How do I evaluate if I should put money into a 87 Golf (only 60K on it) that has been sitting undriven in a garage for 2 years? Previous to this, it was driven, one owner, has all maintenance records, and was well taken care of.
Very difficult to evaluate what the exact condition is. If this car was towed on a flatbed trailer to a dealer, I would venture that all the shop charges to replace cracked rubber items, stale fluids, new battery, etc, could exceed the market value of such a car.
This is a complete crapshoot, and I would offer very little, less than market value since you may need to purge the whole fuel system, replace the fuel pump, new battery, etc.
This is a good car or a shade tree mechanic to put some weekend work in. Once you get it running properly, getting parts and service may not be easy.
A fellow down the road has an immaculte 1976 Rabbit inherited from his dad, cluttring up his garage. He seems unaware that it’s gradually disintegrating, and will soon be worth nothing.
Does it start? What kind of exhaust does it make, clear, wet, white or black? What condtion are the tires in, flat, cracked, crazed or clean and smooth? What color is the oil, after it is running? Is the upholstery cracked or torn? What about the paint job?
If it starts and runs, and the oil does not have a milky look, and the tires are still full, with no bulges. You could have something here. But, and this is a big but, it is not a classic, and even if you restore it, it will never be worth more than a grand or two.
Did the owner just stop driving, or was there a problem that parked the car? Since you know so much about the car, I assume that you know and trust the seller. If you are on good terms with the owner, you could replace the oil, spark plugs, battery, and gasoline then see if you can get it to turn over. While the plugs are out, put a few drops if oil into each cylinder.
How much money? For what purpose?
$200? For a project car? Sure. Go for it.
$2,000? For a daily driver? Keep looking.
The biggest problem is the 2-year old gasoline…I would siphon out all that I could and refill with fresh gas…Install a new battery, pump up the tires and see what happens…
Thank you all for the information and tips. The car is free to me. Would be a once-in-a-while drive but distance would be from 30-100 miles. The car started up once after it was sitting for the first year and was driven around the block, but subsequent efforts to start it this spring have failed (put in new gas but the car won’t turn over_. Tires are ok-perhaps front two need to be replaced.
Since the only cost to me is a tow to a VW mechanic with whom we have a longterm relationship, perhaps I’ll drop the money and see what he says.