Jumping off a cliff?
Hi folks! I'm new to the Z-world and trying to get a handle on how much it's going to cost to restore a Z that I'm planning to buy.
I'm not a mechanic. I have a basic working knowledge of cars, but don't feel qualified and don't have the space or tools to do much more than change the oil. But I've owned some pretty beat-up used cars in my day, and managed to keep them running mostly by prioritizing repairs and being OK with breaking down in the desert a lot. That said, the Z is supposed to be more of a fun car for weekend road trips to Vegas, etc.
I should say my budget right now is about $8k total for the car and repairs necessary to get it roadworthy.
So. I'm in L.A. and prices are a little higher here than the rest of the country. The after looking around, the one I'm buying is a 1980 280ZX, 5 speed manual, 2x2, not turbo. Seller agreed to $3300, which seems on the cheap end for a running Z in this town. I need your opinion on how much it's going to cost to get this into working order at shop rates.
Exterior looks good, minimal paint chipping. Original engine. Pretty new tires, radiator, fuel injectors, fuel gauge, fuel filter, oil sensor and spark plugs. Sounds a little sputtery at an idle but starts well and there's plenty of power. Clutch felt good. No flutter in the tachometer, smooth shifting. No strange transmission sounds. The oil looked clean before and after running. It's been in the same family since 1980, original plates, the grandchildren are selling it. Not always garaged, but it probably was for a long time. The grandpa installed a vacuum gauge. Smog and registration are current in California, which is often not the case. Best pro... it's in my price range.
Some roof and interior rust (bottom is sealed).
Front seats are torn. Needs new upholstery and trim. Lots of cracked rubber.
Brakes feel soft.
Dashboard is cracked in a few places.
Broken odometer and speedometer, reads around 150k miles. I have a feeling that may be hard to find parts for?
AC is broken - groan/whine when trying to turn it on.
Driver's side mirror servo or switch is shot. Passenger's works. Power windows do work.
The BIG ONE: On the test drive, the guy told me the rear drivers bearing was shot. There was a clunk each time I hit the gas. He said that was the bearing. At about a mile, the drivers rear wheel flew off the car and hit a trash can and jumped in the air at about 35 mph. He told me he must've forgotten to tighten the lugnuts after checking the bearing... this sounds weird, but all 4 nuts were found within 10 feet of where the car came to a stop on the brake pad. Can a bad bearing actually do that? Or is it reasonable to think it's true that the lugnuts just weren't properly torqued? The rear axle has rust. This didn't put me off... not exactly. I'm prepared to replace the brake pads, shoes, calipers, axles and bearings, just hope I can find a reasonable price for that within a very short range of where I'm buying the car.
So... I'm trying to decide whether this car is going to be great with an extra $5k invested (at shop prices) or if I'm on a fool's errand. Feel free to chime in here. It's hard to find a Z in this town for $3300 here that runs and sounds/feels good driving (excluding when the wheels come off it).
My plan is to drive it straight to a wheel shop first and go as deep on the axles as necessary to make it safe to drive. I imagine that could set me back anywhere from $1-2k depending on how the front assembly looks? My next concern then is the speedometer and odometer. Then the other stuff.
What advice do you guys have? Is this a terrible decision?