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Old 10-09-2008, 03:04 PM   #1
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Question Local 92 project car for sale - should I buy it?

There is a 92 Miata w/ 172k miles for sale in my local area and I want your opinion on whether I should go look at it and what else might be wrong with it. Comes with clear title and no stated accidents. Does have some door dings and the rear passenger taillight needs to be replaced. Says the interior is in good shape but the glass window in the top is starting to tear out.

known issues:
Bad head gasket and overheating issues. Apparently the previous owner had some overheating issues with the car and it blew a rad hose. The guy took it into a shop and the repairs were more than he wanted to pay so he left the car there. The current owner bought it to fix up but apparently never got around to it. He assures me it has all of the original parts, but it does not run right now.

Best case scenario - I replace the head gasket and probably most of the hoses in the engine compartment. Flush radiator and replace thermostats maybe some other fluids while I am in there. Buy new tail light and fix the door dents.

Worst case scenario - replace the engine and hopefully nothing else drivetrain related.

He is asking $800 for the car as it sits right now and said I could come over and look at it during the day today.

So, with this low, low price, what else should I look for? My intentions are to fix it up and sell it for a little cash, but I mainly am looking for some more experience working on the car when it isn't my daily driver. Your thougts on repair issues and cost are appreciated.
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Old 10-09-2008, 03:09 PM   #2
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Id say thats a great price, everyone is always saying how you can get engine cheap, plus 1.8 upgrade.
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Old 10-09-2008, 03:17 PM   #3
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get ready to surface the head.
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Old 10-09-2008, 03:19 PM   #4
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I'd say you will need another head or overhaul the existing one include machining it as it is likely warped. The same happened to one that I parted out. Rad hose blew, lost coolant. Head was definitely warped when I put a straightedge on it. I paid $600 for that car with 160K miles, pretty much perfect body, but it was white with an auto so $800 seems fair.. If you decide you don't want to fix, you can part out for double that.
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Old 10-10-2008, 01:07 PM   #5
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Going to see the car later this evening. Will update when I return.
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Old 10-11-2008, 12:58 AM   #6
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So I went to go look at the car today. It was in pretty rough shape. Stein said he paid $600 for a car with a nearly perfect body, this one is more expensive and didn't have a decent panel on it.

  • The front bumper had some really deep scratches on it, and the front marker lights were both broken.
  • No battery
  • Top needs to be replaced
  • passenger rear tail light and rear quarter needs to be replaced
  • driver side door needs some major repairs; looks like it was bent backwards
  • drivers side rear quarter has a pretty big dent in it, looks like a light hit with a pole or something
  • paint was crap
  • the entire engine bay was covered in some sort of brown powder. Didn't look like dirt but it was definitely only in the engine bay and not in the interior
  • there was no brake pedal pressure even though there was plenty of (black) fluid in the reservoir
  • looked like it had new injectors with a dark blue color.
  • there was also a 1/2 inch gap between the top of the pop-up lights and the hood. It was the same on both lights, so it is possible they could be adjusted, but it surely wasn't how the car came from the factory

The good:
the head gasket kit was sitting in the passenger seat
the tires all had even wear, so the alignment looks ok
chrome cam cover bolts!!

It looks like I am going to have to replace just about every panel on the car, have it repainted and replace the top. Not quite the possible quick return on investment I was looking for. Oh yeah, and I don't know if there are any other issues with the drivetrain because it doesn't move... So should I walk or try to cut him down to what it is worth, like maybe $300 and he tows it to my house
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