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Does anyone have any good ideas for a nice classic car to fix up? I am looking for something that is affordable (read cheap). Old Porsche 911's are always great but aren't within my budget at this time. Porsche 944's are out also as although the cars are cheap, the insurance is a little on the high side (read broke college student).

Thanks in advance,
Mark
 

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I suspect that you are looking for a European car; therefore, my suggestion may not even be in the ball park, but my vote goes to just about any Ford Mustang out there. Even the new ones are definitely "old school", which means easy to work on. The aftermarket for parts is unbelievable and there is no shortage of books and magazines devoted to repairing, restoring, hopping up, etc. these cars.

Cruiser
 

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That depends on your idea of affordable. The upfront cost of a 57 Chevy is high these days but the cost of repairs and better yet complete overhauls are dirt cheap and really easy. Also you might get all of your money back when you sell (after the recession that is).
Early Mercedes are found for reasonable prices but parts are expensive. However once fixed they tend to run forever. Thus repeat repairs are minimal.
If you want the cheapest overall (but terrible polluters) get an early Dodge with a slant six. Up front cost is next to nothing, repairs are simple and you can drive it to death then walk away from it once it eventually dies.
You have to decide the priority of cost up front or costs along the way.
 

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Too bad the 944 is out. I owned a 1983 911 targa, 928S and 944 once and the 944 was my favorite.


With that chioce out, I'd look for an E30 3-series BMW (1985-1992), maybe even a convertible. Make sure the body is solid and it should be fairly cheap to fix up and run, and they're also fun to drive. The 2002 is a nice car, but those cars from the 70s start rusting is someone in the next state waters his lawn.
 

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"I had one back in the late 70's and that thing was virtually indestructible, the motor that is."

Yep!
Those things eroded from the outside inward. It would be a perfect drive train with no car left around it. They knew how to build them back then. I even had a 67 Chrysler 300 with a 440 Interceptor crate engine that was the same. Good for well in excess of 140 mph on a continued basis without a complaint...but the body gave out.
 

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They all sound like reasonable suggestions depending on your budget and your skills. In general the older the car, the easier it is to work on, but the more chance of body rot and other expensive to repair conditions will exist.

Parts for Ford, Chevy, and Mopars, especially the first two are probably the cheapest and most plentiful. On the other hand, jobs that you can not do yourself, such as paint, bodywork, upholstery, chrome plating, and machine work (I am assuming you can't) will cost about the same for low value car as a high value car.

I suggest that you do a very detailed analysis of the costs involved in any project car. It is often cheaper to buy a car that someone else has restored than to do it yourself.

If you enjoy busting your knuckles on an old car at night in a cold garage and if you have most of the skills and tools that are needed and you don't put a value on your time, it might be a fun project. Otherwise you might want to reconsider.

I don't mean to sound negative, but I have seen a number of these projects started that still have parts scattered about in a lot of baskets.

Cheers, Jim.
 

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If you want a reliable older car then look at a BMW E30. These are the 3-series models from 1982-1994. They are pretty much bullet proof especially if it is a 5-speed manual transmission. BMW really needed to hit a home run and they did with these cars by overengineering them. I have a 1986 325 and it runs like a top. This past summer I drove from Long Island to Toronto without out a problem. It was also ahead of its time with electronic features that are similar to a modern day car. My BMW has about 150,000 miles and among BMW E30 owners the engine is only broken in now. Yes you do have to maintain the car more often especially rubber parts because of age but it is still a timeless classic. It has sort of a cult following that I'm noticing as well. Sometimes I'm taken by surprise when people ask me about the car because to me its my everyday driver and its seems nothing special. Also you will find alot of help on the internet to fix the car if need be such as Roadfly.com. These cars to me are like that old pair of Cole Haans when the were really special unlike now. BMW does still produce great cars but they are not engineered like they used to. Just as Cole Haan makes an O.K. shoe for the masses now it is not similiar to what the company used to produce.
 

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Also I have to agree the BMW 2002 is nice to have but the E30's are now entering the classic catagory and are worth considering. Also remember that in 1987 there was the release of the first M3 in the U.S. so it has alot going for it.
 

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If you want a reliable older car then look at a BMW E30. These are the 3-series models from 1982-1994. They are pretty much bullet proof especially if it is a 5-speed manual transmission. BMW really needed to hit a home run and they did with these cars by overengineering them. I have a 1986 325 and it runs like a top. This past summer I drove from Long Island to Toronto without out a problem. It was also ahead of its time with electronic features that are similar to a modern day car. My BMW has about 150,000 miles and among BMW E30 owners the engine is only broken in now. Yes you do have to maintain the car more often especially rubber parts because of age but it is still a timeless classic. It has sort of a cult following that I'm noticing as well. Sometimes I'm taken by surprise when people ask me about the car because to me its my everyday driver and its seems nothing special. Also you will find alot of help on the internet to fix the car if need be such as Roadfly.com. These cars to me are like that old pair of Cole Haans when the were really special unlike now. BMW does still produce great cars but they are not engineered like they used to. Just as Cole Haan makes an O.K. shoe for the masses now it is not similiar to what the company used to produce.
I agree, they are one of the best cars ever made. The interiors of those E30 BMWs are just excellent.
 

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I'm a big Audi fan

Either a a 1990-1991 Audi 90 Quattro 20V or a 1990-1991 Audi 90 Coupe Quattro (often referred to as a CQ). Either will be in the $4k-10k range depending on condition and availability where you may live. If in the upper Midwest... Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois... or North East... Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Penn... they may be numerous and a bit cheaper... either is fun to drive... the Coupe a bit on the rare side, only 1800 ever imported. They have 2.4 liter 20 valve 5 cylinder engines that put out 165hp stock and can go much higher... and of course the quattro AWD... All will have leather heated seats, air bags, ABS, automatic climate control... and probably a trip computer... these were the top of the line and and comparable to high end BMW 3-series of the same era... only more exclusive!! Get one... you'll love it!!!

Yeah... I have a black 1990 90 quattro 20V that is a bit tricked out myself... engine, wheels, suspension, brakes, audio and many other things.
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Too bad the 944 is out. I owned a 1983 911 targa, 928S and 944 once and the 944 was my favorite.

With that chioce out, I'd look for an E30 3-series BMW (1985-1992), maybe even a convertible. Make sure the body is solid and it should be fairly cheap to fix up and run, and they're also fun to drive. The 2002 is a nice car, but those cars from the 70s start rusting is someone in the next state waters his lawn.
Agreed on all counts. The E30s were built to last. I own an 89 -- runs like a top and in mint condition. You present a bit of a dilemma. The older the car, the more problems you will have, but the simpler (i.e., easier to "fix up") they will be. From the early-mid 80s on cars became increasingly computer driven and harder to fix, but more reliable -- actually far more reliable. There may be no perfect balance, but I'd take reliability and clearcoat paint (terrific rust protection) over ease to repair, on balance. But your priorities may differ.
 

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Agreed on all counts. The E30s were built to last. I own an 89 -- runs like a top and in mint condition. You present a bit of a dilemma. The older the car, the more problems you will have, but the simpler (i.e., easier to "fix up") they will be.
I like the E30s because they hit what I think will be a classic car sweet-spot for European cars: after good rust-proofing and fuel injection systems became common, but before OBD and other computer-related complexities. The first 2 things to do with any car from the 80s is replace all air hoses (intake, evap, PCV, ICV, etc) and clean all contacts for relays and fuses. Air leaks and corroded contacts cause a good 95% of their problems.
 

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1992 -1995 Mercedes 300E (e320 for 94,95) in sedan, coupe or wagon. Bullet proof drivetrains, fun to drive, quick, fairly low on maintenance. The last really reliable Mercedes.
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I, too, vote in favor or Mercedes. You should be able to find a really fine example from the early '80s through the early '90s for very reasonable money. The biggest problem with them is rust! For some reason, Mercedes seemed to be unable to unlock that particular equation on their older cars, so it's necessary to carefully inspect them. For bullet-proof, go with a 300 diesel; I had a 1978 300CD diesel coupe with over 750,000 miles, got over 30 MPG and I would still be driving it if the body had not rusted off the frame.

Other than M-Bs, I personally like Porsche 928s, the flagship of the line in the mid-'80s, and early examples in excellent condition can be had for less than $5000. They are superb cars, IMO, with the caveat that you should be mechanically inclined to own one, since they can be breathtakingly expensive to repair.
 

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Does anyone have any good ideas for a nice classic car to fix up? I am looking for something that is affordable (read cheap). Old Porsche 911's are always great but aren't within my budget at this time. Porsche 944's are out also as although the cars are cheap, the insurance is a little on the high side (read broke college student).

Thanks in advance,
Mark
AMCs. Gremlin or Pacer. Preferably with original green paint. Don't come much cheaper or easier to fix.

Buzz
 

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Get a Mercedes diesel sedan from the late 1980s. They can easily be fixed up to accept vegetable oil as fuel. A friend of mine did this; he gets the used vegetable oil free from a local restaurant. For the past three years, he hasn't spent a penny on fuel, and the car works great.

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Lexus LS 400

These were viewed as the best built Toyodas(called Celsior in Japan until just a few years ago) and very little goes wrong on them as they were incredibly overengineered to compete with the S-class. Model years 90-94 had smallish brakes and the display flickers out on them. 95-97 had AC compressor issues and a specific electrical issue.1998-00 are completely bullet proof unless you have air suspension (expensive replacement) and can be had for <13k generally.They're born highway runners and have been known to pass 350,000-500,000+ if maintained. maintenance for my 00 is once every two year timing belt change(at 120,000 intervals) and 14k synthetic oil changes. The car runs smooth as silk, no issues or gremlins. I bought it Dec 04 at auction with 69k miles for $17k and I'm now approaching 260k. Just my two pence.:icon_smile_wink:
 
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