An honest reflection on Esprit ownership..... - Page 3 - LotusTalk - The Lotus Cars Community
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post #41 of 70 (permalink) Old 07-17-2014, 03:24 AM
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Well Atwell, guess it's time for those fuel vent lines!

Actually, I was only kidding. Over the past two years, I replaced every line in the evap system with REAL rubber fuel lines (and, it wasn't easy, 'cause rubber isn't as flexible as the OE vinyl).

Now, I can't find the car just by smell anymore!

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post #42 of 70 (permalink) Old 07-17-2014, 05:30 AM Thread Starter
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Not everyone ! Been lurking and occasionally posting here for almost as long as you guys, but no Esprit yet. When I read you were putting it up for sale, I checked into it . Looks beautiful, but holy **** you've had some bad luck with it. Honestly, I'm starting to doubt if I should really buy one. I've tried convincing myself that if I could find a "good one", it wouldn't bankrupt me or be constantly needing repairs, just budget for the major C service every 3-4 years and do the A services myself, but I'm not so sure anymore. Seems like even good cars will have major things go wrong eventually. They seem to need more attention than I could give. I do my own work on my Italian motorcycle, but pulling an engine or tranny out of a car is beyond my ability. I love the Esprit, but there is no sugar coating the fact they are high maintenance cars. An Elise is practically like a Honda Civic in comparison.
As I said in my summary - a "good" Esprit can be a very reliable, reasonably economical form of exotic transportation. 30K miles over 5 years is quite a lot for a G-car Esprit in the North east where 4-5 months out of the year the car is shut down due to winter weather. I drove her a LOT and she loved it. Used it on longer trips and plenty of good rides. After a few months of ownership, the "scary" thoughts of the car leaving me stranded or falling apart disappeared and I became confident enough to drive it anywhere, anytime!

I do NOT think a good Esprit would ever bankrupt anyone but as you highlighted you do have to budget for a major & some stuff. 3-4 years is a little early though. With the proper parts/complete C service and regular use you can easily go 4-5 years or just 5 years, IMO. Sitting around for long periods probably does more "damage" to these cars than being driven a lot. I truly believe that. The car LOVES fresh fluuids all the time meaning frequent oil changes and YEARLY clutch, brake, and gearbox fluid changes. Its anal but thats how I roll. Other than that - just drive it.

I wouldnt be scared of an Esprit - Id be WAY more scared of a similar year Ferrari. They have the same pesky service requirements(or worse) but the parts are 5x more expensive. Just ask my friend with the '84 308QV.... he'll gladly tell ya!

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I would definitely consider a Mondial myself. I think they are under-rated, personally. They look great, are neat in that four seater Ferraris are rather uncommon, and so on.

The Ferrari I would LOOOOVE to have would be a 328, but man; way out of my price range. And I only see them going up.
I like the Mondy too - and honestly they are the last "version" of the 308 series that are affordable for us working class runts. I SOOOO love the carbed 308 GTBs from '76 thru '79 but damnit they are getting big bucks and will likely be out of my range soon. So, a Mondy ragtop would fit the bill nicely.

328? Forget it - its getting so the freegin 360's will be close enough in price to a 328 that you'd have to consider one of those. Lets not forget the truly awesome 355 which is STILL an awesome car but probbaly the scariest of the older Ferraris. I freegin hate timing belts and short service intervals...its what kills owning these things for many of us.

Page 65, Section LD - what ya wanna know?
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post #43 of 70 (permalink) Old 07-17-2014, 06:59 AM
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Superb writeup about Esprit ownership--it's reading posts like this and the posts of those with car troubles on this and LEF that actually helped push me over the edge into buying mine last year!

I agree that the Esprit appears to be a nightmare vis-a-vis other, "normal" cars, but in my case, I'm used to having troubles just go "blam!" and happen. With my daily driver, I've had water pulley bolts "walk off" the pulley at 55 mph (someone forgot to thread lock them in), clogged catalytic converters (x3), throttle position sensors replaced numerous times, serpentine belts snapping at high revs on the highway (it's a non-interference engine, thank goodness), alternator-to-battery wire melting/catching fire due to too-close proximity to a stud that rubbed off the outer sleeve (one heck of a design flaw), a snapped motor mount, the list goes on and on and on.... and this in a 2002 "modern" car.

By comparison, my Lotus, with faded paint, shattered windshield, torn leather, rust-filled fuel tank, dry rotted tires, wholly rusted/sagging suspension, and an engine that looks like it once housed a family of field mice (possibly because it did), sat, unattended, from what I was told, baking in the sun, pelted by rain, covered by snow, and dying a slow, painful death for seven years. That is, until it was brought to the gents at Ragtops & Roadsters, who drained the old gas from the tanks, then swapped out its fuel pumps and accumulator and added an inline fuel filter before the pump.

Once R&R had completed the service, and all my paperwork was in order, I decided to try my luck at driving it home myself. I poured five gallons of fresh Shell 93 octane (I think it was Shell) into the tank, plopped in a new battery. After about ten attempts to get her started, she fired her up and I limped her home as she crashed over every bump and road ripple (this was before I knew about the peril of having an old timing belt). Unreliable? Maybe. But for a car that just sat rotting away for seven years, it started up and idled no better and no worse than any other car I've ever driven (I've only been driving since 1984).

If the car gives me problems, well, I guess I'm used to it from other "modern" cars, or to seeing them happen in the cars my friends, family, and students drive. These have included engine fires (as in, "Wow, there's flames coming from under the hood of that car!"), engines suddenly shutting down at speed, dropping valve seats and "grenade-ing" their engines, failing air conditioners, broken coil packs, failed idle air control valves, leaking power steering and water pumps, clogged vacuum lines, bound shift cables, snapping off HVAC controls, horns not working, wiper motors failing, clutch master cylinders leaking, failing ABS sensors, and every manner of gremlin, grumpkin, and gollywag that could possibly happen to a motor vehicle. All in cars fifteen or more years newer than my '86 Esprit.

So, for the Lotus, I don't find anything other than wiping out the timing belt or the circlip going bad and annihilating the drive shaft to be scarier than what more modern cars can deal their owners--because I and those I've known have been on the receiving end and have almost become "used to" having things go wrong with the cars.

Although my Esprit is sitting in my attached garage, resting peacefully until I can start my engine-out project (I shudder both with fear and with excitement over that), I often open my kitchen door and look out at her and smile. Even now, with all that's "wrong" with the car, just looking at it and anticipating the challenge and the joy of bringing her back to life makes me smile with knowing how "right" she'll eventually become.

Cheers,

Scott
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post #44 of 70 (permalink) Old 07-17-2014, 08:07 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by greentengu View Post
Superb writeup about Esprit ownership--it's reading posts like this and the posts of those with car troubles on this and LEF that actually helped push me over the edge into buying mine last year!

I agree that the Esprit appears to be a nightmare vis-a-vis other, "normal" cars, but in my case, I'm used to having troubles just go "blam!" and happen. With my daily driver, I've had water pulley bolts "walk off" the pulley at 55 mph (someone forgot to thread lock them in), clogged catalytic converters (x3), throttle position sensors replaced numerous times, serpentine belts snapping at high revs on the highway (it's a non-interference engine, thank goodness), alternator-to-battery wire melting/catching fire due to too-close proximity to a stud that rubbed off the outer sleeve (one heck of a design flaw), a snapped motor mount, the list goes on and on and on.... and this in a 2002 "modern" car.

By comparison, my Lotus, with faded paint, shattered windshield, torn leather, rust-filled fuel tank, dry rotted tires, wholly rusted/sagging suspension, and an engine that looks like it once housed a family of field mice (possibly because it did), sat, unattended, from what I was told, baking in the sun, pelted by rain, covered by snow, and dying a slow, painful death for seven years. That is, until it was brought to the gents at Ragtops & Roadsters, who drained the old gas from the tanks, then swapped out its fuel pumps and accumulator and added an inline fuel filter before the pump.

Once R&R had completed the service, and all my paperwork was in order, I decided to try my luck at driving it home myself. I poured five gallons of fresh Shell 93 octane (I think it was Shell) into the tank, plopped in a new battery. After about ten attempts to get her started, she fired her up and I limped her home as she crashed over every bump and road ripple (this was before I knew about the peril of having an old timing belt). Unreliable? Maybe. But for a car that just sat rotting away for seven years, it started up and idled no better and no worse than any other car I've ever driven (I've only been driving since 1984).

If the car gives me problems, well, I guess I'm used to it from other "modern" cars, or to seeing them happen in the cars my friends, family, and students drive. These have included engine fires (as in, "Wow, there's flames coming from under the hood of that car!"), engines suddenly shutting down at speed, dropping valve seats and "grenade-ing" their engines, failing air conditioners, broken coil packs, failed idle air control valves, leaking power steering and water pumps, clogged vacuum lines, bound shift cables, snapping off HVAC controls, horns not working, wiper motors failing, clutch master cylinders leaking, failing ABS sensors, and every manner of gremlin, grumpkin, and gollywag that could possibly happen to a motor vehicle. All in cars fifteen or more years newer than my '86 Esprit.

So, for the Lotus, I don't find anything other than wiping out the timing belt or the circlip going bad and annihilating the drive shaft to be scarier than what more modern cars can deal their owners--because I and those I've known have been on the receiving end and have almost become "used to" having things go wrong with the cars.

Although my Esprit is sitting in my attached garage, resting peacefully until I can start my engine-out project (I shudder both with fear and with excitement over that), I often open my kitchen door and look out at her and smile. Even now, with all that's "wrong" with the car, just looking at it and anticipating the challenge and the joy of bringing her back to life makes me smile with knowing how "right" she'll eventually become.

Cheers,

Scott
Great attitude, Scott - this alone will make the project so much more enjoyable when you are done with it. Ditto on "regular" cars screwing up too. My daily driver Nissan Sentra(2012, 38K miles) already has an exhaust leak and other little niggly things. Good thing I leased it.

The Esprit really can be a rewarding car to own. Just gotta approach it correctly and for goodness sakes buy a top-condition, to--dollar car right off the bat. These are TERRIBLE cars to buy in a shoddy state with the intent of "restoring" it IMO since you'll spend 3x what its worth just to get it decent versus what you'l pay to buy a good one upfront.

Page 65, Section LD - what ya wanna know?
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post #45 of 70 (permalink) Old 07-17-2014, 01:17 PM
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I wouldnt be scared of an Esprit - Id be WAY more scared of a similar year Ferrari. They have the same pesky service requirements(or worse) but the parts are 5x more expensive. Just ask my friend
Oh for sure. I've wanted a 308 or 328 long before I really started considering an Esprit, but hanging around Fchat and talking with Jay made me realize I can't afford to own one even if I could manage to buy one. The clutch and flywheel needed work on it and it was like a 5k bill. And I know 328s ergo 3.2. Mondials are supposed to be some of the most reliable they made. I read someone say once that their Lotus did have more problems than their Ferrari, but that the repair bills were always much cheaper. I think I heard a simple fog light for a 328 is 800 bucks or something ridiculous like that. They are such beautiful cars though. But Esprits are just as cool IMO.
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post #46 of 70 (permalink) Old 09-01-2014, 09:03 PM
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Wonderful write up and very nice Mondial, I like the color a lot.
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post #47 of 70 (permalink) Old 09-03-2014, 06:34 PM
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Owning a 308 (79' carb) and an Esprit (88' Bosch) I will say, without a doubt, my experience has been that Ferrari owners often bally up what I have found to be total BS regarding cost and cost of ownership. However, this has a lot to do with why the Ferrari cars hold better value.

For example... the 308 clutch. Now, folks will be hard pressed to find this on line, but it is the same as an XJS. Many a Ferrari owner seems to get upset when this fact is realized. I had my friction plate resurfaced by Mobile Clutch and Power in Mobile, AL for $86.00 and they checked out the pressure plate for free. Fly wheel resurface was $45.00. The water pump, originally from a Fiat 4 banger and total crap for the 308, can be totally rebuilt for around $60.00 if you source the parts and do it yourself. For real money you can replace it with a newer design from Forza. Replace the crap fuse box for $175.00 with a more modern box and be done...

I can state with honesty that my 308 has not cost me any more (or less) to maintain than my Esprit. The Esprit is no more or less reliable either. Personally, the Esprit is my favorite, but they are very different from each other and thus both entertaining to drive. I once stated that a drive in the 308 is like Dean Martin singing 'Sway' while the Esprit is more like The Clash belting out 'London's Calling'.

All this said, the Lotus community is by far the best. Right after I obtained my Esprit I was able to contact Brian Angus for help. In the process made a great friend. Bob Dance (Jimmy Clark's chief), Rodger Becker, and even Mike Kimberly have all directly spoken with me over one thing or other. No other exotic I know of brings that sort of delight and commitment from "the makers"... but I do so love all the exotics. It is a sickness really. LOL


Cameron

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post #48 of 70 (permalink) Old 09-04-2014, 08:14 AM
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I can completely agree with the "money pit" aspect of owning a Lotus. I did an Ebay purchase of a 88 Turbo back in May, 2012. The body and interior were in excellent shape but there were a few minor mechanical issues. I bought the Lotus from a guy in Alabama, and as I found out later, Alabama did not require vehicle inspections - the windshield wipers did not work, the horn did not work, and the braking was not up to passing a Texas inspection.

A few other minor issues such as fuel gauge sticking, no speedo, or boost gauge. Took the car to a mechanic I had used for years, but who knew nothing about Lotus. After 6 weeks in the shop, I go to pick it up, went over the check list, and the windshield wiper kept blowing fuses. Another month goes by as I try to locate a replacement wiper motor as the OEM motor was fried, get the replacement installed, and it too was blowing fuses, but it worked long enough to get is past an inspection.

By now, 9 months have passed when I go to pick up the Lotus again, one of the workers bumped into the passenger side mirror breaking it from the mount. I searched for replacement mirror only to find that they were extremely expensive, and so I opted to replace both mirrors with those from a Honda S2000 which I purchased from LTF member Mr. Dangerous.

While test driving the Lotus, I noticed it was running hot, left it with the shop once again, and they stated it needed a new water pump. So, I buy a rebuild kit from J.A.E. and after two molnths, was able to pick up the Lotus last week.

But, in driving it home, I noticed it was still running hot. When I got home, and after letting it cool, I refilled the water reservoir, not thinking to check for any leaks. I drive the car about 20 miles, it was running very hot, and in returning home, it was scalding, and I could hear a compression leak sound as I drove into the driveway. Steam and oil spewing from the engine block area, I knew the head gasket was done for! Upon inspecting the car further, I found the the upper water hose was tucked under the plug wire harness, and not connected to the engine block!

Needless to say, the shop owner had a discussion about his shop's negligence. I have told him that I will most likely not be brining the Lotus back to his shop, although I had only paid half of the previous repair bill. We have only one foreign car repair shop here in town; they are expensive, but reliable.

I am still trying to decide my best course of action about getting the repairs done, but I am leaning towards the other shop.....for obvious reasons!

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post #49 of 70 (permalink) Old 09-04-2014, 09:04 AM
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Just wanted to throw in my opinion based on my brief ownership.
I've found the biggest problems with these cars are the previous owners (PO).
Because these cars are so inexpensive to purchase used, there are numerous owners that can not afford to maintain them and don't. There are probably even less mechanics that know how to work on them.
I thought I had made a pretty decent purchase at $15,XXX.00 off eBay but it again looks like that an eBay purchase has bitten me in the ass. Sure the car looked great and drove pretty well but didn't idle worth a hoot but I didn't think much about it at the time. Little did I know what lied ahead and it's no ones fault but my own.
The few times I've driven it was enjoyable and has spurred me on to get it back into top condition. When I do get it fixed, I'll report back with more.

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post #50 of 70 (permalink) Old 09-04-2014, 09:44 AM
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I am still trying to decide my best course of action about getting the repairs done, but I am leaning towards the other shop.....for obvious reasons!
Sad Story.

There are two Lotus clubs in TX, join and ask where the guys take their cars! Look on the Lotus Ltd Local Chapters www.lotuscarclub.org

Another way is to post in the Regions section of LT, just keep in mind that a recommendation by an Elige guy does NOT mean they are familiar with Esprits.


Tonight I'll PM you with contact info for a long-time TX Esprit owner (that Turbo R also knows). Don't know how close he is but perhaps he can recommend a good shop (I KNOW they are there...).

Atwell Haines
'88 Esprit
Succasunna, NJ USA


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post #51 of 70 (permalink) Old 09-04-2014, 10:11 AM
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Ah yes...truly a great guy and a longtime friend
Knows his way around a pub too...beer trembles at the mere mention of his name!

Roy

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Sad Story.

Tonight I'll PM you with contact info for a long-time TX Esprit owner (that Turbo R also knows). Don't know how close he is but perhaps he can recommend a good shop (I KNOW they are there...).
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post #52 of 70 (permalink) Old 09-04-2014, 10:15 AM
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CARBUFF - I've looked thru the car clubs and have seen some listings, but what causes the major issue, is that I am at 100 miles or more from many of the mechanics suggested by those Lotus clubs. The local guru is Ken Luikart and is a top notch foreign car repair shop. I have spoken to him in the past and he even commented that he used to work on the last Lotus that was here in town several years ago (Waco, Texas is not a real hot spot for Lotus cars).

Austin and Dallas both have good Lotus shops, but I would have to trailer my car to those shops; both those towns are bad enough to drive in under normal conditions, much less hauling a sports car around the country! LOL!

But, I would welcome your input!

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post #53 of 70 (permalink) Old 09-04-2014, 10:16 AM
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Ah, the "joys" of old, exotic car ownership. The 1987 I purchased was in great condition, had never given the previous owner any serious trouble in his five years, and worked flawlessly on my four hour test drive.

Ten days after purchase - horrible clutch failure lead to it going to a local exotics shop. Two and a half months later, and a bill reaching $6,000, it is still down for the count with no idea on when I'll have it back. Esprit ownership has sure not started off well for me.

My point? As always, it is best to buy the best condition car up front, but even if you do, sometimes you're just going to end up having bad luck. These are old, hand-built exotic cars after all.

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post #54 of 70 (permalink) Old 09-04-2014, 03:13 PM
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I always tell people looking to buy any classic exotic... if you cannot do the work yourself have deep pockets and expect the work to need to be done more than once. When I lived in Mobile AL a friend and I accidentally ended up with a part time shop business doing work on the exotic car club member cars. This started because we corrected work done by dealerships in Atlanta for a couple of members. Total crap work. My favorite was the Gallardo that got new oil... old filter so it was not changed... and the old oil was not drained!

An Esprit with a timing belt job... car shipped back to the owner... would not start. Timed 180 out by the shop. Prob my second favorite...

An on and on. If you can get a good shop that is awesome. However, they do charge and rarely do they want to take the time required to do trace work... and over extend the time it takes to do known jobs. For example 22 plus hours for timing belt is pretty far off the mark on an Esprit.
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post #55 of 70 (permalink) Old 09-04-2014, 04:03 PM
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JD,
I think they 'guessed' the overheating problem was a bad water pump when it was most likely a clogged radiator core which is common for theses cars. Then they screwed the pooch by installing the hose wrong... they can be very tricky.

Robert
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post #56 of 70 (permalink) Old 09-04-2014, 04:37 PM
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My car ate its throwing bear, so that's getting done, all of the clutch components, circlip getting upgraded, water pump, timing belt & other belts, slave cylinder, numerous bolts broke and need to be tapped, etc.

Sh1t happens; stinks I'm missing most of my first season of ownership of driving, but hey, whatcha gonna do.

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post #57 of 70 (permalink) Old 09-04-2014, 05:45 PM
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JD,
I think they 'guessed' the overheating problem was a bad water pump when it was most likely a clogged radiator core which is common for theses cars. Then they screwed the pooch by installing the hose wrong... they can be very tricky.

Robert
Yeah, that was kinda my thinking too.

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post #58 of 70 (permalink) Old 09-06-2014, 05:13 AM
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I'm really surprised you don't see any of these cars on many car shows. I take mine to the gas station and it's crazy how often someone tells me how much they like it. I have seen the wheeler dealers and an old episode of top gear with an esprit on it, but no others. I guess maybe because it so appeals to my taste and growing up with seeing 80's supercars on TV. I hear my boy and his buddies talk about exotic cars now a days, but they are cars that are so out of most peoples price range it's crazy and how much faster are they really gonna be able to make them, maybe for another $million it can go 2.9 zero-sixty instead of 3.0. In all honesty if I could have any other car than my esprit it would be a diablo or a countach, maybe a testarosa. I don't need a million dollar car, that money could be better spent.
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post #59 of 70 (permalink) Old 09-06-2014, 07:25 AM
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I might as well throw my two cents in there. I've unofficially named my car Ms. Moneypit, and have even threatened to paint it lemon yellow. I've owned it since Spring 2012 and have spent roughly $10K per year on it.

Each year at least half would be for one major item (first year was drivers door; second year rusted gas tanks; this year AC evaporator and major rear brake work; next year major belt change). The other $5K year would be for normal repair/replacing 30 year old stuff. Since I don't have the knowledge or car lift to do most repairs myself I have to send it out for repair and I understand & accept that part of the expenses.

However, every time I drive it for 10 miles all the bad vibes go away. Plus, when I go to car shows I talk with muscle car owners and hear how much $$ they dump into their cars. After listening to them, repainting my car returns to joke status.

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Toy- '83 Esprit

Last edited by Laser Bob; 09-06-2014 at 07:30 AM.
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post #60 of 70 (permalink) Old 09-06-2014, 09:23 AM
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Tell me about it. I had to do both gas tanks. What a pain. They were so bad the bottoms had to be cut out media blasted inside and out and welded in new bottoms. That was $400 I did not expect to spend. At least they are like new. Engine still has to be assembled. I hope additional non budgeted items like this do not appear. but I'm sure it will. I'm already over budget a tad.

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