I have been an infrequent poster here since I got my 02 in 2005. I love my 1976 Verona despite the rust but I have been looking for something with a clean body for some time. I travel a lot for work so I always check Craigslist when I travel, especially CA.
So last week I was in Sacramento and I saw a 1976 Polaris, which is my favorite 02 color, on Craigslist. The ad was intriguing but I really didn't know what to expect. It was de-smogged, a one owner and in “excellent condition”, but that's nothing remarkable. I sent the poster a text to set up a time to see it that evening (I was headed home the next day). When I got there I found out the poster is the nephew of the owner who lives in Reno, and the car is stored at somebody else's house.
The first thing I noticed when I got there was that the tags expired in 1989. The car was repainted at some point and it looks fantastic! Someone wrote a date in 1983 on the underside of the hood and initialed it, which I have to assume is when it was painted. I would guess a job this nice would be well north of $5K today. Other than one very minor rust bubble trying to poke through on the hood and a door ding, it is flawless.
I find out the car has been stored inside its entire life and it certainly looks it. The beautiful blue interior is even better than the exterior. The seats are perfect and unbelievably comfortable. They are very soft, supple and look like they are five years old. The dash and center console are perfect too. I am stunned at this point.
I look under the hood and it has the wear and tear you would expect after 37 years. The car has 123K miles and the engine looks it. There is a little surface rust on the engine compartment but not bad at all. You can see where the "new" exterior paint was blended with the paint under the hood. The factory engine compartment paint actually has a greenish tint that I didn't expect.
After a lot of looking around I can't find any other rust other than a tiny bit on the beltline trim. All of the trim absolutely sparkles. To look at the car you can imagine how they were back in the day. I am in love at this point but I am trying to keep my cool.
The nephew is a car guy but he's into muscle cars so he doesn't think much of this 02. He is selling it for his uncle as a favor and priced the car himself. He did some research and figured out what seemed like a good price to him. He also totally understands the challenge with a de-smogged car in CA. There have been a few people that showed some interest, including someone who wanted to drive it back to TX, but no one has jumped on it.
I took the car for a drive and it is really nice. It drives just like I would imagine they did when they left the factory. The engine is very smooth, the suspension is plush and the brakes are great. This is nothing like driving my lowered and modified 02.
I make him an offer and he calls his uncle to see what he thinks. I hear him trying to convince his uncle to sell because he thinks it’s a fair offer. He rejects it without a counter offer. I really don't think the uncle wants to sell but he has no place to store the car. It may have been sitting in this garage for 25 years, and who knows, maybe the owner of the house is tired of seeing it sit there. He did change all the fluids and put new tires on it though, so I know he is somewhat serious about selling. So I make another offer, there is another call and the uncle says he wants to think about it over the next few holes of golf.
Later that night I get a text saying no deal, and still no counter offer. I say thanks and decide to let him sleep on it. The next day around lunch time I shoot him another offer that’s $500 more and this time I actually get a counter offer for another $500. At this point I’m thinking what the heck so I say yes. I’m getting on a plane in 8 hours so I need to make the deal.
I have a friend in Sacramento that happens to have some extra garage space. We go pick it up and take it back to his house. Of course I need to be heading to the airport in SF but we go for a nice drive and take some pictures. When we get back I seriously considered driving it home to VA, but of course that would be crazy with a car that had been sitting that long. I take a few more pictures and tear myself away. Now I can’t wait to get my hands on it again!
So what did I pay for it? $6000!!! Which certainly seems like good deal to me, even considering the cost of shipping it home. I even found the owners manual and the window sticker in the glove compartment.
Orginally I was looking for something I could heavily modify but this car is so nice and original that it seems like that would be a crime. I have a stroker motor, rebuilt head, 292 Schrick, tii exhaust manifold, new black upholstery for E21 Recaros and the back seat (I just bought it for my other 02), H&R/Bilstein suspension and 13" BBS wheels but I'm really not sure what to do. I'm thinking about leaving everything stock but the engine and making it a bit of a sleeper. Or I could do it all and keep the original parts so I could restore it to original condition if I ever felt like it. Or I could just restore the engine compartment. When I bought it I was planning to sell my current 02 but now I'm not sure about that either.
So what should I do? Any suggestions would be appreciated.