took a bit of sweat, time, hard work, and probably some tears to turn this hunk of metal into a shiny, red masterpiece.
Considering that the Thunderbird lasted 11 generations, we think it’s safe to say that Ford pretty much nailed it on their very first try. The best part? This car was actually introduced as a rival to the Chevy Corvette and ended up outselling the Corvette 23 to one in its very first year. The second-generation Thunderbird was just as successful thanks to the addition of a four-door model, although this version strayed from their original idea of personal luxury cars. You can tell just how luxurious a vehicle the Thunderbird is when looking at this unbelievable transformation…
Life in the Fast Lane
If we’re being completely honest, this is probably one of the coolest restorations we’ve seen. There’s no doubt that Toyota knew what they were when they created a reliably-sturdy truck like this J40 Toyota Land Cruiser. While this may not be considered a road car, you can go just about anywhere in this jeep and still feel certain that you’ll make it back too. If you’re interested in restoring one of these bad boys, it’ll help to know that Japanese brands generally make for better car projects because of the cheap and available parts.
Seeing awesome muscle cars allowed to rust in a junkyard is really motivating to some people, who do these renovations as a matter of principle. This car hasn’t been allowed to sit outside for nearly as long as some others, thankfully, and there was quite a lot to work with. The hood was replaced, as you can see, but that’s not where the improvements ended. The finished product is awesome, and it’s impossible to tell that this car ever looked as run down as it once did.
This 1970 Plymouth Superbird had seen better days. Seeing the rust growing, merging with what was once a mesmerizing red finish is really heartbreaking to anyone who has had the privilege of driving one of these rare cars, but thankfully another one is once again fit to be put on display. Tests proved Superbirds were actually slower than the Road Runner model from which they were modified, as the spoiler didn’t make enough of a difference and the nose just added drag. A fun feature is the iconic Road Runner “beep-beep” horn, licensed from Warner Brothers.
Ready for the Races
This Dodge Charger is one of the most classic stock cars that feature in NASCAR, with the honor of having set the speed record on a NASCAR track in 2007. It was also the star of the Dukes of Hazzard, better known as the General Lee. This car is the same 1969 model as the General, and needed to be fixed up before it could be fit to take to the road once again. After it was brought to the autobody shop, it didn’t take long for the willing and skillful mechanics at the autobody shop to work their magic. The results speak for themselves!
Stealing the Superbird’s Thunder
If you thought the Plymouth Superbird needed some competition, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet! Included on this list are a who’s who of awesome stock racing cars from a bygone age, and it’s only fair that we include its great NASCAR rival, the Dodge Charger Daytona. They only produced these for two years starting in 1969, but they definitely made their mark with that iconic spoiler jutting out from the back. Broken when it entered the shop, after it was fixed up they made sure to highlight this feature in white.
Road-Worthy Speed Car
This 1981 Porsche 924 had been off the road for almost a decade before someone decided to give it the care it deserves. There was a lot to work with here — just look at those tires! Besides the new coat of paint, changes that you can’t see include a new engine, a new stiffer spring in the wastegate, and a new front-mounted intercooler. Luckily, this guy recognized the beauty in the hubcaps and preserved what he needed to, all the while making sure that this sportscar is ready for the streets.