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Discussion Starter #1
Hi y'all.

My Car

I have an '03 automatic GT with 210k miles. It's in pretty good shape: the driver's side leather is split at the seam, there are several scratches in the paint, and some of the plasticky interior is showing its plasticky nature. Aside from that, it's got some creaks while driving, a couple rattles and hisses, and the engine gets kinda whiny when I redline it, which is... often.

I've invested in a couple small mods to get used to wrenching: front spoiler, short antenna, cold air intake, SCT x4 w/ Bama tune, new taillights, and lowering springs. I'm putting new brakes in soon (they're in a box in my garage). My neighbor knows who I can talk to about a JMod, but it would require a trip to California. So far, all my mods are doing well.

I love the car. It's fun to drive. It basically never breaks, and when something does go awry, fixing it is cheap and easy.

Other Car

I have the opportunity to buy an '04 manual GT with 109k miles. It's in basically the same shape. It's a convertible with the Mach 1000 system.

It has more mods. BBK SRI, BBK fuel rails and injectors, brand new intake manifold, BBK throttle body, 3.73 gears, exedy stage 1 clutch, short throw shifter, traction bars, rather loud aftermarket catback exhaust with what looked like an offroad x-pipe. It is not tuned, so the gauges are all wrong, but I can just move my SCT over to this one. It may have been slightly lowered.

The owner, who happens to be selling it through the dealership he works at, also mentioned that the previous owner reported getting some kind of stroker kit installed. I noticed that, especially at idle, the car sounded/felt a little lumpy, like it had a slightly more aggressive cam put in. The owner/seller didn't know if that had been done.

Thought Process

Exhaust and 3.73 gears were going to be my next two mods. My compression and leakdown tests were okay, but not solid enough for boost. I looked into a coyote swap, but it would probably be cheaper to just ride the engine until it dies and put in a newer one before selling it.

I was also considering financing a pre-owned Fiesta ST or Focus ST to Uber/Lyft in case I needed to. I also like camping, snowboarding, and occasionally fitting things or people into my car, so my Mustang might not be the best automotive solution for me.

With titles, fees, and so on, it would cost me about $2,000 to get into a year-younger car with 100,000 fewer miles in it. It's also further along in the modification process than mine--I could conceivably spend that $2,000 in modifications in the next 2 years. However, the exhaust on the '04 I'm eyeing might cost me in speeding tickets.

I Need Your Advice

I'm test driving the car again on Thursday. I'll have a friend with me who knows a little more about wrenching cars, but a little less about Mustangs.

What are some things I should look at?

What should I ask about? Or ask for?

What are some other things I should consider?

Is it ever wise to buy a moderately modified car? Especially when the current owner doesn't know the extent of the work the previous owner did? (e.g. stroker kit, cam?, exhaust specifics.)

What would your concerns be?

Convertible vs Hard Top.

Can a younger engine with a stroker kit handle forced induction?

Thanks!
 

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If the previous owner can't tell you if it has a stroker in it or not, I would run far away from it.
 

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I've never liked the idea of buying a modded car. Usually means there is a good chance the car has been beat on. The whole it may have a stroker kit and isn't tuned would make me stay away from it.
 

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King Trashmouth
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I'm a firm believer of sticking with the evil you know (your car) over a new one. Who knows what you'll find once you get into it, especially with the unknown bottom end/cam situation, not being tuned, and gauges being wrong. With yours at least you know what you have to work with.

Another point is it's a vert, which the value on those are lower than coupes. Unless you really want a vert that would be working against you.

I would say keep that $2000 and put it toward your own. A lot less headaches.
 

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If the previous owner can't tell you if it has a stroker in it or not, I would run far away from it.

Sounds like reasonable advice. What's your thinking behind it?

P.S. If I were to find out more about the stroker situation, what then?
If you dont know the extent of the parts, then tuning is going to be an issue. And if the previous owner didnt know then he didnt care enough to learn, he probably just beat on the car.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
You all make very compelling points.

I'm going to test drive it one more time. Just because.

I will probably not strongly consider buying it unless he can produce many documents / a clear history.

I know verts don't hold value as well, but I live on the west coast in wine country. Some of these winding roads out to the wineries just beg to be torn up with the top down.

Thanks y'all for your advice.
 

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I've always liked verts, but doubt I would ever own one. Although it would be nice to drive around with the top down....but not here in Arizona...the sun is too hot.
 

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Like others mentioned, I would stay far away from modified cars ESPECIALLY when they don't know all that has been done to it. When I bought my 02 Manual GT, I purposefully looked for as stock of a car I could get for the price. Always better off doing that because when something goes wrong with a modified car, it is much harder for either yourself or a mechanic to pinpoint the issue. Hell, most mechanics I do know won't even touch modified cars because of that. As for vert over hard tops, I personally have never been a convertible kind of guy. Hard tops look 1000x more aggressive and mean imo. The only excpetion for this when it comes to this body style would be the terminators, because if done right, the verts aren't as bad. However, if you are on the fence, I would definitely avoid them because they are much less in value than hard tops.

All in all, it's your choice. But if I was you, I would wait it out and look for a better car. Not sure what they are asking for it, but you can find a fairly stock manual GT in pretty good condition for around $5000-8000 range. So I would just wait it out and look for a better car that is closer to stock so its less to worry about if something goes down the line.
 
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