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Old 09-11-2015, 10:01 PM   #1
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Which Challenge for a Bargain Hunter - Cosmetics or Mechanics

So let's say you are deciding between two less than perfect 3.2l cars:

Car 1 - Is a 2001 and has 110k miles in good cosmetic shape with an owner who has opted to sell the car rather than fix things like rear brakes, window regulator and MAF. Mechanic says oil filter shows no sign of IMS debris. Clutch was done at 85k.

and

Car 2 - 2000 with 72K miles with very good mechanicals including a recently performed clutch and IMS bearing (though not LN interestingly enough) but cosmetic issues such as deep scratches in the front passenger fender and door as well as interior trim that needs to be re-glued. This car also happens to be a color combo that you like slightly better than car 1.

Assuming that each is going for the same dollars, are equally good values vs the market, and you are comfortable doing most of your own work other than paint and major engine overhauls, which would you choose?

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Old 09-11-2015, 10:21 PM   #2
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Old 09-12-2015, 12:36 AM   #3
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Personally would go for the first car provided you can do the bulk of the work yourself, brakes and discs are cheap enough. Paint jobs can work out very expensive depending on how deep the scratches are etc
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Old 09-12-2015, 04:23 AM   #4
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I would choose car #1 as well. Bodywork and paint are harder to get right and more apparent. Good luck!
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Old 09-12-2015, 04:27 AM   #5
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I'd go for car 1 as my body work skills stink but I'm a fair mechanic.
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Old 09-12-2015, 06:23 AM   #6
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I'm not convinced that these are "bargain hunter" machines. I'd say save yourself a bunch of heartache and spend a little more money.
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Old 09-12-2015, 07:45 AM   #7
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I would go for car#2, it has 38K less miles and the clutch and IMS bearing done recently. I would rather have a car that's mechanically sound more than a car with better cosmetics. Who knows what else car#1 may need, and you said you like the color combo better too on car#2. As mentioned you could keep looking for something a little nicer for a little more money, which you'll probably end up spending in the long run with these other cars.

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Old 09-12-2015, 08:29 AM   #8
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My other P car is an 85 928 that I've had for several years, I'm quite familiar with the concept of buying the best car you can afford (or in my case the best car that doesn't trip the spousal disapproval alarm.) Is there a price below which either of these cars as described would be considered a no brainer?
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Old 09-12-2015, 09:57 AM   #9
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About a year ago, I bought a 99 and an 01 base that were pretty much 'Beauty and the Beast'
The '01 looked great, but had a piston rod poking out through the case. The '99 was great mechanically, but had some scratches and minor hail dimples.
I fixed all the issues with the 01 pretty quickly, the 99 still is a little rough around the edges. I am happy with both cars and prefer to drive the 99 (5-speed), but always get compliments when I drive the 01 (Tiptronic).

My advice on purchase is that Cosmetics and Mechanics may not be the biggest issue as long as the 'Mechanics' is basic maintenance.
MORE important, is which car has seen better care though it's entire life. Does one have records and documentation? Owner's manual in the tray below the steering wheel? Does one look like it was someone's baby for most of the time it's been around?
Other than that, get a PPI done, and always remember: There will be a better deal next week.
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Old 09-12-2015, 01:51 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jamesp View Post
I'd go for car 1 as my body work skills stink but I'm a fair mechanic.
That's me too, but original good paint can never be duplicated. Mechanicals can be restored & actually improved.
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Old 09-12-2015, 03:52 PM   #11
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Car 1. I can't do body and paint myself and original paint can't be duplicated.
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Old 09-12-2015, 07:05 PM   #12
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I think it is a question of personal aptitude. I did the same thing when looking for a car. I cannot afford mechanic hourly rates and knew I would have to do as much of the work as possible. I am better at mechanical than body work. I bought a 99 with 80k, Arctic Silver with Boxster Red interior. Body was I good shape better than most I had seen but mechanicals needed help. What do YOU feel more comfortable doing? Also understand you will need a place to work on the car and tools, lots of tools!
Good Luck! and keep us posted!
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Old 09-12-2015, 09:49 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by mikesz View Post
I think it is a question of personal aptitude. I did the same thing when looking for a car. I cannot afford mechanic hourly rates and knew I would have to do as much of the work as possible. I am better at mechanical than body work. I bought a 99 with 80k, Arctic Silver with Boxster Red interior. Body was I good shape better than most I had seen but mechanicals needed help. What do YOU feel more comfortable doing? Also understand you will need a place to work on the car and tools, lots of tools!
Good Luck! and keep us posted!
Well I do all of my own wrenching on the 928, including dropping the transmission and torque tube (three different times), timing belt, etc. I don't have a lift but do have a decent arsenal of tools and some aptitude. My only hesitation is the suspicion that the car that has a number of obvious if fairly typical mechanical issues might have a lot more lurking under the surface. For the cosmetically challenged car I can either live with the cosmetics or since it's arctic silver could even find replacement panels rather than deal with paint.
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Old 09-14-2015, 06:09 PM   #14
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..............................................

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Old 09-14-2015, 06:50 PM   #15
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A claim of MAF can hide more serious problems. Brakes on only two wheels are only moderately expensive even if doing rotors and pads and fluid to do right.

Regulator not a big deal nor that expensive.

Sound like I'd want to document the maintenance history to rule out long term neglect.

Re the second: A lot would depend on what IMS bearing was used and why? There are cars were the bearing goes and a bearing is put in and the car quickly sold only to have problems as the debris from the first works its way through the engine. Quality installers won't even do the simple install. And, if it failed, one of the reasons could be tolerances that aren't quite right and it isn't unheard of for there to be double failures on those engines. OTOH, it could have been just a "doing while the clutch is done" decision.

There are lots of stray interior parts available from wrecks. That is easy. And while you are going to be paying for the paint job, as long as there is no rust that can be fixed.

When was the last major service done on each car and was it complete? Compare to the list of recommended items.

Honestly, I'd pass because of the cost of painting. You can save so much by buying the right car even if you have to pay a bit more initially.

I bought cosmetically good but a PPI showed it needing only the things that are typically needed at that mileage. Plugs, coils, belt, fluids. Plus I knew that a 4 wheel brake job was needed which made sense because the car was a daily driver in a major metro area used by a saleslady. I bought in the winter with snow on the ground, from a motivated seller and bargained hard.

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