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Discussion Starter #1
Greetings,

I am still searching for a decent MKII. I found one that is a project car in decent condition. The asking price is around 4k. Here are the pros:
1. body is in decent condition
2. no rust on body or frame
3. Interior is also in decent condition

Here are the cons:
1. Car is black, but was originally White.
2. Car has salvaged title.
3. Car is not running, owner states they believe it requires wiring harness.

even if I put 3-4k into the car I would be around 7k.

Bottom line - Is it ever worth buying a MK2 that is NOT original paint? Is it ever worth buy a salvaged car?

Thanks.

Shawn

Here is the car:

 

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POTATO
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Hmm $4k seems a little much for a non running car with a bunch of unknowns and a nasty, deep dent in the quarter. Wiring issues can be super easy it super complicated too. I'd be wary about that car tbh.
 

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Hmm $4k seems a little much for a non running car with a bunch of unknowns and a nasty, deep dent in the quarter. Wiring issues can be super easy it super complicated too. I'd be wary about that car tbh.
Tanya,

Thanks for your word of caution. The owner has agreed to take $3,300 for the car. Do you still think that's a little much for non-running car? Thanks.
 

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I paid $3200 for my rust and dent free 86, non running. However, I was pretty sure it would run with a new starter so I took the gamble, and despite doing other catch up maintenance, I've been dailying it for 2 months now.

But this was a car I wanted bad, it was my unicorn. If you're not feeling it because of the color, or salvage title, or wiring, I say trust your instincts. I trusted mine and have no regrets.
 

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Have prices gone up a lot in the last couple years?
I got my rust free shell (big quarter panel damage I didn't see though) with no engine/trans for like $850 and a non-running parts car for like $500.
 

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Have prices gone up a lot in the last couple years?
I got my rust free shell (big quarter panel damage I didn't see though) with no engine/trans for like $850 and a non-running parts car for like $500.

Lol yeah you're pretty behind in times in terms of value. You still find occasional deals in California mostly, but that's about it
 

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Salvage title kind of depends on when it was issued. If a mk2 Supra suffered a minor cosmetic damage say between about 1993 and 2012, it would be written off by the insurance as it didn't take much damage to be more than 75% of the car's value. Now if the salvage title was issued before about 1993 or so, then it was probably pretty significant structural damage and should be avoided. But really, a more recent salvage title just needs research and a thorough inspection, preferably up on a lift so you can look for wrinkles in the underlying floor pans or reinforcing braces or shoddy workmanship and shortcuts. Now in the last eight years or so, the values of nice, collector examples had come up to about what the cars sold for new or even a little more, people were starting to purchase "agreed value" policies and yes, we've seen a few in recent times to have been reconstructed after significant damage once again.

Back in the 90s, a lot of Supras got branded titles because of minor cosmetic damage. They were still useful for transportation or racing and so people would buy them at the salvage auctions, fix them on the cheap and resell them. OR an owner would just take the insurance settlement less salvage value, leave the dent and keep on driving. Sometimes we've seen that insurance will pay "almost" enough to fix it but the owner can't bear to let it go so they take the settlement, less the salvage value, add a couple of grand of their own money and repair the Supra (I've done that myself). That's perfectly OK as they never intended to ever sell it anyway, but if they did, they may have to accept a little bit of a discount because the high end collectors (seeking Hagerty #1 and #2 condition) are not likely to mess with any branded title cars. However, for the mid-range value cars (#3 & #4) being bought by mere "enthusiasts", maybe with modifications in mind anyway, a branded title caused by previous cosmetic-only damage should not make much difference in price as long as there's no underlying structural damage.

But non-running cars need to be considered "parts cars". If you can't test drive it, you can't tell what all it might need and you can't always trust what the seller tells you. Perhaps a seller say's all it needs is a new starter. How do you know it isn't low on compression? How do you know the clutch isn't slipping or the gears grinding? How do you know the rear differential isn't howling? How do you know the brakes will stop it safely? The power steering doesn't squeal? The A/C doesn't need a complete system overhaul. Etc., etc., etc. Therefore you need to go into it assuming its going to be a major project and make your offer thinking that its going to need "everything" fixed/overhauled that you can't verify. Sadly for sellers, that means a non-runner is not worth very much at all, maybe a couple thousand at best if it were cosmetically perfect.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
PhilD,

You've done it again. Thanks for your thorough and informative review of the facts. Although the seller is willing to take $3300, still seems expensive for a project/parts car. He is claiming the car ran very well before it began to experience problems. Says he replaced about 4 alternators before someone suggested its like a bad wiring harness. I think I will have to pass on it. Thanks again.

Shawn
 

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And if it IS bad wiring, it could be nightmare to diagnose and repair. There's like a hundred miles of wire in a Supra. Mice can get in and chew or corrosion or careless previous repairs or modifications (hacked up stereo/alarm/antittheft), melted/disintegrated plastic connectors, etc. Tracing wiring diagrams, testing circuits, etc. can get into dozens or even hundreds of hours of diagnosis. And a car could catch fire and burn up if you don't find and fix everything else that might be chewed, hacked, melted or disintegrated. Anytime its an unknown "wiring problem", the risk is so high that the price definitely needs to be in the sub <$1,000 "parts car" category IMO.
 

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That guy is on crack for that price. BAT has really burned up the market for what people are asking. One Datsun sell for 300k and every redneck across the country thinks they can sell theirs for a fortune. You've got to be patient and wait for something that ticks all the buttons. I don't know what it is right now, but there isn't much for sale anywhere right now. I would think that people would be off loading toys with the economy in the dumps. Maybe everybody is holding out or it just hasn't gone on long enough yet to bring on the hurting.
 

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Oh, and about original colors, there's generally in the collector car world a small premium for original colors. We do have a color code on our data plates so it will be obvious to anyone who checks. But don't fall for the "rare color" claims. I see it in Corvette ads all the time where the seller is demanding a premium for a color because they only sold five of them or something ridiculous. They only sold five because everybody hated it. Now rarely, an unpopular color does come around to be popular again, but for the most part, a color that was unpopular when a car was new isn't any more popular when the car is old. Luckily for us, Supras weren't offered in any really horrible colors, but some of the factory two-tones I could see paying a little bit of premium for.

As to value of non-original colors, the questions are 1) is it period-popular or currently popular 2) did they do the jambs and engine bay too, 3) does it complement the interior and 4) did they do a high quality job? If yes to all four, then buy it and don't worry about value. If its a unique, custom color, then it will be harder to sell down the road and may have to take a bit of a hit on resale. But then again, if you like a custom color enough and its yes to the other three, then go for it and enjoy the heck out of it.

I personally would just stay away from matte finishes, but for more practical reasons than value. Those may look fantastic for show cars, but you can't just touch up a chip or scratch and polish it to make it invisible like you can with a glossy finish. I think the trap is you may pay a premium for a perfect fresh matte finish, drive it for a year or two and it accumulates enough chips and scratches that it loses a lot of value.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
And if it IS bad wiring, it could be nightmare to diagnose and repair. There's like a hundred miles of wire in a Supra. Mice can get in and chew or corrosion or careless previous repairs or modifications (hacked up stereo/alarm/antittheft), melted/disintegrated plastic connectors, etc. Tracing wiring diagrams, testing circuits, etc. can get into dozens or even hundreds of hours of diagnosis. And a car could catch fire and burn up if you don't find and fix everything else that might be chewed, hacked, melted or disintegrated. Anytime its an unknown "wiring problem", the risk is so high that the price definitely needs to be in the sub <$1,000 "parts car" category IMO.
Thanks for your reply. My question about wiring is why can't you just replace the wiring harness and not worry about diagnosing?
 

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Thanks for your reply. My question about wiring is why can't you just replace the wiring harness and not worry about diagnosing?
You could, of course it's from a known 100% working vehicle since there's no new harnesses to buy. And buying used things are a gamble also. My $50 broken instrument cluster reminds me every time I drive my 85 🤦
 

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You can if you want to disassemble the entire car. They are literally one of the first things that go into the car at the plant.

Some of the new cars are really bad with no connectors to section the harness.
 

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Regarding salvage title, it will depend on the reason. Back in the 80s and early 90s, a lot of the mk2 Supras and related Celicas were stolen here in SoCA for just the interior (seats specifically) and insurance would tag them as salvaged. If it is salvaged due to theft, I don't think it would be much of an issue.

It seems to me that mk2 and mk3 Supras have jumped in price since they released the mk5 Supra (excuse me, BMW). I suppose enthusiasts were pretty disappointed, which may have driven up the prices of the earlier models.
 

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You could, of course it's from a known 100% working vehicle since there's no new harnesses to buy. And buying used things are a gamble also. My $50 broken instrument cluster reminds me every time I drive my 85 🤦
Like Tanya wrote, parts like this are just hard to source. And wires at this age are very brittle, or more particularly the insulation and connectors are brittle, particularly in the engine compartment. Even assuming you find one, just removing a 30 year old wiring loom from the donor car could result in needing as many repairs as your original. If I had a dollar for every time I've squeezed a tab on an electrical connector and heard that emotionally deflating sound of plastic snapping, I'd be able to buy a new 2020 model Supra.
 

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I'm guessing the salvage title came from when the rear corner was smashed in since that's pretty significant damage back there. With that much body work needed, requiring wiring and likely general maintenance otherwise, you're going to end up with more money in the car than you'll ever be able to get back out of it, just to get it to presentable daily driver status. I know Phil's mentioned it in the past, and I agree with him, buy the cleanest, most ready-to-go car that you can afford and you'll save money in the long run.
 

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Phil:
Now rarely, an unpopular color does come around to be popular again, but for the most part, a color that was unpopular when a car was new isn't any more popular when the car is old.
TerraCotta:
[long pause while he processes what he's heard] So you're telling me there's a chance. YEAH! - Lloyd Christmas

Really depends on what the final value is to you. I have soaked more money into my project than I will ever get back if I sell. I am not selling it ever so that value to me is a car I love to drive and enjoy. A car my wife supports me working on and enjoys the naps in the comfortable seats. Sure a project car / fixer-upper will not make you money on these cars, yet. Many of the parts to make these 100% are just not available.
That said. To reinforce what other are saying: non running with damage is a big risk.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Greetings,

Thanks to all of you who have replied. Your feedback has been very helpful. I am planning to tell the owner I am not interested in the car. I will buy if he wants to sell as a parts car, but no where close to 4k. This group rocks - so much knowledge in one place.

Shawn
 
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