Hooniverse Asks: What Happens to All The Money Pit Cars?

912 Rust Bucket
You’ve seen them out there, standing out from the usual classified listings- $6,500 1973 Porsche 911T, clean title; ’81 Delorean, some fire damage, Bring it back to the Future! $3,000 obo. Yeah, it turns out that the only clean thing about that Porsche is its title, and in the case of that fired up Delorean some means almost all. And yet people still buy these heaps with the intention of… well, I don’t know. Maybe they plan on jacking up the radiator cap and driving a new car in underneath.
You see I am a realist and just can’t bring myself to look at a pile of rusted parts and see—as though through rose-colored glasses—a stellar end product. I see nothing more than a money pit and years of tears. That can’t always be the case, however. What I want to know today is whether you’ve actually seen someone have a happy ending with a car that started out as an obvious lost cause, but that then found a new life.
Image: Beverly Hills Car Club

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  1. GTXcellent Avatar

    I would guess in most of those cases they are simply buying a VIN – which then gets slapped onto a base model car and voila. Illegal and unethical, but unfortunately happens all the time

    1. engineerd Avatar

      That was exactly what I was going to say.

    2. JayP Avatar

      Without bothering to google- doesn’t some part of the car (firewall?) need to come over to the “new” car? Just the VIN plate?

      1. P161911 Avatar

        There is no one part of the car that is considered “the car”. Just the VIN plate. At some point in the future this will probably change. With guns there is always one serial numbered part that is considered “the gun”. I can see emissions regulations prompting this change.

    1. Maymar Avatar

      Just so we’re clear (and I’m sorry if I’m ruining the joke), the ruined one was from the first season finale (10 years ago), which the actor recently found is still sitting around, accruing moss and such. On the other hand, the transportation manager is probably singlehandedly saving all the other ’67 Impala hardtop sedans.

      1. Kiefmo Avatar

        I think you’ve got it exactly correct, sir.

    1. Wayne Moyer Avatar
      Wayne Moyer

      That one got restored into a pile of cash at an auction.

    2. mad_science Avatar

      Saw it in person years ago. Still smelled like the underside of a dock.

      1. Vairship Avatar

        Sitting on the dock of the bay, counting caaaaaaaash…

  2. Frank T. Cat Avatar
    Frank T. Cat

    They end up in my driveway:

  3. Frank T. Cat Avatar
    Frank T. Cat

    They end up in my driveway.
    I’d link to the playlists section of my YouTube channel, but Disqus just helpfully embeds a video player loaded with a playlist of ALL OF MY VIDEOS instead.

    1. Tanshanomi Avatar

      I have to admit, my first instinct was to post a photo of your Saab in your garage.

  4. smalleyxb122 Avatar

    When a particular car reaches a point where it is worth more than the sum of its parts (and for which parts are still available), its title alone has real monetary value. There are several vehicles which can be built from scratch with nothing but a VIN and a parts catalog, but most of them would exceed the eventual vehicle’s worth. Any vehicle with significant historical significance can and will definitely be rebuilt, even if it needed a new body, frame, and engine. Then we end up with a modern Ship of Theseus, wondering if it is still the car that it was.

    1. Sjalabais Avatar

      Can we get a neon “sometimes”? Honestly, the few times I’ve read about successful savings of hard cases, I continue remembering them. There was a Citroën on BaT that was restored from basically dust to stunning beauty – can’t find it now, but I see it right in front of me.

      1. Tanshanomi Avatar

        Welding two M4 Sherman tank halves together was pretty memorable to me.

  5. Fred Talmadge Avatar
    Fred Talmadge

    My neighbor works on Model Ts and he is always telling me “if it’s made out of metal, it can be fixed”

    1. mad_science Avatar

      But those things are like 30% wood.

  6. Gregg Collins Avatar
    Gregg Collins

    Back in the 80s there was a 69 Charger for sale in Ulysses for $500. I went out and looked it over. It was pretty well stripped down. I could not find a single part or panel that could be reused. The rust outweighed the metal. Car was a total loss.

    1. Fresh-Outta-Nissans Avatar

      The bumper, ironically, looked just fine.

  7. Infamous007 Avatar

    My brother in law buys them to either part out on Craigslist / eBay for profit and sells the remaining pieces for scrap or he finds the problem, fixes them , and resells them.
    He got hold of a Volvo S80 that had major and chronic emissions issues with only 80,000 dirt cheap. It appeared that the map sensor, o2, evap canister and valve, and even the catalytic converter had been replaced. Researching the car, we discovered that Ford Volvos were known for bad wiring harnesses and crimping. We decided to trace down the harnesses and discovered that both the o2 and the map sensor wires going into the main connector of the computer were loose in the harness housing figuring that intermittent vibrations caused a break in the circuit to generate error codes. An xacto knife to respring the terminals and reinstalling it did the trick. He drove it two months with no codes, got a state inspection, and sold it for four times what he paid for.

  8. Van_Sarockin Avatar

    Look, I never really wanted that car. But the owner wouldn’t sell me the tree growing out of the engine bay, unless I took the car.

  9. mad_science Avatar

    My goal is to take them from 3-digit headed-to-the-crusher vehicles to low 4 digit ugly driver/LeMons racers that maybe someone could see the value in turning into high 4 digit or low 5 digit cars. This works on vehicles like Falcons that don’t have a ton of value on their own (as opposed to equivalent Mustangs), but do have a huge base of factory and aftermarket parts. Not sure you could do the same with a Peugeot.
    I remain baffled by cars like the one pictured. Even the “buy it for the VIN” makes no sense. Does a “good” VIN riveted to a completely reconstructed car really have that much more value than the same pile of replacement parts without the VIN?