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‘82 Spider S2
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Discussion Starter #1
Hi. I’m new to the group. I’ve recently developed (rekindled) a fascination with Spiders, and have spent hours (days) researching options, what’s available out there, and various aspects of what too be on the lookout for with older Spiders.

While I would love one from the 60’s, my meager budget puts my target on 70’s & 80’s versions that have some rather significant repairs needed. The idea is to get a project car to work on and restore, but be able to get it drivable to enjoy while going through the restoration process.

There are a few cars out there that I am being drawn to, but I am torn between choosing a car that appears to have a relatively solid body, but an engine that doesn’t run; to cars with engines that run, but have some significant body work needed (appearing to have been in accident).

So, I’m hoping to tap into the knowledge and experience in this community for some guidance. What’s the bigger headache/greater expense. Engine rebuild or body work?

I am pretty mechanically inclined, but never dappled into body work. Not that I’m averse to learning body work, but not sure what all is potentially involved with body work.

Thanks in advance for your suggestions and advice.

Brad P.
 

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1973 Spider; the daily
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I would take motor work over body work. Any car that's been in an accident will never be right again. Doors wont close the same, parts wont line up. Body work has a tendency to be more expensive as well. I am speaking from experience as I own a wrecked and rebuilt spider. Motor work on the other hand is common and theres lots of advice on the forums about motor work. In the end it's up to you but it's pretty easy to get these motors to run and drive but body work will take time and can get frustrating especially if your new to body work. Another thing to consider is body work has it's own set of tools that are more uncommon.
 

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Rust is the biggest killer of our cars. The sills/rockers & floors make up the structural strength of the Spider's unibody (no separate frame). Repair of rust there can be very expensive to repair (correctly). Accident damage to the nose is common - too many "drivers" park by ear and back into the low nose/hood of the Spider.

Mechanically, the engine & drivetrain is fairly stout. A neglected car may take some effort to bring up to par but parts are available plus you may be able to find decent engines, etc from terminally rusty cars. Thus, for the budget minded, I'd suggest buy the best body you can find and bring the mechanicals up to snuff as time/money allows.

The mechanical parts of the Series 3 cars ('82 - '89) are essentially identical through the years. There is a small difference in the VVT operation of the early cars ('82 - '84) vs the later cars. This gives you a large pool to choose from. Series 4 cars ('90 - '94) tend to be less rust prone but are also a little more expensive.
 

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‘82 Spider S2
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Discussion Starter #4
I would prefer older, for my own personal appetite for nostalgia, and my assumption that these will be more “bare bones” than something from the later 80’s/90’s.

My gut agrees with the comments about engine over body. I guess I needed some confirmation of this. Rust issues aside, (I know what to look for there), I wasn’t sure how challenging it is to replace panels. There is a specific car I’m looking at that reportedly has a running engine, and appears to have been well maintained, but has damage that my ignorance worries me. (See pics.) Everything else On the exterior looks great, interior is really well cared for, engine looks clean, etc.

Loaded question....How bad/expensive does this look?
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I've seen good body men/women do amazing things but it is an art and takes a long time to learn. I wouldn't dismiss that as a parts car but I'd suggest you talk to an experienced body man and get an estimate for a professional repair. Then double or triple that amount...
 

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I've seen good body men/women do amazing things but it is an art and takes a long time to learn. I wouldn't dismiss that as a parts car but...
It would be worth pulling out if it were a '33 8C2300 Monza. Or perhaps if Brad had owned it for awhile and had already done the drive train, suspension, interior, .... before it got rear-ended. But given that he's starting from scratch, why take over someone else's headache? There are lots of mid-70's spiders out there.
 

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Motor work definitely over body work.
 
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what part?
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go for engine work......
 

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Welcome.
You say "a car to drive while you restore it.". That means you are not looking for a concours finished product. Figure what you ~really~ want.
My example- a 73, converted to Webers, recent motor rebuild, suspension worn out, interior not bad except dash. Rust and repairs in places. Dents, sub-par body work, poor panel fit, but respray red paint still holds a shine and looks decent. Electrical and fuel system a mess.

I bought it on a rainy night. Fixed up the major systems (still have some nasty clunks in the suspension- trunion?), installed a repro dash & console, gave it a good cleaning, and generally showed it some love.
It's now reliable enough to just get in and go (below 8000' elevation), is comfortable and presentable enough to enjoy without worry.
Money-wise I'm in it for about $10k. I might spend another 2k on stuff- brakes, finish the suspension, or learn how to weld and go crazy with new floor pans. I'd be fine recouping half my money if I were to sell. I didn't buy this as an investment, I bought it to enjoy and make memories.

So, that crunched spider you showed us....what is your budget and what do you want?
 

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‘82 Spider S2
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Discussion Starter #11 (Edited)
It would be worth pulling out if it were a '33 8C2300 Monza. Or perhaps if Brad had owned it for awhile and had already done the drive train, suspension, interior, .... before it got rear-ended. But given that he's starting from scratch, why take over someone else's headache? There are lots of mid-70's spiders out there.
You’re hitting right on my dilemma. Every part of this car appears solid, except this obvious accident damage, which I can’t fix. It’s a little disheartening to write it off as a parts car, but I don’t want to go down a black hole of frustration either.

Other cars that have good bodies (save the need to repaint at some point), have unknown mechanicals.

You mentioned there are lots of mid-70’s Spiders out there. Perhaps I’ve not found a good online source to find these. Everything I’ve been able to find have already been restored and are priced as such. Is there a good site to find Spiders that are in need of some tlc to bring them back to life? I’ve been through dozens of sites, and have come across about 8 cars that fit kinda fit the“project car” criteria. Many I’ve seen are too restored, or too far gone, or too far away to really consider. I’m in Ohio, and most of what I’m seeing is on the other side of the country. The ones I’m actually considering are 3-4 states away. Is there anything in Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky, etc?
 

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Discussion Starter #12
You’re hitting right on my dilemma. Every part of this car appears solid, except this obvious accident damage, which I can’t fix. It’s a little disheartening to write it off as a parts car, but I don’t want to go down a black hole of frustration either.

Other cars that have good bodies (save the need to repaint at some point), have unknown mechanicals.

You mentioned there are lots of mid-70’s Spiders out there. Perhaps I’ve not found a good online source to find these. Everything I’ve been able to find have already been restored and are priced as such. Is there a good site to find Spiders that are in need of some tlc to bring them back to life? I’ve been through dozens of sites, and have come across about 8 cars that fit kinda fit the“project car” criteria. Many I’ve seen are too restored, or too far gone.
I've seen good body men/women do amazing things but it is an art and takes a long time to learn. I wouldn't dismiss that as a parts car but I'd suggest you talk to an experienced body man and get an estimate for a professional repair. Then double or triple that amount...
Eric - Are you in Mebane, NC???? Is there a way to private chat? The car I’m referencing is in Mebane!
 

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Always choose anything over body/rust work. that is specialized and usually expensive. Anything else you can do yourself.

from that picture....can't really tell...is it just dented above the wheel or is the rear quarter twisted and now mis-aligned? Have any of the suspension points on the body moved? Shock mount, spring mount and trailing arm mount are probably fine. Not sure what other suspension points there are.

The trunk lid. is it just open? if it's closed and latched then that corner is twisted $$$$ I notice the rear bumper appears pushed in. How was it hit? from the rear or did someone just "backed into" the side?

The problem is pictures only show so much. Light reflections can be deceptive. It may be twisted more than it appears, or less, or not at all and just a big fender dent. You will have to go back in person and stare at it a long time and compare to the undamaged side and try to imagine what needs to be done. Don't forget the inner sheet metal panels.

What is the asking price and just how "perfect" is the rest of the car?
 

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Eric - Are you in Mebane, NC???? Is there a way to private chat? The car I’m referencing is in Mebane!
Yep, Mebane, NC. I'll send you a 'conversation' (aka private message) with my contact info. Click on the mini-avatar in the top right corner of the page.
 

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Mechanical work is supposed to be a cheaper / easier problem than body work. Even after a pre-purchase inspection, my experience was that more mechanical work continued to turn up, and ongoing running / repair costs for my car exceed what I expected. Of course maybe that won't happen to you.

If you have the aptitude, workspace, and tools to really resolve mechanical issues yourself, maybe a meager budget will be enough. Retrospectively, most people seem to recommend buying a car that's already been gone thru as a better value than fixing one up yourself.

David OD
Laguna, CA
 

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I prefer a Spider with good sound bodywork (minimal or no rust). Bodywork is deceptive - a 5 footer can suddenly turn into quite a lot of work. Eric's comment about getting a quote and tripling it rings true with me ! With the body in sound shape, you can then work through the car system by system (brakes, fuel, ignition, electrical, drivetrain etc) to ensure each is correct and reliable. It gives you greater confidence on the road knowing you've been through the car nose to tail. They really aren't complicated cars. Of course they have unique systems, like the SPICA fuel injection used on US cars in the 70's - this requires specialist work to get in perfect running order, and the number of people who really know this system are limited. The good news is parts availability - just about everything you need can be purchased from your choice of 5 - 6 suppliers, and at reasonable cost. Finally, this BB is an excellent technical resource, as well as a good place to come to commiserate with fellow owners when things go pear-shaped !
Don't buy the first car you see...look at a few, so you can compare/contrast. A car with service history rises above the rest of the herd, in my opinion.
Good luck on your search.
 

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Pull that Spiders rear corner, done. Rather crashed than rust.

Watch "Arthur Tussik" on Youtube
Pete
 

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‘82 Spider S2
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Discussion Starter #18
Less than a week, and a wealth of info and feedback from all of you. I’ve been on other owner forums for other makes, and none have been this active. Keep the sage advice coming. I’m sure I’ll continue to have questions throughout the process, and eventually during a restoration once I get a car in my garage. Much appreciated!!!!
 

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Hi. I’m new to the group. I’ve recently developed (rekindled) a fascination with Spiders, and have spent hours (days) researching options, what’s available out there, and various aspects of what too be on the lookout for with older Spiders.

While I would love one from the 60’s, my meager budget puts my target on 70’s & 80’s versions that have some rather significant repairs needed. The idea is to get a project car to work on and restore, but be able to get it drivable to enjoy while going through the restoration process.

There are a few cars out there that I am being drawn to, but I am torn between choosing a car that appears to have a relatively solid body, but an engine that doesn’t run; to cars with engines that run, but have some significant body work needed (appearing to have been in accident).

So, I’m hoping to tap into the knowledge and experience in this community for some guidance. What’s the bigger headache/greater expense. Engine rebuild or body work?

I am pretty mechanically inclined, but never dappled into body work. Not that I’m averse to learning body work, but not sure what all is potentially involved with body work.

Thanks in advance for your suggestions and advice.

Brad P.
Engine work over body work any day of the week. Motor can always be brought back to new. Body work, especially on older cars, never brought back to new especially if rusted.JMHO
 

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Find a reasonably rust free example (if they exist) and go. Body dents, engine work is childs play in comparison to a rust bucket. Good luck with your search and welcome aboard
 
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