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92dxman Dork
12/30/14 5:38 p.m.

I'd say get a cheap 80s Caprice or a 80s-90s Buick Regal/Century/Park Ave.







MINIzguy Reader
12/30/14 5:45 p.m.

Is the Crown Vic not an answer?

¯\_(ツ)_/¯ HalfDork
12/30/14 5:47 p.m.
SVreX wrote: Whats your price point? When is the date? Ive got a '60 flat top Caddy that would be perfect, but i would need a little time to put it together.

Under $2k, August. We've got time.

92dxman Dork
12/30/14 5:57 p.m.

I know it isn't American Iron but this is too cool not to: Infiniti Q45T: http://chicago.craigslist.org/chc/cto/4817371099.html

Toyman01 MegaDork
12/30/14 6:00 p.m.

I cam very close to calling on this to drive to Canada and back. It's spotless.


If I had the cash in hand I would have.

Junkyard_Dog SuperDork
12/30/14 6:05 p.m.
Toyman01 wrote: I cam very close to calling on this to drive to Canada and back. It's spotless. http://charlotte.craigslist.org/cto/4743899732.html If I had the cash in hand I would have.

They had me at "built in CB".

SVreX MegaDork
12/30/14 6:40 p.m.

Is that $2K purchase price, or $2K including repairs?

I saw a spotless 79 Nova 4 door with a straight 6 today for $2K.

Wally MegaDork
12/30/14 7:18 p.m.

The wife and I have been toying with this. Given my limited time and how rusty everything in NY is we're that flying out there is a better option. We are thinking in the fall sometime depending on what I can get off from work.

daeman New Reader
12/30/14 7:24 p.m.

I'd love to do this if I ever get to America, seems like the perfect way to tour the old route.

All I can say is consider something that you will be able to find parts for en route, doesn't have to be a common car, but something like ford or gm where a lot of drive line/ engine parts are interchangeable from other models. A failure if an odd part on an unusual car in some backwater could pretty much end the adventure.

Good luck guys, I'm just a tad jealous.

pres589 UltraDork
12/30/14 7:33 p.m.

80's El Camino. Tons of driveline options with a little creativity and they're not crazy heavy / non-aerodynamic like a truck. You can carry tools and stuff in the bed (be careful about theft precautions!) and has some frame under it so towing capacity shouldn't be too bad. Why? Because the original post talks about buying an unknown car in California and trying to get it back home. El Camino is your support vehicle.

Plus lately I've been day dreaming about this generation of El Camino.

Rupert HalfDork
12/30/14 7:35 p.m.
Junkyard_Dog wrote: Such comfort FTW! I mean look at that trunk: The hookers won't know what to do with themselves (once they regain consciousness)!

You call that a trunk? (boot) Check out the boot (trunk) of a Mk X Jaguar. Their boot contains an A/C unit almost that big! Plus lots of room for your hookers, wine cases, or what ever.

Plus you have two (2) petrol tanks. Each with their own filler, fuel pump, filter, etc. You never know when you're abroad how bad the petrol might be. Keep one tank full of the petrol you trust and don't use it. When it comes time to refuel, refill the one you were drawing from. Should you receive bad petrol, just change over to the safe tank and proceed.

JThw8 PowerDork
12/30/14 7:37 p.m.

We did this as an Asphault Ad trip last year. There's no wrong car to drive the motherroad but large and american makes it better.

I'm a fan of the vintage stuff but if reliability is a factor panther platform all the way, even when it's not reliable you can get parts anywhere.

Years of doing banger rallies taught me that quirky odd cars are interesting right up until you need to do an emergency repair in the middle of nowhere and no one carries the parts you need. Big 80s/90s american cars will get you there and you can get parts at walmart.

MadScientistMatt UberDork
12/30/14 8:26 p.m.

Something American and 1950s vintage seems tempting from an adventure point of view. While tri-5 Chevies and '59 Cadillacs command high prices, a lot of obscure stuff goes for cheap.

But from a practical standpoint, a big malaise era land yacht would be a great distance cruiser that fits the budget. Or, while not technically a land yacht, that Valiant would be a great tool for the job too. Or a Suburban. Great for covering a lot of miles in comfort, and repair parts are super easy to find.

Datsun310Guy PowerDork
12/30/14 9:23 p.m.

Why not fly one way? I drove it 15 months ago and one way flight back was kinda nice.

curtis73 UberDork
12/30/14 9:41 p.m.

You'll have to be cautious with old vehicles in LA. It doesn't matter how rust-free it might be, people see IL on the title and they will pass it up in an instant because there are 642 of the same vehicle available with CA titles and/or a rust-free south-western pedigree. I worked at a few hot rod/custom shops in LA and there are car guys and then there are car guys.

50s rods are a dime a dozen in LA. (well, several dimes) There are thousands of them lurking in NV, NM, and AZ fields and those are the ones they think are golden. The people in LA who buy 50s rods are rich hipster types who want to clear-coat the patina and put surfboards on the roof even though they have never even been to the beach.

60s stuff (by that I mean 61-67 classics) carries the same basic parameters as anywhere in the country. They want rust-free but don't care as much about pedigree. It is not a huge market in LA, but it will sell.

Muscle cars (64-73) are very slightly considered white trash stuff in LA. Again, it will sell, but not like it would at a Carlisle swap meet.

Things that sell in LA:

  • early 60s caddys. I'm talking 57-64. Fins are big with hipsters and gays. Plenty of both in LA.
  • 60's suicide-door Continentals. I always wanted one because A) suicide doors, B) 4-door convertible. They are ubiquitous in LA. Almost can't take a drive without seeing one or seven of them. You will sell it quick, but don't expect good money on your investment.
  • 50s stuff will sell, but you have to operate a little subterfuge. Get buyers to love it and want it before you reveal the IL title. Even then they might back out after the handshake. Expect a long game with it. You'll have to wait for a buyer with the perfect combination of rational appraisal of the car with big dollars to spend on a gamble. A rich Angeleno with money to spend would rather buy a rusty AZ car before a rust-free IL car because AZ cars must have some kind of "special rust". Trust me. 50's car people in LA have taste, but they are morons.
  • 80's cars will sell in a heartbeat, but cheaply. As long as its a 50-state emissions car and you can prove that it passes, there are massive quantities of city folk who have dreams of donks and bubbles that would love a starter car.

If I were doing what you're doing (which by the way is a berkeleyING AWESOME IDEA), I would look to what I call the Superman Lunchbox. Mid 70s luxo boat. Cheap to buy, big popularity in LA, awesome charm for a road trip.

Here's the big thing. In CA, you are required to have a smog certification before you sell any non-exempt car. If it is 76 or newer, that means you have to smog it before it sells, or sell it within 30 days of a successful smog test. The chances that a 1986 Caprice would sell in LA are really high, but the chances that it would pass a CA smog check after 30 years is pretty slim. Anything after 1976 also must be originally designated as a 50-state car on the emissions sticker. When I was in LA, they still had the rolling exemption; anything that was a model year 25 years old or more was exempt. They locked it at 76 for now.

So... if its 76 or newer, make sure it is a 50-state car, and make absolutely sure it will pass CA smog check. If its 76 or older, no smog.

yupididit Reader
12/30/14 10:05 p.m.

Oh and don't forget that it cost a lot to register an out of state car in California.

Carro Atrezzi
Carro Atrezzi HalfDork
12/30/14 10:58 p.m.

¯_(ツ)_/¯ I see what you did there. Neat

Junkyard_Dog SuperDork
12/31/14 5:53 a.m.

Something else to consider: While the western cars are usually rust free, the sun KILLS interiors. If you can find a rusty pre-76 car with a perfect dash pad and seat backs it will still be a desirable parts car out there.

JohnRW1621 UltimaDork
12/31/14 7:01 a.m.

Riviera, Toronado and El Dorado. The middle, fwd years are very much forgotten. Cheap for what they are.

masterchef604 New Reader
12/31/14 12:21 p.m.

Other roadtripper here - thank you guys for all your input, I'm sure we'll agonize and argue about what car to get every week until August.

I want to clarify (and ¯\(ツ)/¯ correct me if I'm wrong) that I don't think we're trying to do this trip for just the cost of gas. By that I mean we don't have to make our money back on the cars at either end of the trip. It'd be nice, but I'd rather we buy a car we really like and get screwed on it. Knowing my roadtrip partner, if we try to be too practical about this, he'll end up demanding that we get the most practical car available and then hating the guts of the car we choose.

That said, these CA emissions/desireability/etc tips are definitely interesting...

Trackmouse New Reader
12/31/14 12:31 p.m.

You've got two things to remember: you have to cross the Rockies at some point, and the plains and high desert in summer. So anything under powered or air cooled is out, same with the obese barcaloungers. The 240z is a great nimble car- not a great cruiser. Mine gave me back aches. The 280zx however is a fantastic choice. MaximA rear suspension makes it a plush cruiser, decent mpg, and efi for the Rockies. Look for an early '79-'80. They have the wide ratio trans.

oldtin UberDork
12/31/14 12:36 p.m.

Thinking about it - are you sure you want to start in Chicago? Much easier to find an interesting southern California car, drive it to Chicago and have a ready market for a non-rusting driver than the other way around.

codrus Dork
12/31/14 12:49 p.m.
yupididit wrote: Oh and don't forget that it cost a lot to register an out of state car in California.

Not any more. There used to be a "smog impact fee" for registering a used non-CA-emissions car in California, but it was thrown out.

masterchef604 New Reader
12/31/14 1:05 p.m.
oldtin wrote: Thinking about it - are you sure you want to start in Chicago?

I live in Chicago, that was the logic there. Although if feelings change it is possible for us to fly to LA and drive back to Chicago

oldtin UberDork
12/31/14 1:35 p.m.

Still noodlin through what would be interesting to an LA type coming from the rust belt. Maybe a triple-threat kind of contraption - GRM/chump-leMons/BABE

btw, should grab a beer sometime. I'm in Grayslake

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