Thinking of buying an 87 as a daily driver, need some help

misabatad

New Member
Joined
Jul 3, 2020
Messages
9
Hello! New to this website and very excited to be here!

I'm moving to LA and need a daily driver car, I found an 87 Supra that seems to be in amazing condition. I spoke with the dealership, apparently the main owner of the car really only used it for shows. This is what the description listed:

"Has great mechanical fitness. Just over 53000 miles since new and retains its original numbers matching engine, automatic transmission and rear wheel drive. Car is powered by its dual overhead cam inline 6 cylinder engine that is fed by electronic fuel injection. Mechanically, the car starts up easily and drives well in all conditions."

A little bit of backstory; I'm not looking into modifying this car at all. I'm in this for nostalgia reasons. My Dad had this car when I was a child, it reminds me of him. He wasn't able to keep up with it because obviously parts were hard to find even back then, and before any of these communities existed. He died, and some years later my Mom... tragically... sold his Supra to a junk yard for like $300. When she told me I was pissed, but I understand my Mom didn't know what she was doing... soooo whatever I guess.

So here I am looking to get a little piece of him back, but again I'm looking at this car as a daily driver in LA. So I wanted to ask you guys, is this realistic? Does this sound like a good idea? The car seems to be in fantastic shape and doesn't need much work so outside of normal wear and tear that I can go to a normal mechanic for... what am I really looking at here?

I haven't checked the car out yet, but when I do I know to check for the headgasket history and rust. But even looking at the pictures theres minimal rust and is an amazingly clean car, in the exact color I wanted.

What are your thoughts? I'd really love to get this car.

Thank you so much!!

~Misa

p.s. Also the bottom half of this car is silver, how much would it cost to get a paint job to make that part blue? The same blue that the rest of the car is lol

p.p.s. I realized I forgot to say how much, this car is listed at $12,000. One owner from Maryland so I can imagine this car hasn't really seen snow or anything like that. I ended up buying the autocheck report and everything looks golden to me.
 

Piratetip

Far From Maddening Crowds
Staff member
Super Moderator
Authorized Seller
Joined
Dec 30, 2005
Messages
2,302
Location
MKE, WI
I'd check to see if any rubber components were changed recently or at all.
Suspension(control arms, swaybar mounts ECT..)/subframe front and rear/engine and trans mounts/hoses/lines/belts/tires/steering mounts/
Ball joints/arms/inner and outer tie rod ends.

There are a ton of other things to see if were changed or not as well.
I'm just focusing on those items because that alone can rack up one hell of a bill.

Reguardelss of engine/trans/driveline/final drive stuff that most people only ever care about.
 

misabatad

New Member
Joined
Jul 3, 2020
Messages
9
I'd check to see if any rubber components were changed recently or at all.
Suspension(control arms, swaybar mounts ECT..)/subframe front and rear/engine and trans mounts/hoses/lines/belts/tires/steering mounts/
Ball joints/arms/inner and outer tie rod ends.

There are a ton of other things to see if were changed or not as well.
I'm just focusing on those items because that alone can rack up one hell of a bill.

Reguardelss of engine/trans/driveline/final drive stuff that most people only ever care about.
Considering those things were in decent order and I didn't have to anticipate that one hell of a bill... do you think I could get this as a daily driver? And do you think $12000 is a reasonable price? I keep looking at the pictures and video and it seems pristine... but I also would have no idea past looks
 

Piratetip

Far From Maddening Crowds
Staff member
Super Moderator
Authorized Seller
Joined
Dec 30, 2005
Messages
2,302
Location
MKE, WI
Without knowing it's history, I've got no clue.
Just trying to get you to look at the big picture.
These cars are 30+ years old, all rubber parts deteriorate reguardelss of storage situation.

To get it a daily driver I would say all and every wear part and rubber parts need replacement.
Otherwise something will keep failing again and again. Then it will not be a daily driver.

My perspective is getting my own supra in good enough condition to drive every day.
I am very very close, but little annoyances are still present.
It does daily drive but I've been at this for years and years. (Bought the car in 2007)
 
  • Like
Reactions: misabatad

sinistar_xx

Active Member
Authorized Seller
Joined
Dec 28, 2018
Messages
169
From a comfort standpoint, these Supras are quite suitable as a daily driver, especially if the one you're looking at is an automatic and you'll be driving in larger city with lots of traffic.

From a reliability standpoint, one thing in the list of pros is that it's a Toyota, and their older cars hold up pretty well IF taken care of. The big con is that Toyota or not, it's still over 30 years old. Even if it's low miles, it's still 30+ years old. Chances are, even if it starts up and idles nicely on the dealer lot, and even if the test drive goes smoothly, the more you start putting miles on (should you purchase it) those aged parts are going to catch up and you'll find some projects that'll need to be done. Some could be minor, some could be major.

If you accept all of that risk, I'd say why not...

Does the car happen to have past service history? With my car I got a whole stack of maintenance and repair records, but the car never changed hands through a dealership, which is where such records tend to go missing. But it would be good to know if it already had faulty head gasket repairs or not, among other things.
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: misabatad

Abe's 1987

Si vis pacem, para bellum
Authorized Seller
Joined
Sep 5, 2017
Messages
1,051
Location
Houston,TX
Ask for carfax. Negotiate the hell out of them. I would force them down to at least $9000. I know that may seem like a low blow but that dealer got that car most likely from an auction for next to nothing. They always use the the original owner sold them that car but that is normally 15% true. And even if the dealer got it from the original owner, they paid that owner next to nothing so their profit margins is big. Even if you leave the lot with the supra for $9000, that dealer still made good money off of it.
 
  • Like
Reactions: misabatad

finaltable

Grue
Authorized Seller
Joined
Jul 15, 2007
Messages
21
Location
Houston, TX
The NADA Classic Cars database used by financial institutions shows a High Retail value of $8750 so $12,000 is probably high. The low mileage has value, but not a 33% markup. As others have pointed out, after 30 years stuff deteriorates whether driven or not.
 
  • Like
Reactions: misabatad

Asterix

Lurker of Power
Authorized Seller
Joined
Mar 31, 2005
Messages
545
Location
Vienna, VA
I drive my '88 every day I can. To keep doing that takes regular maintenance and keeping up on every little thing. Overall, it's a reliable car, but things still break, as do on any car. Repair parts are getting harder to find every day and many parts are no longer available anywhere. These fora are a great resource for finding used parts, if they're available.

NADA's guide, as of February 2019, put high retail at $8300, so the value of these cars is going up.

Which model is it? If it's a base GE with an automatic transmission and no options (like ABS), it's worth rather less than one with more options, even in pristine condition. Those options are things like turbo, targa, Sport Package, TEMS, sunroof, power driver's seat, and others.

If you can work on it yourself, it could be worth buying, but for nowhere near $12k.

Does the air conditioning work? If it's still R-12, you'll want to convert to R-134a quickly while you can still get that refrigerant. It's not hard, but will cost you do pay someone to do it.

And, at 53k, it's almost up for a new timing belt. If you can't do that yourself, don't get this car. Check the TSRM for everything involved. I would not recommend any dealership or "regular" repair shop to work on such an old car properly. LA being LA means you'll be able to find a shop that does good work on old cars. But still...
 

Abe's 1987

Si vis pacem, para bellum
Authorized Seller
Joined
Sep 5, 2017
Messages
1,051
Location
Houston,TX
definitely a plus to have it turbo 5 speed with all the options, still wouldnt pay $12k for that even. I would think it would have been converted to r-134a as r-12 isn't being produced anymore and a dealer has it. And yes definitely dont trust shop to repair it as if they break anything that is unreplaceable then your out of a car potentially.
 
  • Like
Reactions: misabatad

alcyon

Active Member
Authorized Seller
Joined
Jun 15, 2017
Messages
188
Location
Kuala Lumpur
I just had my rear left disc brake seize on me yesterday and I don't even live in the rust belt. Be prepared for some annoyances from time to time. I had my car stall on me 5 times in 3 years of ownership. it took me a while to figure out what caused the stalling, even the mechanics thought it was some other problem, but in the end I figured it out, not them. after i fixed the last stall I had in middle of last year the problem hasn't come back.
 
Last edited:

3p141592654

90T
Authorized Seller
Contributor
Joined
Oct 11, 2005
Messages
4,200
Location
Thousand Oaks, CA
Misa, how conmfortable are you with car repairs? This car will be a lot more enjoyable if you know how to fix the small stuff. If you have to take it in for every little thing it could become fairly expensive to maintain.

I daily drive my supra to work 8 miles each way so not a big commute here in so cal. The car is pretty reliable but little annoyances pop up. I deal with them myself so its not a big deal.
 
  • Like
Reactions: alcyon

misabatad

New Member
Joined
Jul 3, 2020
Messages
9
Without knowing it's history, I've got no clue.
Just trying to get you to look at the big picture.
These cars are 30+ years old, all rubber parts deteriorate reguardelss of storage situation.

To get it a daily driver I would say all and every wear part and rubber parts need replacement.
Otherwise something will keep failing again and again. Then it will not be a daily driver.

My perspective is getting my own supra in good enough condition to drive every day.
I am very very close, but little annoyances are still present.
It does daily drive but I've been at this for years and years. (Bought the car in 2007)
This is very true. I'll be more mindful of the rubber parts when I go in to take a look!
 

misabatad

New Member
Joined
Jul 3, 2020
Messages
9
From a comfort standpoint, these Supras are quite suitable as a daily driver, especially if the one you're looking at is an automatic and you'll be driving in larger city with lots of traffic.

From a reliability standpoint, one thing in the list of pros is that it's a Toyota, and their older cars hold up pretty well IF taken care of. The big con is that Toyota or not, it's still over 30 years old. Even if it's low miles, it's still 30+ years old. Chances are, even if it starts up and idles nicely on the dealer lot, and even if the test drive goes smoothly, the more you start putting miles on (should you purchase it) those aged parts are going to catch up and you'll find some projects that'll need to be done. Some could be minor, some could be major.

If you accept all of that risk, I'd say why not...

Does the car happen to have past service history? With my car I got a whole stack of maintenance and repair records, but the car never changed hands through a dealership, which is where such records tend to go missing. But it would be good to know if it already had faulty head gasket repairs or not, among other things.
So I just called, and there isn't a maintanence record. He did have the carfax report though. Bought in 1986 and from there, there's no update until 2015. Like I said I think, the original owner just had the car to cruise around and also displayed it in car shows. The gentleman I spoke with kept mentioning how clean the car was, which even I can tell from the photos and video. He also mentioned no rust or anything like that. He DID mention the AC unit didn't work, which I didn't see in the listing for it. So I guess that's my first concern. He mentioned literally EVERYTHING else was immaculate besides the AC unit blowing warm air and eventually shutting off.
 

misabatad

New Member
Joined
Jul 3, 2020
Messages
9
Ask for carfax. Negotiate the hell out of them. I would force them down to at least $9000. I know that may seem like a low blow but that dealer got that car most likely from an auction for next to nothing. They always use the the original owner sold them that car but that is normally 15% true. And even if the dealer got it from the original owner, they paid that owner next to nothing so their profit margins is big. Even if you leave the lot with the supra for $9000, that dealer still made good money off of it.
Yesss!! I think that's what I'm going to do for sure! I'm so glad I'm talking to you guys because 12000 DOES seem steep for a 30yr old car. I'm sure they priced it a little high given the condition of the car but still. I don't got money like that lol
 

misabatad

New Member
Joined
Jul 3, 2020
Messages
9
I drive my '88 every day I can. To keep doing that takes regular maintenance and keeping up on every little thing. Overall, it's a reliable car, but things still break, as do on any car. Repair parts are getting harder to find every day and many parts are no longer available anywhere. These fora are a great resource for finding used parts, if they're available.

NADA's guide, as of February 2019, put high retail at $8300, so the value of these cars is going up.

Which model is it? If it's a base GE with an automatic transmission and no options (like ABS), it's worth rather less than one with more options, even in pristine condition. Those options are things like turbo, targa, Sport Package, TEMS, sunroof, power driver's seat, and others.

If you can work on it yourself, it could be worth buying, but for nowhere near $12k.

Does the air conditioning work? If it's still R-12, you'll want to convert to R-134a quickly while you can still get that refrigerant. It's not hard, but will cost you do pay someone to do it.

And, at 53k, it's almost up for a new timing belt. If you can't do that yourself, don't get this car. Check the TSRM for everything involved. I would not recommend any dealership or "regular" repair shop to work on such an old car properly. LA being LA means you'll be able to find a shop that does good work on old cars. But still...
So I actually just called them. The air conditioning DOES NOT work. Everything seems to be stock, so what do you think I'd have to do? I'm sorry, I'm not sure what R-12 or 134a means. Any idea how much that'd cost? He mentioned the heating works fine, but the ac blows warm air and then shut off during their testing.

It seems to be a base model. They mention power brakes but not ABS specifically. There are the options listed: Automatic transmission, bucket seats, console, console shifter, power window, power locks, power steering, power brakes, power seats, rear defrost, fog lights, cruise control, factory stereo, hide away headlights, luggage shade, multi-function steering wheel. Unnnnfoooorrrtuunately it's not a t-top, that was what I have been looking for. But it's hard to find a blue one. This one seems like my best bet and realistically idk how much I'd be using that targa for.

What is TSRM? And no I can't do any of these things myself. Sadly enough. Would a timing belt be expensive too?

That's what I was thinking too, I could find someone in LA. Even off of this site to help me fix the car up. And I could learn in the process. But the real issue is the drive from the dealership, cross country, to get to LA. That's the first hurdle.
 

misabatad

New Member
Joined
Jul 3, 2020
Messages
9
I just had my rear left disc brake seize on me yesterday and I don't even live in the rust belt. Be prepared for some annoyances from time to time. I had my car stall on me 5 times in 3 years of ownership. it took me a while to figure out what caused the stalling, even the mechanics thought it was some other problem, but in the end I figured it out, not them. after i fixed the last stall I had in middle of last year the problem hasn't come back.
What did you figure out from that issue?
 

misabatad

New Member
Joined
Jul 3, 2020
Messages
9
Misa, how conmfortable are you with car repairs? This car will be a lot more enjoyable if you know how to fix the small stuff. If you have to take it in for every little thing it could become fairly expensive to maintain.

I daily drive my supra to work 8 miles each way so not a big commute here in so cal. The car is pretty reliable but little annoyances pop up. I deal with them myself so its not a big deal.
I'm not comfortable at all, I don't know anything about cars. Yeah agreed though this would get costly if I go in for every small thing. But unless I learn along the way, I really wouldn't be able to help myself lol.

Do you think your car would be able to handle a road trip? IF I get this car I was thinking of driving it from the midwest to Cali. And there are a ton of road trips in the west coast lol. I feel like I'm already pushing this car and I don't have it haha
 

alcyon

Active Member
Authorized Seller
Joined
Jun 15, 2017
Messages
188
Location
Kuala Lumpur
What did you figure out from that issue?
The mechanic traced it to the fuel pump relay. So what he did was he bridged the relay so it was always on when the engine ran, thus bypassing the AFM flap door switch(which he did not know about, he thought the signal came from the ECU). Long story short, I bought a new relay thinking the old one was faulty. When the new relay arrived 3 weeks later, I installed it, and to my horror the same issue returned. Start the car, engine ran for 2 seconds and stalled. So i knew the problem wasnt the relay but some where else. I scoured the forums and found out about the AFM flap door pins, the first 2 pins on the AFM. I removed the AFM connector and had a look, and the first pin fell out of the connector, causing the fuel pump relay unable to turn on the fuel pump. So i bent the pin tab upwards and placed the pin back snug in the housing and started up the engine, and this time it didnt stall. It was early 2018.
Fast forward mid 2019 I was in traffic when the engine stalled again. I messed with this connector and it fired up again. Next day the car stalled at me at a stop. Again messed with the connector and it started up. I looked carefully at the afm cables and noticed that it was taut, like it wasnt long enough. I surmise that the wires were being tugged by the engine movement. So i got a length of JJLapp cables of the same gauge and heatshrink tube, and proceed to cut and extend the 6 AFM cables, by 2". The problem has not returned since, and the wires now have lotsa slack.
 

Asterix

Lurker of Power
Authorized Seller
Joined
Mar 31, 2005
Messages
545
Location
Vienna, VA
So I actually just called them. The air conditioning DOES NOT work. Everything seems to be stock, so what do you think I'd have to do? I'm sorry, I'm not sure what R-12 or 134a means. Any idea how much that'd cost? He mentioned the heating works fine, but the ac blows warm air and then shut off during their testing.

It seems to be a base model. They mention power brakes but not ABS specifically. There are the options listed: Automatic transmission, bucket seats, console, console shifter, power window, power locks, power steering, power brakes, power seats, rear defrost, fog lights, cruise control, factory stereo, hide away headlights, luggage shade, multi-function steering wheel. Unnnnfoooorrrtuunately it's not a t-top, that was what I have been looking for. But it's hard to find a blue one. This one seems like my best bet and realistically idk how much I'd be using that targa for.

What is TSRM? And no I can't do any of these things myself. Sadly enough. Would a timing belt be expensive too?

That's what I was thinking too, I could find someone in LA. Even off of this site to help me fix the car up. And I could learn in the process. But the real issue is the drive from the dealership, cross country, to get to LA. That's the first hurdle.
R-12 and R-134a are refrigerants for the air conditioner. R-12 is obsolete and essentially unavailable. Converting the system to R-134a is not hard. (There's even a sticky thread here on how to do it.) Depending on the condition of the compressor, you may not need a new one. Of course, you need to find the leak and fix it - there's obviously one because the AC doesn't work. I refurbished my system completely last year and spent about $800 on parts alone, but I put in a new condenser and compressor. It took me about 2 days of work, but I also had to fix some things you probably won't need to.

If the car does not have ABS, it's as basic as it can be. IMO, that reduces the value considerably. The features you list are common to all Supras.

While I don't work very fast, replacing my timing belt took all day. I would expect a shop to charge at least $1000 to do the job.

TSRM = Toyota Supra Repair Manual. There's a convenient on-line version here: http://www.cygnusx1.net/Supra/Library/TSRM/MK3/
 

Another MkIII

Member
Authorized Seller
Joined
Feb 22, 2009
Messages
700
Location
Chicago
I'm not comfortable at all, I don't know anything about cars. Yeah agreed though this would get costly if I go in for every small thing. But unless I learn along the way, I really wouldn't be able to help myself lol.
Being totally realistic here: If you need to have this car available to drive every day, don't get it. It will let you down. If you don't have the tools and knowledge to work on this car, expect to spend thousands at a mechanic. If you are able to learn, expect to spend at least a couple hundred on tools, and that's if you go with cheap. If it blows a head gasket, realize it will be worth only a couple thousand AT MOST until you get it repaired. Ask yourself how often do you see a 30+ year old car being used as a daily driver? They can be great cars, but they can also be a stress test of your budget and an exercise in frustration.

-AM3
 

alcyon

Active Member
Authorized Seller
Joined
Jun 15, 2017
Messages
188
Location
Kuala Lumpur
Being totally realistic here: If you need to have this car available to drive every day, don't get it. It will let you down. If you don't have the tools and knowledge to work on this car, expect to spend thousands at a mechanic. If you are able to learn, expect to spend at least a couple hundred on tools, and that's if you go with cheap. If it blows a head gasket, realize it will be worth only a couple thousand AT MOST until you get it repaired. Ask yourself how often do you see a 30+ year old car being used as a daily driver? They can be great cars, but they can also be a stress test of your budget and an exercise in frustration.

-AM3
I second that. My suggestion is to learn repairs on your current car first before moving to a Supra. Or at least buy another beater and learn on that before moving on to the supra. One of the reasons I dare to buy my 31 year old Soarer is because I owned a 25 year old beater that I worked on myself which built up my skills. It made me confident enough to move on to another old car.
 

Abe's 1987

Si vis pacem, para bellum
Authorized Seller
Joined
Sep 5, 2017
Messages
1,051
Location
Houston,TX
Being totally realistic here: If you need to have this car available to drive every day, don't get it. It will let you down. If you don't have the tools and knowledge to work on this car, expect to spend thousands at a mechanic. If you are able to learn, expect to spend at least a couple hundred on tools, and that's if you go with cheap. If it blows a head gasket, realize it will be worth only a couple thousand AT MOST until you get it repaired. Ask yourself how often do you see a 30+ year old car being used as a daily driver? They can be great cars, but they can also be a stress test of your budget and an exercise in frustration.

-AM3
Definitely agree. Any old car will require tons of work. Better to know how to do the work yourself before buying an older car. Yes older cars are easier to work on then new modern high computerized cars but still you will need the skills to diagnose the older cars as they dont have the system to tell you what is going on.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Z06gette