I recently bought a 1992 Nissan Sentra coupe from a coworker for sixty dollars. It came with some fun features such as a dead twelve-year-old battery, no muffler, a bad fuel injector, an incorrect throttle cable held in place by vise grips, and mold in the carpet.
The interior actually cleaned up really well, but the exterior needs some help. It’s missing about half of the white paint in large gray splotches, which gives it the effect of being draped in an image of a Holstein cow from a giant laser printer that’s running out of toner.
I spent a couple weeks and a few hundred dollars replacing the battery, exhaust system, and one fuel injector. At that point I got the car started and it ran and drove just fine, so I decided I wanted to keep it. I gave it an oil change and a new valve cover gasket, then my brother came back from college and I let him use it since his previous car (the Chevy Sprint) died last year.
I planned to paint the Nissan and apply some decals with a sort of pirate theme, because the new license plates started with AYE. However, after trying to help my brother find a cheap car on Craigslist, and looking at one horrid example that was more a loose collection of marijuana-infused parts than a car, I gave in and sold the Nissan to him. It was cheaper, in better condition, and had lower miles than any of the Craigslist options. In addition to being a great deal for him, it also earned me a bit of profit in return for the hours of work I put into it.
I’ve since replaced the front brake pads and rotors, because free service on anything I can do myself is part of the deal when I sell cars to my brothers–they just have to buy the parts. As far as I know, the $60 Nissan I saved from its junkyard fate and brought back to life has been a good reliable car for him. It does still have my vise grips on the throttle cable, though.