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Barn Find of Friend/Family

Old 08-13-2018, 02:56 PM
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Default Barn Find of Friend/Family


So I have been reading a bit to get some info on this car. Looks to me like 1973 or earlier C3 - has the chrome split rear bumper. It has an Automatic, it is T-top, is is yellow and has been sitting under a cover under a car port for.... 25years?? That is an educated guess but it has been sitting for a long time.

This is the parents of a good friend of mine, the family hires me to do ranch work for them and general repairs, welding, etc. We trust each other and would never take advantage over the other. I mentioned the idea of getting this car from them through barter (which I do with them as well as many others) which was not exactly well received. There is some emotional attachment to the car, so they do not want to just see it be taken away, and I am fine with that and even doing repair work out there at the ranch which isnt very far from me. There was talk of allowing it to be repaired and driven with some form of agreement to let them drive the car - which I would be more than pleased to do for them even if they did outright let me take the car. -- I am also married and own a home with my wife so it is best that it doesnt come home anyway!!

I was told that it ran when parked, along with many other vehicles that met the same fate on the ranch... I figure I will try to turn the engine over by hand first. If that works then change the oil, hook my fuel IV to the carb and see if I can get it to crank and spark off at least. At that point, the excitement will have been built into all parties involved!

What are parts costs and availability of these machines? I figure at a minimum it will need repair/replace fuel tank and lines and to flush brakes and coolant to be able drive it up and down the driveway to begin with. The interior is pretty well shot but overall exterior is not beat up. All glass is in tact, The wheels are on it and not damaged, all body parts are there. Looked like needs a gas filler cap and a door handle... still have to do some more looking at it.

I am not afraid of wrenching, and have been doing it for a while now. I operate my own business and do mechanical repairs without hesitation or worry. I am capable, and interested in making this happen which is why I joined this forum. I am in a situation that has me searching for a 2nd vehicle to drive while I do some repairs to my work truck. I thought this would be something I could have usable by next summer to fill that role.

In all of your opinions - is this project worth doing for a car to drive? I am not going to be able to full on restore that car and in that sense all purists should turn about face because I will likely gut the interior for after market seats from a budget/function over form build... I am much more of a function over form type of guy, as you would be able to tell if you saw my diesel flatbed work truck, or my dirt bike, or... most of my vehicles I have ever had!

I have read the "10 things to look for" list, and I will further inspect the car soon for stated concerns. But if the car is in the "walk/run away" category then is it also something I would want to bring to the attention of the owners soon too, otherwise it will only get worse and further rot away... which is sad.
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Old 08-13-2018, 03:31 PM
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There are a lot of inexpensive parts available for these old cars. Small block engines were put in a lot of chevys for many years, so that is not a problem. The way you can tell if it is a 1973 is that a 73 is the only year that had chrome bumpers on the back, but a soft bumper on the front. IMHO, the factor that will make this feasible is whether the car has a solid frame and especially the bird cage (the "bones" around the cockpit.) One problem also is that sometimes people who have these old cars are unrealistic about the value. This may or may not be the case, but remember if you make an offer that you will probably have to spend a considerable amount of money making this car road worthy, even doing the work yourself. A decent 73 that is up and running can be had for around 10-12K. To be honest with you, most of us are a bit upside down on our C3s, so that is something to consider if you just want an old car to drive. Some things to consider; even if the engine if the car has been sitting up for a while, it will probably need to have seals replaced on the engine (mine did and it was a very nice 49K mile survivor car when purchased.) As you I am sure are aware, the parts to do this are not expensive, but it is a labor intensive job. I also had to put a new radiator in mine which was eaten up from basically sitting up too long. Interiors can be had on the cheap and are not hard to install. The gas tank may be rotten but they are pretty cheap. Brake lines, fuel lines, belts, etc. will probably need to be changed.

So given all of that, the answer on whether it is worth the money really comes down to 2 factors; How much can you get the car for and is there rust on the chassis and birdcage.

Good luck on your decision, whatever it is

Last edited by crawfish333; 08-13-2018 at 03:31 PM.
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Old 08-13-2018, 03:42 PM
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I was reading about the birdcage. It is on my list to inspect and I am in agreement over your 2 factors.

Figuring out what it will cost to get is the hardest part. They dont really want to let it go, but the old man is getting unable to do things and momma is pushing to get things handled while he is still around. I realize it will more than likely need an engine reseal... what got me interested in this project mostly is a co-worker buddy of mine who is about to LS swap his chevelle and has a rebuilt 350+trans he is willing to part with and it dawned on me... "oh hey we should drop that in this vette!"

Thanks for your time. I will report back with more findings when I have them!
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Old 08-13-2018, 04:29 PM
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Old 08-13-2018, 05:55 PM
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Here's my opinion -

I read where you said you had a wife, so you probably have a life. Forget about the corvette so you can enjoy both.

There's nothing mythical about a corvette in a barn, near a barn, under a barn, that's been sitting for 25 years unless it's (in my opinion) a 53, 63 coupe, or a documented 67 tri power, L-88, L89, LS6, ZR-1, ZR-2, ZL-1, or a car with racing history.

A 73 automatic? No.

You really want a corvette to drive? They are not expensive cars. (Unless you want to restore one) I totally get the fun of finding one and our tendency to be creatures of opportunity, but it's probably not worth your time - let alone your money.

Last edited by BarryB72; 08-13-2018 at 05:57 PM.
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Old 08-13-2018, 06:21 PM
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Sadly it sounds much more like a disaster than a "find".
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Old 08-13-2018, 06:25 PM
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Is it possible for you to snap and post a few pics so we know what you are looking at? I guess it's going to depend on year, condition and a rough idea on how much you are expecting to have to end up paying for it.
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Old 08-13-2018, 06:29 PM
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I competely agree with Barry.

Not to mention, the ownership aspect sounds like it will be more trouble then its worth. You repair it, they drive it? No thanks. If they crash it who pays for the fix? who pays the insurance? who keeps the money when its time to sell? how many people have to agree when or if its time to sell?

​​​​​​​ The 73s are just not worth putting too much money into it. If you like the early Corvettes, find another that you don't have to share with anyone. Even nice ones need work. Forget about one that hasn't run in decades unless its something of real value when restored.
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Old 08-13-2018, 06:39 PM
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I totally agree with Barry , I have a 73 that I have owned for 20 plus years and was going to fix up and guess what still needs a little work after 20 years. Now that I am in my 50s I went and bought me a C7 that I just jump in and drive, Enjoy Wife and life and probably kids before to long. If you just got to have one get one that is road worthy and needs little work. Or if you just got to work on one come work on mine and I let you drive it.
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Old 08-13-2018, 07:07 PM
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Tough to answer topics like this with no pics but agree with the only neat thing about a barn find is..finding it. $tops right there.

If youre Ok with say spending a few grand on it then perhaps if the owner is up to it which sounds iffy.

Last edited by cuisinartvette; 08-13-2018 at 07:10 PM.
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Old 08-13-2018, 08:32 PM
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do not work on the car without you possessing the title in your name.. unless you bill them and they pay you for your work.
nothing positive can come out of that otherwize. sitting in a barn for 25 years does not really show great decision making.

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Old 08-14-2018, 07:14 AM
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I agree with Joewill, it will lead to problems that may cause you to end your working relationship. Tell the owners of car that the relationship you now have with them now is way more important than the car. Let it sit for a while, keep it covered, try not to show any interest in it. They may come around and you will be the first person they will think of when they are ready to let go. Mark
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Old 08-14-2018, 07:51 AM
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This thread is worthless without pics!
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Old 08-14-2018, 08:38 AM
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you said 73 or earlier. chrome front bumper? makes diff whether it is a potential 20k instead of 10k car. if you work on it and they pay everything for the parts, still you are owed for time spent on it. if that is not negotiated ahead of time, bad feelings and ruined relationship WILL result. best bet? spend a couple hours identifying just what it is and what shape it is in. pull kick panels in front of doors. remove some windshield trim. get it up high enough to get frame and front-rear suspension pics. before turning motor, pull plugs and get oil or WD40 in there. post pics here and we can give you a better guesstimate of just how bad or good this car is. central Texas. 1 point in car's favor. you people know road salt as something us damnyankees have to deal with.
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Old 08-14-2018, 11:46 AM
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I am in no huge hurry, and nothing has been arranged about this car. Nothing will happen without an agreed upon path by both parties -either I take the title/car or my time is paid for as I work on it. The last thing any of us want is a ruined relationship. In having said that, part of the reason to fix this car is that it must be dealt with whether it needs to be sold to someone who wants to fix it or they want it fixed for themselves. It must also be dealt with get to the even older buick big block thats inside the barn that most likely wants to be sold. I am currently being paid to help them work on the property as a whole, and they do want the entire area this vette happens to be situated in to be dealt with. I already went through this with a few other vehicles on their property. They want vehicles dealt with - I give them my professional and friendly opinion of what its possibly worth or what it would take to make useable and how I would deal with it, and they weigh that against what they prefer to see done with it and we go from there. Whether that means having posted Free for haul off on CL, asking for offers/selling or scrapping - there are a lot of projects on this piece of land. They have had other old cool vehicles restored or repaired by friends, family, etc.

As far as bad decision making on their end, I dont agree. This is an old man who has made a good living and cared very well for the land itself and his family, but in doing so has let particular material items take a back burner. I applaud what he has done and his decisions, and if it comes to spending time with your loved ones or caring for land over a car - i say that is a darn good decision as many of you are suggesting I do myself.

I will slowly get to clearing the immediate surrounding area of the car and get more information on it. I am in no position to buy a high priced project with endless needs - but with a buddy of mine offering a drop in ready drive train the project seemed doable and fun. And again, this car needs to be dealt with so I will get pics, info, etc up here for you guys soon and will let you know the decisions we agree on.

I hope it doesnt sound too much like I am not listening to all of your opinions, I thank you for your input. Just like the "10 things to know" list when buying an old vette - take someone more willing to talk you out of it than into it so I again thank you all for pushing me away from it! I will continue to weigh the pro's and cons, research more of what the vehicle is and what it may be worth, discuss the options with the owners and you all and the wife.
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Old 02-12-2019, 01:31 AM
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I would tow it home or to your shop. The carb will leak, or possibly flood if not rebuilt.
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Old 02-13-2019, 08:49 PM
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To directly answer your question. In my opinion based on having done this a few times.

Based on your description and having seen no pics......

Assuming the bones are solid (frame and birdcage) realistically you'll have $10k + into it making it a driver of any quality. Taking a car from neglected to safe, reliable, and good looking is much, much different than getting it started and rolling.

Tires, bushings, body mounts, gaskets, carb lots, fluids, interoir, exhaust, rubbers, trim, bodywork, paint, ball joints, etc. That stuff adds up fast.

Don't have to do everything at once of course and it's a damn fine experience.
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Old 02-14-2019, 03:54 PM
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"There is some emotional attachment to the car". Here- in lies the rub. Once talk of selling comes up, people will suddenly have sentimental attachments which can only result family disagreements with you being the "bad guy". So be prepared.
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