9 Best Classic Trucks To Restore
There are many ways to restore classic trucks, but most of them require a lot of time and effort. You can do it more effectively by finding the best truck that is suitable for restoration.
The best classic trucks to restore are those from the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s. These were the years of innovation and new technologies. Trucks from these decades had some of the most advanced designs, such as independent suspension and power steering.
Ultimately, you will need to determine the restoration type and overall project budget before starting. This will help you find a vehicle that fits your criteria too.
We have listed the nine best classic trucks to restore below. Each option can be done on a budget for the best results.
1. Chevrolet "Task Force" (1955-1959)
The Chevrolet "Task Force" is one of the best classic trucks to restore. It is a tough truck that was built to last. It is also a versatile truck that can be used for many different tasks.
This makes it an excellent choice for those who are looking for something that will last and be able to do a lot of things. It was designed to be rugged and reliable, with features that would make it easier for someone to work on them.
This is a great truck to restore due to the wide availability of parts and flexible design. There are also many variations and engine styles, so you have many restoration options on a budget.
The 1955 Second Series was the first design, and it was built using a reliable 235 cu in (3.9 L) Thriftmaster I6 engine. There was also an option for an upgraded V8 engine, but this was not as widely available until the 1956 release.
During these four years, there were a few model changes, including the truck sizing. For example, the wheelbase size ranged between 114 inches and 172 inches. Overall, this is a large truck with excellent strength.
This is a great classic truck to restore because, in 1960, the Chevrolet and GMC C/K-Series replaced this line. This only increased the rarity of the Task Force models.
2. Dodge Power Wagon (1946-1968)
The Dodge Power Wagon, a classic truck produced in 1946, is one of the best trucks you can restore. This is one of the most iconic trucks ever made, with various features that make it uniquely American and versatile enough to be used for just about any task.
The truck was also equipped with a strong frame for heavy-duty use and a 7-inch axle shaft for superior traction on all types of terrain. It was a rugged and powerful vehicle that was built for a variety of tasks.
The Dodge Power Wagon is a long-lasting truck by Dodge with a production run from 1945 to 1980. There was a brief pause until 2005, and they are still currently produced under the RAM 2500 name.
If you prefer a truck that has a vintage feel with easy upgrade options, the first series (1946-1950) is the obvious choice. It included tons of power and towing strength, making it one of the most efficient old-school trucks.
3. Chevrolet C10 (1970)
The Chevrolet C10 has gone by a few names, including the Chevrolet C/K, and we love the 1970 C10 as a classic truck to restore because it was the first new model of this line with the Chevrolet-produced engine.
This truck line is also called the Chevrolet Cheyenne or the GMC Sierra, depending on which year you are looking for. It was built with a large-block V8 engine and a wide-body two-door cab for easy maintenance.
This was also a rear-wheel drive truck with a curb weight of 3,090 pounds and a 3-speed manual or automatic transmission. There were a total of 1,451,305 1970 models manufactured and released for purchase.
Despite this large number, you can still expect to pay a reasonable price for one today. They are one of the most popular trucks to restore by upgrading the interior, using a new distinct paint on the exterior, and upgrading the engine.
The dimensions of this truck are 188.5 inches in length and a wheelbase of 115 inches. Overall, you can expect a more affordable truck restoration if you decide on the 1970 Chevrolet C10.
4. Ford F-Series (1953-1956)
The Ford F-Series (1953-1956) is one of the best classic trucks to restore. It was introduced in 1953 as the second generation of the F-Series line with tons of new features, making it an ideal option to restore today.
The F-series was the first to have a V8 engine and a three-speed transmission. The Mercury brand heavily influenced the interior design of these vehicles. The 1956 model had an optional standard cab with an integrated pickup bed, which is now known as a crew cab.
These trucks were meant for heavy-duty use, and these first two generations of trucks were the most reliable ones. This is also an ideal choice for owners on a tighter budget because there are many cheap models for sale.
The other thing worth mentioning is the number of variations this truck was available in during the release. This includes up to eight different powertrain and engine configurations, as seen in the chart below.
5. Ford Bronco (1966-1977)
This first-generation Ford Bronco is considered one of the top classic trucks to restore because of its rarity and versatility. This initial run was one of the most popular classic trucks ever too.
Broncos were available in two-door or four-door configurations, with both styles available with either a short or long wheelbase and in various trim levels.
The Ford Bronco is a 4-wheel drive vehicle that Ford produced from 1966 to 1977. It was designed to compete with the Jeep CJ and International Harvester Scout. It is one of the most popular classic trucks to restore because it's rare and versatile.
The Ford Bronco has a six-cylinder engine and can reach speeds up to 60 miles per hour. The model has four-wheel drive, but different packages have larger V8 engines if you need more power.
The truck’s interior is spacious and comfortable for up to five passengers. The exterior is rugged with a large grill, big headlights, and large tail lights for visibility at night.
The powertrain engine designs were available in four options too, including
- 170 cu in (2.8 L) Straight-6
- 200 cu in (3.3 L) Straight-6
- 289 cu in (4.7 L) small block V8
- 302 cu in (4.9 L) small block V8
The designs also included either a 3-speed manual or 3-speed automatic transmission, depending on the body style and exact year.
6. 1966 Ford F100
The 1966 Ford F100 has many features that appeal to the modern buyer, like excellent durability. This also includes its rarity, versatility, and many opportunities to restore this classic truck.
This truck was released during the fourth generation of the Ford F-Series truck production run, which began in 1961. This design included some new upgrades to the engine, displacement, transmission, body style, and suspension.
The new independent Twin I-Beam suspension relied on coil springs and an increased wheelbase length to remain effective. The new 240 cu in (3.9 L) engine and 300 cu in (4.9 L) engine options were also upgraded from previous models.
This was also one of the newer trucks that dropped the unibody design under the F100 name. This allowed for a shift to a more modern body design without sacrificing much in performance or durability.
The average price for this truck ranges from $15,000 to $25,000, so it's a solid choice for all budgets.
7. International Scout II (1971-1980)
The International Scout II is a compact pickup truck that was manufactured by International Harvester from 1971 to 1980. This nine-year production run was extremely popular, and this is still a rare classic today.
It is powered by a 4-cylinder engine with an optional V6 engine, and it has a standard 4-speed manual transmission or an optional 3-speed automatic transmission. It also has front disc brakes and rear drum brakes, which were unusual for a vehicle of this size in its day.
There were many trim levels and variations released through the years too. Below is a chart including the different engine options and transmission types.
8. Ford Ranchero (1969)
The Ford Ranchero is a classic truck made from 1957 to 1979. It is one of the few trucks from this era that still has a lot of versatility and can be restored to be used as a daily driver, weekend warrior, or off-road adventure vehicle.
The Ford Ranchero came in many different configurations throughout its production run, but we prefer the fourth generation (1969) model for restoration.
One way to restore it would be to keep it stock with minor modifications such as adding modern equipment or upgrading the engine displacement.
It has a unique design, with a long hood and short deck. The body style is known as "two-door hardtop" or "fastback." It also has an independent rear suspension, which makes it one of the first vehicles in America with this type of suspension.
It came available in three trim levels, three transmission styles, and six engine designs. The six engine options included:
- 250 cu in (4.1 L) I6
- 289 cu in (4.7 L) V8
- 390 cu in (6.4 L) V8
- 428 cu in (7.0 L) V8
- 302 cu in (4.9 L) V8
- 351 cu in (5.8 L) V8
The transmission options were either a 3-speed manual, a 4-speed manual, or a 3 and 4-speed automatic. The unique design of the Ranchero gave it a muscle car feel with pickup truck features.
9. Studebaker Coupe Express (1937)
The Studebaker Coupe Express is the oldest classic truck recommended in this guide, but it is difficult to list the best options to restore without including it. This is an extremely rare truck with only two production years between 1937-1939.
In total, only about 5,200 vehicles were ever manufactured and released to the general public. So you should expect to pay a premium of over $100,000 if you can find one available anywhere.
This and the old age scare many away, but it's the ideal option to restore because it's a timeless classic built with an L-head six-cylinder flathead engine and a 3-speed manual transmission. You can easily upgrade this to a modern option and significantly increase the vehicle’s value and performance.
The interior is easily upgradeable, too, and the cab and chassis come with rear fenders and a wooden service box. This truck is extremely versatile and acts as the perfect collectible classic truck.
Where To Find Classic Trucks To Restore
The restoration of classic trucks is a hobby that has been around for decades. The process of restoring these old trucks requires many hours of work and dedication.
Some people choose to restore their own classic trucks, while others choose to hire professionals to do the work for them. With such many truck enthusiasts in the world, there are plenty of places where you can find these old classics.
Craigslist is a good place to look if you want to find a classic truck to restore. The prices are also the cheapest, with tons of listings to dig through.
But, there are some things that you should keep in mind before buying a truck on Craigslist. For example, there is no type of monitoring, so it relies heavily on trust, and people have been scammed before in the past.
Facebook Marketplace is a great place to find classic trucks for sale. You can find old trucks that are in good condition, or you can get new ones at a fraction of the price.
You can access many users with filters to change cities or vehicle types to find what you are looking for. It is more trustworthy than Craigslist because it requires the buyer and seller to have a Facebook profile.
Other Online Marketplaces
The market for classic trucks is a competitive one. Some other online marketplaces are more reputable for finding high-quality classic trucks to restore.
To find the best online marketplace for your restoration project, you must research the companies and their reputation. You can also ask around friends and family who have bought or restored cars from these companies in the past.
Below are the three we highly recommend. These deals have a middleman to protect both the buyer and seller if anything goes wrong too.
Autotrader is a vehicle marketplace with many cars and trucks for sale. You can filter available listings by location, distance, and vehicle type.
They also provide some level of expertise to connect buyers and sellers for smooth transactions. There is a resources tab to help you learn more before making a purchase so you can find the best prices.
This is done by labeling specific listings with tags like “Great Price.” These are evaluated based on Autotrader’s expertise, and there are even comments from others about the current seller or listing.
Hemmings is another popular marketplace where you can find all sorts of classic vehicles, including trucks. They run auctions and display current bids, making deals fast is easy.
You have plenty of filters to sort for what you want too. This can be done by make, model, year, and more.
Classic Cars is the most extensive marketplace, with over 32,930 vehicles for sale today. There are options for everybody, including classic truck enthusiasts.
How To Find The Best Classic Trucks To Restore
The first step in the process of restoring a classic truck is to identify the model or make for your project. Some vehicles are better suited for restoration than others.
The restoration process can also be expensive and time-consuming, so it is important to know what you want from the project before getting started. Consider the following factors for the best results when restoring a classic truck.
When restoring a classic truck, one should first clean it and remove any rust or dirt. Then, you should replace any parts that need to be replaced with new parts of the same kind.
This is an example of why the current condition is important. You should be able to gauge the amount of work required for a proper restoration right away before buying a truck.
Next, you need to set a strict budget as one of the first steps and work around it. If not, you will spend far more than you can afford or need to abandon the project before finishing.
Between buying a new truck and new parts, costs rise quickly. Set your budget and use it to help you choose the proper truck to start with.
The type of truck you choose needs to have readily available parts for order. If not, the costs will go up quickly, and your timeline will stretch out by quite a bit while you wait for shipments to arrive.
It is best to search online stores to see if the parts are available before making the final decision on a classic truck to restore.
What Are The Expected Costs To Restore Classic Trucks?
Restoring a classic truck can be an expensive endeavor. However, it is possible to save money by planning ahead and taking care of maintenance on your vehicle before it becomes necessary to restore it.
It is estimated that the cost of restoring a classic truck can range from $10,000 to more than $50,000, depending on exactly what needs to be done. The increasing popularity of these vehicles has driven up these restoration costs.