Buying a new car is a challenge for all but buying a classic is not for the novice.
Thousands of dollars every year are lost and wasted on buying the wrong car. Many come home and find they have a car beyond their skill to just keep running let along restore so they get covered with boxes in the garage as a trophy of shame.
The key to buying a classic is to first learn all you can on a car. Read books and join forums. If a local has the kind of car you like ask them to educate you on the car.
Even then if you go to look at the car take someone with you to inspect the car with knowledge or at least get it to a service shop to get it looked at and on a rack. I almost bought a car once that looked great till I got it on the rack and it had rust in the frame the size of my fist. Keep in mind the eyes of your friend will see things that you may be blinded to. Buying is an emotional thing and you can over look flaws.
Research the availability of parts. Cars like a Camaro and Mustang in the early years can be built from reproduction parts. Many other cars the parts can be rare and expensive.
One other thing to consider is to buy a car that is complete and restored properly. Too often anymore it is cheaper to buy a higher priced finished car vs a project if you have to pay someone to do much of the car in restoration. In some cases even if you do it yourself it may be cheaper to buy a completed car in some cases.
Finally take your time. Buying any car is not a race so take time to make sure it is right. Most sellers if they know you are interested will let you confirm with Pontiac historical that it is a real GTO or the Shelby registry will confirm it is a real Shelby. If they are in a hurry they may have something to hide. There are many more cars out there so if something is not right move on.
I have dodged many bullets in my buying and selling and can say I have been lucky to have never bought the wrong car to this point. I had many good teachers and the interest to know my topic before I ever went to buy. With the web anymore there is no excuse not to do your home work.
What you teach your son or daughter in this process will benefit him in many areas like even buying a house. This is a skill too few learn and often pay the price.
I get many calls on buying Fiero's. I know the key places to look for a good car. With plastic bodies they all look good but the rust in some can be devastating in the north. Often in the first 30 seconds I can tell. Just pull down the trunk carpet on the drivers side and if it is solid it may be a very good car. If it has a rust hole you may be in for grief. Many cars are like this and education is what teaches you what to look for.
Note the degree of difficulty goes up when buying imports. Often they are rust prone, Expensive to buy parts for and difficult to find at times. There are some things that are much more difficult to work on too as some take special knowledge and skills.
First time out sometimes it is best to start simple and work your way up. Make a profit and use that for the next step up.
The Mini is not as bad as some cars that can be money pits. But you will see some added cost being a more rare import. These are not something most salvage yards have sitting around in the numbers they have a Camaro or Mustang.
Just be concerned about rust and the electrical system. Both are common issues on British cars.
With what you paid and what they are worth completed you have some room to invest in the car here. Just really make sure what you have before dumping much money in it.
I had a friend that did a paint job and interior before an engine swap. He found a rusted out sub frame at that point and was too far in to to stop. He was lucky it was able to be welded and correctly repaired but he was a wreck after finding the rust $10,000 in before finding the damage.
I see the Ohio plate so I assume the cars in not from Ohio at some point. Few Minis here lived long. I too am in Ohio. If so that may be a big help.
Find a Mini forum and local owners as they will be a great help. I am into Fieros and just helped a local guy get his back on the road. I have worked on them since 1985 so I picked up a little along the way. Other Mini owners have done the same. When done you can pass this along to someone else. That is how the hobby works.
In our Fiero club we competed at shows but we also helped each other on our cars. It got us to get our cars to a high level and at national meets we all would come home with awards.
Congratulations on taking the “road less traveled” as that’s the fun one. The best part is your son gets to work with you and his grandfather and you cannot put a price tag on that. Please keep us updated on your ride.