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Bargain "Classics"--$12,000 or Less and 20 Years or Older



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    bm196bm196 Member Posts: 6
    Are there any 2002 fans out there?
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    Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    Dear bm196...why don't you start a separate 2002 topic in this conference? I have lots of resources and info on that car.

    Dear C13...moving the fuel pump gets it out of the dirt and weather...it sits right out in the open under the car...also, it's an old style Lucas pump with triggering points and one could do better with a more modern replacement pump tucked up in the dry.

    The batteries are normally two 6-volt batteries that are under a plate and under where the top stows behind the seats. A real pain, and why have to mess with two batteries and all those extra cable. One strong 12-volt and some heavy guage wire from the starter to the trunk solves so many problems and makes maintenance easier (you can guess wny those 6-volt batteries go dry...who would take the trouble to check them?

    The MGB cooling isn't bad, actually...it wouldn't require a radiator change...

    The Mazda conversion was done by Jack Smoot in Boulder, Colorado....don't know if he still has it. No, I think RX-7 motors are very reliable, I think that is complete misinformation...but a tad thirsty, yes...and so what? Power costs money.

    I don't much like #1 cars...you can't drive them in the real world, so what's the point?

    As for wire wheels, I don't think they hold up well to agressive driving, especially these days with the very sticky tires you can buy.

    Mr. S.
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    bcathcartbcathcart Member Posts: 54
    I cannot understand your liking for MGB in the US.It is basically an Austin A 60 in drag and years out of date even when new. Lotus trivia-Most lotus cars were parts bin specials.Mostly ford and triumph.Elan front end from triumph herald, rear end modified from front suspension struts of small 1950's ford.Good fun .The name Lotus derives from Lots.Of.Trouble.Usually.Serious.
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    bcathcartbcathcart Member Posts: 54
    I cannot understand your liking for MGB in the US.It is basically an Austin A 60 in drag and years out of date even when new. Lotus trivia-Most lotus cars were parts bin specials.Mostly ford and triumph.Elan front end from triumph herald, rear end modified from front suspension struts of small 1950's ford.Good fun .The name Lotus derives from Lots.Of.Trouble.Usually.Serious.
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    Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    The reason for MGBs popularity is simple....good looks, simple to fix, parts everywhere, inexpensive to buy. There simply isn't another "classic" two seater you can buy that has all those things going for it in the US...why do you think Mazda and BMW and Mercedes and now HOnda have all come out with rear wheel drive two seaters? No coincidence, it's the "classic" sports car package and lots of fun to drive.
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    ajvdhajvdh Member Posts: 223
    At the first autocross I ever participated in (about 12 years ago) there was a guy there who had garbage-picked a burned Spridget and dropped a 1st gen RX7 motor (B13?) into it. Primer gray, one cheap plastic bucket seat and a rollbar. He claimed to have less than a grand into the whole beast (most of which was a new driveshaft, rear axles and slicks). Ugly as sin, and twice as loud. The only two cars to beat him that day were a formula ford and a mutated 'vette (also on slicks).
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    SdwolffSdwolff Member Posts: 7
    Hahaha sounds interesting. Well here goes. I have just gotten a beat up old chvrolet c10 pickup 1963 that is rusted to heck and beyond for 200$ that I am going to satrt restoring to original condition. I have a muncie 4 spd toploader sitting waiting to be put to use and a 350 engine that is just waiting to be rebuilt and go in the truck all for 200$.

    Sean Wolff
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    C13C13 Member Posts: 390
    Sounds like a fun project, wolff.
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    SammyPSammyP Member Posts: 6
    Mr Shiftright, you have no right to try to tell the 2002 fan to start his own topic. Does this say, "MGBs and other small English sporting machines only?" Guess not. BTW, if you are looking at spending 8-10K on a British car (good MGB...maybe Triumph Tr-6, 5, Sunbeam tiger) why not do one better and get a Mercedes-Benz 450SL of the classic R107 body style made from 72-89? Although manuals weren't an American thing, the cars still have SOHC 4.5 liter V-8's that if properly maintained, will go 225-250K before needing serious attention. Just change the timing chains every 60K miles, if you don't like bashed valves when they go!!!

    Otherwise, eminently, reliable, stylish, fun, and fast. Try doing 130 all day in an MG!
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    Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    Dear Sammy,

    I suggest that he start his own 2002 topic because it seemed to me like he wanted to talk only about those cars, whereas this is a general topic...I was afraid that his calling for "BMW 2002 fans" might be a long wait because his post is buried in a topic that doesn't refer to BMWs. But he didn't start one, so I dunno...hope he comes back.

    A 450SL is a bargain right now, it's true, but it's about as far from an MGB in driving experience as one could get, so the comparison is apples and oranges...nimble sports car vs. heavy boulevadier. And besides, I think the early MGBs will shortly surpass the 450SL in value even though it is a much cheaper car to restore and a whole lot more fun to drive. But if you can afford the gas and the maintenance, a 450SL is a pretty good buy right now, and not likely to increase in price anytime soon. But it's a car that you'll stay buried in to your grave... unlike the B, when the Benz engine goes at 225K you can throw the car away for all the money it's going to cost you to rebuild it.

    But gee, a German roadster for $12K, clean and tidy and a nice ride, that's not bad. Good everyday use value, quality car way above the MGB in sturdiness, but not a good investment car for the collector, IMO.

    Had, try driving 130mph in a 450SL...you'll never get there. More like 120 on a good day, and a 1979 US 450SL specs out at 0-62 in 11 seconds, compared to a mean average top speed on the MGB of 105 and 0-60 in 12.5. Not that much difference, except the MGB rides like a dogcart compared to the SL.

    Better to have one of each, I'd say, and save the Mercedes for dress-up dates or rainy days.
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    Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    Oh, I forgot that the real reason I didn't suggest a 450SL in this topic is that you can't find one under $5,000, which was the criteria we started with for "bargain" classics. So it's not prejudice, honest.
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    C13C13 Member Posts: 390
    1. 1st-gen MR2 Supercharged
    2. X1/9
    3. Lancia Scorpion / Montecarlo / X1/20
    4. GTV6
    5. Late 80's (E30) 325i
    6. Late 80's 528i
    7. 124 Coupe (I believe you guys were talking about the spider before, not the coupe).
    8. '90 (first year) Miata


    I'd like to see a Car & Driver or Road & Track comparison test of all the low-budget mid-engine attempts from recent decades: Europa, 914, X1/9, X1/20, MR2. I wish I could test them all myself.

    PPS No point in including the Pontiac.
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    Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    I like your list...I think one would have to pick and choose certain years in those groups, though, since many of those cars were improved during their lifespan, with the earliest models generally not being the best...But I suppose that whatever weaknesses were in the early cars have been sorted out by now by previous owners.
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    C13C13 Member Posts: 390
    That was a bit brief, old boy. You'll have to expand on that if you want full credit.

    Pick your favorites and/or least favorites and tell us why you chose them.

    I'll tell you what I think:

    1. MR2 Supercharged was built for only 2 or 3 yrs. I'm a little leary of turbos, but belt-driven supercharging interests me. It's only 10 yrs old and a Toyota, so chances of getting a reliable car are good. They're supposed to handle pretty well. The styling is just garish enough to make me chuckle. The styling of the later model is more unified but too boy-racer, too 308 imitator, too lowest common denominator generic synthetic sportscar. The later ones are also expensive.

    2. X1/9 - Demand is so low that you can get a later, larger-engined one for $3500. Lots of Weber kits, cams, etc exist for the car. Styling is bizarre but it's Bertone, so it's OK. 20 yrs old though.

    3. Scorpion - Also dirt cheap. Also short production run. Restore it to European specs and regain a lot of power. Switch to dual 40DCOE's or something, appropriate cam; even better. Should be a great handler. Paul Frere thought so. Also 20 yrs old. Pininfarina styling is less quirky than the X1/9. There are clubs and support groups and 12-step programs.

    4. GTV6 was produced for a short time. The 6 was supposed to have turned the Alfetta from a great-handling weak car into a really nicely balanced machine. The tach in the center of the driver's view (and other gauges in the center of the dash) is absurd but you could probably live with it maybe I guess. It's 20 yrs old. Also has clubs and people you can ask about technical stuff. Very interesting valve gear.

    5. 325iS is better, but a thousand bucks more. You could probably upgrade the suspension to iS specs in time. Only 10 yrs old. Every yuppie and his uncle has one, if not 2, but hey. It's a pretty good car.

    6. 528i - No more money than an E30 of the same age. Smoother ride, more space than the 3-series; less agile. More expensive to maintain I guess.

    7. 124 Coupe. I like the earlier, 2-headlight model but they're both nice. The later one looks kind of like a Lamborghini Islero. It's a great car if you can find one that's been maintained and not abused. It's got some maintenance quirks but you can learn to deal with them. It's rare enough and pretty enough, sounds good and handles well. Dirt cheap ($3500). I don't like the 73/74 but maybe if you put a pre-72 grille in it it would look like one.

    8. The '90 is the only Miazda you can get for under $5K. Lots of tuning stuff available for the engine. Lots of suspension stuff too, so you could get a basic, tossable little sweetie and gradually experiment with breathing and handling. It's the youngest car on this list, at less than 10 yrs old. Good potential for finding a clean one.

    As always guys, take your time getting back to me on this. Have it on my desk in the morning.
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    Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    The GTV6 to have would be the Calloway Twin Turbo that he built (only made a few hundred of them)...very quick car, and of course, since done by Calloway, done well. But alas, no longer a $5K car...more like $11K-13K...but a real wolf in sheep's clothing. Just saw one for sale.

    You have to be a little careful of first year Miatas...they had some teething problems, but again, this has probably been sorted out by the unlucky first or second owner.

    X1/9 are ridiculously cheap right now,but the survival rate is also low...built to a price, they deteriorate rapidly. Gee, I saw a clean, low miles car at a dealer for $2,500! Ran well, too...minor problem of a few feet of water under the driver's seat (the infernal Targa top demon that plagues this design in all cars), but other than that, a great ride for the money...bit low of torque though, you have to be attentive with the gearbox.

    MR2? My usual indifference to Japanese cars...sorry (oh, I do like the RX-7 turbo and the Miata and the NSX, that's true, so I'm not totally indifferent--just MOSTLY indifferent). I need to drive an MR2 again...it's been so long.
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    fredlyfredly Member Posts: 201
    78 Nova Custom 2dr/coupe
    (ok I know its not 25yrs old yet but its close)
    47k miles
    305 Automatic
    Metallic Blue Original Paint, two small spots of rust behind rear wheels

    Black top in excellent condition, been garaged most of its life.

    This was my first car, its fun to drive but I have to many vehicles and I am too young to own all these. I am located in central PA the car is in northeast PA, I will be ready to sell in early june
    as I am unable to show it till then. The car is in fine working order, probably needs a tune up.

    Can someone tell me what this is worth? or make an offer :)
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    LuvnsnupLuvnsnup Member Posts: 1
    Hi all;

    I need some help in getting information on the value of a 6 cylinder '65 Hard top Mustang 342 engin(factory),Pony interior. The only things that are NOT factory are the paint and the sterio system.

    Any help would be greatly appreciated.
    Thank you,
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    glengleglengle Member Posts: 57
    Hi all. My vote?

    60's Karmann Ghia vert in #2 condition. - Fun car, and just begging for that 2110 with dual 44's.

    A friend and I dragged a '60 basketcase out of a field. We chopped the windshield down, changed the headlights to the laid-back bug's, put the above mentioned 2110 in it, dropped it a couple of inches, threw on some Porsche 2-litre alloys, and painted it hot pink. Now THAT was a fun car!
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    pianoguypianoguy Member Posts: 7
    How about this folks....

    I'm 18 years old, looking for my first car. i'll prolly end up with a boring honda accord, but nevertheless, me and dad want a sporty pocket rocket. Something we can take out on the weekends, etc...
    I decided to post here, because i like the topic. However, price could vary, (let's say up to 10k) and age as well, (doesn't have to be 25 years, can be more or less, but if it falls in this category, by all means....)

    Seems to me, the only car you guys have been able to put down on the table here, is an MG-B. i was thinking along the lines of a Lancia Stratos....just kidding. But really, is there anything else out there other than a MG-B, or so??

    Young one in need of guidance,
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    C13C13 Member Posts: 390
    A very wise old soul here listed several in post # 64.

    Check em out. Lemme know what you think.

    If the budget might possibly be stretched to 10K, I'd put 2K in the bank for inevitable repairs and make 8K your absolute upper limit for purchase price. For 5 or 6 or 7K, there are plenty of nice sporty cars. No pocket rockets, but some fun cars.
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    FREDERICKFREDERICK Member Posts: 228
    You know that unless your able to get ahold of one of the newer VTec Honda/Acuras your not in for for much short of a "dependible" ride. The old Civic CRX SI's were neat cars but had a problem with rear axles popping out under exuberant driving conditions.

    Don't know where used 240's fall $ wise these days but they are one hell of a ride and more likely to appreciate if decently maintained. Great rear wheel drive cars with one heck of a good in line six.

    I'm not a big fan of English automobiles because of their terrible electronic and basic body build quality. An MG-B is a "classic" but its as close as a cow pie as you can get for your money. Light yes, but what a dump of a car. Think Triumph if you want to go this route.

    How about a Alpha Romeo? This is a rather underated and interesting marque. Their six cylinder sedans and coupes were real screamers. You'll need to be really mechanically inclined to keep them running right but they definitly have a certain cache about them that no Honda could ever touch. I'd say that they're generally underpriced here in the States too.

    You obviously read the car mags from cover to cover like I do. A Lancia! Now there is a marque I haven't heard a young person aspire to in my entire life time! think carefully about what you really can afford for your first car and then I would encourage you to look as far away from what all your freinds are aspiring to as possible and then you very likely may be able to come up with a truly uniqe and relativley good condition used car with in you budget.

    Rice rockets are all the rage these days but in my never to be humble oppinion they're too common to fulfill any kind of eccentric streak in an individual.

    Have fun shopping and dreaming of your perfect car. If your patient you will come up with an absolute bargain that meets all your desires. I ended up with a 63 Nova Wagon for my first car and by the time I had graduated from HS is was the totally "cool" car to my class mates. I threw a couple of surf racks on the roof and it was the car of choice when ever a load of us wanted to go anywhere. I admit though that at first I was totally embarrased by this car.
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    Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    Oops...luvnsnup...you must havea typo about that 1965 Mustang...no such thing as a 342 engine...if it' a clean coupe with a 289 V-8, and given that the paint may not be a factory color, I'd say $6K should be a very nice one.

    Frederick, thanks for your comments, but I must politely diagree about the MGB..it is a fine and rugged car, and I've driven them daily and all over the country in the harshest of conditions...it is a brilliant little car for the money, and you can buy ANY part for one today, which makes them easily restorable and runnable.

    Also, Alfas are good little cars...no reason one can't yet years of service from them with proper care...yes, you're right, quite undervalued for the 60s-80s Spyder models...
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    scottsdaleazscottsdaleaz Member Posts: 2
    I knew I should have bought that MG when I had the opportunity (opportunity yes; cash no).

    Anyway, how about some feedback on the following cars if I decide not to wait for another MG to come along:

    1981 Alfa Romeo Spider Veloce Convertible
    57,000 miles; $3800

    1972 BMW 2002
    Rebuilt engine. A/C. $1,000

    1981 Fiat X 1/9 Bertone Convertible

    Not sure of the mileage on the last two.
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    C13C13 Member Posts: 390
    It'll depend a lot on condition. I take it you've seen these puppies? Driven them?

    I'd get buyers' guides from Classic Motorbooks (or maybe Borders/Barnes/Amazon) and see what the unique strengths and weaknesses of each specific vintage is. They tell you a lot about stuff to check for.

    You'll want to have a trusted mechanic check compression and poke around all the major components, check the electrical system.

    I like them all. They were all great machines in their day, but whther these 3 are good examples, you'll need to do some work to find out.
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    C13C13 Member Posts: 390

    Is that somebody with a bunch of em, or just one?
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    Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    Just one...I know the car and drove it and thought it was quite decent....one of the few X1/9s that actually got some maintenance.
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    pianoguypianoguy Member Posts: 7
    C13, you're good. nice touch ;-)

    in reference to #64
    1. don't know enough about it. looks horrible, but, maybe...
    2. never seen one yet...heard about em (can you tell i'm ignorant by now?)
    3. looked into em, still curious.
    4.umm, ignorant again, heard about em though.
    5.maybe, but to find one with low miles, and that's been treated right, etc...
    6. read above....
    7.i'm lookin into em right now. maybe.
    8.i'm thinkin i'll go this route.

    Fred, vtecs are pretty nifty, but it's too little for too much. i like to keep pleasure seperate from business. (i'm gonna have to, with Dad itching to drive the thing..)

    Datsun 240Z? i'll have to look into it.

    Alpha, hmm, there goes that name again...

    Friends all want mustangs and camaros...bunch of numbskulls...oh, did i say that? no offense guys. i'm really sorry Mr. Shiftright, you'll prolly get some mail on that one...

    Save the rice for the meal.

    MG-B, fine, rugged? have i got a lot to learn...
    Experience is golden...

    Well, back to the drawing board..
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    C13C13 Member Posts: 390
    Thanks old boy.

    The Miatas probably the wisest choice, all things considered. I'm always on the verge of swapping my Civic for an early example.

    I am of the school of thought that says that teeny cars can be at least as safe as humongous ones, but only when the operator is aware of their capabilities and their limitations. HS Driver Ed is minimal. As an owner of a real car you'll have the responsibility to be a real driver. This school is expensive, but it's so valuable, I'd take the money for it out of the car budget. You'll still be able to afford a good early Miata.


    PS It's also a hell of a lot of fun.

    PPS The only reason I'm pushing the Miata over the MGB is that it's 25 yrs younger and there's a bunch of em out there. I like the MGB a lot too, but you'll also need a good manual and toolkit.

    Keep us posted.
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    Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    I guess I like the MGB not because it's a "better" car than the Miata (it's not!)but that you can fix the entire thing yourself without a course in computer science. And it's just as much fun to drive as a Miata, which, after all, is really a modern version of the two-seat, rear wheel drive British sports car.

    Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.
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    sunlinersunliner Member Posts: 36
    ...when there's a car lot up the road from me that has a black '64 Ford Galaxie fastback coupe with the 390 V-8 for $4500. Want-want!

    They also have a '52 Chevy sedan with what looks like galvanized barn siding tack welded onto the rear fenders for $1000 -- with new tires and a "recent valve-job."

    I'm just dumb enough that my wife has to pull me off of that '52 Chevy, because there's going to be about a month between when we sell our Intrigue and our Volvo comes in, see, and a neat cheap car would be so cool...
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    cartalkcartalk Member Posts: 147
    I know this post may be off the stated topic but I do not know where else it may fit.

    My wife and I would like to purchase a convertible for around $6K. Much to my disapointment she has nixed the Alfa Spider and Fiat 124 as being too small (I came across a beautiful '86 Veloce with 34K on the clock; asking $7,500 which I thought was high; Fiat's seem to be fairly cheap).

    Anyway, those up for consideration include a 87-88 BMW 325i, '87 Saab 900T (don't think I need the turbo; weekend car, trying to keep insurance, etc. low), and a '90-'91 Miata.

    After looking for a couple of weeks I have noted the following:

    The BMW's seem to be high mileage cars, about 120K-135K. Miata's are around 70K-85K and some seem to have had the catalytic converter replaced (normal?). The Saab seems like it may be expensive to maintain, especially with the Turbo.

    What are the pros and cons of these cars. Either an auto or 5 speed is OK (will have to teach the wife if a 5 speed). We would like something fairly reliable with decent maintenance costs so as to not turn this thing into a money pit (I have little experience with car repairs, so decent reliability may be a requisite).

    Thanks in advance.
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    glengleglengle Member Posts: 57
    For you needs, find a 90-91 Miata. Reliable and newer, requiring less wrench turning. I had a Mariner blue 90 and loved it. It was a B package with power windows, headrest speakers, AC, etc and I bought it for $7K several years ago. They can be found for $5K now. I don't know of any specific cat problem.

    Good luck.

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    Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    Yes, Miata is a good overall suggestion, but I thought the wife nixed a small car...a Miata is quite a bit smaller than the Alfa Spyder (I've owned both, so I know...).

    So it comes down to something like this:

    1. Miata
    2. BMW 325i
    3. Alfa (close to BMW)
    4. Saab

    If it's an automatic
    (one choice only)---BMW---because a Miata is silly with an automatic, as is the Alfa, and the Saab automatics of that era are no good whatsover.

    If it must be a large car
    (one choice only) BMW

    Maintenance / repair costs
    1. (lowest) Miata
    2. Alfa
    3. BMW or Saab

    (obviously) BMW or Saab

    Most Fun Per Dollar
    1. Alfa
    2. Miata
    3. Saab
    4. BMW


    I don't think you can get a really good Miata yet for $5,000...more like $6,500 on up, and for a decent '91 I'd expect $7,500. I'd avoid the first year 1990 model, they did have some teething problems which may or may not have been addressed by the previous owners (crankshaft stuff...not good if you're one of the unlucky few).

    Top dollar for an 80s Alfa should be around $6,000.

    Saabs of that era are cheap, maybe $2,500-3,000 should buy most mid-80s coupes,,,maybe a superclean 1987 you'd have to go $4,000 for the 16 valve motor (Saabs are better from 1986 on, but not all that great a car nonetheless until the 90s).

    hope that helps,

    Your Host

    BMW --around same as Alfa $5,500-6,000.
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    Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    Yes, I think your concerns are quite valid. An Alfa does need someone (but just one) person that knows how to service it...they aren't a complicated car, however...it's an old design that's been modernized (and much improved) by German ignition and fuel injection (Bosch Jetronic, just like the German cars)...so a German shop can handle all your ignition and fuel injection stuff.

    Trannies on the Miata and BMW are pretty=bulletproof...the Alfa is very good but you will find the 1st to 2nd synchro will be "slow" on just about any one you pick...this is solvable by installing porsche synchros at rebuild time but that's all rather esoteric.

    The BMW owners who told you their cars are "just being broken in" at 100K are IMO delusional...that's a lot of miles for ANY car, and easily the 1/2 life or more of a BMW...of course, 100K for a 1988 car is "normal"...so any German car with 100K on it needs an extra thorough checkup for compression, suspension wear, timing belt replacement, and service history in general.

    I rated the BMW last on fun-per-dollar, true...that doesn't mean it isn't fun, just not as much fun relative to the dollars you spend...having a top that goes down always makes a convert more fun than a sedan.

    Maybe your ideal car is a BMW 325 convertible with under 100K for around $8,500, stick or automatic. This seems the best compromise for you and wife, and it's a pretty darn nice car to boot.

    That'd be my choice for you given your feedback.
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    Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    Oh, I like the 240Z quite a bit, not so much the later heavier cars. Certainly the 240Z is a lot of car for not a lot of money, and has good reliability.

    As far as the collector car market forces, there hasn't been enough interest to drive the price up, no. This is not to say people don't like the car, they just don't like it enough to pay much for it! Collectors vote with their checkbook. It is very difficult for any Japanese car to achieve collector car status, due to large numbers produced and the less than tasteful styling, and they may never be seriously collected, hard to say. But the 240 certainly has its avid following. Just don't pay a lot as they are not an appreciating automobile at this time...that is, they are not worth enough on today's market to warrant the cost of restoration. I suspect that one day in the not-so-near future, the 240Z will be worth something, but IMO not the later versions.
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    stickguystickguy Member Posts: 50,741
    Took my Quest in for service today, and the dealer had an early 240Z on the showroom floor. I'm pretty sure it is original, and not a Nissan restoration. I will take a closer look when I go back tomorrow and ask a few questions. Looked to be in nice shape, but I don't care for black.

    2020 Acura RDX tech SH-AWD, 2023 Maverick hybrid Lariat luxury package.

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    Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    No, not a good color for that car...I like 'em in white, green, yellow....light non-metallic colors seem to suit the car and its "era".

    Current value for nice ones seem to run $5k-7,500....over the top showcar restoration could bring $10K.
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    Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    I think the Z series cars can be driven everyday just like a newer car.

    They were never 4 cylinder, always 6...the 260Z series is problematic regarding fuel delivery so I'd pass on those...the 240 is the purest and cleanest of the form and that's the way I would go personally.

    As for what to watch out for--like with any car that's fun to drive, you have to make sure someone hasn't beat it to death. Also, the Z cars seem to fall victim to customization, which I think hurts their value and often and not hurts their performance as well. So I'd look for the cleanest, most stock 240 or 280 I could find with good service records and decent number of miles.

    Also, I don't like T-tops because they squeek and leak and people steal them.

    Hope that helps,

    Your Host

    I'd bet a 240Z under $5,000 is looking a bit ratty or has been messed up somehow.
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    allenallen Member Posts: 4
    Thanks for the insights. I agree wholeheartedly on avoiding T-tops (they never appealed to me). Ditto on the customization-- good lines to the car as it is; no need for fender flares, tails, air dams, etc.
    Was the 240Z carbuerator or injection? Is one more a problem than the other?
    Where's a good place to look for the 240/280Z, besides just using a search engine on the Internet? Any particular places to look for cars that have been restored? I know a Z is not an Aston or a Porsche, so my guess is that they won't be in the high end restoration market.
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    Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    Hemmings Motor News is good...

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    stickguystickguy Member Posts: 50,741
    The 240Z had carbs. (dual somethings). I seem to recall that the early ones were problematic, but they soon switched to a different brand. I'm not sure when they switched to F.I.. The aerly cars also had cooling problems, and many owners switched over to later model radiators (I think that was the answer). The big problem (remember, 1970's Japan) was rust. The engines could live forever with basic maintenance, but the bodies rotted off.

    2020 Acura RDX tech SH-AWD, 2023 Maverick hybrid Lariat luxury package.

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    Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    I believe it was 1975 for FI, with the intro of the 280z......I think it was the 260z carbs that were really the troublesome ones...that was a one-year only model and it best avoided. Thanks stickguy for the info.
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    allenallen Member Posts: 4
    Thanks Stickguy and Shiftright!
    I agree on the rust issue. My old Z actually had gotten a little bit while I still owned it. Since you guys know your way around this business, when you restore an older car, what can be done about a rusted body-- or to prevent it from happening?
    BTW, I've heard that Nissan is restoring a bunch of the 240Z's. I don't know how long ago the program started-- or if it's still going on. Do you know anything about it? I'm sure the price of a Nissan restoration is very high. Apparently, the 240Z's they are using mostly come from AZ or other "non-rust" environments. (where are the particularly bad rust environments?). Anyway, apparently in the Nissan restorations, parts are being dipped. Don't know what exactly this means.
    Also, generally speaking, do you guys have a preference for carbs or FI?
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    badgerpaulbadgerpaul Member Posts: 219
    I think the 260Z was fuel injected, a friend of mine had one at the time and it had a constant intermittent problem of quitting, of course when they hauled it in everything was fine. Finally she lucked out when it died as she was driving by the dealership and they tracked the problem down to a slightly loose electrical connection to the fuel injectors. Of course this was her explanation and maybe be suspect.
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    Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    You can't do anything with rust really, except cut it out and replace the panels, and even then, it's risky."Rust never sleeps" and will always come back sooner or later. The problem is that many body panels are often seamed or two layers or in some other way constructed so that rust cannot be totally eliminated. Dipping and sealing will certainly help, but many a well-done restoration on a rusted body has gone bad.

    My books show the 260Z as carburetted, so that's all I have to go by on that question.

    I think the Nissan restorations cost about $25,000, and they are beautifully done as you might expect. However, the cars are apparently not retaining this value, but rather depreciating as a new car might. We'll have to see how the values for these factory restos go in a few years.
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    badgerpaulbadgerpaul Member Posts: 219
    Now that I think back on it, I seem to remember that there was a choke knob in the car, which would suggest a carburators. But it has been 20+ years.
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    Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    I'm not sure from direct experience either, badgerpaul, but I dimly recall that the 280z had the first FI and they made a big deal about it, trying to correct the 260z problems vis-a-vis meeting emissions standards and running reliably.

    You know, from the viewpoint of historical significance, the 240z deserves a 'collectible' status as much as any japanese car I can name, except perhaps overshadowed by the rare and expensive Toyota 2000GT.
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    allenallen Member Posts: 4
    Amen, Shiftright! I'm glad to hear you sound like you got some Z religion! Well, indulging my jones for a Z may have to wait a bit longer (young kids fill my free time these days), but I want to watch the marketplace for a while and then take the plunge. If, as you indicated, the Nissan restorations are really losing their value like a new car does, then a couple of years from now, I'd be delighted to buy one that has had some expense knocked off. It wouldn't quite be cherry, but it would only have a few years on it since being that way. Any thoughts, o recent convert?
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    Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    Not a convert, but an optimist! I'm giving the 240Z full credit for its historical significance (created a whole new niche in marketing) and for being one of the last true bargains in a new car...still gets a barely passing grade for styling, but a B+ for engineering, IMO.

    Yeah, picking up one of those factory restorations in a while might be a good idea, say if the price drops to $15K or so...it would be a very functional and reliable cruiser, and certainly fun to drive.
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    C13C13 Member Posts: 390
    It may be that the styling looks stale mainly because we've seen so many of em, not to mention gotten a bad taste in our mouths from that pathetic redesign with the stainless steel b pillar. Yuk. And from the fact that the cars got worse with each update, not better.

    The original design was by Albrecht Goertz. Same guy who did the BMW 507. The original show car was a lot cleaner than the production model, especially the American one. There was a later model in Japan with a much more graceful nose treatment.

    My reservation (aside from rust) is that I'd always heard that the cars felt real big; sorta like yer basic Camaro / Transom. You sit low and peer over a high cowl. Some people like that but I prefer the opposite. There was a V8 conversion running around for awhile - I think a 283. Could be interesting.

    I seem to recall a yellow one that looked dynamite. Might have been a custom paint job. Metallic blue was popular but I got burned out on it quick. My brother had 3 in succession. If I remember correctly, they were a bronze a silver and a green, all metallic. I thought the bronze and silver looked OK.
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