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frenchyd SuperDork
7/17/18 1:29 a.m.
chandler said:

‘81 Dodge d150 from the back lot of the Chrysler dealer in moberly Missouri, $300. It’s  was 13 and my dad thought we could have a “project”. It was a 225 /6 with a three speed and overdrive. I swapped a succession of engines and trans into it over the thirteen years I had it; three junkyard 225s, a 318, a 360, a 331 hemi, a 383, an unknown small block with a ton of power out of a junk warlock I bought for parts that cracked the block while street racing and ended up with a interceptor 318 out of a diplomat. I sold it in 2006 when I was selling stuff off to move for $3200. Last time I was out there it was sitting behind the house of the guy I sold it to in Hopkins Park, Il.

I love things with a long history of engine swaps.  I’ve got a friend who is still driving a 1966 Mustang his dad got  new when he was 14.  That thing has had 9 different engines in it. Right now he’s planning on replacing the 351 with the Ford 5.0  cammer engine out of a 2016 pickup. So he’s over here a lot lately taking measurements.   

7/18/18 6:29 p.m.

1st car a 1968 Ford Cortina GT....$1800.00 .and I still have her.....50yrs this Sept.

spitfirebill MegaDork
7/18/18 6:59 p.m.

This is an impressive bunch of first cars.  Mine was a 1956 VW convertible that I paid $395 for it.  I had to have the valves done later that cost $50 as it was done by a friend of my father that did lawn mower repairs.  I sold it to the pilot of the company aircraft that my father worked for for the balance owed, which was $200 at the time he picked it up.  I had fianaced it and payments were $25/month.  


Mndsm MegaDork
7/18/18 7:01 p.m.

6643.50 for a 1993 Corolla in 1996ish. Sold for 3300 with a used motor in 2000ish. 

spitfirebill MegaDork
7/18/18 7:17 p.m.

This is an impressive bunch of first cars.  Mine was a 1956 VW convertible that I paid $395 for it.  I had to have the valves done later that cost $50 as it was done by a friend of my father that did lawn mower repairs.  I sold it to the pilot of the company aircraft that my father worked for for the balance owed, which was $200 at the time he picked it up.  I had fianaced it and payments were $25/month.  


nutherjrfan SuperDork
7/20/18 5:16 a.m.

'82 Chevette.  200 U.K. pounds.  Still have it at the parents house. smiley

stu67tiger Reader
7/20/18 6:53 a.m.

It was a 1970 Fiat 124 Spyder, a year old when I got it.  $2500, IIRC.  Great car, the handling, the sound, the top went up and down so easily... In December 1972 I noticed a little bubble in the rocker panel.  I pushed on it...  My finger went in...

The  body shop guy checked it out and said he could make it look good, but I should sell it ASAP.  I found a victim, $1700. 


Gary SuperDork
7/20/18 1:06 p.m.

'61 Sunbeam Alpine Mk 2 for $400 in July, 1966, when I was 17. Yikes, 52 freakin' years ago! Am I that old?  (Interesting story on the negotiations  for that gem, which I've related in  another thread somewhere here a few years ago). Over the next few years I drove it, took it apart, rebuilt the mechanicals, drove it some more, then sold it in the eighties (along with a spare parts car which I had picked up in the early seventies for $50) for $500. Outer sills on both sides of both cars were completely gone by then. The $500 went into my IRA, a wise use of the funds.

Daylan C
Daylan C SuperDork
7/20/18 1:49 p.m.

Through weird father-son trade deals I don't think I ever really paid anything for my '89 D350, He gave it to me, I gave it back to him, then traded some other stuff to him to get it back, then after a couple years I sold it for $2,000.

preach New Reader
7/22/18 4:52 a.m.

1975 Opel Kadett 1900 was given to me by my step father in 1985.  I was 15 and never got it running for more than 15 seconds.  I do not remember the disposition of it, but the manual I got for it had a picture at the start of each chapter, Kadett Wagon, Manta, then the holy grail...the GT!!!  A 1971 Opel GT 1900 was the first car I purchased, restored, and drove.  I purchased it for $1200 nonop in 1988 and ended up totaling it a month after I got it on the road.

frenchyd SuperDork
7/22/18 7:38 a.m.
Gary said:

'61 Sunbeam Alpine Mk 2 for $400 in July, 1966. Yikes, 52 freakin' years ago! Am I that old?  (Interesting story on the negotiations  for that gem, which I've related in  another thread somewhere here a few years ago). Over the next few years I drove it, took it apart, rebuilt the mechanicals, drove it some more, then sold it in the eighties (along with a spare parts car which I had picked up in the early seventies for $50) for $500. Outer sills on both sides of both cars were completely gone by then. The $500 went into my IRA, a wise use of the funds.

I too owned a Sunbeam series 1 in 1966 ( mine was a 1960 )  I paid $300 for mine and gave it to my sister when I went in the Navy in 1967. 

mikedd969 New Reader
9/8/18 3:12 p.m.

Ahh.  My first car. Definitely NOT a "cool ride" but such good memories.....    

Short version:

Car:1978 VW Rabbit Diesel.  

Bought for: $400 from my grandfather in 1987.

Sold for:  0$  Abandoned.  

Long Version:

Let's jump in the "wayback" machine and travel back to 1987.  I was 19, and in my first enlistment in the Navy.  I'd just spent ~9 months at the Great Lakes Naval Training Center in beautiful Waukegan, IL doing my initial training as an Electronics Technician. I had 3 weeks leave enroute to a follow-on school that was located at Ft. Gordon, GA, just outside Augusta.  Being without a car at Great Lakes wasn't too much of a hardship, there were plenty of public transportation options there.  That would not be the case at my next stop.  I needed wheels and I needed them to be cheap.  At least my hometown in KY was on the way to Augusta.......

My grandfather came to my rescue and sold me his old "commute to work" car.  He'd retired a few years earlier and it was just sitting there.  $400 bought me a tan, 1978 Volkswagen Rabbit Diesel.  4-speed MT, 4-doors, 160K miles on the clock and one or two.....interesting....modifications.  My grandfather had been a boilermaker for the Tennessee Valley Authority and the commute from his farm to the power plant was just about 80 miles each way.  Pa hated stopping for fuel, so he had removed the factory fuel tank and replaced it with a 25-gallon unit that he had built himself.  At 40MPG, that meant the car could go almost 1,000 miles between fill-ups.  It also meant that the fuel gauge didn't work.....thus I ran out of fuel numerous times in that car....which is a total PITA as there is no manual "priming pump" on those cars, and getting it going after running the fuel dry took some doing.....

At 140K miles, the massive 1.5L, 50HP engine had lost quite a bit of it's compression, and in temperatures below 40 or so, it could be kind of (very, incredibly) hard to start when cold.  My grandfather's solution was to put in a second battery and a big relay.  When you turned the key to "start" it would put the batteries in series, sending 24V to the starter only, everything else would remain 12V.  Sketchy?  Yes.  Effective?  Absolutely. Crazy? Ingenious?  Yep.  wink 

Honestly, it was a great little car.  It was super-comfortable, handled fairly well, and, all thing considered, it was pretty reliable, right up till it wasn't.  smiley It was not even remotely fast however. 0-60 could best be measured with a calendar instead of a stopwatch, and it maxed out, on flat ground at 83MPH. cool I was dating my HS sweetheart at the time, and I made MANY round trips from KY to Ft. Gordon (~600mi each way) in that car.  It could easily do the entire trip each way without stopping for fuel.  

Mechanically, it was actually pretty solid all things considered.  On one return trip form KY to GA the alternator died just past Nashville.  I stopped at the Truck Stop at Monteagle on I-24 and the service guy confirmed that the alternator was shot.  But, it was daytime, and not raining, and the only electrical power the car needed to run was just enough to hold the fuel solenoid open on the injector pump.  He put the batteries on the charger for about an hour and I drove the rest of the way, over 300 miles, with no working alternator......  Can't do that with many cars.  laugh  I rebuilt the alternator in the auto hobby shop on base later that week.  

Those early VW diesel engines had a mechanical vacuum pump, driven off of the intermediate shaft to run the brake booster and whatever other vacuum operated things there were.  It was located where the distributor would be on a gas VW.  That thing failed on me twice.  It was a simple diaphragm pump, much like a mechanical fuel pump, just larger.  The first time it failed, I was able to buy a kit and rebuild it.  The second time, the little cam-driven rod that acted on the diaphragm punched a hole through it's housing so I had to scrounge one from a junkyard. 

Despite the "supercharged starter" modification, at temps below 20, it was almost impossible to get started after sitting overnight.  My solution?  A toggle switch underneath the dash that would provide 12V to the fuel solenoid on the injector pump, bypassing the ignition switch.  If it was going to be very cold overnight I'd park it, put the transmission in neutral, set the e-brake, flip that switch, turn the ignition to "off" (car still running), get out and lock the doors.  The doors and the steering were locked, but the car would sit there and idle all night.....  

Eventually, at around 180K miles, the end was near.  My buddies and I were in the car, on our way back from the Navy base in Charleston SC  (we had to go buy some uniform stuff that we couldn't get on an Army base) in the middle of the August heat. We are tooling along down the highway at about 70MPH when, all of a sudden, that little car, all on it's own, starts accelerating like a bat out of hell!!  It was almost like a Nitrous Oxide hit.  The car had never had that much power before.  I immediately took my foot off the accelerator, and it had mo effect whatsoever, the car is still accelerating. I stomped hard on the brakes, and once I got the car slowed down a bit, everything returned to normal.  I was really confused, but, other than running a little hot (not shocking considering that it was at least 98 degrees that day) nothing appeared to be wrong.  20 min later, the exact same thing happens again. This pattern repeats several times, each time, it is harder and harder to get it to stop.  Finally, it happened and no amount of braking would make it stop.  I pulled to the shoulder, and turned off the ignition.  No dice, the little engine is screaming like it's under WOT and will not stop.  I stood on the brakes and popped the clutch.....the clutch just slipped (and stank) and the engine kept on screaming.  Finally I got out, popped the hood and put my hand over the air intake tube leading into the airbox and the engine finally shut down.  It did start again, and we managed to make it to within 50 miles of our destination before throwing in the towel and calling AAA for a tow.

When we got it back, I started poking around and saw that the inside of the intake manifold was covered in oil.  The blow-by past the piston rings had finally gotten so bad that it was blowing motor oil out of the crankcase, up the PCV line and into the intake.  The engine was literally running on it's own motor oil!!  I'd never even heard of such a thing at the time. Remember, this was 88 or 89, way before the Internet and Google.  smiley

I pulled the head, dropped the pan, and popped the pistons out.  Surprisingly, there was no detectable rod, piston, valve or head damage.  I gave it a quick dingle-ball hone, new rings, rod-bearings, head gasket and timing belt and it fired back to life.  It actually ran much better than it had since I'd owned it.  All thing considered, I was pretty proud of myself.

Shortly after, I finished my school at Ft. Gordon and received orders to Italy.  I drove the Rabbit back home to KY, parked it behind the barn at my grandfather's farm and left it there.  To my knowledge it was still there several years later when the farm was sold.  I have no idea what happened to it, but it's no longer there.

I'll say this for that little car, it was rugged, very well built, and simple to work on.  I loved it.




OFracing Reader
9/8/18 7:50 p.m.

$200 - 1965 Dodge Dart (in 1972), looked like it was repainted (puke green) with a roller. Drove it for 2 years and got back ended poarked at a red light by a drunk. Pulled the straight 6 engine, 140K miles and put in a 69 Belvedere. Sold the Dart by the pound, think I got around $10 (no engine).


mike h

frenchyd SuperDork
9/8/18 9:40 p.m.

In reply to OFracing : I once sold a driver I had ( 64 Pontiac ) by the pound to scrap yard. 

Before I did I drove around the Navy Base auto hobby shop tossing junk that had been sitting around for months.  It went over the scales at over 7500 pounds!  

Made $48 

90BuickCentury New Reader
9/9/18 7:42 p.m.

Was 17. Paid $2,500 for an 11yrold Accord with 195k miles. Now it's 21yrs with 248k and still going strong. Original 4cyl and auto trans. Just did all new timing belt, water pump, drive belt, tensioner, battery, radiator, all fuel and brake lines, front pads, and muffler last year. Due for an oil change and maybe plugs and wires and tranny fluid change. Front rotors could be changed too. Just did 4 new Hankooks this year after having 2 of the 4 8yrold Uniroyal Tiger paws blow within 250 miles of each other. Hope to drive it to 500k or more.

dean1484 MegaDork
9/19/18 7:52 a.m.

Let’s see. I am not sure this was the first but it is what I remember. I got a 1975 formula 400 4 speed car.  It would have been in 1983 or so. I paid $2400 for it drove it for two years or so. Took it across country two times and to Florida a couple times. It was well used by that time. Traded it for a 1965 T bird hard top that was abandoned at a body shop. It had been in for a complete paint job meaning every bit of chrome was off and the interior was completely out of it. The owner just showed up just after the paint was done and signed the title to the shop owner and left. No explication. It had all the body work done and fresh paint. I had to put everything back on it.  That took about three weeks of nights and weekends but I ended up with a absolutely perfect car when I was done.  It was so nice that I really could not use it as a dd. I drove it some. In 1986 I was offered a 1983 firebird with 15k miles on it and $5000 in cash for the T bird. I jumped at that as I liked the T bird but never really connected with it. I drove the firebird for many years. Loved that car for some reason. I think I eventually traded it for a mercury tracer with low millage but the details of that are fuzzy as I would routinely have multiple cars as projects or DDs. I know I also had a bunch or RX7s in there as well so I may have traded the firebird for an FB. 

AngryCorvair MegaDork
9/19/18 8:51 a.m.

summer 1983, my dad paid $100 for a non-running 1972 Monte Carlo, and we put a cam gear on it in the PO's driveway and drove it home.   i drove that car through my senior year of HS and the seven years it took to earn my BSME, plus a few months of my first job after college.   parted out in 1992 for powertrain and brake swap into a crappy '66 cutlass convertible.

Joe Gearin
Joe Gearin Associate Publisher
9/19/18 9:35 a.m.

Summer of 1986 I bought a 1966 Chevelle two door coupe for $350....including the patch panels for the rear quarters.  It had the 283 / powerglide, and burnt about a qt. of oil every 40 miles or so. 

My brother and his buddy were convinced it just needed a head job, so we took them off, had a nice valve job done, and put them back on the car----with high hopes that I'd now have a "hotrod".  When I started that car up (now breathing well) it smoked like a mosquito fogger---we were crestfallen.   I drove that car throughout my Jr. year of H.S. until a control arm bushing gave way.   I sold it for $250 to a guy who wanted to make a helicopter out of it....Poor car.....it should've been left to die a long time before I got it!  

rdcyclist Reader
9/21/18 5:24 p.m.
frenchyd said:

I was about 16 when I bought a Morris minor for $15 ( minus the battery ) without working brakes. My buddy and I decided to tow it home behind his pick up.  Tied a knot in his long rope and told him I’d put it in gear and let the clutch out if the rope got slack.   Worst case the parking brake seemed to sorta work.

My first car at 16 was a Morris Minor I bought for 35 bucks in 1972. Lasted a year of high school. I spun a rod bearing driving harder than I should have; hey, I was 16 and had one speed when driving: As fast as it would go. Good thing I only had old slow cars then. I have no idea how I got out of my teen years with no accidents or moving violations. That certainly hasn't been the theme for the rest of my driving career.

A friend of a friend had a '60 Rambler Cross-Country wagon for 125 bucks so I bought that, rebuilt the Minor and sold it for 150 bucks. The Rambler was a 3 on the tree with Overdrive! If you shifted into overdrive in second, shifted back when you shifted to third and then back up to OD, you had a redneck Five Speed! The E36 M3 we thought was cool in the early '70s...

The other part of frenchyd's post that caught my eye was the bringing the latest victim home at the end of a two rope. I've flat towed way to many cars in my life. Most have been within town but my brother and I flat towed a Datsun Roadster 40 miles from Walnut Creek to San Jose on 680 (a freeway) behind my mom's '65 Olds wagon. Haven't had to do that for what, two years!

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