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Opinion on a 2002 purchase, body damage vs rust?


Rust or Damage  

14 members have voted

  1. 1. Rust or Damage

    • Cancer Case
    • Body Damage

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Before getting into the topic some background on what I am looking for and have seen. Skip down to the third paragraph for the main topic.

I have been off and on searching for a 2002 for about 3 years now. For the most part I've found nothing but rust buckets, solid shells and stuff too expensive for me. I do understand that owning a 2002 is not cheap.

My goals for the car are basically to have something to cruise around on the nice days. Tear up the back roads and the occasional auto-x/track day. Nothing competitive, I just enjoy a spirited drive in a controlled environment. With those goals the interior will be very basic, two seats, carpet, heater, and a basic stereo. It would be a long while until I try for more power. Brakes and suspension would be first orders. My goals would make me say paint is secondary, I want it presentable but it’s going to get chipped and such so show quality is a waste. Since I want it to handle and do not plan to keep it stock a less desirable square tail (no offense meant to square tail fans) is probably best.

Rust Vs. Damage

Now onto the real topic of this thread. I have found a car that appears very solid. No significant rust on the underside, towers, or rockers. There will of course be some, somewhere. The only rust I found was the rear of the front fenders and some on the doors. Now for the bad, this 2002 picked a fight with an excursion and lost. It was hit on the left front at about headlight height. Bumper is in great shape. The left fender is pretty crumpled, and the hood was rolled back. These I would just replace. The issue is the nose/core support. The radiator was moved back on the drivers side about ½ inch. From my measurements the wheels are still in the correct locations and all doors shut well. So the work would be centered on straightening the nose and core support to put the new hood and fender on.

With all that would you think I’m better off taking on a cancer case, or attempting the body work on this one?


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Body damage = $$$. New hood at least $800, good luck finding a good used one without rust under the lip and close enough to pick up. Fenders - the "pattern pieces" non-OEM are crap in my book - I bought them and they did not fit worth a damn. OEM are about $500 each. Nose - figure at least $1,000 - unless you can find a used one that is not rusted out around the headlight buckets. My opinion - find another car.

1968 1602 (body shell)(thanks SCR!)

1973 2002 (parts donor)(terminal NE rust)

1974 Tii (crushed, but rising from the ashes!)

heck, its just another winter in New England - the Tii will live again!!!

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I would much rather have a "dry" car with a shot motor than a great motor in a rust bucket. Bodywork is time-intensive and therefor expensive! Almost anyone can replace a motor but not everyone can do good body work.

That said I would think 1 of 2 things should be the case with your prospective car:

A) It's about as rust free as they get with NO frame/structural damage AND has a good engine! You don't want to get into structural work/repair. AND it better not have a salvage title

B) It's so damn cheap your practically "stealing it"!

But I'm a sucker for a good project/adventure!

Nuova Strada


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I am a sucker for a project car myself. This one has had one owner for 30+ years. He kept good documents and it's been a Texas car almost it's whole life.

That said the body work is something I wanted to attempt on my own as a learning expierence. I know there's not much to go on but, any gut feelings as to if that nose is salvagable?

As far as replacement parts I have considered the fiberglass panel route, I want light wieght......But I also know they won't fit out of the box and probably will never be just right.

Thanks for the replies.

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I prefer body work to rust repair, as long as you believe you are starting with a decent shell with no surprises. You can estimate what any needed new parts will cost, but it's tough to figure in advance what cutting out/ welding in patch panels will cost. That said, it is almost inevitable that either choice will offer up some surprises once you get started.

'73 Tii - Malaga 2763751

'72 Tii - Turkis 2762380 - sold

'74 Turbo - silver 4290633 - sold

'76 Jade Green - sold

'74 Tii - Siennabraun 2781572 - sold

'76 Verona - bought new - sold

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I was in a search similar to you, a few years ago. I finally found/bought a rusty '74 in upstate NY in July 2010. I thought the price, given this area, was just, at $3500. It has a rust hole in the outer lower-rear quarter, underneath top corners of front fenders, and some rust in one of the rocker panels. All important areas are solid. Any regrets? No, but........

If I had to do it over again, I'd find a rust-free '76 in California, and have it shipped back east. They are a PITA to get smog-legal in CA, and you can get a good deal. Cost of shipping still makes it worthwhile. You just can't find any rust free examples here in the northeast. (at least not for major moola).

Knowing all of this, I'd ditch the idea of the punched-in white '02, and start-a-searchin' in Cali... Imagine what $3500 can buy you over there, compared to here.... Good Luck...

- The big print giveth, and the small print taketh away.


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