Notwithstanding the negative reactions that a car with a rebuilt title has on some car enthusiasts, it is actually a very practical consideration to look into when considering a project car. Choosing a rebuilt-titled car instead of one which has had a clean title from its date of manufacture is purely a matter of economics. By its label, a project car is one that your are improving or building up as a hobby. This would mean adding aftermarket accessories like a coilover suspension, brake upgrades or even just HID light for a start. With salvage title cars selling for a fraction of the value of clean-titled cars, it makes a lot of sense to consider a salvage car as a basis for your project car.
But first, we have to define what constitutes as an acceptable salvage-title car for our purposes. A car that has been burned or flooded is out of the question, most specially if your are building up a project car that you will use mostly for the street and occasionally at the track. One may consider a flooded car if all you’re after in the first place is the bare shell which will be used as the basis for a race or track car. Once a car has been flooded, corrosion will set in at places you can’t see or reach and failures will occur at the most inconvenient times. With partially burned cars, ascertaining the degree of structural damage is a difficult job even for an engineer, so that’s another place not to go to.
So what type of salvage title car is acceptable? Mostly one that has had accident damage, either in the body or in some easily replaceable drivetrain components. Remember that in many cases, an insurance company will total the car once the cost of repair exceeds the book value. So there are gems that can be had if you just look patiently. Sometimes, an insurance company will total a vehicle where the crash damage involved only replacing the fenders, hood, bumper and radiator. In cases like these, the integrity of the car is intact. If you’re comfortable with working on a car or have some buddies who can help you out, restoring the car to roadworthy condition is easily attainable. Then just head over to the DMV to have your car inspected and have the title converted to a rebuilt title. After which you can go splurging on things like HID lights or a coilover suspension.
Remember that a car with a rebuilt title has been inspected for roadworthiness. And a car guy hardly leaves a car alone once he or she starts working on it. So when you cruise around showing off your ride, who can tell that your car has a rebuilt title or not?