View Full Version : 1986 To buy or not to buy is the ?

03-29-04, 01:19 PM
I have recently discovered a silver 1986 corvette coupe that was last registered (may have been driven last) in Feb. of 2000. It has been stored in a heated storage facility, however it has 3 flat tires and an inch of dust on it. I have contacted the owner (he bought the car new in late 86) who states he is now in his mid sixties and will not be able to drive the car anymore. He stated that he was holding on to the car for nostalgic reasons but would be willing to sell. I am supposed to meet with him in the next week. I am doing some pricing research on the car and have found it very attractive. Could the car be ruined mechanically from not running? My questions are many but were there inherently problems with this year's car? I would be proud to restore this car, I do not want troublesome issues with computers, throttle bodies, ABS, etc.


03-29-04, 01:25 PM
The car has 3 flat tires so you would automatically spend the money for a set of 4 because it wouldn't be wise to just replace 3 tires. And that's just money to get the car rolling, literally. As for driving; a car that sits too long isn't necessarily good. Corvette's are the same like every other car in the sense that you should have them checked by a mechanic.

How is the weatherstripping?

Are there any leaks?

How much is he asking?

How is the paint? The top?

Would it be worth your time and money to put into the car?

I bought a Camaro last winter that hadn't run in many years. I just did a tune up and it is fine. That was with our Chicago winters being outside for many years.

03-29-04, 01:37 PM
Cars that have been left unused for 4 years may have several problems or issues, none of which should stop you from buying the car but will effect how much time your spend working on it afterward.

1. The fuel system would need to be cleaned. Evaporating gas leaves a coating in the system that tends to plug up fuel filters and lines. Like too much cholesterol in you veins. Been there, done that.

2. The brake fluid would need to be replaced and the caliper piston seals checked for leaks. Disk brakes tend to last longer than drums in this arena but test the brakes well before getting on the road with other traffic.

3. Replace the power steering fluid, coolant and automatic trans fluid (4+3 overdrive).

4. Unless the motor, trans, etc. collected a lot of moisture inside and rusted, they should be okay. Without taking them apart the only way to know is to start it and see what it does.

My experience with this was a car in Louisiana that had sat for 5 years. After cleaning out the fuel system and repairing the brakes, it ran fine and drove as it should. The auto trans and other systems handled the sitting very well.

If the price is right, go for it.

03-29-04, 04:04 PM
hey tuna , I had the same .(been there ,done that).
Definitely replace the oil and "cold crank", (no spark) for about 20 seconds, to get the
the motor wet.
Sounds interesting. if the price is right, go for it; I would!!

03-29-04, 08:53 PM
I'd go a little further if I were buying it - have it trailered somewhere reputable and have a bunch of stuff done regardless. Besides the brake fluid and gas system, if the car is a manual I'd have the clutch hydraulic fluid changed and also the master and slave cylinders - the seals rot with age. Also, instead of "cold cranking" the car to distribute the new oil, I'd pull the distributor and use an oil pump primer to circulate it first. Also replace the plugs and air filter... And if it sat with the parking brake on, inspect all that hardware carefully. It tends to rust into place (there are two swivels, one on each side, that connect the cable to the brake mechanism) and the parts are hard to find - they've been out of production for years.

I enjoy my 86, which was the first year to have ABS and the last year with iron heads and a flat tappet cam, but sometimes wish I had a more recent car - the General put a lot of CHEAP stuff in these early C4's. And yes I'm probably asking for trouble by saying that... but the price was right, the condition was decent, and I'm still glad I bought it.

03-30-04, 11:00 AM
Thank you all for your comments. I have a meeting with the owner early next week. If all goes well I will become a proud owner of a vette. The one thing that I am still concerened about is having reccuring problems with the ABS, computer or throttle body. I can understand having a failure with any part, however I do not want a constant problem.

03-30-04, 11:23 AM
A tactic I use is to try to knock off the cost of obvious replacement items from the settled price. Mine appeared to need 4 new skins and I got the guy to drop almost a grand from the asking price immediately based on this. I am still running those skins, too. If you don't do this, prepare to add these costs to your purchase price and re-evaluate accordingly. As for common problems current to your year try searching the C4 tech forums for 1986 problems...

03-30-04, 12:02 PM
The 86 is a fine car. I had a Yellow 86 coupe, loved that car. It had the iron heads and auto tranny.

I would expect there to be some things that will need rectified from sitting for so long. Others have pointed you in the right direction and provided good advice.

Some 86 Corvettes had issues with the Vehicle Anti Theft System (VATS). It was causing problems with delayed start/no start. It was due to the pellet embedded in the ignition key wearing. GM resolved the problem by lengthening the ignition keys shank. It would be an easy upgrade to a latter ignition barrel/key should this particular car suffer from the VATS problem.

Another issue was with the clear coats peeling. I donít recall the technical reason why some clear coats would peel, but it did effect some 86ís. My Yellow one was one of them. It was out of warranty at the time and cost me a little over $3,000 to have repainted. It was worth it, the paint job was done right and it was BEAUTIFUL.

Thereís a guy in my neighborhood that has a silver 86, the color looks great on that car. I say if all looks good, go for it.


03-30-04, 12:30 PM
I hope that I do not offend anyone here but I have looked up the value on edmunds. It says 2586.00 is trade in value, 3308.00 private party and 4496.00 dealer retail. If I deduct for the tires and possibly the exhaust can I possibly get this car for 1500-2000? What should I offer? What do you all think is fair?

Moonunit 451
03-30-04, 12:51 PM
A little more info on the car would be helpful. Standard or auto, coupe or vert, leather or cloth, factory and aftermarket upgrades to suspension, engine ect. General appearance of paint ect. Service reciepts, mileage and so on. If the car appears to be well cared for and in good condition I would think if you could get it for $3500 or less you'd be doing OK.

You must be willing to replace things that WILL go bad and enjoy working on the car. If you want a car that you're not going to have to spend a lot of time working on and caring for, I wouldn't buy any used vette, period!

03-30-04, 01:09 PM
I hope that I do not offend anyone here but I have looked up the value on edmunds. It says 2586.00 is trade in value, 3308.00 private party and 4496.00 dealer retail. If I deduct for the tires and possibly the exhaust can I possibly get this car for 1500-2000? What should I offer? What do you all think is fair?
If you can bag it for that I'd say go for it. What is he asking? Can you post a pic?

03-30-04, 01:57 PM
I'd say the Edmunds prices are low. You can hardly buy a good parts car for 1500-2000.
But if the seller will go that low, snag it quick! You could make money just selling the rear window and interior parts off of it. We all know what the prices of even used parts are like.
If you put the money into it to have a running car, it shouldn't be too difficult if the car has only been sitting 4 years. And something very nice, you have access to the car's entire history.
If you decide you don't want it, email me and I'll be up with a car hauler.

03-30-04, 03:15 PM
rrubel brought up a good point, ďparts are hard to find - theyíve been out of production for years.Ē

Iíve had good luck with Taber Corvette Parts. http://www.tabercorvetteparts.com/

What I have been doing is if I need an obscure part that is no longer available, I take a digital photo and email it to Taber with a brief description. I have had positive results with them sending me clean, excellent condition OEM parts. I think it takes about three days for delivery.


03-30-04, 05:49 PM
B17Crew, thanks for that link... I've a part I'm looking for right now :)

I paid $5k for my 86, about two years ago, with about $1500 of obvious work needed (that jumped to about $2500 by the time I was done). The paint was a very good respray, it had both tops, high (but not outrageous given its age) mileage, great interior but for some small plastic stuff (cheap, as I said), and seemed solid. I probably overpaid by about $500 or so, but didn't feel bad about it.

You can't go by what Edmunds or KBB says; best bet is to look at a recent Corvette Fever or other Vette magazine, where they list recent auctions. Those tend to be low prices, and I've been seeing 86 coupes going for 3-8k, depending on mileage. I'd expect higher, actually, from a private party sale.

03-30-04, 06:09 PM
You might also want to try the NADA website, www.nadaguides.com (http://www.nadaguides.com)

The Car Whisperer
03-30-04, 07:11 PM
I hope that I do not offend anyone here but I have looked up the value on edmunds. It says 2586.00 is trade in value, 3308.00 private party and 4496.00 dealer retail. If I deduct for the tires and possibly the exhaust can I possibly get this car for 1500-2000? What should I offer? What do you all think is fair?
If the car runs and there are no major mechanical problems, interior in good condition and paint is OK, then if you can get it for $1500 to $2000 it sounds like a very good deal. If it has the factory aluminum heads it will have a little more horsepower than earlier production models of that year. Sport seats add some extra value as well as any other major options such as handling packages, 2 roof panels etc. It sounds like you could have a real bargain if it doesn't need any major mechanical repairs. If your a weekend mechnic then you can most likely get it in top shape yourself.

03-30-04, 10:35 PM
You are welcome for the link. Iíve been happy with Tabers service and response time. The parts Taber shipped were well protected and in excellent condition. Iíve found that emailing them a digital photo with a request for a part makes things easy. They will reply to your email with availability and cost.

I miss my 86, I love how that thing handled, maybe Iím being nostalgic; but I swear that thing could corner better than my 96. It was a wonderful car with great lines.

Good luck with your parts search.


03-31-04, 12:39 PM
Buy the car. Even if it has some issues, you will get them straightened out. The best decision that I ever made was when I stopped talking about buying a Corvette, and actually did it. The first time you cruise around and watch all of the heads turn, is worth any maintainance or repair issues. Good Luck :beer

04-01-04, 07:08 AM
N.A.D.A. shows the car at $6,300 low retail and $7,300 avg retail...that's with adding 100,000 miles...good luck on gettin it for 3 grand (would have to be a piece of junk) :L

04-01-04, 05:18 PM
But "retail" is dealership price, yes? Buy it private party and you should pay at least 30% less.

04-01-04, 06:32 PM
I sure wouldn't sell mine 30% less than N.A.D.A....i don't think there's any reason to if it's in fairly decent shape...just check E-bay to see what there sellin for