Now that the Hyundai Genesis Coupe has gone back and our track day video is complete, Project $1500 Volvo is back in my sights. As promised, the purpose of this series will be to document what you can get as far as a cheap car goes, and like Project Debt Free over at Edmunds, we’re going to document the experience. This week sees us catch up on the various expenses that have cropped up since purchase – and there’s been a few bills to pay. Still, it doesn’t look bad after a thorough wash, does it?
When I bought Project Volvo, I knew it needed a few things to pass our inspection process, but the damage turned out to be relatively light. A new outer tie-rod, new parking brake shoes and a cable as well as rear brake rotors as pads. Total price for parts, labor, tax and the safety certificate ($75 alone) was $423. No, I couldn’t have done a cheaper or better job myself.
The car was officially road worthy according to the Ontario government, but a few issues remained. First, the front tires, while within spec for the inspection, were about one millimeter away from disintegration. The rears were a bit better, but I decided to bite the bullet and replace all four. My local tire shop had Kumho KU25 high-performance all-seasons for $113 per tire mounted and balanced. With sales tax, it came out to $512. I could have found something cheaper on The Tire Rack, but ordering to Canada is a pain, and I’d still have to get them installed. I also didn’t want to wait any longer if my younger brother was going to be driving the car and riding on nearly shot tires.
The final issue is one I’m still grappling with; cigarette smoke. I knew when I bought the car that the previous owner was a cigar smoker, and initially thought it wouldn’t bother me. I was wrong. When my younger brother came home reeking of tobacco (he’s a fitness nut and doesn’t smoke) simply from driving the car for half an hour, I knew I had to take action. Getting a detailing crew to steam clean it seemed like the most obvious idea, but I decided to take the Steve Lang route and try a “frugal” DIY solution.
Cigar(ette) smoke is actually a physical residue; steam cleaning the car would result in gross looking brown gunk being released from the cabin, but it would probably cost well into the three-figures. Having owned old cars before, I know that they all have their smell, so minimizing it as much as possible would be acceptable. I left the car with the windows down for a week – the smell was so strong that I could smell it from six feet away) and hoped that fresh air and sunlight would take their course. A good car wash, combined with periodic Febreeze spraying (the plastics and vents get wiped down, while the carpets get saturated with the stuff) has helped quite a bit. I’ll give it another week and see how things turn out. Overall, the interior is in good shape for 162,000 miles over 14 years.
Next up is the body work. This is the major flaw of Project Volvo. The car is in great shape mechanically and the body and frame are largely free of rust – but stone chips and scrapes have ravaged the front end and rear bumper, ruining the whole “wouldn’t be embarrassed to drive it” element. A cheap re-spray job is inevitable, but not right now.
So far we have:
Repairs/Safety Inspection: $423
Total (as of 5/29/2012): $2635
Still a good deal behind Edmunds and their Lexus. A ball-park quote for the re-spray came to $400. A tune-up isn’t needed (according to my mechanic) and the timing belt has another 50,000 miles to go before a change. Considering I am lucky to drive 5,000 miles a year on my own car, I should be in for a pretty painless experience. I’ll likely do the front rotors and pads, and I suspect the shocks and strut mounts may need a change at some point. For now, all appears to be going well.