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paqman

First Z purchase

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Hey all, long time Z lover, first time buyer. I've wanted an S30 Z since jr. high and have finally decided to bite the bullet. As much

as I'd love to find a great deal on a beater for $1k-$2k, and build it into something of my own, right now I've got four kids and not a whole lot of time to work on cars. So I think for now I'd like to find one for around $7k-$10k that has been done well and will be a good turn-key driver right now, with not much required to do to it. I'm not against getting my hands dirty, in fact I will relish the few times I get to take a break from the kids and work on the Z, but for now I can't put a whole lot of time into it.

So my question is, do you think that price range ($7k-$10k), can get me a good specimen? I'm also hoping that after driving it for a few years that I will be able to get most of my money back out of it, assuming I haven't had to do much more than regular maintenance. I'm in Utah, and most cars out here are rust buckets, and even those are few and far between. Seems the only Z's I find out here are either $1000 non runners, or $20k show cars. So I will probably be looking on ebay and craigslist for a decent car from Arizona or California, then flying down and driving it back. I've been watching a few ebay auctions, and I do see some good ones ending in that price range, but have not been able to inspect or drive them, so I'm just curious from those of you who have the experience.

When the time comes I will probably be hoping to find a helpful soul on one of these forums to perhaps go and check the particular car out for me. :-) I wouldn't mind finding one for a bit cheaper, say $5k-$6k if it was rust free, a good interior, and solid mechanics. If the cheaper one simply needed new paint or something like that, I would not be opposed to something like that. Cause I could see keeping it till the kids are older, and restoring it myself then. But I do want something with very little rust, and a good solid engine and drive train, so that I can drive it daily right out the gate. And when I say daily, I mean good weather daily. I do have a beater car for winter and rain.

Sorry for the long post, and I'm a ways away from making a purchase, just doing some research for now.

Edited by paqman

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You said S30 - so I'd guess you are thinking about maybe finding a 260Z or 280Z in that price range. I would think that would be possible even today. If your thinking $7K to $10K - I wouldn't advise even thinking that way. If you do, you might wind up buying "price" rather than "quality". You would be far better off thinking "$10K" - and then find the best example you can find for that amount.

It seems that almost every time anyone tries to save a couple thousand - on the initial purchase price - they wind up putting twice that amount into the car after they buy it. I'd look for cars advertised for $12K to $15K.. then if I found a really really nice example - I'd try real hard to buy it for $10K. A lot of people are dreaming on their "asking" prices - and after trying to sell the car for 6 months or a year - they will usually grab a reasonable cash offer - it the money is standing in front of them.

Just my opinion.. Good luck -

Carl B.

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I saw a nice '78 Black Pearl in CA on CL. It's not perfect, but it's pretty nice for $5k.

1978 280z datsun

That does seem pretty decent for the price. I do seem to see them go for decent prices, just wondering how they turn out as daily drivers. I realize a 40 year old car is going to have issues, I kind of enjoy that occasional excuse to work on it :)

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You said S30 - so I'd guess you are thinking about maybe finding a 260Z or 280Z in that price range. I would think that would be possible even today. If your thinking $7K to $10K - I wouldn't advise even thinking that way. If you do, you might wind up buying "price" rather than "quality". You would be far better off thinking "$10K" - and then find the best example you can find for that amount.

It seems that almost every time anyone tries to save a couple thousand - on the initial purchase price - they wind up putting twice that amount into the car after they buy it. I'd look for cars advertised for $12K to $15K.. then if I found a really really nice example - I'd try real hard to buy it for $10K. A lot of people are dreaming on their "asking" prices - and after trying to sell the car for 6 months or a year - they will usually grab a reasonable cash offer - it the money is standing in front of them.

Just my opinion.. Good luck -

Carl B.

That is great advice. I do tend to do that in my car purchases. Look for something bit over my range and talk them down. I'll keep that in mind. I do see a lot of auctions end with no buyers then relisted at a lower price.

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For a DD, the 280 is a nicer car than the 240. It's a bit quieter, the FI makes it feel more modern, and the car is a bit safer. If you don't have a burning desire to own a 240, you can get far more car for the money with a 280. The 240 feels more nimble and is more raw, but the 280 is still pretty nice to drive. One alternative is to buy a 280 and put small bumpers from a 240 on it. It will give you some of the 240 looks while keeping the purchase price down.

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I have a 1970 240Z project and I have 4 daughters so I feel your pain but NOTHING makes it more satisfying as when you do the work and you know its done right.

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Some people want a perfect car to polish and admire -- and to drive to car shows on odd weekends. And that's OK. I once bought an extremely nice show-type Mustang and learned that such a car is, for ME, absolutely no fun to own. I was constantly scared I would scratch it or get a door ping. So it sat in the garage a lot. My current Z is not perfect. She looks good, but she's got a few rusty spots, a couple of small scratches, and a ding in the hood where I forgot to remove a socket before closing the hood. @#$%!!! So if the car gets a door ding in a parking lot, I'll curse about it, but I'll get over it by nightfall. Otherwise I have the car in excellent running condition, because it would bother me greatly if it wasn't. My car is "just right" -- for ME. It's a car I enjoy using. I would not enjoy it if it were perfect, and that's perhaps one reason I'm reluctant to lay into body work.

I'll also mention that a car is no fun TO ME if I don't put something of myself into it -- a repair here, a small mod there -- something that's MINE. I think I bonded with my car in a big way with regard to the brakes and the EFI. Not everyone is like this, but many people are.

I'm not saying your thinking should be just like mine. Rather, I'm raising a couple of issues you might want to consider.

Will $7-10k get you a nice Z? Yes, absolutely! Towards the $7k end, it won't be perfect, but it will be very nice, especially in Utah. You might find some nice cars in Arizona. I think your expectations seem reasonable.

If you want a perfect car and don't care how much you have contributed to that perfection, the best thing you can do is to find a car that is already perfect -- that someone else has restored. You will likely buy it for less money than they have into it.

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All very good replies. And I agree. I don't really want a show car. Even if the one I bought was show worthy, I don't like the thought of showing something I didn't build. I am totally not against buying one a little more rough around the edges so I have a canvas to work with when I get the time. So perhaps a $5k Z would be a better choice. As long as I can find one that will run well and have not much rust, that I can enjoy right now, that's all that matters. And you're right about the dents and dings. Especially since I have little kids. It will definitely take a ding or two here and there. My original plan was to buy a nice one right now to enjoy driving it, then sell it in 5 years or so for one I can build up and restore. But maybe one that needs some work but is still driveable, for less cash, would be a good idea, and I wouldn't be so paranoid about kids dinging it. I really appreciate all your input.

I do have to sell my motorcycle first, and then would get serious about Z hunting. And I was thinking about riding this season and selling it after the riding season is over. Otherwise, powderkeg, I would be hitting you up for pics LOL.

Jeff G, yes if I went with the 280, I would definitely go for a bumper swap. And I don't HAVE to have a 240, I'd be perfectly happy if I found the right 280. I have grand visions in my head of what my future Z would look like LOL. Not that they're going to happen any time soon, but it's fun to imagine. Would also love to do an engine swap at some point, so there's that to consider as well.

Edited by paqman

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Here's a 280 with 240 bumpers, it's a many grand $$ vision.

Wow up until now I've been posting all over my phone, and just realized how crappy my original post got formatted LOL. Sorry for that. Yes that does look like a grand $$ vision LOL.

Edit: oh, i guess my screen wasn't done loading. I guess it looks ok now.

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Here's a 280 with 240 bumpers, it's a many grand $$ vision.

That looks like the same spoiler on my Z, but mine doesn't have the same fenders, Hmmm maybe for the future.

paqman, you can find Z cars in fairly good running order and looks for well within your price range, with a little weekend wrenching get it into excellent running order, doing full on resto's yourself takes lots of time and many $$. just keep on looking and you'll find the car for you and then make it truly your car. Just my 2¢.

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That looks like the same spoiler on my Z, but mine doesn't have the same fenders, Hmmm maybe for the future.

paqman, you can find Z cars in fairly good running order and looks for well within your price range, with a little weekend wrenching get it into excellent running order, doing full on resto's yourself takes lots of time and many $$. just keep on looking and you'll find the car for you and then make it truly your car. Just my 2¢.

Thanks. From the replies, and the research I've done, I think you're right. I'm leaning more towards buying one a little more rough around the edges but with good mechanics so I can enjoy it now, then start building it up when I have more time. Funny thing, I've actually liked a lot of the rat rod Z's I've seen, (or Ratsuns :-) Wouldn't mind having a sleeper Z with killer internals LOL.

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In the last couple weeks I've seen some decent looking 240's in the Los Angeles Craigs list asking $5,000-$6,000. I'm talking like 4 or 5 of them. Kind of depressing actually, but for someone looking it is good news.

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Wow that is a lot. I just hope there are as many out there for me to choose from by the time I sell the bike and am ready to start shopping. I tend to do this. Start planning way before I'm ready to buy. It'll probably be next spring. I can't buy till I sell the bike. :-)

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