First, thank you everyone for the warm welcome to the club and for the great advice and experienced thoughts.
That was an exhausting Saturday of looking at 107s but I can't remember having that much fun. In order to see as many different cars as I could, I had to drive pretty far, go through 2 tanks of gas, drive through a terrible storm in Monson and get home around 1am but boy was it worth it.
I think I may have messed up and fell in love though.
I have spent weeks reading these posts (even taking notes) and when I left my house early Saturday morning, I made a small list for my self, so that I could make sure to keep my head out of the clouds.
- Don't even think about buying anything today. See and test some cars. Come home and think it over for a few days. You're just now starting out. Write down the issues and research to make sure it's something that you can learn to fix. (Seriously, I made sure to take only a couple of hundred dollars in cash, since some of these places were quite remote)
- Body work is *way* beyond you. If the car has any body work issues or cosmetic issues on the outside at all (inside is okay, kinda), just walk away.
- If there is any rust, just walk away.
- Insist on taking the car to a shop for a pre-purchase inspection. If they won't allow it, just walk away.
- Don't get a red one. It's a very pretty color on these cars but don't get a red one.
- Don't even talk price today. Again, you're in no hurry.
I went from place to place, stopping after each one to write down my thoughts, so that I could keep them separate in my mind and really take the time to consider each one. They were all fun to drive (each a bit different) and each one was styled a bit differently too, spanning the 70s and 80s.
And then it happened. On the 4th (I canceled the fifth) car of the day, which was the car that I was actually considering skipping because of the issue that the seller listed, I lost it. Apparently he had 3 cars parked by the street and a truck, carrying gravel (p-stone he said), racing by hit the ditch, popped up and crashed into one of the 3 cars, totaling it. (He showed me pictures of the scene and damage to the cars) When it impacted, it sprayed the gravel onto the other two cars. The SL was furthest away, so had the smallest amount of damage. Having said that, it destroyed the drivers side window (this he replaced), put a few rock dings in the windshield (still very usable) and ruined the paint on the driver's side. He said it was a shame because he recently had it repainted (I noted that the paint on the other side and the remaining paint on the driver side does look very nice.). It's odd though that there is only one small dent from the rocks. Everywhere else on the driver's side it just looks like the paint just popped off to the bare metal, in pea or dime sized spots. No rust on any of the bare metal spots, since he stores it in his garage. It looks a little like leopard spots or, from a few feet away, just soap spots after a bad car wash but when when you get up closer, you can really see that it's down to the bare metal. The inside is also rough. On the other cars, the inside had already been restored so everything looked new. On this car, which had black interior, everything was original, the dash had 3 large cracks in it, the center panel wood was milky and cracking and the seats were pretty worn out. I also noticed on the back that the 560SL badge was on the passenger side and not the drivers side, which was odd, but he did say it was repainted... The engine sounded good but if you listened closely you could hear an intermittent change in the rhythm. Misfire perhaps...
I actually considered just walking away, so that I could get to the fifth car, but I just couldn't help myself from driving it. It's a 1987 560SL with 98k miles and he was asking $6k.
I'm slightly embarrassed to admit that on the drive, I completely and totally fell in love with this red car. I can not figure out why but something about this car just totally spoke to me. Everything, the way it drove, the way it felt on corners, everything. The clouds parted, I found a twisty road, it just sounded and felt perfect. 25 minutes later I got a text from the owner asking if I was okay (honestly if felt like 5 minutes) and when I returned we agreed on a price and shook hands. Annoyingly I couldn't buy it on the spot and there is a strange law about not being able to buy a car in Maine on Sundays but we finalized the agreement and I left a deposit.
I'm also embarrassed to admit it but remember my list? Out of the 6 points, I got 1 right. There really was no rust that I could find. (under and pulling back carpets the rubber mats in the trunk) On every other point, I completely failed.
So here it is, the morning after, and I'm still completely smitten but I'm also racing around the forum to get any clues to the issues that I found, an idea of the replacement part costs (although i'll go slow) and I'm also researching how to pull and use a "car-fax". On the one hand, it was a gamble but the reality was that there were already other buyers being pretty aggressive on the car. On the other hand, I did say that I wanted something that needed some work and I already enjoy it in the current condition. I just hope it's not going to be the worlds most expensive parts car.
Other than the above, I did notice that the oil light came on but the pressure stayed consistent the entire time. I realize that the engine is most important but I think figuring out a way to protect those spots from rusting is probably my first concern. I guess I need to figure out how to stop the bleeding before sowing things up.
I'll try to get some real pictures, since the ones in the ad really don't highlight the magnitude of the paint issue... It's as if someone took a tiny chisel to the side and back.
Here is the ad though:
Sorry for the two huge posts, by the way. Probably not the best way to make an impression and not my usual.
Thank you for any advice and thoughts in advance.