(Images: Andrew Collins)

I knew my $100 1984 Nissan 300ZX was going to cost a lot more than $100 to actually restore and run on a regular basis. But after three months with this thing I’m starting to learn the special frustration that comes with caring for a car that’s worth so much less than the sum of its parts.

Here’s what I’m talking about:

If a car gets used, it gets dinged. Whether it’s annoyingly visible damage to the driver side mirror or rock chips in the front bumper, some wear is inevitable.

When your car’s current and common, little things like damaged trim or moulding pieces can be obtained relatively inexpensively. Or, at least, relatively easily.

If your car is a valuable classic, replacement pieces may be costly but at least you’re unlikely to find yourself paying more for a mirror than you paid for the car.

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Now we’ve arrived at the dilemma I keep crashing into with my Z31 300ZX. Yes, obviously almost any repair was going to cost more than its $100 sale price, but the car’s realistically only worth a few grand on a good day. So you can imagine my dismay when I went to try and find a replacement mirror housing and could find no color-matched options in my local enthusiast forums at all, and only an unpainted replacement directly from Nissan for [chokes] $400.

And, of course, my insurance deductible on this car is high because my rate is pretty low.

The obvious solution is to live with it, the second being just to patiently wait for one in Blue Mist to pop up for sale secondhand, or third I could get a used mirror in another color and have it resprayed.

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The other day I ran into a similar problem trying to get my windshield replaced. While the glass could be had for $200, when the tech showed up to put it in, he informed me he didn’t have the special trim moulding required to have it seal right. I looked online and haven’t been able to find that for less than $115.


Things like timing belts and tires cost a lot to replace on anything, I can accept that. Fancy parts for modern cars being expensive, sure, that too. But when small parts for a cheap car are a fortune to buy and impossible to find, that’s when you’ve got to find true dedication to a restoration project.

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Guess I better start working on my zen patience practices.