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Buying a car that has been sitting for 5 years

I’m considering buying an '87 IROC Camaro z28 350 5.7L automatic. It only has 40k miles on it and has a really clean interior (exterior is great except for some scratches on the door and some small chips on the front end; all original paint). One issue, is that the 3rd (and current) owner bought the car and it wasn’t running because it sat in a garage for 5 years. He changed all fluids, replaced the brakes and put new tires on. The main thing that concerns me is that he has only driven the car about 200 miles since getting it running. He’s asking $11k for the car. Should I be concerned about this car’s engine/transmission after sitting without being started for so long? Thanks for the help!

How much money do you have in your budget to fix whatever problems arise from a vehicle that’s thirtyfive years old and has been barely driven?

Unless you’re able to make most of the repairs yourself, it can turn into a very expensive project.

That’s why these cars sit around so long. The owners can’t afford to make them road worthy.


The asking price is way too high and unless the fuel pump has been changed I would suspect that will soon fail if the pump was allowed to sit in aged gasoline that had turned stale.

If you drive the car, the value will plummet

There’s no point in buying this car, in my opinion

I would imagine all sorts of seals and gaskets are going to fail, as soon as the car is driven regularly. Seals don’t like sitting unused for years

The price is more appropriate for a cherry condition car. This car should sell for thousands less. Look at Hemmings Motor News to get an idea of prices.

Two things for you:

If that car did not have a major problem it would have been driven, not parked. Proceed cautiously.

There recently was an article about baby boomers and the cars of their youth. They are losing interest in old cars as they age and along with that value will decrease, not increase until these cars become extremely old such as near 100 years. The article also was of the view that old cars from the 50s, 60s and later are not a lot of fun to drive compared to newer cars with more responsive and accurate handling. If you will buy the car as a hobby that costs money, have a good time with it!

When did current owner buy it? 6 months ago? 2weeks? Does he own gas monkey garage? Maybe he paid $5k and want u to pay him $11k? Is he a flipper? Or did he realize car has issues?

Will this car be relied upon as a daily driver or are you buying it as a collector’s item? I’d never try to rely on it for daily transportation.

I’ll just echo the comments that already have been made here. The car is way too expensive and if you drive the car…any value it may have will go away. You would be very foolish to purchase this vehicle. Step back and think about it and I’m sure you’ll pass on this car even if the price drops to $5,000.

Thanks for the advice everyone. I will pass on this particular car. I’m trying to find an '87-'90 Camaro IROC Z28 that is as clean and mechanically sound as possible. I plan on driving it often and enjoying it (not keeping it parked as a collector’s item necessarily). I’ve been looking all over and I’m actually starting to wonder if this is even a good idea. There are a lot of these cars out there, but most of them are roughed up or have rebuilt engines/transmissions, etc. I love those cars, but I’m not a mechanic. I’d be willing to spend around $10k or so for one of these that doesn’t have issues. But, I would really hate to buy one for $8k and end up spending another $8k to really get it working consistently. Any thoughts about how I should be approaching this? Thanks everybody.

Oh, man. You’re looking for a 20+ year old car! At best, it will be an overpriced restoration. At worst, a deep money pit. Most of that money to a mechanic for tech skills and labor. Unless it was subject to a full restoration, it will have a LOT of 20 yo parts, especially small parts and trim that will be hard to find when they break. And parts that, even with low miles, are damaged by exposure and age.

I know this, because I drive a 25 year old car that is un-restored. It’s the little things breaking that drive you nuts. I work on it myself, so it is truly a labor of love. As I love the car, I drive it every day, but, from time to time, wind up chasing a problem on a weekend that turns out to be a small hose break, a pump or alternator failing, or just a new squeak that may or may not be a dangerous problem. It may sound like I’m complaining, but I spend less in parts per year than a car payment, and the time is my hobby time.

My '65 Olds Cutlass is the poster child of what happens when a car isn’t driven for 5 years. I’ve replaced: Radiator, water pump, all hoses, thermostat, rebuilt the carburator, changed the fuel pump and filter, replaced the rear transmission seal, replaced the valve cover gaskets, and now the transmission pan gasket sprang a convincing leak this winter. Also, all of the ignition components were replaced as well. And belts, of course. Oh, and did I mention tires and shocks??? :slight_smile:

If it could leak, it will, eventually with a car like this.

Also slated for replacement this spring is the entire brake system stem to stern. Experience with everything else on the car leads me to believe that what’s on there now cannot be trusted.

Here’s the difference. This is purely a hobby car, because I really like them. This one became available, and because they’re fairly rare, I jumped at it, knowing full well what I was in for. I also do all my own mechanical work. No way could I afford to have it all done by a shop.

I think you made a wise choice to pass on this car. Its value is in its low mileage, and like others have said, once you start putting miles on it, that value drops. It is, sadly, probably destined to remain a garage queen for the forseeable future.

If you’re interested in a somewhat daily driver that’s fun to own, consider a more modern convertible, like a Mustang or Camaro.

I do not know you will find a better deal, you know better than I. I would think dumping the gas and changing the oil would be good, trans to me not so much of a worry at this point.

If you are not really experienced request a gas dump. and oil change, then take it to a qualified mechanic for an analysis of the cars condition, it sounds really great but remember you have maintenance overdue.

Must be a dozen on CL every day. $10k is a nice round magic number folks like. Easy to say. Keep looking. U will find a 60-80k car that some owner really liked, and garaged, and drove on sunny days. Look at a few, and u can easily spot the crap vs good cars. Go to a local car show/get together and u will spot some. Cash gets owners to say yes.

You could still check out Hemmings Motor News on line. There are several in their classified ads, some under $10,000.

“How much money do you have in your budget to fix whatever problems arise from a vehicle that’s thirtyfive years old and has been barely driven?”

@Tester : New math?

Sorry. Twentyfive.


It might make sense as an investment, to be upgraded to show room condition and seldom driven. A profit could likely be made down the road. But for a car to drive around town on a daily basis, not so much. I was reading recently about an older MGB someone had purchased new, 20 or 30 years ago, and the car was never driven. As an investment, never intended to be driven. He’s selling it now for a profit. It has 37 miles on it or something like that.

First of all you are totally in the wrong forum to ask this question. You post this question over on, or and you will get answers from guys that know these cars inside out. Don’t know where you are located but there are F body clubs all over and you need to connect with yours. For me the upper midwest F body association and midwest LSx are both excellent places to connect and learn all things Camaro. And don’t let the LS in the name fool you there are plenty of guys running LTs in these organizations. There is nothing better than going on a river road cruse or meeting up at Road America with 40 other F bodies…

But to the question at hand it would be good to know a bit more about your situation. You say you don’t know much about cars but I would not let that stop you. The bigger question is do you have a primary car to drive when the Camaro is down and do you a place and the interest to tinker with it. If so I can think of no better way to learn about cars then to buy a car you love that is 20 plus years old. First thing you do when you get it is hunt on ebay till you find a complete set of factory GM shop manuals for it. Also pick up the haynes manual that auto parts stores carry. With that and connections on the above forums you will be armed with the most powerful tool possible - knowledge and experience.

So with your manuals, forum help and basic hand tools there really is not much you can’t fix on a 3rd gen car. So over all I say go for it. Not this car because it is over priced and personally I would not buy an automatic but that’s just me. But absolutely keep looking because there is nothing better than owning the car you love. And you know the old F body adage is as true as it ever was - it is easier to make a 3rd gen go fast than it is to make a 4th gen look good!