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Is my thinking on pricing of a driver out of line

19 July 2012
Masontown, WV
I am wanting to buy an NSX to put some miles on. I am retired and live in a rural area where I have taken advantage of our mountain roads for years on various motorcycles and cars. I'm getting too old for the bikes and have a medical issue that could spoil the works, but basically I'm one clean Catscan and the sale of a Harley to put me in the market.

I don't think I'm alone in this, but I don't really want a garage queen. I want car I can take out and drive like it was fun to do. I also don't want to spend a grand-child's college fund on one either, so I'm looking for a car that's already got both some years and miles on it. A 91~92 with 70 or 80 thousand miles doesn't bother me a bit, in fact anything hovering around 100k is OK if I can see some service records. Honda means reliability in my experience, I've got an Acura CL parked out front (its my son's car now) that has 245,000 on it and with the grace of Mobile-1 its still strong. So high milage does't scare me.

Snap ring problems scare me, but that problem and the numbers to check are well known.

So here's my thinking, a 91 or 92 car with high milage but otherwise clean, some stone chips, maybe a shopping cart ding or two, paint that could use a good buffing and an untorn interior that doesn't smell like an ashtray. Maybe the former owner has done a few mods, maybe some suspension or exhaust work, if they haven't gone too wild I won't let it detract too much from the value. Tires got to be good and belts and such have to have been replaced. I'm seeing the car somewhere in the mid $20's with a top end of $30 grand for a car in more or less excellent shape but still more than 50k miles on it. How does that sound to you all, am I barking up the right tree?

Please remember in this pricing scheme - I do not mind a car that has been driven, in fact its almost necessary because I intend to drive the car and I don't want to be the guy who put 10 or 20 thousand miles on a garage queen, took it out and drove it in the rain and crap, got it dirty with a great big smile on my face, but in doing so sort of destroyed the value of some future collector's car. I respect these cars enough not to do that to one, but still want the enjoyment of one of the finest and potentially most affordable of the enthusiast's cars, the super-cars, every produced in the world.

What's your thinking on the pricing of a driver? And am I wrong to think I have to restrict myself to the earliest of cars? God how I drool over the thought of 3.2 6-speed car.
I think you're description and price range are realistic and easily obtainable just take a stroll through the ones for sale in the market section of this forum and I am sure you will find one; Good luck.
I think you're description and price range are realistic and easily obtainable just take a stroll through the ones for sale in the market section of this forum and I am sure you will find one; Good luck.

+1 You should definitely be able to obtain a decently kept 91-94 for somewhere in that price range. When you do get the PPI, get a compression test since the engine has a few decades on it and these engines are not cheap. You will want fresh hoses, timing belt, water pump, and make sure the simple stuff all works. The capacitors in the OEM radio and climate control unit might have gone leaky, BrianK can fix those for ya. If the windows are slow, there is a fix-it kit available to help with that. If you have 30K budget, target a 25K car and hold back 5K for fix its or mods that you might want... like new tires, etc
Happy hunting !
I have a 91 that fits your criteria & will go in the market soon, PM me.
It sounds like you are going into it with a good attitude. You can get one for $20-25 but you are probably looking at alot of deferred and probably expensive items. You should be able to get a really nice one for $25-30.

Clutches are expensive as fk and don't last very long. If it has 40k or more on it, you might as well expect that expense is coming.

If the timing belt and water pump have been changed, make sure the pulley was changed as well.

Snap ring. From the driver's side, push all the wiring and etc out of the way so you can see the top of the transmission housing, there is a white sticker with some black numbers on it. Post the number up and we'll let you know if it is an issue or not. Personally, I wouldn't let it concern you all that much. By now, most of them have either broken or been replaced. It's expensive but you will be in there replacing the clutch sooner or later anyway.

Tires. Don't concern yourself much with the tires. They only last about 15 minutes anyway. If you drive it like you are supposed to.

Converting the AC is expensive so look for one that has already been converted.

The good mods, in my opinion, are intake, headers, exhaust. Most other mods are just fluff. If you are a real animal, coil overs and bigger brakes are nice. After market clutches suck.

18, 19 wheels are fluff. They look good but detract from performance. 16, 17 are nice but 17, 18 is the best performance option.

All 91-95 cars have slow window motors. Greasing the tracks will help but by now it is just a duct tape fix at best. I almost never drove with the windows down anyway. Personally, I wouldn't worry about it much.

Keyless remotes can't be replaced any longer so if they are missing, or bad, you are pretty much SOL.

There are a number of other nickel and dime issues that could come up but this website has all the information you can ever need.

If I haven't scared the crap out of you yet, I will say that if I was in your spot, I would buy an 91-95 NSX in a heartbeat. There isn't a better car out there, even at twice the price.


ps... I'm sure others may disagree with some of my opinions. LoL.
Timeless, I've sent you a PM.

Mirroredshades, Nope, you haven't scared me off at all. Thanks in particular for the comment about the air conditioner, I would not have given that a moment's thought though it might reach out and bite me later.

As my screen name implies I am old, so what used to take 100 to give me a thrill can now be done at 70. I don't drive like I used to but I still enjoy it as much and more importantly I enjoy doing it in a very responsive car; I do not need to be going balls-to-the-wall fast to enjoy a great car - but most anyone would still call my driving style at least "spirited". So my clutches and tires will probably last a little longer than most - good luck for me. No fear there.

For a number of years I have done custom painting of motorcycles and I've painted a few cars too. I have a booth available to me and I wouldn't mind shooting one more before I sell my guns. That is to say I wouldn't mind straightening up some minor body work and repainting the car myself, and I have the advantage here of actually being able to do it. I think that capability and the fact that I wouldn't mind repainting whatever I end up with anyway allows me to dip down for cars priced even a bit lower yet - probably enough of a discount to pay for the paint.

One thing that does concern me and after days and days of reading posts here I don't see much mention of, but how problematic are electrical issues with the cars? I had seen mention of the window motors and just presumed that some strong aftermarket replacements were probably available.

I'm also very interested in how the interiors hold up. I can't stand a ragged interior or worse yet, one that somebody has used for an ashtray. It's just about impossible to get smoke smell out of a car in my experience. That's something that will drive any offer I'd make down in a heartbeat. By the time you change interior filters and shampoo interior carpeting and clean everything six or seven times you've got a good bit of time and money into it - and probably have a good bit of the stink remaining too.

Let's see, what else might effect price on an older car? I'm interested to see you mention the wheel size. It matters to me too and finding one with the 17/18 combination already on the car would be a plus but I do notice that quite a few cars for sale mention they include the original wheels and in some cases point to it with great pride. I suppose that the originalists want what they want but I'd prefer an update in this area.

How important do you see the original tool set or the original manuals to be? I think the book matters and should be read by all new owners, the tools would be nice too but I don't know how much that would cause me to change an offer. Any comments?

I'll take all the advice I can get, keeping in mind that neither a race-car nor a garage-queen is the final target. I'm just an old man who likes to drive a little bit fast on near deserted mountain roads and wants to do it in a fine car at a reasonable price. Oh, and something that my good wife can zoom around in too - cause she ain't much different than me.
Did not get your PM, please try again.
I think your logic is right on the $$$$. And I've enjoyed your posts/thoughts/writings. So much that I mapquested your town in WV to see where it's at! Gotta say, I fully believe you know some tremendously fun roads down there.
So good luck in your search - it's a good time to be looking. Pls keep us posted.
Agree with what others have said - might take some patience but I believe very doable on your budget. I sold a pristine 91 earlier this year (to buy a 2001) that was 100% up to speed on every maintenance item (hoses, TB/WP, A/C retro,etc) with 55k miles on her for right around your upper price limit.

Its an adventure in the pursuit of your NSX - and I found that its hard to be patient, and very easy to want to jump right at the first one that looks acceptable. Having said that, if you do find one that you feel great about, and is priced right, I wouldn't wait forever, as the good ones move quickly.

Good luck, you sound like you have your thoughts together on this! Jay