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You want the truth? YOU CAN'T HANDLE THE TRUTH!

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Go get a drink from the fridge and some chips out of the pantry because this may be a long {i.e. KDirk long :) } kind of post.  But well worth your time and in the end, hopefully you’ll discover things others won’t share.

 

One of my pet peeves about this forum is how people on-line (who frequent this forum) exaggerate the value of a Reatta; which spills over to newbies inquiring either about a soon-to-be or recent purchase.  I’m not pointing fingers because some may actually believe their 100,000+ mile car is worth $10,000 even with paint fading, well worn seats, signs of rust, bad muffler, etc. Emotion can often overshadow the truth. Some may be heavily influenced by numbers shown on KBB (or similar sites) or private party asking prices (not knowing the true selling price). So here I am, based on my experiences, writing about/taking the emotion out of the street value of a Reatta(s).  I’m taking about SELLING price – not asking price.

 

IMO, you can call the Reatta a collectable just like you can call a BIC ball point pen a collectable (I haven’t seen/used a BIC in ages).  Just about anything can be called a collectable.  But when it comes to automobiles, a collectable has to have a few things going for it:  Rarity, extremely desired/sought after and demanding a premium price. A 23 window 1963 VW bus is rare, in demand & highly sought after. Reattas generally are none of those (S60s excluded to a degree*).

 

There are approximately 12,000 Reattas still around (based on a number Marck shared on FB). I’m guessing 1,200 ‘90 verts still remain and about 125 for 1991. The verts (especially 1991) are nearing rarity status but neither models are desired (and thus not getting a premium price). And on top of it all, there isn’t a national “voice” preaching all that is good about the car (which would help gain attention/appreciation for the car). I’ve always said once the car can get some consistent national attention, Reatta perception/demand would change.

 

So what gives me the ‘write’ to speak factually about Reatta values? Here’s my Reatta bio: Having sponsored the Reatta Rally (5th coming next summer) has given me the opportunity to speak (or corresponded) with many owners (and want-to-be owners) nationally. Mostly during show season (Feb thru Sept), I get several inquiries weekly from owners and non-owners (via the Reatta Rally site…which is in bad need of updating) about the car: Should I buy this, buy that, what should I look for buying/selling a car, can you hook me up (as if the Reatta is a drug), how do I fix my headlights, where do I get an accumulator, wheel speed sensor, fix my crackling radio, buy wheels, need a new top, yada yada yada. To date, nationally I’ve played matchmaker for 14 people either selling/buying a Reatta (excluding cars I’ve owned).  

 

Speaking of cars I’ve owned, I have bought 10 Reattas and sold 9.  With these nine sales, the demographics are (which seem to correlate with those who also inquired about the cars):

 

-  All but one buyer were 65-91 yrs old (one buyer was 50). Six live west of the Rockies, one in the south, one in Ohio & one in North Carolina.

- All but one had discretionary money to spend (they were either retired or secure financially).

- All vaguely remember when the car was produced.

- Most were not aware of the mechanical characteristics of the car (i.e. Teves, manual top, Select 60 option, etc).

- None were die-hard Reatta fans (many cross shopped Allante, Camaro/Firebird, Corvette or Mustang).

- They could care less if the car came with a full portfolio (of course, none were die-hard Reatta fans).

- Most could care less about this forum or the RDiv (they don’t care for the seasoning as long as the meat is tender). I also think most could care less about the Internet (they are of a different generation).

- Some wanted to know if a service manual was available for DIYers.

- 7 of the 9 were married (many w/ great-grandchildren).

 

Here are breakdowns and selling price (within the past few years):

 

Coupes:

1989 silver/gray w/ 16 ways, rust free, all original, 80,000 miles.  $5,500

1990 white/saddle, rust free, all original, 71,000 miles, $5,500

1990 white/saddle, rust bucket POS, mechanical issues, 80,000 miles  $3,000***

 

*** Bought sight unseen w/ seller misrepresenting car from eBay. Immediately re-listed car with full disclosure. Found out later buyer was a used car dealer from the south. I lost touch with him after about 5 months (originally asking $6,999 and dropped to $3,699).

 

Convertibles (all 1990, rust free, mechanically sound – no cosmetic issues):

White/burgundy, 16 ways, CD, 52,800 miles  $11,500

White/tan, 16 ways & CD, 48,000 miles, $8,750

White/tan, 16 ways, 53,000 miles, $7,000

Red/tan, CD, 57,500 miles, $8,500

Silver/gray, 16 ways, CD,  64,000 miles, $9,200

Silver/gray, CD, 63,000 miles, $7,500

 

Hemmings – doesn’t work selling a Reatta (I’ve had moderate success w/ Hemmings selling muscle cars or other desirables). CL – kind of worthless but at least you may get a couple inquiries.  eBay – like them or not this is where results come from.  Also, I have been able to match people who either have a car to sell/buy or looking for parts (have a solid database of owners and sellers collected via the RR site).  I’m saying that networking is a factor in getting results.

 

So what’s the take-away?  Mileage matters, mileage matters, mileage matters. Secondary is aesthetic condition of the car with mechanical a close third. In the real world, all three matters more than whether you are selling a Select 60 or a 1991 vert.  Why? 98% of your buyers could care less about your ‘special’ car because they are not passionate about the Reatta. If you want to go after the 2% who will pay a heavy premium for your car, good luck.  Pack your patience because you may experience all four seasons and still be the owner of your Reatta (and that 2% you’re targeting wants a low mileage Reatta). You’ll find a buyer eventually. Most likely far from the price you were originally asking.  So you have to ask yourself whether it is worth waiting (or chasing) after the 2% or get money in your pocket and make it work for you.  There are similarities to selling your home.  Price it too high and it stays on the market for a while (and develops a stink).  Price it right and you will enter escrow within a few weeks.

 

Most of my cars sold within 3-4 weeks. Only one of my buyers were semi-impulsive (was looking only a week for either an Allante or Reatta vert).  The others shopped around for a while before parting with their cash.

 

*Regarding S60s: Much of what I write excludes an S60 for obvious reasons. I was involved in the transaction of two Select 60s (in addition to the 14 Reattas previously mentioned). They were 98% showroom fresh with less than 42,000 miles. They sold for $12,000 & $12,750.

 

Full disclosure: I haven’t asked/earned/accepted a penny sponsoring any of the Reatta Rallys. Nor has a penny come to me dispensing vendor/parts  information (i.e. getting a kick-back) or playing matchmaker between buyer/seller (i.e. no commission). I am as far removed from any facet of the car business as one can be. The only motivation I have is doing the right thing for good people with a common interest (which society has all but forgotten about – subject for another thread J ). If I've made a friend in the process, that's my bonus.

 

P.S.  If you have recently sold or bought a Reatta, share the price & condition of your car. If sharing the sale/purchase price is too personal, I understand not doing so. But *I* also think you got less for the car than you had hoped ;).  Still, it would help many who either frequent the forum or newbies to help determine actual value for coupes and convertibles. I didn't take the time to piece this post together for self-serving purposes.  I did so for others to get factual information on what low mileage, rust free Reattas are selling for.

 

 

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Cars are worth what someone is willing to pay...pure and simple.  I'm a very big fan of the underdog car if for nothing else it makes it within reach of those of us with the tight budget looking for something possibly semi-unique.  I probably slightly over paid for my 91 and consider it to be somewhere between fair and good condition. My lack of knowledge before hand was my own fault. On the other hand....after working a few small kinks out...my car seems to be one of those that loves to run...so in the end I and my family are very happy with our backup cruiser.  
This car gets attention everywhere I go. 

 

An El Camino of the same year as my Ranchero is worth 3 times as much and yet my Ranchero is one of about 400 produced with its equipment level (GT Big block with power everything) ..Go Figure...YMMV

 

;)

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 I've always said that the Reatta is the easiest car to buy and the hardest one to sell. That's why I am driving the wheels off the Red and the Black. The 'vert only gets about 1000 miles a year, but I bought it with 111,xxx miles on it for less then $4500.00. So far it has needed nothing and I pretty sure if I really wanted to sell it I could get most if not all of my money back .

 The Black will be a parts car for the Red when the Red's engine, tranny, or windshield goes. Then the Red will be a year round driver as at 59 years old how many more years do I want to drive it.

 But back to your post. I am pretty sure that the Reatta will never get a "real" following. Other then certain Buicks of certain years when did a Buick really appreciate? No one looks at the 1980's cars and says that is the one I want. And the "ricer" kids are never going to come our way, so I think [and have thought for years] that the Reatta is "just a car" that fell through the cracks.

 I also have never mislead anyone into thinking that the Reatta they were trying to sell was going to go for 5 figures or more. I have seen very few ones that would ever get to that number.

Edited by DAVES89 (see edit history)
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I can handle the truth. I've said for years that I don't expect Reattas to appreciate much. Not even enough for me to get my purchase price back let alone the money I have pumped into it over the years. When my Reatta is sitting in the garage and I think about the time and money I have in it, I sometimes get depressed. When I'm behind the wheel traveling down the beautiful mountain roads of East Tennessee I feel like it was all worth while. I agree with Dave. I'm going to drive the wheels off mine and get as much fun out of it as I can. I'm not going to worry about the money.

 

Maybe you can't make money off your Reatta but - you can make some memories like these that will last a lifetime if you get out and drive!

 

 

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"KDirk long". Hah. I should trademark that, though it is too close to the truth to be truly funny. Anyway, I cannot disagree with any of what Ervin wrote. While I have thought that the Reatta had many of the attributes that would (or should) make it a collectible, it also has enough things going against it (perception being one of the biggest, and that is very difficult to change) that it probably will never be a collectible of and particular signficance. And I'm ok with that. I bought mine because I genuinely like the look and styling of the car and the technology component of it as well. I knew I wasn't going to smoke high performance cars off the line or get throngs of hot girls throwing themselves at me for driving it. Don't care about any of that, I just like what I like. I also benefitted from the fact that I could buy them cheaply enough that they were an exceptional deal. I did this by letting the deals come to me, rather than going out specifically in search of a second, third and fourth Reatta. They just fell into my lap, and largely by way of networking as was pointed out in the OP.

 

There will be a few eccentrics like myself who latch onto the Reatta for whatever reason, and others like Ervin describes who are indifferent, they just want a nice, reasonably price two-seater for fun as a second or third car. Those who buy and sell in the rarified air of places like Barrett Jackson will not pay it much attention and if one shows up there, it will not get serious money.

 

As far as Buick models (in general) appreciating? Well, the GNX seems to be doing ok value wise (maybe not appreciating), but that is an abberation and a discussion all its own. It also has real muscle as a selling point. The 59's with delta wing rear ends are quite popular from what I see but I doubt they are routinely sold for a profit or even break even after the restoration work that is needed on a car that age is all said and done. I love those cars and would like to own one. Looking at the asking prices, they aren't outrageous but they are outside my price range. Even then, they are not what I would call extremely expensive car to buy properly restored. Like so many classic cars, they are best kept long term for their enjoyment value. Looking at them as an investment on which to profit is generally a fool's errand that results in selling at a loss. Comparitively few cars can claim to be profitable collectibles.

 

Buick was always a sort of uplevel everyman's car. Something for Chevy buyers to aspire to when Cadillac was too far beyond their reach. That puts it in a position of being a brand without much of a driver for making it's models "classics" in the generally accepted sense of the word, as their cars were  very nice but not standouts in a crowded field. Cadillac was luxury, and they have many bona-fide classics. Chevy has Corvette which is collectible (some years more than others) but other than that the Bel-Air is their only real major hit in the classics category. And that is easily explained away by a large number of baby boomers who had them as teenagers and are trying to recapture lost youth and all that. It is a well styled car and that certainly contributes to it's lasting appeal, but there really isn't a particularly good reason for it's massive popularity outside of an emotional attachement that it has to a generation of drivers who watched American Grafitti in first release.

 

Buick made some great cars. Some are well regarded and are lovingly restored and maintained by owners who value them for largely sentimental reasons. Most are not regarded by the larger public as anything to get all that excited about. Ask any ordinary person (non-gear head) what they consider a collector car. Most will come up with something like a Model T Ford, a 60-something Mustang, a 57 Chevy (meaning Bel-Air) or maybe a Delorean. These are cars with high visibility historically and major pop-culture influence (the latter two anyway). Those with a bit more automotive knowledge might name a Dodge Challenger, Plymouth Roadrunner, Pontiac GTO or some such. I postulate very few non-car junkies will ever name a specific year or model of Buick.

 

I guess the point I'm coming to is that "normal" people don't have Buick on the tip of their tongue when considering classic cars. Some are probably vaguely aware of a nice Buick their parents had when they were a kid, but can't exactly recall what year or model. Others may have inherited such cars - or bought them used - when they first started driving and so have more of a personal attachement to them (especially if certain, uh, formative experiences took place therein) and can tell you the year, model, color and maybe some of the options. But for the ordinary plebian masses, they simply aren't thinking of a Buick when speaking of classic cars.  

 

Those of us with an interest in and devotion to Buicks can find this hard to relate to, as we have our own inherent biases on what a great car is. Trying to sell the uninitiated on the value of a Reatta is like trying to convince those who are true believers in Keynesian economic theory that their ideas won't work because the real money eventually runs out and the debt load goes supernova to the detriment of all. They won't consider it because it is all they know and simply cannot dispense with a belief that is so critical to their very existence. There are a few outliers and so a handful of converts can be picked off along the way, but public opinion is not much swayed by individuals. It is made by propoganda (or "marketing" for those averse to believeing that they are so easily influenced by intentional misdirection).

 

If media began extolling the virtues of the Reatta tomorrow and did so non-stop as they do with their other pet projects of social engineering, it would become a popular car. We as Reatta owners don't have control of such a sphere of influence so cannot create this perception. People are told what clothes, TV shows, music and social/political causes are popular and worthy of their consumption and support. Most simply take the (literal) programming at face value without a second thought. The only real control that most will exert over this influence is what outlets they choose to get it from. So, there is some variation but most are fully invested in the "popular" way of thinking simply to avoid being an outcast. Most people want to do things the easy way, and thinking independently is not easy. It forces the recognition and confrontation of some very uncomfortable things. It also puts one at odds with almost everyone around them, and most just aren't prepared to go through life that way.

 

Therefore, I must conclude the larger lack of interest in the Reatta is actually the result of a massive, highly evolved defect in human psychology and self awareness.

 

Thus endeth the latest KDirk LongTM posting.

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Interesting. I have never bought a car to flip. That said at one point I had three 'verts and still have the first one that I paid the most for and had the most cosmetic issues.. Agree they are not easy cars to sell even when interesting but then I am not good at selling anything.

 

My interests are constantly evolving. When I bought this house in 1984 all of my cars had V8s and most were 400s (just have one now). Then I went through a 3800 era. Two of those are left. Last two cars I bought were V6 MoPars. Have a line on a V6 Fiero that is up in the air. Most likely future car is an XLR (not V). I always seem to have a four door (usually the tow car) but prefer two seaters (may have a vestigial rear seat for legless children). Always have at least one convertible.

 

All have HFP and I can plug in my phone (14GB of music, about 300 CDs). Must sound as good as FM-stereo. All except the Judge get mid-20s mpg. All except the Judge have extensive diagnostic capability.

 

Key is that of the five cars I have now, each has a different purpose. Each has their own door. Any could drive to California in the morning. That is how I like it.

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Guest my3buicks

Well, you saw what mine was listed for and it sold within $500 of that so....... The buyer also paid to ship it to the west coast. The 16k mile one currently one ebay red:tan interior/ white top sold at a Mecum auction in spring for $18,150 including buyers fee. Value is there for the right cars. I know of at least 4 low mileage verts that have sold over $18in the last year.

Edited by my3buicks (see edit history)

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I have owned 3 since 2002,2 coupes and a convertible, all 1990's. I am at that stage once again where I am considering selling my convertible. I almost did sell it last spring, backing out at the last minute. I love driving it but hate the idea of hunting down impossible to find parts when something NLA breaks. At my age,62, I am thinking selling and buying something newer and more practical.

That said my car isn't a high dollar, low mileage car. It did win a Gold Award at the Portland National and is in excellent shape for a 25 year old car with just over 100K miles on her. Being a garaged car its entire life really makes a difference. I have been anal about maintenance and other than a baulky radio everything works and service is up to date.

My vert also has provenance being a documented pace car for the 1990 Great American Race. I bought it from the original owner and it came with complete documentation of its service history as well as a complete owner's folio.

All that considered, I'll be lucky to sell it now for what I paid 3 years ago, not accounting for my expenses since which include new struts, new top, AC rebuild and other lesser expenses. If I wait until next spring, I may find a buyer at $7,000 if I am lucky. I'm not bitter about this as I knew Reatta values going in. Reality bites sometimes.

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I just like the look of the car, always did.  Plus the 231 V6 is a good motor.  Just got it, mid-September, my first Reatta.   So far $2500 for the car (78k miles), $172 to the county for the title, $72 for a headlight switch, $10 for a relay.  Need to do the cam magnet and find a new solenoid for the trunk release.  Then trans fluid and filter, flush the brake fluid, change the coolant, maybe a new water pump and accessories belt.   So, I expect to have a nice little car for about $4000 total that I can get 70,000 miles out of and enjoy it, then in 8-10 years sell it and get most of my $$ back.   It sure beats the heck out of $20,000 for a new car :)

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Guest my3buicks

Actually a good manty choices underv$20k, even under $15k

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It's not the money. It's about driving around with leaks and wind noise because top weatherstripping isn't available. Or parking the car for weeks because you can't get ABS leads. Or the mirad of other issues Reattas have because they were made in low numbers a long time ago. My car doesn't have these issues yet but it makes a strong argument for driving a car that is newer and has replacement parts readilly available. I love my vert but I'm thinking the time may have come to part ways and get something newer before I have those issues and the Reatta is still worth something.

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Guest my3buicks

Lol, no argument there for me, after all I just did it.

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Interesting. I have never bought a car to flip. That said at one point I had three 'verts and still have the first one that I paid the most for and had the most cosmetic issues.. Agree they are not easy cars to sell even when interesting but then I am not good at selling anything....

 

Didn't buy the Reattas to flip.  I think 6 (maybe 7) of the 10 I bought were from SoCal.  Either I saw them advertised locally or I was contacted.  Originally my intention was to keep them but I had an epiphany a while ago and have sold off most of collection.  One of my take-aways is people do desire a rust free car (I'm referring to weekend drivers) - especially DIYers.  Steve Scott (when he was on-line) use to preach ad-nauseaum the importance of a rust free Reatta.  He's right. That one Reatta I bought off eBay had more rust then I've ever seen. Once up on the lift, my mechanic didn't even want to change any of the fluids fearing he'd snap something off that would cost additional $$$.

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I can handle the truth. I've said for years that I don't expect Reattas to appreciate much. Not even enough for me to get my purchase price back let alone the money I have pumped into it over the years. When my Reatta is sitting in the garage and I think about the time and money I have in it, I sometimes get depressed. When I'm behind the wheel traveling down the beautiful mountain roads of East Tennessee I feel like it was all worth while. I agree with Dave. I'm going to drive the wheels off mine and get as much fun out of it as I can. I'm not going to worry about the money.

 

Maybe you can't make money off your Reatta but - you can make some memories like these that will last a lifetime if you get out and drive!

I agree. I think Reattas (especially coupes & daily drivers) should be driven to the ground. If I can find a low mileage coupe to my liking, I'd buy it/trade it in a heartbeat for my '90 vert.

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I have owned 3 since 2002,2 coupes and a convertible, all 1990's. I am at that stage once again where I am considering selling my convertible. I almost did sell it last spring, backing out at the last minute. I love driving it but hate the idea of hunting down impossible to find parts when something NLA breaks. At my age,62, I am thinking selling and buying something newer and more practical.

That said my car isn't a high dollar, low mileage car. It did win a Gold Award at the Portland National and is in excellent shape for a 25 year old car with just over 100K miles on her. Being a garaged car its entire life really makes a difference. I have been anal about maintenance and other than a baulky radio everything works and service is up to date.

My vert also has provenance being a documented pace car for the 1990 Great American Race. I bought it from the original owner and it came with complete documentation of its service history as well as a complete owner's folio.

All that considered, I'll be lucky to sell it now for what I paid 3 years ago, not accounting for my expenses since which include new struts, new top, AC rebuild and other lesser expenses. If I wait until next spring, I may find a buyer at $7,000 if I am lucky. I'm not bitter about this as I knew Reatta values going in. Reality bites sometimes.

 

I think you already know that 'provenance' (or a BCA award) will not add to the value of your Reatta.  And once again, that's a shame.  If the car was an Electra convertible or a GNX (latter already of value), I think they would help in value.  But unfortunately the Reatta is pooped upon by the collective collectors.

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Guest my3buicks

I have to totally disagree with you on that one, I kept track of every offer, or should I say every serious offer that I received on the Reatta, 32 of them, The fact that it was an AACA national winner was mentioned by probably 80% of those that made respectable offers. I considered serious offers 16k and over, less and people were not just kicking tires. Do you think that national award doesn't lend credibility to any car is just foolish and backward thinking

Edited by my3buicks (see edit history)

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Part of the reason I stopped judging was because too many people were just looking to increase value and got argumenative when I told them something was wrong.

OTOH while I have a pretty good idea what was stock on a lot of cars, few seem to care (funniest thing about the pseudo reality shows is how wrong they are. Any one notice on DCS a 67 Camaro was assured to be a RS/SS yet still had the 327 flags on the fenders. Or the other day at an auction in Kissimmee spotted a 69 Judge with the wrong shift knob (open 4 instead of closed). Or a "real deal" 59 'vette with HEI. Many here know about R-59s right ?

So I often watch auctions just to see how rong they are (of course my cars would be "resto-mods", none are "stock" & they just suit me).

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It was my point that "provenance" doesn't add value. What it does add is desirability. A BCA Gold award shows that the car well represents what a well kept car should be. Sort of like the Good Housekeeping seal. The Pace Car thing is just neat to know especially that the car came with the decals. Not sure right now if I am going to sell it as the car does hold a lot of memories and is still in excellent condition. I just dont want to keep it until things begin to break and I can't readily fix them either due to my health or parts unavailability.

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Not sure I completely agree. "Value" is more of a psychological point. Market Value OTOH is what a car would sell for. "Rare" and "Desirable" are a start but "condition" is more important and in today's market "bright and shiney" is more important to well lubricated bidders than "correct" which few seem interested in.

After all who doesn't want a '54 Caddy sedan wth air bag suspension ?

There are some who were on the assembly lines when these cars were made & you know how cars came off the lines and is not what a lot of repopers want you to think (or may honestly beleve).

Example: the factory parts book:

1) was changed every time a part was superceeded (so the issue date is very important)

2) listed service replacement and not the production line parts anyway

3) rarely mention part date codes

Example: 1967 Pontiac V-8s came with PF-23 oil filters and the "parts book" says to use a PF-24. Anyone know the difference ?

BTW: to know how they came off the line you need the factory assembly manual but few escaped.

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I am both a new Reatta owner and new to this forum. I was looking for a g-Body Cutlass 81-87. I found the reatta on CL for $1200 and liked it enough to buy it. It's not perfect but everything works. Headlights, air. power windows seats mirrors and radio. I am in western NY but the car is from Florida thus no rust. It has 207,000 miles but runs perfect and just passed NYS inspection. As far as investment not looking for a return just a nice cruise car. By the way the fellow I bought it from was 86 I am 73. I have been repairing and building computers for 40 years. So not in the no clue group . I have bought some parts to repair little things. I bought a fan belt and the dog bone motor mount. Got some seats a side molding rearview mirror. By next spring it will be a very nice cruise night car. Any other owners around the Rochester area?

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I didn't read through every post, and I could be way off,  but my guess is that these cars would be going for more money in general, if they where a little more "sporty" looking than they are, and had a little more hp under the hood.

if they all came standard with a supercharged 3800, I think just the fact it was "supercharged", would make them way more desireable for collectors and intrested buyers 20+ years later.

 

just my 2 cents

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I didn't read through every post, and I could be way off,  but my guess is that these cars would be going for more money in general, if they where a little more "sporty" looking than they are, and had a little more hp under the hood.

if they all came standard with a supercharged 3800, I think just the fact it was "supercharged", would make them way more desireable for collectors and intrested buyers 20+ years later.

 

just my 2 cents

i think being front wheel drive deters people from wanting them.most desirable cars are rear wheel drive.

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I have a number of choices but find my 88 coupe to be the best long distance road car I have. Others are faster but none are as comfortable for travelling without a home attached.

 

Unfortunately the turbo was for RWD in 88-89 and the supercharged L-67 was still a few years off. That said the very flat torque curve is deceptive, just suddenly you discover yourself going a lot faster than intended. Tall axle is not great off the line but no slouch for passing & mid 20s mpg on 87 PON @ 70ish is common.

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