How to know if a rescue attempt makes sense

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Hello All,

I sadly did not get a chance to take pictures. For the last year or more I have noticed a silver RT/10 that has been sitting at a local service shop gathering dirt and grime outside. It has not moved to my knowledge in that time however a couple years ago it would be moving around and was in much better shape. I took a look at it today, but was not able to talk to anyone. It is dirty and needs a lot of TLC. I have a friend who is a mechanic, builds muscle cars etc, and I am a detailer/cleaner. We have been kicking the idea around of making an offer on this car and try to rescue it. It kills me to see my dream car rotting! My friend is going to come with me soon to look at it himself to see if he feels it is something that is worthwhile even considering. My question would be is there anything we should be looking for specifically, minus if there is a major mechanical issue. It is a gen II RT/10 that is silver with black interior. I am not sure the year. Do you feel even the idea of something like this is worth the consideration or am I just a sentimental fool?

Thank you for reading!
 
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I was able to grab some pics and get some info. It is a 1998. I ran a vin check on it and there are no reported accidents or salvage titles etc. Tires are completely shot. Not sure about any mechanicals, but it definitely needs some tlc.
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nmp1

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the body parts are the big ticket items so if they are damaged you might want to pass it up. if the body is ok you might want to try and jump it and see that happens. the mechanicals aren't too price and used parts are available from several places. keep in mind that car in pristine condition is worth 30k-40k right now.

this might help

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Bonkers

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I tell people all the time that Vipers are not beginner rebuilders.
Theyre REALLY easy to work on, for the most part easy to
diagnos, but the catch is the price (and availability) of parts
verses the the final value. Looking at these pics i guarentee you
are not going to get this car for a steal - its complete with no
apparent damage. Sellers see this as a $25k car all day long while
those of us in the business see $10k at best.

As a beginner, with no direct part connections, your best case senerio
is that this is a $45-65k car. And it may take many years to get there,
but if your okay with that then go for it. Just realize youre not going to
see your money back in the next decade or so... if ever...

That being said - if it were me - first thing id look at is the title. If the
title is clear, move to step 2. If not, walk away - a branded title means
youd be able to just save up and buy a running rebuilt one for half the
money your about to spend, and do it much quicker. If the title is clear,
and a deal can be made, do yourself a HUGE favor and pay someone
who knows to come look the car over. There are literally a thousand,
thousand-dollar micro issues that can ruin this entire build from the
start. Paying $500 to a qualified Viper Guru can save you from tens
of thousands in future headaches.

Something tells me there is a reason that car has been sitting for so long,
so dont dive into the shallow end without looking. Its probably a customer
hold vehicle, or a repo stash, but as a general rule people dont put $30k+
into a field to let it rot without a really good reason...

Good luck, im interested to hear more when you learn it!
 
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Ok so my friend called and got some info. The car has about 60k on it. It as bought at a police auction. The car lost fourth gear and needs a new transmission. The owner wants to hand it off to someone who would want to fix it as he does not have the time or money to do so. It needs tires as well and probably other maintenance items since it has been sitting. If it goes beyond this the next step would be a visual inspection by my friend and I. He assures us it runs and is happy to start it up for us. He is looking for 20K for it. I'm teetering back and forth. I know they will be hitting classic status soon so they will go up in value. What are your initial thoughts?
 

ViperJohn

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I think 20K is too high considering how much you will have to spend to get it corrected. There are also the unknowns. Appears to be worth saving though.
 

nmp1

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i agree with viper john. 20k is too high with all the unknowns. probably 1500 for tires and assume the whole trans needs a replacement if they cant fix just the 4th gear cog or whatever it is. all fluids and filters probably a few hundred if you do them yourself. the big question is the unknown so if you really want this thing i would get a PPI done to leverage the price down. if this car was restored to excellent condition it will likely be worth mid 30's right now as it would be considered a drivers car with that mileage.
 
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100% Agree with you guys. 20k is way too high for the work needed. It is proceeding so far just as Bonkers said! The hood appears to be in good condition so that is one massively expensive part down. Our next step is we will do a thorough inspection of the car with the owner and point out all of these issues. We have done some initial pricing on tires, a trans, and a few other components and if we can pick up the car for less than 20 I am not scared away thus far. My main concern obviously is the condition of the engine. He offered to start it for us, but that means nothing. If he periodically started it, but just left it in the elements that is one thing, but I doubt it. If my mechanic friend and I are not scared away after that inspection then I would have a professional inspect it who knows Vipers. My friend knows his stuff, but admittedly has most of his experience with building Mustangs. I will keep you guys in the loop. I really appreciate your help and advice. Anything else I should bare in mind please let me know. Thank you very much!
 
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Well friends I think we have an answer to the question of rescue. Unfortunately it is not the answer I hoped. I inspected the car today and it was a lot worse off than I thought. The passenger side rocker panel was bubbling like **** with rust underneath, it appears the car was repainted as there were bubble throughout the body. The wheels would need to be refinished, the car has not been started for a year, The windshield is cracked an that has allowed mold and mildew to grow like **** in the interior, and to top it all off we couldn't even get the hood open or fully closed again probably from rust/organic debris. It pains me greatly to see a Viper rot like this, but unless this guy was willing to give to me for 500 bucks the amount of repairs and probably a lot more under the skin repairs that I did not find would not make this car worth it. On top of that he still thinks it is a 20k car. Obviously he lives in la la land. Thank you for all your advice and listening to my rambles. I was excited for the possibilities, but I guess it just isn't meant to be. :(:(:crying::crying:
 

nmp1

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thats a shame. when owners refuse to see the true value of a car like that its destine to just rot to death until there is nothing left. no one will pay anywhere near that amount of money so that guy will probably just let that car sit indefinitely and it will end up in a junk yard years or decades later when it truly is worth nothing.
 

MoparMap

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For what it's worth, that's likely not "rust" under the rockers. Those are aluminum parts, not steel. Likely still a paint prep issue, or could be galvanic corrosion, but almost certain it's not rust. Though maybe the early cars were steel, I know the gen 3+ cars were aluminum. Sad either way that's it has sat like that. The transmission wouldn't really scare me though. It's a T56. There are thousands of those all over the place and they are very well known and respected transmissions, so getting one fixed up should be no issue unless the whole thing is just completely toast. Even if it was though it would only be maybe $1500 or so for a junkyard pulled one if you keep your eyes out. The interior would be the big kicker for me. Scuzz growing on the inside is likely to cause issues or just unpleasantries that will haunt the car for some time I'm sure.
 
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Hello MoparMap,
Thanks for your input. The trans doesn't scare me either. Its just the cars overall condition. Repaint would eventually be required, reconditioning the wheels, new tires, new windshield, new weather stripping, probably some interior components would need to be replaced. And that doesn't take into account what condition the engine and suspension is in. If I ever become an eccentric millionaire and money didn't matter I'd say the heck with it and restore it, but with what would have to go in it I would assume it will be way more than the car is worth.
 

MoparMap

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Yeah, I guess the big issue always comes down to what you want to do with the car in the long run. If you hope to turn a profit, the prices probably just don't make sense right now. If you want a fun driver quality car that you can fix up as you go and still enjoy along the way, I don't think the guy is totally crazy. While it's sad when cars are not well maintained, it's also sad to me when they aren't used at all, even though they might be preserved. I think there should always be some museum quality cars to use for references and benchmarks, but cars need miles on them to stay in good shape.

If the thing runs I'd be tempted to just change all the fluids and clean it up really good, then drive it while I restored it. Doesn't matter if stuff needs refinishing if it's mechanically sound, that can always come later. That's sort of what I did with my 67 Dart. I drove it around with almost no interior (no carpet, no headliner, no passenger seat, etc.) with a beach towel over the ratted out driver seat and had a smile on my face every second. It's now got a fully redone interior with a 5.7 Hemi, Viper T56, 8 3/4 rear end, fuel injection, etc. and it was all just done a weekend at a time. Granted my goal with it wasn't to be a show car, so I know I have a different mindset than many. I've got 122,500+ miles on my Viper and if you clean it up real good I'm not sure it really shows.
 

Bonkers

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If the thing runs I'd be tempted to just change all the fluids
and clean it up really good, then drive it while I restored it.

With vipers, that can be a trap - which is why i try to warn
newbies off of them. Its very... very... VERY easy to dump
$50-60k into a $30k car over the course of 5 years (or $65k
like me over 15) so you NEED to be sure youre in love with
the car upfront. If you buy it, then two months later discover
you hate it, and you cant just accept a $10k+ loss - the "cool"
viper barn find story becomes another "vipers ****" FB post.
Now, if you do love the car, and plan to keep it forever, $20k
down on a lifetime investment is a penny in the bucket, but
you have no way of knowing that today, so its all risk for you.

The car isnt worth $20k as it sits, but someone will pay for it
so you have no leverage. Im hoping to get to another NoV
list this weekend - if youre in the market, im sure we can help
you find a decent $20-25k RT that you wont have to bet your
shirt on to try out...
 

Shaggy

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Hello MoparMap,
Thanks for your input. The trans doesn't scare me either. Its just the cars overall condition. Repaint would eventually be required, reconditioning the wheels, new tires, new windshield, new weather stripping, probably some interior components would need to be replaced. And that doesn't take into account what condition the engine and suspension is in. If I ever become an eccentric millionaire and money didn't matter I'd say the heck with it and restore it, but with what would have to go in it I would assume it will be way more than the car is worth.

That does stink, was hoping to read through this post and come to the end that you bought it and doing some work to it. To bad...
 
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I really appreciate your input guys. I hate to have it sit and die. I'm just afraid that in the condition it is in I'm just asking for trouble. My thought process was to try and take a neglected old car and bring life to it. Give it a second chance. I love the old RT and thought it would be a great way to bond with a car the way I never have before. My freind has restored cars before. I have not. I just can't go bankrupt over my main concerns: needs a paint job one day(the cars seems to have been painted with all the bubbles), if the engine needed to be replaced, and that mildew filled interior. Then again I guess that is the name of the game with cars like this. If it has been sitting that long what are the chances it would actually start? If you are saying there are potentially viable and drivable cars oit there for 20-25 why would I pay that for this one thay will be a money pit? I have been trying to talk myself into it more, but I still can't bring myself to move forward and meet with the guy. (All communication has been via phone)

P.s. what is NoV?
 
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This is not good my friends! I was so close with this one that I have really been bitten by the bug! I am currently looking at a Gen 1 with 28k on it for high 20s. Looks like it is in great shape. Have not seen it in person yet though. Any thoughts on Emerald Green? haha
 

Bonkers

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Im in the minority in that i LOVE the Gen1 Emerald Green cars.
They dont bring any premiums in resale, but otherwise the bigger
issues are going to be dealing with a Gen1. They are not as
refined as the later Generations and a much more raw vehicle to
live with... but if youre okay with that then the rest is just noise
in my book. I have a new NoV posting in the General Viper section
in a couple of hours - you may find a car that speaks to you there
too...
 

steve e

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I had a gen one, lots of fun, very raw in every way, but nothing else like it Awesome. I have a gen 2 now more refined and just Awesome in every way, but having a yellow gen1 in 1995 was the cats ***, drew crowds every where I went. And could lay rubber for miles.
 

MoparMap

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I bought a gen 3 myself, but my mom has a 94 that is what got me going on the idea. Even now I still enjoy driving her car. Mine is better in pretty much every possible way, but there's just something special about driving the original. It's just a great experience. The main reason I went with a gen 3 is I wanted a dead pedal and real windows, lol.
 

Jim Myke

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The owner may be right about the 20k value, it is worth that in parts alone if the body panals are useable or repairable, I have a 98 rt/10 and I have checked on hoods and a repairable one is under 10k new about 18k, according to the numbers I have there were only 362 98 rt/10 made
 

Bonkers

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The owner may be right about the 20k value, it is worth that
in parts alone if the body panals are useable or repairable, I
have a 98 rt/10 and I have checked on hoods and a repairable
one is under 10k new about 18k, according to the numbers
I have there were only 362 98 rt/10 made

$10k for a broken hood is ridiculous - youre not shopping in the
right places. If you look at my past NoVs, there were several Gen2
hoods for $200-4000, all of them solid. There are no NOS hoods
left on the open market - there are a couple in private hands, but
good luck prying those loose... Market price on a decent, painted
hood right now is $2000-3000 with a premium on B/Ws.

As for the part-out value, youre absolutely correct - in parts there
is at least $20k sitting in those photographs. Trouble is, 80% of
the population doesnt have the room, skill, time, or the legal
permission to scrap an entire car for profit. Youre looking at $25k
in total purchase, and at least a year (more like 3-5 years) to strip,
promote, box, and ship every piece - thats alot of investment for
an individual, and no junkyard is going to touch it a $20k.

The man is going to get his $20k, no doubt in my mind, but I hope
the person dumb enough to buy it at the price doesnt hope to ever
get back what they put into it, otherwise it will become more of a
long-term nightmare than a quick bargain ride...
 

Jim Myke

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Have built a few hot rods and modified cars over the years it never is for a profit it is a love of the project or car or talent of the people involved, not many understand but for a person that gets a much satisfaction from restoring as driving this could be a worthwhile project.
 

steve e

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Jim your right, had a shop for 40 years built many rods and Muscle cars I did it for the Love not the money
 

Leojmcca

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The man is going to get his $20k,

I don't know.....when these clean title cars can be had for these prices (I'm sure they would take a few bucks less than the asking price) kinda hard to buy that wreck for anything close to $20,000. I know I just saw a black Gen I somewhere with 80,000 miles going for $20,000 with no issues?

https://inlandempire.craigslist.org/cto/d/2000-dodge-viper-t/6719423078.html $30,000

https://kansascity.craigslist.org/cto/d/1997-dodge-viper-gts-full/6721379967.html $30,000

https://sfbay.craigslist.org/eby/cto/d/dodge-viper/6725252171.html $21,000 (needs work)

https://desmoines.craigslist.org/cto/d/2005-dodge-viper-srt/6713995986.html $34,000
 
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Bonkers

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I don't know.....when these can be had for these prices...

Big difference here is that this one is not 'advertised' for
sale. What will happen (as it usually does) is someone
else, much like One Day here, will stumble across this
carcass and see a "$20k Viper!!" and not bother asking
about it first. Theyll buy it straight out, then three months
from now we'll start hearing about what peices of ****
Vipers are because theyre money pits.
 
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I really appreciate all of your advice and thoughts on this matter friends! While that car is not what I was hoping it was I am debating one now. I found a Gen 1 1995 with 28k miles on it for a very reasonable price. I hope to see it in the next couple weeks in person if it is still available. (It is a little ways away from me and my work travel schedule is crazy.) I will keep you posted. What are your thoughts on Emerald Green? I think it looks really cool and unique.
 

MoparMap

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I've always thought the Emerald Green looked neat. My mom had a little toy one that was that color from way back when. It doesn't have quite the pop of the brighter stuff, but it's kinda like Sapphire Blue in that it's cool to see in person.
 

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