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Ian F
Ian F MegaDork
12/3/17 7:42 p.m.

I also question what are you looking for?  

I've seen sub-$1000 cars posted on Facebook trading groups often. 

wvumtnbkr UltraDork
12/3/17 7:50 p.m.
frenchyd said:
wvumtnbkr said:

What are you looking for.  Post it up.  Grm has been known to let good cars that need some loving for stupid cheap!

 Stupid cheap doesn’t mean much if I need to spend a grand or more to go pick it up. 

If ya wanna do door to door racing and your worried about 1k in the initial build for the right car, I either respect your skills, budgeting ability, or patience.

sleepyhead HalfDork
12/3/17 11:15 p.m.

In reply to wvumtnbkr :

I think frenchyd is referencing the cost to retrieve/ship a car that "is not local"

frenchyd Dork
12/3/17 11:49 p.m.

In reply to wvumtnbkr : 

door to door racing for me also means high speed tracks like Elkhart lakes 4 miles with three long straights orBrainerds 3 mile track with mile long main straight followed by a very high speed corner.  

Any car not capable of 150+ mph speeds is not very interesting.  In addition to safety at those speeds I want something I can be proud of, no 4 door taxi cab is worth the time and effort I spend building it.  

Yes I live with a tight budget.  That budget  more than anything determines the time spent building it.  It’s hard since I do very nearly all the work and I’m rapidly approaching 70 to build in less than 2500 hours.  For refrerence that’s over a year and a quarter of a full time job  when I’m already working from 5:00am to 6:30 pm. At an income producing job.  

How many events a year once the car is done? One or two at my favorite tracks and maybe one special event  someplace every other year   Daytona maybe next? 

License? Yes but I’ll need to renew it,  plus update all the safety gear.  

frenchyd Dork
12/4/17 12:00 a.m.

In reply to wvumtnbkr : patience?  I’ll wait decades for the right car.  Budget ability? I’ve raced internationally with only $500 in my pocket and done very nicely against world champion drivers sponsored by the factory. Skills? That’s my car  pictured  by my bio. The Black Jack Special leading two  35 million dollar Ferrari’s a DType Jaguar Porsche RSK  the 1957 Corvette SS  the factory built before they were shut down by AAA and another dozen distinguished car.  in my trophy case is the first place trophy from that event. 

Tim Suddard
Tim Suddard Publisher
12/4/17 5:45 a.m.

I am still finding cheap cars. This year I bought a 1991 BMW 318is with engine issues for $450, a 1998 Integra GS-R for $500 and a 1964 TR-4 Race car for $2500. Just passed on a pretty nice Berkeley for $4100.

The shark is always hunting and everywhere you go, you look in people's yards, online and in local papers. I still see some screaming deals in our own classified ads.


Ian F
Ian F MegaDork
12/4/17 5:47 a.m.

In reply to frenchyd :

I don't know... I'm rapidly approaching the age where I'd rather be driving than building - and I'm 22 years younger than you are.  I figure I might have 2 or 3 "builds" in me and I don't want to waste that effort on a race car with a high potential of ending up balled into a tire wall.  There seems to be enough cheap race cars for sale that I can't see the benefits to building one. Plus there's the emotional investment - I know I'd find it hard to flog a car I've put so much effort into, which kinda defeats the point of racing. 

Lastly, your requirements seem unrealistic. You need a car that can do over 150 MPH and cost less than $1000? Right now, the only cars that I"ve seen for sale that fit that criteria are the occasional E36, and they typically need work. Usually a lot of work.

frenchyd Dork
12/4/17 6:34 a.m.

In reply to Ian F :

Up until recently  as this year it was common to find all sorts of Jaguar XJS’s for under $500.  I’m particularly interested in the early ones.  They have several advantages over later ones.

first they weigh up to 1000 pounds less than later ones 

Chumpcar rules give it a real significant advantage over later ones. 

They have the easiest fuel injection system to modify. 

The engine on the early ones have the desirable flat heads which have the most potential for power. 

I also want an early XJ 12 sedan.  Mainly because it has the carburetor  engine  ( plus the flatheads) 

i also just like it because it doesn’t have the big ugly 5 mph bumpers. And you can see Sir William Lyons design influence all over it.  

Those were selling for a couple of hundred dollars 

MK 7-8-9 sedans have the classic elegance of an early Bentley or Rolls Royce.   While having Cheap reliable Jaguar parts.  As recently as last year they sold for little above scrap metal prices. Today $20,000 seems to be entry level pricing. 

I won’t  bother with other British brands  such as Bentley and Rolls Royce

We differ with regard to building a car.  I think the real pleasure is  flogging your own creation against others, not check book racing.  

But that’s a very good thing.  While I won’t trust others to build to my standards it’s nice that others will.  It doesn’t make the investment quite as big a sinkhole. 

frenchyd Dork
12/4/17 7:43 a.m.

In reply to Tim Suddard : I’m glad you are finding bargains, that again confirms you are honestly one of us and not the typical Ivory tower publisher.  

As far as finding complete race cars in your  advertisement section, I’m not that kind of guy. To me a big part of the joy is creating your own from scratch.  

When I sit on the pre-grid  I know every single piece has been in my hands and made as good as possible.  I’d never be able to enter Turn one as fast as the car can take me sliding up the banking in a perfect four wheel drift at 150+ miles per hour without that knowledge.  Turn one at Brainerd is usually taken by a slight lift to settle the car.  I take real joy in feeling the tires are perfectly inflated and the springs adjusted just so, meaning I don’t need to lift. The drift will end right at the top of the banking pointed into turn 2  

I don’t buy to flip. I hate to sell ( and I’m a lifelong professional salesman) my creations.  I hate it because I put everything I can into them.  I packed those wheel bearings with my own two hands and checked and double checked everything before doing so. Every single part got that level of focused attention

When circumstances force me to sell I know I will lose money because my emotions simply want it gone now that I’ve finally been forced to accept the reality of my situation. 

I’m lucky, two of my creations wound up in private collections and one in a public museum.  Horror of horrors one got stripped for parts and scrapped.   


Ian F
Ian F MegaDork
12/4/17 7:56 a.m.

In reply to frenchyd :

Yes, we differ in the build vs buy.  I won't say I haven't thought about it - especially when I see a really cheap Spitfire or GT6 come up for sale.  I also have an itch for a Volvo 1800 race car, but those are getting to the point where even rusted out examples sell for so much they don't make financial sense to turn into race cars, although if I were to stumble across another rusty sub-$1000 car I'd be tempted.  Rust repair on a race car doesn't need to look as good as on a street car.  I also still casually look for another VW Mk IV as I know one of those could be built into a reasonable "do everything" track/hill-climb/rally-x car.

Of course, this is also with an eye towards vintage racing or time-trial type events, where the competition tends to be more sedate.  I have friends who race in Chump car and that has pretty much zero appeal to me.

I do see cheap Jags for sale once in awhile, but again - on Facebook. None under a grand, though.  Even a very needy car is usually around $1500.

MadScientistMatt PowerDork
12/4/17 10:26 a.m.

I was first going to say "The answer is Miata", but it sounds like you were after something with a bit more power. How about a C4 Corvette? There's a thread going on cheap C4 finds here:


frenchyd Dork
12/4/17 5:07 p.m.

In reply to MadScientistMatt :

While  I have owned a couple of Corvettes  and even earned my SCCA license in one. I don’t like the feeling of driving them on the race track. To me they feel like a NASCAR stocker instead of a sports car.  

Besides getting them race ready is too expensive.  Big high speed tracks like I love to race on bring out their every weakness. The Chevy small block has to be dry sumped  if you want it to last.  Plus real power comes from spending serious money on engine parts.

The 4+3 transmission most manual Corvettes have is too weak to lean on.  The stock brakes won’t last 5 laps at Elkhart Lake and the stock dash won’t last through a full weekend. 

Nah!  I’m a Jaguar guy.  I like the fact that they scare most people so nobody wants them once they get a little shabby.  Besides Jaguar has a habit of beating Corvettes ( big silly grin) 



frenchyd Dork
12/6/17 12:05 p.m.

In reply to Ian F :

my point exactly. Let’s be honest, a race car doesn’t need much to start with. We’re really buying junk or scrap metal.  Why should the price of a junk/scrap metal P1800 be that much more expensive  than a 4 door Volvo in similar condition? 

 (OrJaguar, Spitfire, whatever!) by the time it’s in raceable or restored condition we’ll have more than it’s value anyway, plus all that labor! Even ignoring the original purchase!  



pirate Reader
12/6/17 3:49 p.m.

I think there are inexpensive project cars out there. If you wait until something is listed somewhere it probably is going to be more expensive. I think the real deals come from networking and word of mouth. Where one person tires of a project, runs out of money or has other commitments  and mentions to someone they are thinking about selling. In car circles that news travels fast. Often times prices are cheaper and deals are better simply because the people know each other. The trick is being involved with others with the same interest. That requires time spent investing in clubs, friendships, etc.  

frenchyd Dork
12/6/17 3:59 p.m.

In reply to pirate :

You are right, maybe my problem isn’t a lack of affordable car projects but not networking enough.  I used to get 2 or 3 fantastic offers a year


minivan_racer UberDork
12/6/17 4:03 p.m.
BoxheadCougarTim said:

IMHO there are three issues at play here:

  • The eighties kids (like me) wanting to buy the cars that they wanted to buy when they were 18 but couldn't afford back then. That's affecting everything from aircooled 911s to AE86s.
  • New car prices keep going up and family incomes aren't keeping up. At least in places where cars don't self-recycling within a decade, that's putting a floor under the prices.
  • For collectible stuff, too much money chasing yields that aren't there if you want to diversify. That's create a big surge in "alternative investments" over the last decade and is affecting prices of collectable stuff and at the same time changing what's considered collectable.

Matt Farah has talked about your first point a few times, I agree.  Also, next year goodguys will be taking cars up to 87 so all the early foxes and g bodys and the like are going to be in demand.

dherr Reader
12/8/17 8:18 a.m.

Let's face it, the days of the $1,000 E-Type sitting behind some guys shed are long over. The result of $100,000K+ E-Types and million dollar Ferraris' is that the more mundane cars are now much more expensive. I agree with the previous comments that as a young adult in the 80's,  now that many of us are now able to buy these cars, that the prices of the most desirable cars are now beyond reach and that many of the previously really cheap cars (yes I am talking Jaguar XJS and XJ12) are much more expensive than they used to be.  In many ways, the asking prices for running rust buckets is now 10 times the previous prices.  And for most of us, we just can't bring ourselves to spend the big bucks on these cars even if we can afford to do so. I often tell myself that for the $40-60K it would take to purchase an air cooled Porsche, I could  have a whole fleet of cars. But it also works in reverse as my TR4A is probably worth more than I think on the market if I ever decided to sell it.

But the deals are out there, you just have to jump on Craigslist and scout for the occasional project that comes on there where the owner is still pricing like it is "1999". There are many deals to be had and you have to be quick.

Ian, I hear you about how many projects you have left...... I have had my Spitfire project on the trailer for the last few years and had figured this might be my last one, but I am having too much fun building it, so there will be a few  more in the pipeline. Now that I am older, and since I work from home,  I find that I can dedicate an hour or two a day to my projects and that really adds up to much quicker builds. I should have my Spitfire build done by late Spring and then start looking for my next project laugh

frenchyd Dork
12/8/17 9:46 a.m.

In reply to dherr : I’m embarrassed to say how many XKE’s I scrapped to keep my race car in cheap parts.  Some pretty nice ones with just a little rust in the rocker panels were stripped for parts and sent off to the crusher 

Later same with XJS and XJ12’s 


NOHOME UltimaDork
12/8/17 10:13 a.m.

Discover MGBs; they never have and never will go up in price. There were way too many of them when the nostalgia wave hit them so prices never went up then, and now the nostalgic old coots are dying off faster than the volume of cars they restored.

Someone mentioned this already....Asking ain't getting when it comes to cars. I watch my buddy the Minion go through $500 to $1500 Fox body Mustangs like they were toilet paper. Standing in front of people with money in his pocket and offering seems to land him silly deals.

frenchyd Dork
12/8/17 10:20 a.m.

In reply to NOHOME :

But they were 60’s & 70’s Cars And While an occasional rubber bumper car pops up at a modest price I sure don’t see anything but incomplete rust buckets at a modest price

yupididit SuperDork
12/8/17 8:15 p.m.

I passed on a white xjs that was engineless for $500. Should've sent it your was Frenchy.


Anyway what are you looking for in particular? 

nutherjrfan Dork
12/8/17 10:46 p.m.

Jumped to the end but foreign markets especially south of the border want our cheap E36 M3 from an article about professional auctions written at least several years ago.  Practical Classics in the U.K. about 20yrs ago was talking about old rear drive Japanese stuff being stolen off English streets just for the African taxi market.  Forces beyond our control? indecision

frenchyd Dork
12/8/17 11:04 p.m.

In reply to yupididit :

Right now I’d like a Jaguar 1975-79 XJS or series 1 XJ12 (1972- 75) both of those can have engine/ transmission issues since I’ve got plenty of spares.  The last Jaguar XJ6 with the old cast iron block 4.2 rather than the 4.0 all aluminum 4 valve six. I think 1982-1986 that one I’ll take as a rusty hulk because I just want the engine.  I’ve also on the lookout for a 1992-1996 XJS V12 Convertible. Preferably a flood damaged one to keep the price in budget.  Although auction prices for those lately has been within 90% of actual market prices for undamaged ones.  Someone out there is buying them up and shipping them overseas where they don’t have our requirements for insurance reports like carfax. 

I’ve restarted my network of Jaguar guys so they may come in  sooner than I expect.  SWMBO won’t be happy since I already have a nice 1984 XJS  plus all the spares  


jdoc90 New Reader
12/18/17 8:58 p.m.

craigslist , look under amc or rambler . see the choices .notice an unburstable i6 "beemer like ", carb easily replaced and add boooost from the salvage yard . There ya go cheap racer . 

frenchyd Dork
12/19/17 11:28 p.m.

In reply to jdoc90 :

I’m not sure what you are telling me.  AMC or Ramblers would not make a good Vintage racer in my opinion.  Power is way down weight is pretty high,  frontal area is really high, while aero drag would be off the charts.  

On the other hand 

handling could really use a lot of help as could brakes.  

Finally they do have a very spotty racing history. I can only think of Donahue in Trans Am and Smokey in NASCAR ( assuming you’d include Hudson with that group). 

To my knowledge they’ve never had any success at LeMans or any other European venue have they? 

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