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

1679111217

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    alfaguyalfaguy Member Posts: 3
    My pick in this price range is an early-70's Alfa Spider, but other options are:

    Austin-Healey Sprite/MG Midget
    BMW 1600/2002
    Datsun 1600
    Fiat 124 Spider
    MGB/MGB-GT
    Porsche 914-4
    Saab Sonett
    Sunbeam Alpine
    Triumph Spitfire
    Triumph GT6
    Volvo 1800

    Among the "dark horses" you could include:

    Alfa Romeo Berlina 1750/2000
    Alfa Romeo Alfetta GT/Alfetta Sedan
    BMW Bavaria
    BMW 320i
    BMW 630 CSi
    Fiat 850 Spider
    Fiat X1/9
    Jensen-Healey/Jensen GT
    Lotus Cortina Mk2
    Porsche 924
    Triumph TR7
    Triumph TR8 Coupe
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    ghuletghulet Member Posts: 2,564
    .....if you can ignore (to your benefit) the '25 years and older' part, you can obtain many 'improved' versions of the cars you have listed here for still less than $5k, and way less than $10k. Your list reads mostly like a 'Who's Who of Cheap, Bad Sports Cars of the '80's'.

    OK, none are 'classics', but I'd advise a 633 or 635CSi over a 630, a 944 over any 924, most newer Saabs over the Sonnet, ANY BMW over the 320i (including the equally underpowered 84-85 318i). Scary in general. Of course, a nasty 450SL can be had for $5-10k easily as well......
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    jrosasmcjrosasmc Member Posts: 1,711
    You think the Porsche 924, Saab Sonett and BMW 320i were bad, scary cars?
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    alfaguyalfaguy Member Posts: 3
    If we want to ignore the "25 years and older" part we should probably start a new thread.

    I agree that both the 633 and 635 are better than the 630 CSi, but they are too new. Personally, I wouldn't buy any 6-series coupe. I would rather purchase a 2800CS or a 3.0 CS. Of course these cars are probably closer to $10,000. Actually, I think you'd have trouble finding a decent 6-series for less than $5,000, so I withdraw this one from my list.

    You're right about the 924 too. The 944 is definitely superior. Unlike the 6-series, I would definitely consider getting a 944. A friend of mine and I drove down to the Monterey Historics last year in one and its a great car. But the Boxster and new 911 are better cars also. Maybe we should incude them.

    I kind of like Saab Sonetts. While I agree that newer Saabs are better cars, they are definitely not sports cars.

    I really think that all early 3-series coupes are pretty much the same (with the obvious exception of the M3)

    I think a decent 450SL would be a lot closer to $10,000 than $5,000.
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    alfaguyalfaguy Member Posts: 3
    A little more than a year ago, I was looking for a fun car under $5000 and 25 years old. The reason I wanted something 25 years old is because insurance costs drop drasticly on a car that is this old where I live. Collector's plate insurance costs me $200 Canadian ($130 US) for my 1974 Alfa Romeo Spider 2000. Cars less than 25 years old cost substantially more. The only catch is that you must have one car insured full-time. So, my daily driver is a VW GTI VR6 and I use the Alfa on sunny weekends.

    The second list of "dark horses" I provided are definitely not the best. They are interesting but flawed in terms of design, engineering, styling and/or performance.

    I don't think you can go wrong with the cars on the first list. The Alfa Romeo being the best of course.
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    Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    "You think the Porsche 924, Saab Sonett and BMW 320i were bad, scary cars? "

    I think they are, personally, although not all will agree with me. At least with the 320i, you can modify them and make a decent car out of them (at some expense) but a 924 and a Saab Sonett are pretty hopeless IMO. I'd certainly avoid them at any price. Also the BMW Bavaria, which is just a sink hole for money you will never get back, and a TR7, which is a difficult car to get running well (bad cylinder head design), and will also never be worth very much.

    All the other cars on the list are at least workable if not downright enjoyable. Some are better than others (obviously, a Fiat 850 Spider is borderline, but it's cheap and fun and can be made to run well), and some on the list will never appreciate in value. But in general, it's a great list of affordable and interesting cars.
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    jrosasmcjrosasmc Member Posts: 1,711
    Quite right; I have never seen any Sonett with over 100k miles on it.
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    jrosasmcjrosasmc Member Posts: 1,711
    Mr. Shiftright, didn't you note once that you had a '71 Honda 600 at one time? That car was like the size of my mountain bike. (No offense)

    Same goes for the Subaru FF-1. A bad small car.
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    Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    Yes, I did own both a Honda 600 and a Subaru FF1. I try never to bad mouth a car without some personal experience!

    Actually I liked the 600 even though it was absurd. My friend Al was a great motorcycle mechanic and we breathed on the little 600 a bit, with some head work and better carburation, and it really could move along, even in the Colorado altitude!
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    aezeligaezelig Member Posts: 13
    Ok, Ive been driving my self insane. I have $5000 max that I want to spend to have some fun. I have found the following:

    72 Porsche 914 1.7 $6500 (owner says show condition)
    75 MGB $4000 (owner says very clean)
    77 Fiat 124 $6500 (looks extremely clean)

    I'd rather save some money and buy a new tv, but the Porsche seems a little more interesting than the rest. Someone help me save some time. Thoughts?
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    im_brentwoodim_brentwood Member Posts: 4,883
    MGB MGB MGB!!!

    The 1.7L 914 is a bit of a dog. They handle well, actually, they were better in the twisties than contemporary 911s when driven by the average Joe...

    But they really are doggy. A proper 4-cyl Porsche would be a 356/912.

    MGBs are cheap and easy to fix, parts are plentiful and cheap and they are wonderful little cars.

    Bill
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    ghuletghulet Member Posts: 2,564
    ...$6500 sounds like all the money in the world for a '77 Fiat 124, plus about two grand. I see these all the time for like $3k.
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    qbrozenqbrozen Member Posts: 33,052
    MGB all the way! And, if it is clean, I think that's a very good price. I was shopping for one a couple of years ago and couldn't find a clean one anywhere near that. Ended up buying an Alfa instead (no regrets).

    The Fiat is a fun car, but ghulet said it: that is ALOT of money for it.

    I've never heard good things about a 914.

    '11 GMC Sierra 1500; '08 Charger R/T Daytona; '67 Coronet R/T; '13 Fiat 500c; '20 S90 T6; '22 MB Sprinter 2500 4x4 diesel; '97 Suzuki R Wagon; '96 Opel Astra; '08 Maser QP; '11 Mini Cooper S

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    Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    Yeah MGB at the prices you've been quoted is by far the best deal. For one thing, it is worth more than either a 914 or 124 and yet is priced lower; secondly the MGB has an Awesome aftermarket, second to no car except maybe VW.

    The 124 is the most comfortable of the three cars by far and the best riding, but also the most fussy. Good cruising car, though.

    The 914 in the 1.7 liter is not all that good a performer (adequate) but will wipe the other cars in handling and braking. Best 914 is the 2.0 liter.

    I'd hesitate to recommend a 912 because engine rebuilds are so very expensive, worth more than the entire car in fact. You can't really find a decent 356 for under $10K anymore that doesn't have "needs" and they are expensive cars to restore.

    So really given your budget, the MGB sounds best. You will have to live with little rain leaks through the top, a bit of a dog cart ride over bumps and if you don't get overdrive, the MGB gets very busy in the engine compartment at 70 mph+.

    If you found a Fiat 124 with a realistic price and in good shape, I'd give that car a second look as well.
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    im_brentwoodim_brentwood Member Posts: 4,883
    Well,

    A 912 would be a great buy IF and ONLY IF someone who is COMPETENT with the 1600 Porsche engines looks it over before you buy it.

    Also, its' important to know that these engines require oil changes AS WELL AS Valve adjustments/clearance checks at the same time.

    Bill
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    Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    Yeah, 912s are in my opinion generally cars to avoid because of the engine issue relative to the value of the car. The 912, being cheap for so long, as usually ended up in the hands of meat-fisted owners who are also maintainence cheapskates. By the time you find one the engines are usually real, real tired.

    Of course, if you found a 912 with a *documented* professional rebuild, it might be worth the price, but if the engine is a mystery engine you'd have to get the car very cheap, since the engine rebuilt is worth more than the entire automobile itself.

    At least with a 356 if you pay wholesale and you have to eat an engine, you can still come out okay.
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    im_brentwoodim_brentwood Member Posts: 4,883
    Yeahup!

    One of my 356s.. One I do not drive regularly is one that just made it down to FL. A 1957 Super speedster. A pretty weird one too.. Its' a Stock, late '57 (T2) but.. when I first got it.. It had alloy hubcaps on it. Weird, eh? It isn't a GT (God I wish!) tho. Anyhoo... the motor is the original, and needed a rebuild, and an align-bore..etc.

    Well, I WILL rebuild it someday, its' on a stand right now. I am "preserving" it. So I told my 356 guy up in NJ where I lived at the time to build me a "fun" engine. Its' a pre-68 912 engine in there... And it was done "right". The 912 engines end up in a lot of 356s.. He had about 5 of them he was using as cores for rebuilds. In fact, he said he was buying rusty 912s for under $2,000 with decent engines. I was really tempted to buy a wrecked one on eBay recently for like $1,500 with a good drivetrain. I figure itd' be a nice core drivetrain for my '57 Coupe. But the nice thing about a C/SC/912 Motor is that they're great for use in a driver. They're probably the most durable of the 356 motors... Sure as heck better than the early 1600 Supers and Super 90s!

    Stan Hanks (Have ya heard of him?) just posted on the 356 digest a pretty neat statement. Something to the effect of that, unless he has documented proof that the motor was rebuilt by someone he knows to do goodwork, he automatically considers ANY of the 356/912 engines a Core. He is one of the few people alive who can do a 4-cam...

    There's just toomany ways to ruin a 356 motor... It is amazing how many people think they are just like VW engines!

    Bill
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    stickguystickguy Member Posts: 50,856
    At this price range, can't you get an early Miata with some miles, do a thorough servie on it, and have a fun and bulletproof car for minimal $?

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

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    Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    Sure, but you have a dime a dozen car then. A nice car to be sure (I like and respect Miatas) but they don't have a vintage look and feel and they don't really have a lot of personality. One Miata is just like another, but every old Porsche I drive is different.

    Anybody who can build a 4-cammer sure has my respect. I tried and gave up and sold the engine (for a pretty good price, too as I recall).

    Some folks think a Porsche engine is "like a VW engine" which is absurd if you actually busted down both engines and laid them out side by side. The quality and precision of the Porsche engine becomes immediately apparent, and does the sophistication of the design compared to the humble VW.
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    aezeligaezelig Member Posts: 13
    So I decided to go after the MGB since I could have fun and still save some money.

    Of course, the guy ended up to be selling the car for a friend of the family. I finally spoke to the true owner and the "very clean" turned into "the body could use some work" which turned into "rust behind the right door, but all the 75's have that", plus broken mirrors, but all the 75's mirrors are broke". See ya.

    The 914 could present me with more problems than I want to deal with, (i think a 912 is much cooler looking anyway). Owner seemed extremely into the car, probably sold it anyway.

    I'm really not to excited about the Miata thing, my mother-in-law has one...enough said.

    $5000 in my hand today. Fun, clean, quick, and not your mother-in-laws car....is it too much to ask?

    Time to keep looking.
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    Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    Oh, the MGB was a '75? Yikes! You should have mentioned that right off!

    No, no, you want an MGB 1974 on down. 1975 starts the rubber bumper cars with jacked up suspension and terrible emissions technology. Stay away from 1975-80 MGBs please. And $5K for 1975 should bring you a show car!

    No wonder I thought it was such a good deal!
    It was a '75. These prices are much deflated from the chrome bumper earlier cars.
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    qbrozenqbrozen Member Posts: 33,052
    he DID say it was a '75, Shifty.

    I had thought about the rubber bumper thing, but still thought (before hearing about the rust) that it was the best of the 3 choices.

    Well, aezelig, back to the search.

    '11 GMC Sierra 1500; '08 Charger R/T Daytona; '67 Coronet R/T; '13 Fiat 500c; '20 S90 T6; '22 MB Sprinter 2500 4x4 diesel; '97 Suzuki R Wagon; '96 Opel Astra; '08 Maser QP; '11 Mini Cooper S

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    Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    Ah, my bad then. Didn't notice that.
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    aezeligaezelig Member Posts: 13
    More searching.....72 MGB, paper had it listed at $10,000 for the entire week, this morning it $5000, owner says they misprinted, but now he has been getting offers up to $8000 and he couldnt figure out why.

    There was also a 72 Triumph Spitfire for under $4000. Have read and heard that it isnt so awesome, but is it even worth a look?

    How about a 1965 Porsche 911?

    The 914 Porsche still sitting in the paper with big classified, got the owner to send me some more pictures, Exterior and Interior look 100% perfect. The engine is tough to look at. I found a Porsche mechanic nearby. The car is two hours away. Any suggestions on how to get the seller to let me get this guy to look at it? Seems like it may be a little touchy to get him to agree to keep the car for a day or two.

    I'm thinking about just building a go-kart.
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    Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    The MGB owner sounds flakey. Oh, really, people are offering him $3,000 over his asking price without even seeing the car? Yeah, sure.

    I think one way to get a car inspected is to put a deposit on it. I doubt theowner will give you the car outright but he could come with you or drive it over himself. If you want to sell your car, you have to sell your car, if you know what I mean.

    I don't think I'd recommend a '65 911; however it is historically an interesting car.
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    jrosasmcjrosasmc Member Posts: 1,711
    Why wouldn't you recommend a '65 911, Mr. Shiftright? Are they too costly?
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    aezeligaezelig Member Posts: 13
    under $4000, 67k. MGB Simple and fun, or extremely rust prone headaches? Fun?
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    Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    Oh, that would be a Spitfire Mark IV I believe (kamm-back, right?).

    This is really the least desirable of the Spitfires due to the fact that horsepower was reduced to a measly 58 by emissions requirements. There are some good things about a Mk IV but power and torque aren't one of them. You'd be better off finding a Mark III or skipping up to a Spitfire 1500.

    If a Mark IV were cheap and perfect, you might consider it. But if it needs work, you are throwing money in a furnace.

    They are fun, though, but an MGB will walk all over a Mk IV.
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    im_brentwoodim_brentwood Member Posts: 4,883
    911s? Wonderful cars, but the newer, the better.

    A 1965 911 is a great car, for a 1965 Porsche. Its' easily a better performing car than a 356 Carrera 2, and much much cheaper to own, to buy and to drive. Then and now.

    Now, is a late '60s LWB car a better bet and cheaper in all likelihood? Yeahup.

    THe few NICE 1965s that I know of are coveted by Porsche "freaks". I am halfheartedly looking for one. Do I really want a 1967 or 1968 911s? Not really. DO I want a 1965 911? Oh hell yes I do! It is the first 911. And the crudest.

    Sort of like 356s. I just bought a very very early 1951 Coupe that needs a lot of work. Not really rusted (Battery box only.. even Desert cars go there!) but needs a total. It is a pretty valuable car. Done its' worth more than a comparable 1965 356SC Coupe. Now, is it a better car? No. It is much more historical, it is "cuter" in my opinion, and much much more historical. The Later 356s are the most common by a long shot. They are the best driving cars. This car, with its' 1100cc engine is slow, it has weak brakes, a split windshield that is tough to see out of to a degree..etc...

    But it is a VERY early Porsche, and its' what I want :)

    So buy what ya WANT, but if you want a car to drive, and historical signifigance is not your big priority, get a later 911.

    Bill
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    jrosasmcjrosasmc Member Posts: 1,711
    But the 356 has a 4-cylinder, so it should be cheaper to own than a 911.
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    Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    You'd think so, but it generally isn't. That's why buying a 912 is such a bad idea.
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    im_brentwoodim_brentwood Member Posts: 4,883
    Nope.

    Not accurate. I can order Long Block, fully rebuilt 2.0L 911 engines for well under $4,000. (I think $3K-3,500 in a recent ad in Panorama)

    Can't do that on a 356...

    Bill
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    Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    You can sometimes find a good used 912 engine for $2k or $2,500.

    Bill, are those German parts in those $4K rebuilds. Seems kinda cheap for jenyewine German bits and pieces. And is this "rebuilt" or "overhauled"? If you don't know off hand dont' bother I can check myself, thanks.
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    im_brentwoodim_brentwood Member Posts: 4,883
    Dunno.


    I dont think they're all NPR or anything like that.... (Big Bore 1600 Motors are a pet peeve of mine.. I dont like breaking cranks but that's just me..) They are remans, no just rebuilds, and I have heard several good things about these guys...


    http://www.motormeister.com


    They have 2.0s for $2,795 exchange... shoot.. why buy a used engine? They do 2.4s for $2,895, 2.7s for $2,995, 3.0s for $3,595 and 3.2s for $3,995. The 3.6s run $5,495.


    Seems awfully cheap, but again, I've heard they are very good. Besides, if they were junk, would they be in Pano? :) Well... never mind.. haha.


    But then again, I am a lot like you. I mean, I used to own a Beautiful Meissen Blue 57 Cab.. a really early one, a "beehive" car with a 1600Normal that I blew a rod in. Typical. Thankfully the case was OK. So I spent close to $7K on the rebuild. Now, do you NEED Carello rods in a driver? No. But are the factory rods with the insterts a weak spot, and did I go overboard? Yeahup. But when it was done... I could take that sucker to 6,000 if I wanted to (I never did.. pointless on a Normal). So I tend to go overboard, but dammit that motor was NEVER gonna come apart at 5,100 again (I was merging.. and.. well.. got on it in 2nd... Bad move.. stooopid)


    That being said... I'm sure these would be fine for the normal driver... Someone who has an old 911 they blast out to Baskin Robins on Sunday nites with the kids.


    They are remans I do believe...If you have the new Pano they're on page 47.


    Bill

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    jrosasmcjrosasmc Member Posts: 1,711
    You mentioned in a much earlier post that the Achilles' heel of Saab 95/96s from '61-'73 was the transmission. It appears as if the company had trouble making the tranny durable and reliable. Other than that, the rest of the car was bulletproof, right?
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    Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    It was a tough little car, but the "other than that" tagline is like saying that the Titanic had a good trip other than the iceberg incident. Those trannies are very hard to rebuild and cost a lot, so you lose the tranny you've just about lost the car. Also lots of torque steer, very heavy steering, and noisy. Still, I find them quite charming and would like to own another one, presuming the transmission sounded okay and worked properly.
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    jrosasmcjrosasmc Member Posts: 1,711
    You had a Saab 95/96 at one time? In what decade?
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    Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    Lessee--last one I actually drove was around 1988. I just junked one recently. It was a donation to a charity I work with. I looked it over really well but it was pretty hopeless--bad transmission, rod knock, dents, torn up seats, some broken glass. Best used for parts, I'm sure it will make some Saab freak happy to have the precious little pieces off the car. I've very big on parting out ratty old cars so that good cars can keep running.
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    jrosasmcjrosasmc Member Posts: 1,711
    And the Sonetts (any of them) wouldn't be worth having as daily drivers, I presume?
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    Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    Sure you could drive one everyday if you wanted to, but it has the same powertrain as the 96 so has the same issues with transmissions and engine roughness. Some people like 'em because they are so very weird. You would be, after all, the only one on your block, or perhaps your entire county.
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    aezeligaezelig Member Posts: 13
    Now its a 72 MGB, $4600, car is a driver, owner says cars in pretty good shape, rockers will need to be replaced in the near future. Sounds like something I should avoid to me. Any idea how much it would cost to replace the rockers?
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    Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    It's a big job in the US. In the UK they are so used to dealing with rust that many shops know how to deal with rocker panel and floor pan replacement quickly and efficiently but in the US this type of work is only done by specialists who charge a lot and make a big deal out of it.

    A badly rusted MGB is basically a parts car. His pricing is way out of line.
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    aezeligaezelig Member Posts: 13
    Today i saw a 1970 datsun 1600 roadster, overall car was in great shape and probably a little over priced at $5000. No rust anywhere, which was pretty awesome to see.

    The interior was so unattractive though. Black, padded dash, boring layout, big DATSUN on the gearshift. Definately not too cool from the inside, but it too was in good shape. The biggest problem is that the car is so narrow, I dont think my wife would ever make it into the passenger seat. And then she would just complain the whole time. I sat up all night thinking this might be the car for me.

    Well tomorrow I get to see a Lotus Europa that has been extremely well cared for by a local race car driver, plus maybe a couple of more mg's, but most of them have some rust issues and are not what I would call bargains $4-6k.

    Someday I'll find the right car.

    T
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    qbrozenqbrozen Member Posts: 33,052
    the good thing is that you don't seem to be in a rush. Take your time and find the right one for you.

    Ya know, I have no idea what a Datsun roadster is. Anybody got a pic of one??

    '11 GMC Sierra 1500; '08 Charger R/T Daytona; '67 Coronet R/T; '13 Fiat 500c; '20 S90 T6; '22 MB Sprinter 2500 4x4 diesel; '97 Suzuki R Wagon; '96 Opel Astra; '08 Maser QP; '11 Mini Cooper S

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    Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    image
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    speedshiftspeedshift Member Posts: 1,598
    I just saw one of those today. It was fairly rough, which just accentuates that industrial look.
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    qbrozenqbrozen Member Posts: 33,052
    That is pretty cool looking. Correction, I think its REALLy cool looking. Of course, that's just one angle. But, kinda looks like an Austin/MG hybrid. Are those common? Maybe I've seen them in the past and thought they were some odd year of Sprite or something.

    '11 GMC Sierra 1500; '08 Charger R/T Daytona; '67 Coronet R/T; '13 Fiat 500c; '20 S90 T6; '22 MB Sprinter 2500 4x4 diesel; '97 Suzuki R Wagon; '96 Opel Astra; '08 Maser QP; '11 Mini Cooper S

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    Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    Not common but you see them around. They are more like an "oddity" than a hot collectible, but some folks really like 'em and even restore them despite the fact that they aren't worth restoring at the present time.
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    speedshiftspeedshift Member Posts: 1,598
    If some people like how they look that's fine but I'm not so sure anymore. The one in the photo is very nice and it's taken from a good angle, but the one I saw yesterday I approached from the rear and that's not their best angle, especially with those DeSoto taillights.

    When they were new I liked them, probably for the same reason I'm not wild about their styling now--they look fairly crude, like their sheet metal was stamped out by people who didn't feel real comfortable doing curves. Even the entry-level British sportscars had more sparkle and zip.

    I'm not saying the 1600 and 2000 are ugly, just that they look almost unfinished. It does make them look more butch than the average '60s sportscar, but probably the best thing about that series was the 2000 engine (DOHC IIRC) and 5-speed.
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    Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    It's true, they aren't a really cohesive harmonious design. If they had hired an Italian they might have had better sales.
This discussion has been closed.