: What do you think ('68 De Ville HT sedan)?

05-02-11, 03:16 PM
Howdy folks.

I have been lurking here, on and off, for a couple of months. My wife's grandpa has a low mileage '68 sedan that he wants to sell. I briefly saw it quite a few years ago and thought it was pretty cool. Anyway, it turns out '68 is a pretty great year: peak power, not bigger just to be bigger, last year for stacked headlights, etc. I still don't have good pictures of the car (it is in MN and I'm in AZ) but I do now know that it has rust through behind the left front and right rear wheels. Overall, it looks good and I was hoping it didn't have any holes in it. It is low mileage, less than 39K and I'm told the interior looks great. NADA lists values of $2,900 and $5,025 for the low and middle range, but I know they've been trying to sell the car for a long time.

Research seems to indicate that I might get as high as 13mpg city and 17 highway (in this car I'm pretty sure I'd be okay keeping it to 65mph or so), no clue if that seems reasonable. Things are complicated by the fact that I'd be buying from family (don't want to really low-ball them, but don't want to pay too much either especially with the rust). In an ideal world, I would find somebody who does decent, affordable work and have the rust cut out and as little repainting done as possible. I don't know if that is something that can be done or have any idea what it might cost though. The car has done a lot of sitting in the last decade, but I'm told it runs pretty well. I would be driving it home. Any thoughts?

Thanks, Doug

Update: I just attached pics of the two worst rust areas (or so I'm told). The inside of the trunk looks okay...

05-02-11, 05:41 PM
At 39k it may not have done much winter duty so the rust may not be too severe. If it has been used in a few MN winters then the cancer could be everywhere; especially in places that most people don't look at. If the interior was beautiful but the underside was full of real rust, not just surface rust, I would have a hard time offering $1k.

cadillac kevin
05-02-11, 06:50 PM
doug, I would highly recommend trailering it home. I wouldnt take any car I'm not used to cross country, much less one that has been sitting. stuff tends to break when you're out in the middle of nowhere (been there done that). rent a trailer when you get to MN if you're gonna buy the car (tell them you're renting an escort or cobalt or some other tiny car) and save yourself a headache.

if you're worried about rust, take it to a mechanics shop and have them look at it up on a lift before you buy it. I do this to every car I am serious about buying. being able to stand under a car in a well lighted place and look the underside over with a professional is alot better than crawling under it with a flashlight on the ground and maybe missing something severe (like bad frame rot). its saved me from buying a few lemons that looked nice topside, but had alot of issues on the underside.
some places to check are under the chrome rocker molding (can hide alot of rust), trunk floor on the underside and under the carpet in the trunk, and pretty much all of the frame and underbody of the car. surface rust is ok, but scaly rust or rot isnt good. also feel the backside of the rockers , bottoms of the quarter panels and fenders, and underside of the doors.
check the rear shock mounts, gas tank straps, brake lines, and gas lines for safety reasons.
I'd also check the vinyl top if it has one. if the rear pillars metal feel spongy behind the vinyl, its got some bad rust or no metal there. most old cars have some rust behind the top, but spongy feeling at the base of the C-pillars usually isn't good. rust streaks from under the top also is bad.
I don't mean to scare you but when buying a midwest car, you really have to check everywhere. and I mean everywhere.

05-02-11, 07:11 PM
Thanks guys :) I added a couple pics, check them out. The deal is that I would most likely be committing to the car based on pictures, buying a 1 way ticket to MN. I don't own anything that could tow a car like that, or much of anything really... Doug

cadillac kevin
05-02-11, 07:34 PM
the left front fender rot isnt that good, but it is fixable (have to cut off alot of the fender and weld on a new piece of metal). thats from leaves and debris getting stuck in the bottom of the fender and causing it to retain water. its very common on cars of that era.
I'm not sure what the other pic is of (trunk or door bottom maybe) but that doesnt look good. that metal will have to be cut out and replaced. its pretty normal for midwest cars of that vintage to look like that, especially if they werent cleaned during/ after the winter.

05-02-11, 09:39 PM
Doug, consider this. You buy a ticket, fly in, start the car up, get exactly half-way home, and then in the middle of nowhere, it dies. THEN what do you do? Seriously, it's enough of a pain when you break down and have to get a tow 25 miles. If you think you can't afford to rent a truck with a trailer to pick the car up or have it shipped, think about the bill for a tow from, say, Topeka all the way back home. I don't even know how this works. Imagine what the guy's gonna say when you tell him you need a tow to 1,000 miles away... What's that gonna be, $5,000? If you can't get the car for cheap enough that you can afford a safe way to get it home, then don't buy it. There are lots of Cadillacs out there, I'm sure you could find one with a lot less rust locally. You could even go look at it and drive it before you buy it.

For reference, I had a fantastic, great running '70 Calais, it was in excellent condition. Ran and drove PERFECTLY. Then one day, the trans blew. Just blew. No warning, nothing. It took a week and $1,000 to get it ironed out. I now have an even better low-mile DeVille. I'm toying with the idea of driving it to South Bend next week, but I'm not sure I'm going to trust it enough by then. The longest trip I've had it on was 25 miles. I've gone over the whole thing and reconditioned almost everything, it's basically a new car, but I'm STILL not sure about it. Until you know the car well, you don't want to risk getting stranded. It's not worth it.

cadillac kevin
05-02-11, 11:11 PM
If you're set on buying that particular caddy, rent a large delivery truck and a car hauler trailer. it'll cost you a few hundred, but it will be much cheaper than getting stuck in the middle of nowhere.
however, it would be alot cheaper to get a 68 deville near you (less traveling, no or little rust to deal with) rather than going half across the country to "maybe" buy one.
once you factor in cost of getting to MN (few hundred), then buying the car ($1000) , trailering it back home ( over $1000 to rent truck, trailer, and gas), and even starting to fix the body rot, you could have bought a really clean one in AZ. low mileage means nothing if the car is rusted out.

05-03-11, 01:14 AM
If the rocker panels and lower fenders are that rotted, I wouldn't even want to look at the frame. Believe me when I tell you you are getting in way over your head taking this on. Unless this car has some incredible sentimental value for you and you're going to keep it forever and ever for your very own self to have and love til death you do part, do yourself a favor and find another car.

05-03-11, 02:28 AM
Had a '68 de Ville for years. Had to have the roof around both the front and rear glass rebuilt for rust UNDER the top that was not seen. You KNOW this one is rusted, so check it out. You can get almost mint ones here in the west without the rust.

I could get 12-14 miles to gallon on the hwy. at 70mph, It drove great and didn't wander or anything like that.

05-03-11, 08:56 AM
Those photos show the kind of cancerous rust that scares me. There has to be much more of it under that car. Ya know in my experience the rust buckets always seem to be perfect running vehicles; it's a cryin' shame. I'll bet it's pretty rare for a guy from AZ to go to MN to buy a car. If this car has cancer underneath like I suspect, then you will not be happy with this car. Money can fix anything and if you had deep pockets and the car had sentimental value it probably could be fixed, and may actually survive for quite a while in AZ climate. If there is no sentimental value then you would be much better off buying one in AZ.