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Discussion Starter #1
It is with a heavy heart that we must bid farewell to the Grand Marquis. She's been a good car these years, but NE winters have taken their toll and the frame is rotted beyond repair.

So what's replacing it? Well I was looking for something inexpensive, and that I'm familiar with, so ideally it was to be another Panther Car, a Corolla/Prizm, or an LH. Pickings were slim, but I had a lead on a Prizm. The price was right, but the seller only responded once then dropped off the face of the earth.

The next day an Intrepid 2.7 popped up for $500. Seller said it belonged to his father, it had the front struts and tie rods replaced last year, new radiator, T-stat housing, new Yokohama tires, and some other stuff. Claimed it was regularly maintained, but that the rear struts were in bad shape and the passenger lower seat had rotted out causing the spring to rest on the tire. He said the brake hoses were crusty and would need to be replaced too.

Seemed a bit iffy, but the body looked like it was in pretty good shape and it only had 118k on it. Since it was only 40 minutes away I decided to check it out.

Turns out the exterior is in pretty damn good shape, with only some small bubbling above the driver's rear bumper, which is apparently common.

Under the car was pretty clean too, the only real rust areas being around the trailing arms, but it all felt solid and not rot.

Inside, I was greeted to the bench option! Besides being quite dirty it was in good shape. The trunk liner was missing the plastic retainers and there was scratches on the bumper by the opening. Apparently the father liked filling it full of firewood.

Fluid check revealed no oil contamination. The oil's not new, but it looked like oil and nothing else. No residue on the filler cap area either.

Started right up and ran well. There was a small exhaust leak and the MIL was on for an Evap leak, but that may have just been from the loose gas cap.

I thought it over and today decided to pull the trigger. For $500 its a pretty good deal. It'll be towed here Monday, as that strut is pretty scary. We put the donut on it and the strut didn't contact the tire, so I got to drive it on the private road. Everything seemed fine besides the rear suspension noise. A/C even works.

It's not everyday my family acquires a car, as we keep our cars going as long as possible, so I'm pretty excited to have another LH join the family.

The To-Do list is as follows:

  • Rear Struts
  • Rear Brake Hoses
  • Likely Rear Calipers
  • Possibly Rear Links
  • Thorough Cleaning/Detailing
  • Exhaust Leak Fix
  • Driver rear window doesn't do anything, so look into fixing that
  • Clean Headlights
  • Touch Up Rear Bumper
  • Oil Change
  • Fluid Film the Under Body
Not sure if I'll do any mods, unless I find a matching cloth folding seat. Should be a fun project though!

Here's some photos from the day I looked at it:













 

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Looks pretty solid for $500!! Everyone around these parts wants in the $4000 range for high mileage cars with major issues (engine knocking or needing a transmission)
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Used car prices are pretty crazy, but some good deals can be had. Friend of mine just got a 2002 SL, no rust, new exhaust, everything works, for $1400. That's a hell of a deal. We'll see if if mine is as good when all is set and done.

I'm considering swapping out the whole rear suspension for one in better shape, if I can find one for a good price in reasonable shape.

When I bought the car yesterday there was another Intrepid there, a black R/T with dual exhaust. I so wanted it! It was a customer's car though.
 

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I have a 'new to me' daily driver coming that I am picking up for the $500 mark but it needs a bunch of cosmetic work. Will be nice to have something cheaper to drive for winter.
 

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Discussion Starter #6 (Edited)
Thinking it over, I think there will be a few mods after all. Chief among which will be, assuming the wiring is there, installing automatic headlights.

The stereo works, but its super basic and only had a cassette player with Bass and Treble adjustments, so if I find a better one for cheap I'd like to swap that out.

I had planned to wash it, along with the other cars, but ran out of daylight. I did get the interior cleaned up. It was very dirty but cleaned up extremely well. The carpet was the worst, but looks and feels really nice now, and that's just from vacuuming
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Had planned to wash it today along with the other cars, but unresolved problems with my Intrepid took up the entire day.

I did at least get the interior cleaned up though.



 

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The lighting is quite different, but that's like night and day. Well done!
 

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Discussion Starter #9 (Edited)
Yeah, one was taken around noon the other around 7pm. She cleaned up well. The trunk is a bit of a mess which I'll elaborate on today if I get time after work.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Struts came in today. Super fast from Rock Auto, but the other stuff won't be here until next week, so probably going to hold off until they come in.

Still, there's things I can do while I wait. Chiefly the trunk area. The guy used it to load wood into..because that's what family sedans are good for!

The lip that the weatherstripping sits on is all kinds of bent, and the weatherstripping itself is torn up. The trunk liner is pretty rough by the lid. I grabbed a gasket today, will try to get a liner tomorrow, and see if I can get touch up paint to spray the areas that got scratched up.



 

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Wow. Much better!
 

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Nice find - sad to say this- that is minor damage (besides the rust) but the local junkyard will have many LH's to solve those trunk / trim / gasket / mats/ etc issues.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Nice find - sad to say this- that is minor damage (besides the rust) but the local junkyard will have many LH's to solve those trunk / trim / gasket / mats/ etc issues.
Yep! There's a white Intrepid that had a pristine trunk. It also has a taupe interior, first one I've seen in a while, so I'll be going back for some interior parts.

Today was a big day. Knowing how difficult rear struts can be thanks to rust and what I went through with the less rusty ones on my own car, I wasn't going to mess around. Yesterday I removed all the interior parts to be able to access the struts, then put the new parts in the trunk and dropped it off before work this morning. I stopped by on lunch to check out progress and then helped finish things up after I got off work. It sure is nice having a neighbor who is a great shop and friend.

So how bad was the suspension? I never did get a great photo of its entirety, but here's the worst offender: the passenger rear strut. Looks like something that's been at the bottom of the ocean.



Amazingly, he was able to get all of the bots out without any of them braking. One of the long bolts for the lateral links was pretty beat up and got replaced ($30 from the dealer for a bolt!), and then it was put together with lots of anti-seize.

Unsurprisingly it ended up needing calipers. One bleeder was struck while the other leaked fluid from the banjo bolt after the hoses were replaced. The old hoses were extremely fragile and broke during the strut removal, so glad I got replacements. It's pretty dumb that the left hose doesn't come with a new bracket but the right does. It ended up getting a new set of pads as well.



Much better!

With that done, I brought it back home to put the interior back together and finish the trunk. Went to the junkyard after work before coming to the shop and picked up an upper pad, spare tire, cover, and jack as they were all in excellent condition.





And finally, the completed trunk, just needs a net.



Took it for a test drive 20 minutes ago. It goes down the ride great! The ride is very good and there's no noises over bumps. I shifted through all the gears nice and smoothly. Only bummer is that the MIL came back on for P0455, but still, I'm pleased overall.

Tomorrow, hopefully, all the cars will get a much needed bath, after I replace my car's BCM. Thursday I'll do something about the headlights.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Yesterday after work I swapped the BCM out of my car. I also pulled the passenger headlight out to restore it.

With my car I used a 3M headlight restoration kit and then protected it with 3M Scotchguard. Well I don't have any Scotchguard handy, so I decided to try a slightly different method, on that uses clear coat to protect the lens.



I used this guide as a base:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UEJbKLZ7RmM

Had a 3M wheel restoration kit I got super cheap on clearance. That gave me the drill attachment, 400 grit, and 800 grit (which I substituted for the 600 grit) sanding dics. I wet sanded them, and with the drill it was fast and easy. i didn't have a 2k grit disc so I used regular 2k grit sandpaper and wet sanded by hand.



Then the thunderstorms hit.

I was eager to get it clear coated since they take 24 hours to cure, so I cleared with 3 light coats. However, by the third coat the lens had become so cloudy it was opaque. I thought I had messed something up and would have to start all over again! I did a bit of research and realized that the humidity and lack of sunlight was the likely cause.

I saw a video of someone using a heat gun to make the clear coat clear, but I don't have heat gun. What do have, is an oven. I set the oven as low as it would go, 170 degrees, and put the headlight in to bake for 45 minutes. I checked a couple times to see how it was going.

This was about 20 minutes in.



This was right before I went to bed.



I shut the oven off and left it in there overnight. In the morning this is how it turned out.



Much better!

I'm going to wait 24 hours for it to cure as per the instruction on the can, then wet sand with a 3k grit disc, buff with compound, then wax. Whenever it stops raining I'll tackle the other side.

When they're both done it'll take years off the appearance of this car.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
As of yesterday she is now on the road!

I've been under the weather the last couple days, but I managed to finish the passenger side headlight and clean and clear the driver's side. It'll need to be wet sanded and buffed, just needs to cure for a day. Still, what a difference.





Took it on the highway this evening. Runs and drives great, the MIL (P0455) even stayed out the whole 30 mile drive.

It still needs a bath, but that will likely have to wait until next week when all the cars will get a much needed one, but for now here's a couple photos of the completed (for now) project. Found a use for my old rear license plate frame too!







Total cost including the car itself is about $1,100.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Finally had time to wet sand and buff the driver's side headlight.



 

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Massive improvement to those headlights! I didn't get mine anywhere near that nice and I thought it was the best it would ever be. Time to do it again!
 
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