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Wanting to buy a 1980 Camaro that has been sitting for a while

There’s a guy who owns a 1980 camaro berlinetta that has been sitting for at least two years (probably more, its just that the first time I noticed it was aprox. 2 years ago.) I really want this car, but im worried about what might be wrong with it because of sitting. i’ve looked at it a couple times and the rust isnt TOO bad, interiors a little rough. never seen the engine though. He said it was the V6. i want to offer him around $1000 but may go up to $14000-ish. Can anyone help what i should look for or ask about? What problems might there be?

oops, not $14000 i meant $1400.

Was is kept inside or outside? and where about in the country?

outside sadly, and in a small town.


Rust belt, or Arizona?

I live in Indiana.

Chances are the car has been sitting because something went wrong with it, this might be helpful

come to think of it, the owner did mention brake problems. thanks that comment did help. can anyone help me with maybe a price?

There’s things you can look for before you buy the car to see if you want to risk fixing it up in the first place. You can check the condition of the oil. This can be done but pulling up the dip stick. OR even better a really long pipette, but most won’t have a really long pipette. Heck I don’t have a really long pipette. one day…

Look for milky oil, if it’s milky there probably water in the engine and you don’t want it. Do the same for the transmission and rear diff.

Look at the condition of the wires in the engine compartment and see if they have become too brittle. If they are very brittle then there can be broken wires and you would need to replaced and I hate replacing wires.

That’s all I can think of, anyone else? am I missing something?

but that’s just mechanics of it. In terms of restoring the body is there any rust cancer?

if I ever get the chance to talk to him (which i am probably going to do soon after getting some info from here) im gonna ask to see the engine and just general questions. i’ll have a look at the oil and wires. rust on the car isnt all that bad. a couple places but i am surprised it has low rust considering its been sitting. paint has tiny pits of rust almost everwhere. new paint job wont be a surprise if i buy it.

See if you can get under it, or get someone who is knowledgeable about such things to get under it, to look for unibody rust. THAT’S a killer. So is rust in the suspension, spring and shock absorber attachment areas. If the car has spent much time in Indiana, especially NORTHERN Indiana, then rust is going to be your biggest problem. Mechanical issues can be fixed, but once that ruat monster gets a hold of a car, it’s only a matter of time before it will become dangerous to drive.

Also note that you can’t just drop a V-8 into that V-6 car without also changing the transmission. I don’t know if you have that in mind, but it’s not a simple fix.

im more in the southern indiana region, Cincinnati area. i need to look at the frame for rust. and i probably want to keep the V6 in there. better fuel eco. haha. next time i talk to him im going to ask him if we could start it. if not…well im not intrested.

These cars are becoming more collectible and prices have gone up. Either a 1000 or 1400 is a good price depending on a few things.
One would be that any rust is minimal and the other is that the interior is pretty much intact and straight.

Rust speaks for itself and and good interior parts can be hard to find and often pricy. New reproduction interior parts border on obscene in price.

These cars also use a special jack so you need to see if there’s a jack inside the trunk. A few years back I saw a jack go on eBay for 150 dollars Ouch.

Any brake problems and mechanical issues are really not that big a deal because most mechanical parts for these cars are cheap.

Thanks! when i go look at it, i’ll put a comment of new things i see.

Rust doesn’t just blister paint. It can weaken the frame, reducing strength and crash survivability. You’d be wise to check that out, maybe start with a visit to a body shop to get instructions on the best way to examine the frame. Most everything else can be repaired or replaced, but you just don’t want this car if the frame is deteriorated. Chances are it’s not a problem, but since you are thinking this over carefully, you might consider that also.

Bring an awl and poke around the underside, especially near the rear quarters and rocker panels. If you go through any section by poking around, it will mean you have real work ahead of you. Imagine that you’ll only be able to see about 20 percent of the actual rust.

I’d offer him way less than a 1000 and see where you end up. It has been sitting for two years so there haven’t been any real offers.

Can you take a few pictures and attach them to a post? It would help to see the Camaro. Without pictures, I’m inclined to think its worth a few hundred bucks; maybe less. It depends on the condition.

I gotta ask - why? '80 was about at the pit of car performance, hard to tune, lots of poorly-executed emissions controls. And the V6 is fairly slow compared to newer cars.

Do you know anything about typical prices for these cars in running condition? Until you go looking, you don’t know what the general market is for these. It’s possible that there are some problems lurking that you won’t discover until you get the car on the road, and it will cost you some effort and time just to assess the unknowns mentioned above. You could get really lucky, or you could pay twice what you should. You could need a transmission or engine rebuild (or both) starting around $2000. Or it could be a sweet running little gem. In other words, it’s a crap shoot unless you have it running, and have it evaluated by a good mechanic.

I got lucky last spring and bought a minivan which had been parked for five years. I almost didn’t bother going to look at it, but I’m glad I did. I paid less than scrap value, and knew before I opened a door that it was a good deal because the body was straight. But the transmission could have been toast, the engine could have been frozen up or low compression, the steering and suspension could have needed total renovation, the electronic controls could have been a maze of problems. I took a chance, knowing I could at least get my money back if I scrapped it.

I knew I’d made a good choice when I turned the key - it started almost immediately and ran astonishingly well even on very old gas. The key test of whether I’d keep it or sell it was the California smog test…if it failed I’d part it out. But the emissions numbers were so low the smog technician said “that’s as good as it gets”. Transmission, suspension, steering, a/c all good enough. Brakes and cooling system will get a little work, and I’ve spend hours cleaning it. I’ll probably have the hood and roof repainted. It gets 25 mpg. As it is now, I could triple my investment without spending more, but I need the car more than the money.

My advice on the Camaro is that if the body, interior and glass are ok, that is, those things which you can evaluate yourself visually, then offering a bit above scrap value is about right given there are so many unknowns. If the seller wants more than scrap value, say $500, you need to do your homework to see what it would cost to buy one in running condition. Good luck. I hope you are as lucky as I was!