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Hello! Just recently became intrigued by a 1985 Celica Supra that I found for sale near my location. I wanted to ask some more experienced owners about what to look for when buying a new mkii. It has 125k miles, body is in OK condition and “everything works.” I’m going to check it out in a week or so and most likely take it to a mechanic too. I want to make it as reliable as possible while maintaining the classic look, not trying to make this as fast as possible.
Let me know! Thank you!
 

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I know we've answered this a bunch and I thought there was one long consolidated thread in the FAQ, but its not coming up in the search for me. If you search in quotes "what to look out for" seems to be a phrase used over and over and comes up with lots of threads. But in summary, there are two things that will bite you on mk2s. They rust, VERY badly, from the inside out. Seamus (Suprafiend) has posted graphic detail about the design flaws and poor factory workmanship that let water in various places (and how to fix them), but best just don't buy a rusty car as it will cost more to repair than the car is worth. Take out the spare tire, take a bright flashlight with you and look way down in the rear quarter panels where the jack and rear window washer bag are to look for any signs of rust. Even in dry climates, they typically rust around the rear hatch glass, underneath the trailing edge of the hatch, the bottoms of the doors where the drains get blocked and the edges of the sunroof. But in northern climates, they can get really bad from the bottom up and even include suspension components so you need to have your mechanic put it on the lift to inspect underneath. And remember inside out. Rust is like an iceberg. Whatever you can can see is less than 25% of it.

And second thing is all of the plastic, vinyl and rubber components. Unlike a Mustang or Camaro from the 60s, we can't order reproduction parts from Taiwan. Things like weatherstrip, dash pads, switches, trim mouldings, etc. are all made with the rare earth element "unobtainium" and we depleted earth's entire supply by about 1998. If any of those parts are in less than perfect condition, your only choices are to either seek out good used replacements (which can take years) or just live with them as is.

Mechanically, you can still get most of the parts necessary to keep a Supra running and driving by virtue of the fact that so many parts were shared with other Toyotas and even other cars or are generic enough that you can adapt functional replacements. We are starting to see some shortages of very Supra-specific hard parts like a few gaskets and bearings, but we are usually pretty adept on this forum about figuring workarounds for such critical things. So mechanically they can be fixed and repaired. You just don't want to have to fix and repair too much as it adds up but your mechanic will be able to advise you how much it needs now or likely in the next two to three years.

If the 125K miles is genuine, then that's really not too bad. We don't start needing engine rebuilds or transmission overhauls till closer to 200K if the maintenance was done on schedule. Likely the deepest you'd have to go for a while is valve stem seals as those are age-related. That is unless the car already had 125K miles on it by 1999 and has been sitting unused and unloved since then. In that case, it could cost a great deal to clean out 20 year old varnish sludge from the fuel system or clean the barnacles out of the cooling system. Cars need to be driven so you need to query the seller about how often the car has been driven and then discuss that with your mechanic. Good luck.
 

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An update to the car! It looks and drives like a dream but it’s got some issues. The guy is offering it for 3k, and I have 5k right now to get the car running. With the money I have and the repairs listed below does this look do able?
15090
 

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It's a 35 year old car. It's going to need some mechanical TLC unless the previous owner was great with maintenance which they usually aren't on a $3k car. Most of the stuff isn't that expensive to fix yourself, but if you're paying a mechanic a 100+ an hour you're going to go broke fast.
 

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It's a 35 year old car. It's going to need some mechanical TLC unless the previous owner was great with maintenance which they usually aren't on a $3k car. Most of the stuff isn't that expensive to fix yourself, but if you're paying a mechanic a 100+ an hour you're going to go broke fast.
yeah I'm hoping to do all of the easy stuff myself, mostly the big stuff like the timing belt i want done by a mechanic...
 

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I would just go on Rock Auto and price out all the mechanical parts. I doubt there is more than a few hundred dollars of stuff on there. Most of that stuff on the list would be mostly annoying vs preventing you from driving it.
 

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I would just go on Rock Auto and price out all the mechanical parts. I doubt there is more than a few hundred dollars of stuff on there. Most of that stuff on the list would be mostly annoying vs preventing you from driving it.
Okay that’s good to hear. I’ve got to drive about 2.5 hours to get her home so hopefully she’ll make it. Based on what you said though the drive should be fine. :)
 

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If that is all your mechanic found, I'd say one of two things. Either your mechanic is a lazy drunk, OR write a check as fast as you can before somebody else does. That's all stuff I would have expected for the mileage, well maybe not expecting a power window motor, but that's minor. I was expecting a ten page list of rust here, rust there, bad bushings throughout the suspension, torn weatherstrip here, torn weatherstrip there, leaking sunroof, etc., etc. I would have at least expected to see the air conditioning doesn't work. We know they leak oil at this age, that's just a given. The hardest thing on this list is mirrors. Mirrors would get broken when either left parked on the street or going through drive-thru banks/fast food/parking garage gates and so those are sort of low supply and every one of us tries to hang on to spare mirrors just in case. But they do come up on ebay from time to time and enough $ will talk somebody out of their spare set.
 
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