April 3, 2009
Basketcase Rescue: The Craigslist Special That Kept Getting Cheaper
As some of you might know by now, I have a hard time passing up a good deal. So when this extremely ugly beige 4-cylinder Mustang coupe showed up for 400 bucks on Craigslist in a town where I have friends, I couldn’t resist. I called the owner and talked to him, and was told the carb needed rebuilt and the rear shocks needed replaced, but the car came with both the shocks and the carb kit. So, naturally, I called up my friend and had him take a look at it. The car was just as ugly as expected, but ran and drove and didn’t seem to make any bad noises. Despite the owner’s $400 asking price, when I called him, he talked himself down to $350. I told him I’d be there to pick it up just as soon as possible.
The next day I got a phone call, and when I saw it was from the seller, my heart sank just a little bit. I knew he had sold the car before I could get up there to pick it up. But instead, he actually called me to tell me that the timing belt had snapped, but he would install a new one for no extra charge. The guy had told me earlier that he didn’t have the know-how to change out the rear shocks, so I asked him if he wanted to just knock some money off the price tag and I would do it myself. We agreed on a $300 sale price for the car, and I’d be up on Thursday to pick it up.
Come Thursday, a friend of mine gave me a ride up there and I got to meet my new car for the first time. There had been no pictures of the front of the car, so I was a bit confused by the ’79-’82 nose on it, but the title confirmed that it was in fact an ’86. I put a timing belt on while listening to the owner telling me the wrong way to do it, making me glad I hadn’t taken him up on his offer to change it himself before the sale. I got it fired up, and it seemed to run…ok. I started looking around for vacuum leaks and found a hard plastic line that had broken off. I gave the line a little tug to pull it off of the carb and noticed the whole carb moved. Well, I wanted to get this car away from the previous owner as I was tired of listening to his BS, so I blocked off that vacuum line and headed out.
As I drove of the car seemed very sluggish, much worse than I had expected it to be, so I pulled over a block from the guy’s house and adjusted the timing belt and got it to drive decently. I found a back parking lot in which to remove the carb and tightened down the base plate bolts, then got it back together and set out again. I pulled over once more to adjust the timing belt and got it right this time. Took off down the highway with no other problems. The car drove very nice, no pulling or drifting or anything bad. I have been daily driving it now since then and have racked up almost 500 miles with no new issues.
Anyway, how about you? Does any of this sound familiar–and have you ever had to baby your new junk car all the way home?
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