Buy, don't build. Or should I say: Buy from fools.
Fools for building or fools for selling, it makes no difference, the value to a buyer can often be the same. I'm republishing this older blog as a reminder to myself mostly. If you want your car to go faster, consider buying a faster car. Without a doubt some moron has already spent huge money and time making his car as fast as you want yours to be. Benefit from the stupidity of people like me, people who improve their cars out of irrational addiction. Find these people who do things right because they can't help themselves. Buy
|Sad Story #1. My Pal Craig's MINI Cooper S: exhaust, suspension, brakes, head work, pulleys, gauges, and much more than I can remember.|
Sold to make room for a little one and an SUV. Perhaps the saddest tale of all, except for the buyer of course.
If your dream is to build, then build. But building a car is not the best way, economically, to acquire the car of your dreams. Buying someone else’s project may be a better way to get what you want. You can safely assume that more money has been spent on the car than you are going to pay for it. Rest assured, if you find a car that suits you, there will still be plenty to do to make the car your own. From a good cleaning to porting your own heads, there is always enough work left over with any car. I promise.
A word of caution, don't buy a "built" car because you can't yourself. An understanding of the modifications is very important if you are going to buy the right one. How else will you know if it was done properly? A modified or restored car can be a can of worms that will suck your wallet completely dry. Done right, and sold for the right reasons they can be an opportunity for major satisfaction. If you can't tell the difference then you might consider buying a new car, or at least a stock machine.
**Enter the story of my 1986 Saleen Mustang.
Much to my surprise, the Cobra replica was not an ideal daily driver. Aside from being uninsurable for that kind of use, it was not exactly waterproof, not to mention, manual steering made Seattle's endless parallel parking a challenge. My 1992 VW Golf was a bit embarrassing to drive when I visited my other, richer, car buddies in the auto club. So, I set out for a more impressive daily driver.
|This Mystic Cobra which is clearly NOT my Saleen, is about as hot and as custom as they come.|
It sold for a fraction of what it cost to build, a small fraction.
I watched the building of this car and know no expense was spared.
Craigslist provided a 1986 Saleen Mustang that I scored for $4500. Earlier Saleens were a bit rare, and this was 1 of about 300 cars built that year. It had very high miles, was parked outside for the past 14 years and needed just about everything fixed. It was a perfect opportunity for a guy with my skills and connections to restore the car to it's former 80’s glory.
|18K Miles 400hp, mostly stock $84,950|
If you are going to modify for power, then
consider the one below.
|41K Miles, 480hp after $13,000 in upgrades|
Which makes the price lower, not higher
$69,950 Good ROA for a well built car.
|Sadly I didn't own a camera back then so this is the only photo.|
Like every cool car I've ever owned, I miss it terribly.
Let’s say I had about $14,000 into that car, once you add the purchase price, the shopping spree, and the value of the free labor from Little James. After completion, the car was pretty cool, fairly loud and very stiff. My wife loved the way people looked at her when she drove it, but hated that she needed a sports bra due to the Saleen's suspension.
[does a photo of your project go here? let me know]
When finished, I found I was still spending about $400/month in little repairs and improvements. Mustangs are addictive like that. Oh, and the wheels were still slightly bent. My mind began to wander... what would $400/month buy me after using the Saleen as a down payment?
|It took us about $100,000 to put the first ever 4.6L 32-Valve SVT Cobra motor into a Cobra replica properly. |
Even after multiple awards and a 3 page featrure in Mustang and Fords magazine it went for under $40K
My calculations left me with a hankering for a 1998 E36 M3 Convertible, so I placed the Saleen for sale for $10,000. I knew all the places to list such a car and blanketed the country with ads. No bites. After 6 months of lowering my price, I hit rock bottom. I dropped the car off at KompactKarKorner (www.kompactkarkorner.com) for consignment. My need for that M3 was becoming urgent by that time. They talked me into expecting $6,000 for the car and said they would keep anything earned beyond that. I paid them $300 to clean my already clean car and got a ride home. When I got home there was a message on my machine, “please come and pick up your check, the car has sold.” They never even washed it.
|Restorations too. It ain't cheap to bring something back to its original glory.|
Don't kid yourself. A crapped out, cheap Shelby GT350 probably doesn't exist.