OPPO I NEED YOUR HELP!!!

Late April I’m on my morning commute and see a car for sale in a front yard, a simple Fiat 128. After commuting by it every day I have fallen in love with it and want to buy it. The only problem is, it is a project car and I know very little about Fiat 128’s.

(Full Disclosure: I DD a John Cooper Works Mini Hardtop and love small front wheel drive cars. Probably a sin around Jalopnik but I don’t care.)

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The car was listed in late April on Craigslist for 1600 and is now down to 500. Wanna know why? The car sat for 16 years with the heads off and they still aren’t on. The owner did list that they have all the parts to put it back together but I haven’t spoken to them yet. The interior looks great, just a small cut on the drivers seat (definitely sat in a barn for a long time). The exterior has some surface rust and the under carriage looks solid (still in one piece but I cant tell if there is an undercoating).

For 500 dollars, I feel like I could just buy it as a fun project, which is something I’ve been looking at doing for a long time. My budget would be $5000 and I refuse to go any higher on that. My dream plan for the car would be purchase it, install the engine from the Fiat X1/9, sort all the mechanicals (I’ve read problems about the shift linkage but again, I know nothing about these cars), rust prevention, and finally use as a fun car.

So opponauts, what are your thoughts and suggestions? I have very little experience doing major projects like this (mainly just simple maintenance stuff), but I have always wanted some way to learn all of that. The owner removed the Craigslist ad (otherwise I would post it) so I’m afraid it might be getting scrapped soon. Should I make a move?