Oppo’s very own Aremmes went to look at that Volvo for me and came back with a very detailed report and some great pictures (having trouble adding them). Here is my summary of findings:
The rust is worse than the seller stated (surprised?) - It’s not just the tub corner, its across the entire back of the tub under the hatch. There’s also some near the left rear wheel tub. Aremmes couldn’t get to the right wheel tub, but it’s possible (likely) there’s some there as well. There’s also a bit of surface rust on the rear hatch just below the window.
The rear bumper delete is exactly as janky as you’d imagine. It’s all held together with screws, no welding.
Needs some normal work expected for a car this age - motor mounts, front seats, rear hatch struts, some weather stripping.
Needs some work to pass inspection - headlight high/low beams are wired backwards, needs a rearview mirror, some other lights
Fuses are missing from heater and cruise control. Could just need new fuses, or could need more sorting.
Round headlight conversion is also janky
The lowering puts the tires within 1" of the fenders.
Engine starts first try, idles nice, sounds good, doesn’t smoke
Rest of the body, including doors, door surrounds, as well as the engine bay and under the car are all very clean and rust free.
Dash, head liner, and rear seat are in very good shape.
He said that the seller added that someone was interested in driving over from Pittsburgh with a tow truck to get the car that same evening. But as of this morning the car is still for sale. Sounds like a bluff to me, but whatever. If someone does show up with cash before me, I guess it’s all theirs. I need to sleep on it.
My current thoughts:
When the seller told me “There’s only one bad rust spot the size of my hand, the rest is just surface rust” I was naturally skeptical. I’ve done my research, I know what the common rust spots are on these cars, and Aremmes’ sleuthing confirmed my suspicions. That said, for the age and condition of the rest of the car, the rust isn’t that bad. It’s stuff I’d be willing to tackle myself (i.e. its in places nobody will see so I don’t need to be perfect).
The next issue is the janky rear roll pan. If it’s all done with screws it’s possible I could undo it and put a bumper back on. Another option is go all in on it - I think it would look really cool with a roll pan and then a custom thin bumper (think Mk 1 Golf style). My dad had some custom body work done on one of his trucks years ago - and I’m talking fabbing custom panels, welding and blending them in, etc., and it looked phenomenal. I may reach out to the guy that did it and see if he has any interest in this and try to get an idea of what it might cost.
Beyond that, I think I can tackle everything myself. The inspection stuff would come first - motor mounts, rear view mirror, sorting the lighting and electrical. Seat swaps seem to be common in these, and there are some good options. I’d probably start with a set of junkyard seats and then do something nicer and more permanent down the road.
I’d also need to address the lowering / wheel & tire issue, don’t want the fenders cutting the tires or tires beating up the bodywork. To be honest I like these cars when they sit a little lower, but this might be a bit much. I have some ideas on how to address this.
So where am I at? I think I still like it, and I think it may still be worth taking on. It seems like it’s totally salvageable, although a bit more work than what was initially indicated (but isn’t that how these things always go?). With a smart plan it shouldn’t be too hard to tackle in steps. And it would save the poor car from some terrible fate like becoming a drift missile, or worse. All that said, am I wrong in thinking $1500 is still a bit much to risk on this? I haven’t negotiated at all with the seller, though I do know they had the car previously listed at $1900, so I’m not sure how much more they’d be willing to come off.
What do you all think?