Advice on a 1977 X1/9 "Barnyard find" for $500

Is $500 a good deal for this?


  • Total voters
    9

HisNameIsJoel

Low Mileage
Hey everyone! First time posting here. Two weeks ago I hadn't even heard of the X1/9 (even though I currently own a 2016 500e). There was someone here in Eugene selling a beautiful red 1980 X1/9 in fantastic condition for $5500. The wife said no and so it got away, but I've been obsessed ever since. Then a few days ago, I stumbled across a "barnyard find" '77 X1/9 in unknown condition. After talking to the current owner, he's willing to give me a stupid low deal ($500!) just to come down to Medford, OR (3 hour drive) to haul it off. Here's the current posting:

https://www.facebook.com/marketplace/item/507623049977573/

When asked for more details he said this:
I also was not familiar with the car. I got it home, cleaned it up a bit. It has spotty rust and feels like the clutch cable is undone. I put cheap tires on it so I could roll it in and out of the garage,. We got the engine to turn with jumper cables (I wanted to make sure it was not siezed up) but didn't want to start it until il and fresh gas were put in place. It is fully intact and I have a hundred or so spare parts (lights, A Arms, Transmission, engine block etc.). I'm just not a mechanic and these things go for $10-15K restored. Not high dollar, but a fun project for someone more mechanically inclined than myself. I don't know much more than the man who had it passed away long ago and it sat in a yard in Shady cove, OR Since 92. The seats cleaned up nicely. There are buts of rust here and there but nothing through the metal. Im willing do wheel and deal. Aldo have extra wheels for it. It has light rust on a few metals parts, some rust on the body but like I said, not through the steel.
So my question to you experts is this: what am I getting myself into? Is $500 for this a good deal? I'm not the most mechanically sound, but my buddy here in Oregon is a Ford/Chevy mechanic and has offered to help. My 500e lease expires at the end of September and I'll be without a car. My original budget was about $6k for a "fun" car that I'd also use as a daily driver. If I spend 500 bucks on this car and invest the rest of the $5500 into getting it up and running, think I can do it by September? Or am I asking for a world of hurt and I'll either be junking or parting it out?

I know the 77s have the less powerful motor, no A/C, and the older dash style. Would swapping in one of those Honda motors be a good idea or would that blow my budget? Can I also swap out the dash for one of the newer ones? Anything else I should look out for?

Thanks everyone!!!
 

JimD

Waiting for Godot...
Moderator
Buy the best body you can find, mechanical stuff can be fixed cheaper than rust. With a $6k budget you can find a really decent car and be driving it right away. Maybe dedicate some budget to shipping and expand your search?
 

aarpcard

True Classic
For $500 it looks like at the minimum a great parts car for when you find a better one.

If it sat in a yard for years, the underside and floor pans will be rotted. Buy it with the expectation of a it being a parts car. Maybe you'll get lucky.
 

HisNameIsJoel

Low Mileage
Buy the best body you can find, mechanical stuff can be fixed cheaper than rust. With a $6k budget you can find a really decent car and be driving it right away. Maybe dedicate some budget to shipping and expand your search?
Yeah I've been keeping an eye on current Xs for sale and most of the decent ones are in the $8k to $12k range. Are they just that high normally or would I be getting ripped off?

For $500 it looks like at the minimum a great parts car for when you find a better one.

If it sat in a yard for years, the underside and floor pans will be rotted. Buy it with the expectation of a it being a parts car. Maybe you'll get lucky.
Gotta admit I didn't think about its life sitting in a yard. Should I ask for pictures of the underbody?
 

aarpcard

True Classic
Yeah I've been keeping an eye on current Xs for sale and most of the decent ones are in the $8k to $12k range. Are they just that high normally or would I be getting ripped off?



Gotta admit I didn't think about its life sitting in a yard. Should I ask for pictures of the underbody?
Definitely ask for pics of the underbody. Also keep in mind, pictures can be deceptive. These cars were undercoated from the factory (I believe the '77's were too) and I've seen rust holes with the undercoating still in place creating the illusion of a solid panel. If you're seriously considering buying this car with the intent of restoring it you shouldn't buy it without seeing it in person.
 

HisNameIsJoel

Low Mileage
Definitely ask for pics of the underbody. Also keep in mind, pictures can be deceptive. These cars were undercoated from the factory (I believe the '77's were too) and I've seen rust holes with the undercoating still in place creating the illusion of a solid panel. If you're seriously considering buying this car with the intent of restoring it you shouldn't buy it without seeing it in person.
Okay that's a great idea, thanks. And yeah, it's a 2.5ish hour drive from where I am so I'm trying to do as much due-diligence as I can before possibly driving 5 hours for "nothing" (I know there will be more inherent value than just nothing as it's better to not waste money on a project car when I need a daily!
 
I don't know about the later cars but 74s were shipped (at least to CA) without undercoating. The undercoating was a dealer add on item as was a bunch of other stuff they would try to load the car up with - side bumper strips, cheap mags, that crappy center mounted radio with the antenna on the A pillar, luggage racks, etc.
 

HisNameIsJoel

Low Mileage
I don't know about the later cars but 74s were shipped (at least to CA) without undercoating. The undercoating was a dealer add on item as was a bunch of other stuff they would try to load the car up with - side bumper strips, cheap mags, that crappy center mounted radio with the antenna on the A pillar, luggage racks, etc.
If this is a '77 do you think it'll be any less likely to be rusted out?
 

Daniel Forest

True Classic
I doubt you could make it for september. Even somebody with a good knowledge of the model and lot of spares will have a lot of work. Cracked dash and tired interior will need investment and lot of time (dash removal is not a Sunday afternoon job). If you want an X1/9, find a better one to drive and you still could buy this one for parts or for a long term project. Yes, 500$ is a good deal since the body seems (in the pics) Worth saving. But condition of the floor is unknown. If it is rusted away, 500$ is still a right price for the parts. Have fun!
 

JimD

Waiting for Godot...
Moderator
It ain't easy being green. The color of this car is striking, but not in a good way IMHO.
If this is a '77 do you think it'll be any less likely to be rusted out?
I would say any model year of 1970's vintage car that sat long term in a yard would be rusty underneath. How rusty will vary.

Patience is your friend in this search. Don't jump on something marginal just because it is available cheap. Watch Ebay and BAT as well as here on Xweb in the FS&W forum. The membership here is always scanning their local, and not so local, CL listings for X1/9s.

One other thing regarding the seller's info, there is no clutch cable on an X1/9. ;)

And on the Honda swap, you would be looking at easily doubling your budget.
 

Andy

True Classic
Hi Joel,

I am in Medford, and could take a look at the car with/for you. But before we go too far there I have to agree with the advice you you have already. I can't access facebook at work so can't look at the pics.
I am getting ready to sell an '85 mechanically sound, drives, but needs paint. I will not say rust free cuz no car is ever rust free. But there is no obvious rust. I am thinking $1500 which is a bargain price.
The engine smokes a little at start up so likely needs a valve job, and there is a crunch going into 3rd. Car needs paint, and a few door dings.
Or for the same money I have an '86 (the car in my avatar) that is mechanically good, no smoke, barely a snick into 3rd, but has a little rust starting to show up. Neither car has A/C.
Let me know if you have any interest, I know it's considerable more than $500, but very likely a much better car. I'd be wary of any car that sat in a field any length of time.
 

Pete Whitstone

True Classic
There was someone here in Eugene selling a beautiful red 1980 X1/9 in fantastic condition for $5500. The wife said no and so it got away,

If I spend 500 bucks on this car and invest the rest of the $5500 into getting it up and running, think I can do it by September? Or am I asking for a world of hurt and I'll either be junking or parting it out?
Uhhh, I'm confused. Wife said no to the $5500... did she say no to a running car and yes to a massive money-sucking project with craploads of parts laying around? o_O We all need a wife like that! :p

Seriously, if you need a daily driver by September, this car is probably not going to get there by then.

Hate to be a downer, and it's only one mans opinion, but I don't think I'm wrong.

Pete
 

HisNameIsJoel

Low Mileage
It ain't easy being green. The color of this car is striking, but not in a good way IMHO.
Seriously! I've been eyeing that one and wondering if I couldn't just wrap it as I hear painting these things is a huge pain.

And thank you so much, Jim, for your excellent feedback. I think that seals the deal for me... better to spend $6k+ on a running one than try and restore something like this in just a few months. Really appreciate your time. Also kudos to this amazing community who was able to give me such stellar advice in just a few hours. So glad to know that this forum is active!


Uhhh, I'm confused. Wife said no to the $5500... did she say no to a running car and yes to a massive money-sucking project with craploads of parts laying around? o_O We all need a wife like that! :p
HAHAHA! YES! The ironic thing was that someone else snatched up that X1/9 literally the night before my wife conceded and is willing to let me have a fun car. Hence the desperate search for a good one by September ;))


Let me know if you have any interest, I know it's considerable more than $500, but very likely a much better car. I'd be wary of any car that sat in a field any length of time.
I am HUGELY interested! I'll send you a PM now!

THANKS EVERYONE! You all seriously rock. Blows my mind how active this community is!!
 

fastx19

Administrator
Moderator
Let me know when you drive down. I am also in Medford for now, so both Andy and I can give you a hand on this, and we also promise to tell you if you should run away from it.

Let us know when you are coming down.
 

HisNameIsJoel

Low Mileage
Let me know when you drive down. I am also in Medford for now, so both Andy and I can give you a hand on this, and we also promise to tell you if you should run away from it.

Let us know when you are coming down.
Wow I had no idea there were so many people in Oregon. Figured it'd be a lot rarer. I absolutely will. Going to be talking to Andy on Sunday, will definitely keep you updated. Thank you so much!
 

jrt

Daily Driver
I voted run away. For your $5K to $6K budget range, you can get something really nice that would be immediately drivable or only need a tweak or two. Take a look at the beautiful X in the below link;
https://xwebforums.com/forum/index....en-a-while-but-i’ve-come-to-a-decision.36846/

Over the course of a few months of watching the FS&W Forum here and Craigslists in a few hours drive from Eugene, you will very likely find a nice one.

$500 for the parts car you're looking at is a good deal if you want to keep some parts and flip the others. It is absolutely NOT a good deal if you consider the time and expense you will need to expend to get it into driving condition.

A good X is worth spending the time to find. These are wonderful cars to drive. Good luck and best wishes.
 

dragonsgate

True Classic
I bought a $500 X a few years ago.
The guy that sold it to me also gave me a lot of extra stuff, door extra engine and more.
The car didn't look bad from the topside but when I gave it a good going over in preparation to get it running and road worthy I found that the floor pans were completely rusted out and the worst part was the suspension hangers were so rusted I broke one off by hand.
I figure it had sat in water or wet grass for quite a while to get that way.
Look the car over in person real good before you plunk down even $500.
 
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