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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I realize this is mostly a GTO forum but I'm having trouble joining the performance years forum at the moment so bear with me. I'm going to be seeing this 1969 Catalina soon.

http://chicago.craigslist.org/nwc/cto/4515102956.html








"1969 PONTIAC CATALINA 2 DR. HARDTOP (67,270 ORIGINAL MILES -- 600 MILES SINCE OVERHAUL)
ENGINE: 400 CID W/JET PERFORMANCE 4BBL CARB.
TRANS: TURBO 400 W/ B&M SHIFT KIT
FACTORY OPTIONS: AIR CONDITIONING (WORKS) POWER DRUM BRAKES, POWER STEERING
UPGRADES: BE COOL 4 CORE ALUMINUM RADIATOR W/ DUAL FANS -- MSD DISTRIBUTOR & 6425 DIGITAL BOX -- TAYLOR 409 WIRES -- 90 AMP ALTERNATOR -- NEW SUSPENSION (BALL JOINTS, CONTROL ARM BUSHING FRT & REAR, TIE RODS INNER & OUTER, CENTER LINK, STABILIZER LINKS, IDLER ARM) COIL SPRINGS FRT & REAR, SHOCKS FRT & REAR, NEW BRAKES (WHEEL CYL. FRT & REAR, BRAKE HOSES, SHOES & HARDWARE, MASTER CYL. & BOOSTER, WHEEL BEARINGS, AXLE BEARINGS) NEW DUAL EXHAUST W/THRUSH MUFFLERS -- MANY OTHER PARTS REPLACED OR UPGRADED.
OBO...ALL REASONABLE OFFERS CONSIDER."


The car is a 400 with 3 speed auto and a good 4 bbl. The idea is it will be a nice driver for my dad as a surprise father's day present. Something he can enjoy and work on as need be until he ever decides to let himself spend real money on a Cobra kit, which is his dream car. Opinions please- what do you think of the car? If anyone cares to hazard a guess what do you think a fair price would be? For now we've agreed on $6,000 but I would really like to keep it to $5,500 in case he doesn't like the surprise and we need to flip it.

This would be my first time examining a classic car. When I check out the car I at least want to measure oil pressure. Where would I attach the mechanical gauge and what thread pitch do I need? If he lets me I also would like to pull the plugs to see how if those contain any bad signs. I've also read that in 69 front disc brakes became standard with the power brake option. The ad states power drums. Does anyone know about that possible discrepancy for Catalinas? Is there a reliable way to tell if the body is still all metal other than the magnet trick?

Thanks in advance for everyone's help and ideas!
 

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Car looks clean...it's been repainted but looks like it just needed the paintjob, not a "restoration" so for me, I look at what "hasn't" been touched....like the trunk area and under the hood, fenderwells, firewall.

If it passes that, take the car to a shop and have them put it up on the lift and check out the suspension and brakes, as well as the floorboards and exhaust. Pay for a state inspection and tell them to be thorough.

I would do a compression test and/or leakdown test, that will tell you the true condition of the engine.

Also consider doing a coolant pressure test, most auto parts stores will rent you a tester and it is easy to do if you can remove a radiator cap. Will tell you if the coolant system holds pressure.

I agree, looks like a nice car and I'd say either $5,500 or $6000 you'd have a solid deal if everything checks out. I'd love to rock that thing as a daily driver, I'd just have to park at the back of the lot!
 

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Love the big cars -and we welcome any Pontiac guy or old ride as many of the same mechanical woes and fixes apply to all '64-'74 Pontiacs.

The Catalina is on the lower end line of the full size cars. Looking at the photos, the price seems good to me as a turn key driver with all the items rebuilt/replaced on it. If you added it all up, it would probably come close to the asking price.

Some cars, like the Catalina, are not popular and don't make good investments for resale. At that price, many want a GTO or similar 2DR HT body type and will spend that on a solid rebuilder and then invest. You might flip it, break even, or lose some to get rid of it.

This is a big difference from a sporty & fast Cobra dream car. The Catalina is a boat, it won't accelerate, handle, stop, or be as flashy as a Cobra. However, this does not mean it won't be a fun car to drive, cruise in, and show. A few upgrades like American Racing Mags, white lettered tires, white pom-poms around the windows, pipe organ speakers, a doggy in the back with the bobbing head, chain link steering wheel.........oh, wait a minute, I was just thinking back a bit to a Cheech & Chong movie! Haha. Just kidding. I would add the American Racing mags and white lettered tires to offset that green. A white vinyl top might brighten things up as well and give it a little sportier look. How about some 2+2 fender emblems and the fender louvers? So, it has potential, but I like the big cars as I said.

x2 what ALKYGTO said. My main thing is a solid frame on any older car. Get it up on a lift so you can see the bottom. Look for any heavy pitting of floor sheet metal and note if the thing has been liberally undercoated to hide anything that you should know about, but the seller would rather you not. Inspect real good the frame arches that go over the rear axle and the spring perches. I have not heard of any bad things about these frames, but some year GM and even Ford cars are known for frame issues. If you have a solid frame and floor, I can deal with anything else that comes along.

If it is a private owner, most likely you won't have any surprises as they don't want you coming back PO'd swinging a club. A business owner can be another story -these you check more thorough. But, it looks good in the photos and I think the price is fair with all the work already done to it.

That's my take on it from my house.
 

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I can't answer any of your questions, but if I had $6K, I would totally rock that Cat! Hood tach, 15" rally II's (no trim rings) with 60 series tires, and exhaust splitters (ala '65 GTO or 2nd gen TA) behind the rear wheels and you are good-to-go with one sweet ride for maybe $8K. :cool:
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks for all the comments and tips guys! You're making want to just get it for myself! I will add the compression test to the examination.

It is a private owner. I talked to him on the phone and he said that he did under coat the car. Is this truly a red flag and is there a way I can still watch out for rust or should I just take it for what it is. If anything I could use it to keep my price lower. I will check out the wheel arches and inside of the trunk to see if any rust made it's way in there.

Yes this is a far cry from a Cobra, but that'll be ok. It's not intended to replace building that car, just something for him to enjoy for maybe 10 years until he pulls the trigger on one. As an aside he actually used to have a few old Pontiacs when he was younger, including a mid or late 60s Catalina and a 1977 GP which in the end just became too rusty to restore. I actually have the arrowhead off his Catalina as the keychain for my 04 GTO. I think he'll really enjoy this car for the time being.

Does the B&M shift pak concern anyone? The owner said it was the street/strip version so it's not too harsh on the internals. Also would would still like to know where I can manually measure oil pressure so I can consider that along with the compression test.
 

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You can put in the gauge sending unit where the electric unit threads in, just unplug the connection for the idiot light, unscrew the sending unit, screw in your connection for your oil pressure connection, and you will be good to go. It will, or should have the same threads as the idiot light electric sending unit.
 

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B&M Shift pack is probably the "kit" you can buy and install yourself. I've done these myself. There is usually different choices as to how fast/hard you want the transmission to shift. The factory tweaked the GTO TH-400's for a firmer shift and so you could manually shift through the gears on the "His&Hers" shifter option, but when in "Drive" it shifts automatically. Street/Strip is good, gives you a nice firm shift, but not the slam-bang of the "Strip" setting. I always go Street/Strip myself when using and automatic.

Undercoated underneath is not a deal breaker, just want to really inspect it. A car like that would have been owned by an "older" person, like me!, who could have afforded to care for it and maybe keep it in the garage. Undercoating it if it was in top shape is just a good way to preserve it if honest intentions were at work.

Just snoop around at the usual rust areas - bring a good bright powerful flashlight. Pop the hood and peer down behind & in front of the inner wheel well housings and look down towards the ground areas as far as you can. Check out the lower fender body attachment bolts and areas from underneath as this is a rust area. Open the trunk, use your flashlight to see down into the quarters and reach your hand down there to feel around for rust or patch work -if you can. Many Pontiacs will rust around the front & rear glass because dirt and debris can get under the window trim and when it rains, it will retain water and cause rust out or blistering of the paint which is another sign of rusting. Vinyl tops are worse. I like to put a neat bead of clear silicone all around the trim. Not factory, but it seals out the dust/dirt/water and minimizes any future problems. You can't take off the door panels to look into the doors, but try and shine your light down inside with the window rolled down. You may get a glimpse inside at the door skins. Check the bottoms of the doors. I missed this on a car I bought in a quick purchase and later found they were rotted away even though the outside skins and door jams were perfect. Rain had done its toll running down inside and collecting on the bottom -and I assumed. Check the front lip on the hood on the inside while it is up. Moisture can cause this area to rust out. When checking out the body, don't look at it straight on as this can hide things. Observe the car body panels by sighting down the side from differing angles. Do all the body lines and panel gaps look even and symmetrical? If a car has been hit or a hood/fender/door has been replaced, the gaps can be off or out of line. Pontiac seemed to be pretty good with getting this right. Turn on all lights, check turn signals, horn, brake lights, etc., just like you were going to bring it in for your inspection to get your plates.

In talking with the present owner you can usually get a feel about the car by what he says. Where did he get it, why did he fix it up, why does he want to sell it? Sometimes we fix and sell cars to get another project. Sometimes it is finances or a personal event where the car has to go. Ask questions. If the seller seems tight lipped, then for me its a red flag to consider. Does the car have a title in the sellers name? I don't know what your state requires. Of course, take it for a drive if its registered -a cautious spin around the block if not. If you have any issues, sometimes these can be used to negotiate a better price as long as they are not trivial, remember, its an older car that's been used - if they are trivial gripes, you just might insult the guy and cause him to hold firm on his price and not budge a cent.

If you like what you see, put a deposit on it so he does not sell it to the guy who will be there after you. Cars are lost this way even if you say, "I'll take it or I'll be right back, I have to go to my ATM." Give him a $100 retainer and get an agreement drawn up for your deposit and then be back with the payment in full. If you change your mind, you may lose $100 -but that is fair in my opinion because he did hold it for you and may have stalled off another buyer on your behalf. If he wants to sell it and wants you to have it, he'll work with you. Research some facts on the car as I personally would rather sell a car to a guy who seems to "know" or "have an understanding" about the car than a guy who just likes it. Lot of us car guys have an attachment to our cars and we want to place our car in a good foster home where it will be enjoyed as we did.

Only you can decide if you want it and its a fair price. Just be honest with yourself in looking at the car. Don't be afraid to walk away from it if you feel uneasy even though it looks good to you. Once you buy it you own it - buyer beware. I still say the pics look real good and with all that work, its a good deal and its turnkey and driveable. I am not quite at the age of buying "turnkey" because I like to disassemble and build my cars -even though it might actually cost more doing it piece by piece and provide a whole lot more grey hairs! HaHaHa
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Thanks for the awesome reply Jim! I'll post up how it goes when I get to see the car.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Sorry for not getting back here, been busy with my own car since then. Yes we went to look at the car. Unfortunately it was not in as nice a condition as I was hoping. Oil pressure was in the high 30s even warm. Physically ran ok but a lot of the interior needed repair. It seemed like what was fixed was done more with budget in mind than quality, and he was stuck on the $6k asking price. If we were looking for a true restoration project it would've been a prime candidate but that's not the case so we had to walk.
 
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