Monday, July 30, 2012

It was time to build a race car. To do that, we needed...well, a car. Buying a used car is hard, because there are so many available and you have NO IDEA what you're buying. I use a few simple red-neck rules when shopping for cars:

1. Whatever the average cheap price is, there is some poor sucker nearby that will sell it for half that because he needs to pay his rent or his wife needs to pay her Walmart shopping bill. Never settle for buying a regular car at a regular price. I won't pay more than $350 for an MR2 any more.

2. Do some research. Almost every race team I know has bought a car and tried to make it work, instead of figuring out what will work then trying to buy it. For the MR2, we got lucky the first time around in most aspects but were basically clueless. For any MR2 guys looking for hints:

- 85-87.5 have lighter engine internals and in the case of the hard-top lighter chassis...
- 87.5-89 have stronger engine internals, better brakes, better suspension design (different from early cars - won't swap), and more valuable tail lights, interior and accessories (more to sell). The later car is almost always the better bet to buy and there is no price difference in the market as most people don't know these differences exist

3. Show up with a trailer and cash. Seriously. The prospect of getting the heap of car out of their lawn and seeing greens in their hand will go a long way toward convincing a seller they really do want to make this deal.

With this in mind we scoured craigslist for ages (ok, days). Andrew came upon not one but TWO MR2's for $400. 120 miles away in Eugene. With no pictures. What could go wrong?!?

The seller was an autocrosser, and had a very nice MR2 in his garage. These cars were a combination of his pipe-dream ill-advised $0 race car project and a source of parts to keep his hooptie nice MR2 going. The end result was parts missing off both cars in large quantity, and what was there was hacked horribly. And the cars were on logs. In mud.
There was no suspension on the white car. The blue car had 14" honda wheels that were binding on the brake calipers. But, it was a light and fairly clean 85 (white) and a full-of-goodies 87 (blue/silver) for $400, and the white one even had an engine and transmission. Both had interiors of some kind. Clearly there was more than $400 worth of stuff here, so on the trailer they went.
Ok, they didn't actually FIT on the trailer...but TWO cars for $400!!!!
The drive home was slow and cautious, and we only lost three major pieces off the trailer somewhere between Eugene and Salem. All in all, an adventure worthy of a $500 race car

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