Buy Low Sell High: 1994 Buick Roadmaster
One of the greatest flips you can ever hope for (in a vehicle) is the one that you get to drive faithfully for a good long while before you sell again, and at the same time you make money in the process.
Enter the 1994 Buick Roadmaster. Purchased from one of my best friends as a non runner for $300. I tried to help him fix it off and on for several months before he caved, went to the dealer, bought a new Ford Focus, and sold the car to me so he didn't have to spend nights and weekends figuring out a myriad of issues with a 25 year old car. I can't say I blame him. The low price was due to my numerous hours spent in the garage with him already trying to figure out what was wrong with the damn thing. We swapped fuel pumps, fuel filters, injectors, ignition components, including the always faulty optispark, the ignition module and coil, read trouble codes, all to no avail. I decided to buy the car from him because I figured there 1.) couldn't be much left to figure out, and 2.) Roadmasters kick ass.
The issue plaguing this particular V8 Buick beast was the car running insanely rich. Black smoke pouring out the tailpipes, bogging at any and all RPMs, barely idling.
When I inherited the car, I went straight back to basics. There are three things an engine needs to run. Air, fuel, and spark. I had already confidently swapped every ignition component on the car including spark plugs and wires, so I ruled that one out. It's getting air because the engine is rotating and it runs albeit very poorly. Which left me with fuel. It occurred to me that in all of our diagnosis, I had never checked fuel pressure. It sucked. The rail should have 45+ psi at idle, and it had about 3. What the hell? Short of a physical blockage somewhere in the line, that didn't seem possible. Especially since the car was running so rich. Fuel had to be getting into the airstream somewhere, and then I pulled the vacuum line of the fuel pressure regulator while it was idleing and fuel began to pour out of the line. Not good. There must have been a pinhole in the fuel pressure regulator diaphragm that had hemorrhaged into a gaping hole, thus literally flooding the intake with extra fuel regardless of engine RPM. I replaced the regulator with one I had lying around in the garage from one of the Z28 Camaros I had parted out - lucky break as new regulators are over $100. I reassembled and it ran like a beauty.
I had probably done about 50,000 miles worth of wear to the engine in all of my test running and diagnosis from cylinder wash-down from the excess fuel, but I still had a running car at long last.
I drove the thing to work for about a year off and on with my Corvette and motorcycle, and put a solid 8,000 miles or so on it's already low 110,000 miles for a car that old. I put it on Craigslist when I wanted to clear up some space around the house, and got my asking price - $1200. A killer deal for a running, driving, comfortable ride that can smoke the rear tires if you stomp on it. Low price due to the restored/ salvage title. In the course of ownership I replaced a fender and hood from the accident that scrapped the car. All it needed was a little alignment and a paint job, and you'd have never known the difference. Between purchasing ignition components and other small fixes over the course of those several months helping my buddy fix the car, and during my ownership, I probably spent $300 on the car for parts and maintenance. Which brings the total investment to $600 all in.
I ended up selling the thing for $1200 without negotiation on the buyers part, they knew it was a hell of a deal.
Total profit: $600 (100%) and a solid year of a dependable, comfortable ride.
A deal I would take again any day.