Project Car Hell: Rotary Minx or Dearborn Barge?

Illustration for article titled Project Car Hell: Rotary Minx or Dearborn Barge?

Friday's Choose Your Eternity poll was won by the '71 Datsun 510 wagon, which beat the Gremlin (though not by an ass-whooping margin). Today we're going to go seriously low-buck, with a pair of projects available for a mere five Benjamins... or maybe even less, depending on the ruthlessness of your dealmaking chops...

First up is this fascinating combo of 1959 Hillman Minx with Mazda rotary power. Imagine it- your Minx screaming along at Wankel-approved RPMs while the jaws of onlookers drop in stunned amazement! Does it run? Er, well, not exactly. Was the swap done right, or is the engine held in with zip-ties and plumber's tape? Hey, for $500 you get what you pay for! All we can say is: rotary Minx, dude! This car could be made so freakin' fast that tales of your high-speed demise would be uttered in hushed, respectful tones by future generations of paramedics: Yeah, we was findin' body parts in three different counties, none of 'em bigger'n a pea!

While the Minx is an extreme longshot bet to actually get into driveable form, here's a project whose pitfalls and rewards are well-understood by most of us: a 1971 Ford LTD 4-door. Sure, the front end is probably shot (with a full turn-and-a-half of play in the steering wheel), and the interior is sure to be a nightmare of horsehair and vinyl decay byproducts, and the wiring has probably been hacked up into a fuse-popping logic puzzle. Yeah, and it's probably got a 400,000-mile Cleveland with the crappy 2-barrel heads and no compression in three cylinders. So what? Parts are pretty easy to get, and big Fords are cool!


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The Minx is true Project Hell. Brit electricals and Japanese rotary blowby. Whereas the Ford could be competently worked on by a blind paraplegic and parts can be bought with box tops and beer can tabs. I know which wrench I'd turn if it had been a tough day at the office.