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What it cost me to own a $500 car, finale

Same as before, written up a while back, just now getting around to pictures and editing.

Back tracking...

With school starting I decided it would soon be time to part with the car. Some friends had offered some space, but I couldn’t leave them with a burden for that kind of time frame.

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After the long drive I had a list of things to address. I think part of project car ownership is learning to ignore lots of squeaks and rattles. Case in point I had been driving with my arm out the window for a while, the only reason wasn’t because it was so hot inside, but to muffle the squeak and rattle that would go away when I put pressure on the door. Turns out it was a small screw that was too long on the quarter window. 1 small washer to space it was all that kept me from having to deal with that whole situation for years.

Illustration for article titled What it cost me to own a $500 car, finale
Photo: me
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I cut out the roll bar to give the driver 3 more clicks of leg room.

Illustration for article titled What it cost me to own a $500 car, finale
Photo: me
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and added insulation under the seats to keep some of the heat at bay.

The cross bars in the engine bay with how many times they had been cut apart were removed.

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Illustration for article titled What it cost me to own a $500 car, finale
Photo: me

Car was washed 3 times, 3 more times then I have ever washed it before. The running joke had always been that I have done more engine swaps then oil changes and paint jobs then car washes. Today we even up the score.

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Illustration for article titled What it cost me to own a $500 car, finale
Photo: me

I ordered a dash cap to give the interior some semblance of completion.

Illustration for article titled What it cost me to own a $500 car, finale
Photo: me
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Also added a catalytic converter and a muffler on one of my best exhaust installs yet. Some clearancing involved, but mostly 3 inches front to back with 3 exhaust hangers, 2 v-bands, no rattles and no interference.

Pretty good tone, no smell, routed out the back like it should be, with a turn down to keep the fumes away.

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She does clean up pretty nicely.

Illustration for article titled What it cost me to own a $500 car, finale
Photo: me
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Plan was to make the car more presentable and hope for a BaT placement. Long shot for sure.......

and it was.

Honestly a bit of a relief, I can imagine the car would have been torn apart by remarks of purity, workmanship, etc etc. With that off the table I resorted to local sale locations, craigslist and marketplace.

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That was a complete and utter shit show. I think 30+ offers, some of them interesting, a ton of “is it still available.” I had one person just flat out email me in all caps that I was asking for too much money for an old datsun.

The problem with a niche car that is extensively modified is that it will only really appeal to a niche person. Someone may fantasize about an old Datsun, but until you have dealt with a fragile chassis, gas tank problems, and drive train issues, it really is a fantasy. Financially it is an easy argument people weren’t willing to have. I could part it out at a deep discount for quite a bit more than I was asking. The parts cost alone were more than what I was asking and some of the mods are near unobtanium at shop rates (SOLID NO RUST CAR, full tubular sub frame connectors, removable rear sub frame for a baffled modern gas tank, tucked v-band, resonated catted and muffled exhaust, and in my opinion one of the best CD009 installs with the most ground clearance).

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It is a weird thing to argue the price, and I’ve definitely been there where rust or problems are something you will have to address down the road and it will cost more than to buy it done, but some people can’t rationalize over a certain number.

Someone finally messaged me and said they wanted to fly up and drive it away. I had heard that before and told them the next available time frame. A few days later he said he was en-route with truck and trailer and asked if he could be first to see it. I had 3 or 4 people lined up later in the day, but decided if he was bringing a trailer he was more serious then most.

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He showed up with trailer in tow on california plates, this guy was serious. We went for a test drive, he looked it over, and...

Illustration for article titled What it cost me to own a $500 car, finale
Photo: me
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Drove it 20+ hours home. I had found my niche buyer.

I was kind of over the car, but to see it go was something. Price point wise, it wasn’t great, but given my time constraints and the prospect of it costing more than I was asking to store it for however many years, something I can live with.

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I’ll have to turn in my car guy card a bit, I am now the guy that will wax poetic about a car that he used to have. Maybe one day I’ll consider trying again, but then again it may be time to move on.

Funds were used to pay back some student loans, a bit spent here and there on other neglected hobbies (new to me camera gear if anyone wants some car pictures), and some more will go towards fixing up the Mini and saving for a rainy day fund. Part of me has been eyeing other cars, MR or RR cars have a certain appeal I can’t seem to shake. Another part of me says to just put it in an index fund or buy a few CD’s and ignore it for the next 5 years and see what I have to play with then.

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It has been fun, and to those who followed along, thanks. More adventures in the Mini to follow I’m sure, but as of now it sits in a shop undergoing some maintenance and modification.

What it cost me to own a $500 car

Dash - 180

Exhaust - 200

Sound/heat Deadening - 100

Subtotal: 480

Sale price - ?

Total:

I learned to weld, fabricate, paint (poorly), rebuild engines, 3D print, and even produce my own parts. I’ve lost friends and made friends, relationships gained and lost, moved 4 times, gotten in and out of other hobbies, had a few really good moments, had a few really bad moments, the car has been a constant companion for the last 10 years, and on top of that I learned more than myself and cars than I ever thought I would. How much did it really cost? I don’t really want to think about it, and really I don’t think I should try and put a price on it.

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See you folks on the next one.

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