Parting Ways: Is This Dusty Smashed Grand National Worth The Scratch?

Parting Ways: Is This Dusty Smashed Grand National Worth The Scratch?

(Parting Ways is a new semi-regular blog item where Nutting scours the internet for interesting parts cars for his fictional parts car business)

Before I dive into the horror that is this week’s Parting Ways vehicle, a quick introduction of my experience with parts cars.

Back in college, before I bought into the Great Lie and traded freedom for a mortgage and a full-time job, I used to part out cars to help finance my automotive habits. Sure, the money wasn’t good enough to convince me to quit my day job, but there was nothing quite like the experience of turning the vehicle you trailered home for a few hundred bucks into a grand or more with a little sweat equity, some quality “alone time” with your tools, and an eBay account.

You know that moment when you’re up to your elbows in a teardown of your project car and have that sinking realization that you misplaced an obscure bolt (Or five as is typically my case) that will probably cost non-trivial hard-earned dollars at the dealership to replace? Well, when you’re taking apart a car that you have no intentions of reassembling you get to add that missing bolt to the list of “Things that are not my problem” where it can hang out with other issues on that list such as getting Man back to the Moon, balancing the federal deficit, or solving world hunger. It’s therapeutic, really.

Thunderbird Super Coupes were some of my favorites to part out, as you could typically buy them for under $500 with a blown headgasket, chop them up and make $2000+ on parts, not including the scrap value of the lifeless husk (Lohnes and his hatred of all Thunderbirds is nodding approvingly).


Eventually it got to where my driveway looked like the photo above, at which point I had two choices:
A) Turn my operations into a full-fledged chop shop
B) Stop the madness of buying other people’s mechanical failures and become an upstanding member of society that only takes apart vehicles that I reasonably intend to reassemble and drive again at a yet-to-be-determined point in the future

Yeah, I wish that I chose A as well.

Still, the itch to buy a parts car to tear into has never left, and I spend my lunch breaks sometimes cruise the interwebs for deals, good and bad. My typical flow is to open up Craigslist and/or eBay, set my price range to $2000 or less (Hey, even my fictional chop shop doppelganger has a budget), and let ‘er rip.

Sometimes, however, I cast my net a little wider to see if anything interesting pops up.

The Craigslist listing for this week’s parts car caught my eye because I love Grand Nationals and HAD to click on one that was under $5000. Being one of the only truly fast domestic vehicles from the 1980s, clean unmolested examples of Turbo Regals fetch mid to high teens all day long, with some getting $20k or more the last time I seriously looked at them. Knowing that, this car was probably a train wreck for the asking price. After looking at the photos it’s not only a train wreck, it might have literally been hit by a train.


“Lots of dust”, the ad states. No kidding.


My “sniff test” for any parts car candidate is “Are there enough salvageable items to make it worth my while”, with the unstated understanding being that I should be able to keep any parts I want plus recoup my initial investment with the remainder.

As rough as the car is, in this case it’s a bit of a toss-up: Sure the LC2 is typically worth some coin, but not normally after it has kissed the radiator support. Same goes for the rest of the car, which looks like it Hot Tub Time Machine’d its way back from the Dust Bowl. The 8.5 rear is worth $800 to $1000 on a good day, but in my opinon there’s not enough salvageable parts on this one to make it worth the asking price.

But hey I’m just some guy on the internet. Do you guys think you could make this car worth your while for the asking price?

Check out the rest of the photos and the Craigslist Ad and let me know.









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12 thoughts on “Parting Ways: Is This Dusty Smashed Grand National Worth The Scratch?

  1. Brian Cooper

    That dry chem from a fire extinguisher is a royal pain to get out of everything. I’m pretty sure it isn’t savable, and it may be tough to make a profit off of parting it.

  2. Tony Sestito

    What a mess!

    As much as I love these, I don’t understand why they change hands for such stupid money. I’d rather just build a cheap clone of one on my own and turn the boost up to the moon and not worry about the resale value. In fact, I’d build a whole fleet of 3.8 Turbo G-Body cars:

    -Grand National (clone) for drag and autocross… with a stick!

    -Grand National Estate for family/dog hauling

    -El Nacional for parts hauling and gratuitous burnouts

  3. 200kss

    Is that fire extinguisher “ABC powder” or plain old dust from sitting in the corner of a bodyshop for years?

    I did the same as Dnut over a decade ago, buy one knowing full well it will never be on the road again, just a an organ donor for others. I don’t see any profit in that car at the asking price. That’s presuming the rear is a G80 and the BRF trans is good.

  4. Jeff

    I don’t see how people sell ANYTHING this filthy. Yeah, it’s a hulk of scrap and spare parts. But a little vacuuming and a quick spray off and wipe down of the inside and outside would help it sell better, and for more money. Hell, take an extra 60 seconds and spray some cheap shine on the tires. A little polishing of this turd would yield more money. Plus, it lets the buyer see what’s underneath! That is, unless, the buyer is using all this dust and debris to hide even more atrocities…

  5. John Brown

    $4500? Sure, but that’s only a starting price. It’s a lot easier to go down on the price than it is to go up. Besides, everybodys gotta have a starting point.

  6. Eliteman76

    Frankly…my binge feeding was Ford Torinos…Elites…a year before I was married I had a dozen torinos scattered around Omaha…I cut back on the insanity and frankly because I have a bluehair in my neighborhood that likes to call the cops on me when I section a torino down to the frame.

  7. Dan

    Used to have a 90 Super Coupe, considered parting it when I saw how much the hardcorw guys wanted the parts. They’re the type of car that should come with a parts car when you buy one. Sold it for $1500 in 2005.

  8. downshifted

    what’s nuts is i was looking at this ad about 45 minutes before this article showed up. grand nationals are fucking expensive, even though in the grand scheme of things not *that* rare. i wouldn’t have second thoughts about throwing on a bigger turbo and water/air intercooler and turning the boost up.

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