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Old 04-17-2010, 12:53 PM
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How much to rebuild an engine?

I just watched an episode of Pawn Stars in which the guy bought a 1964 Austin-Healey Sprite for $5,000. He thought it just needed a tune-up, but the guy he took it to said it would cost $6,000 to rebuild the engine because the crankshaft was shot. A total rebuild on my 1966 MGB engine cost $2,500. That was a lot, but it was rebuilt by a reputable and respected race-engine rebuilder and it's virtually brand new.

An A-H Sprite is basically the same as an MG Midget. The Midget was a badge-engineered Sprite, and was made from 1961 to 1979. The A-series engine was used until 1974. There were over 130,000 Midgets and almost 49,000 Sprites made with A-series engines. There are 1275 cc Midget engines on eBay for half a kilobuck. There's a polished-and-balanced 1275 cc crankshaft currently at $100.

Why would the mechanic have said it would cost $6,000 to rebuild the engine?
Old 04-17-2010, 01:05 PM
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Not sure, I have a mini cooper with a 1275 A+ . Its more to fix than a small block chevy but its not that bad. LOTS of parts around the engine was manufactured for decades.
Old 04-17-2010, 01:08 PM
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Johnny L.A., I don't know the cars in question or if that is a fair price but specialized knowledge often demands a huge premium in lots of different areas. There are a lot of factors at work. People that do any type of contracting will often throw out outrageous figures for work that they don't want to actually do just to make people go away. It happens all the time even in things like home repair but sometimes, a sucker bites, and makes it worth it. Those are old cars and there aren't that many people around that can work on them or want to. I am a senior consultant in charge of very sensitive but older industrial computers. We have computers and software that are so old that they would sell for $50 at a garage sale yet I can charge up to $2000 a day just for me to work on one of them and I often have to bring in other people with other specialty knowledge. If those engines were much newer, the availability of parts and available technicians would be much higher and the competition much higher. It is either a fake quote or an issue of supply and demand.
Old 04-17-2010, 01:14 PM
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I suspect that some of the repair shop guys have an understanding with Rick regarding things that will be said in front of customers/cameras. Any estimate offered is likely to err on the high side, and a certain amount of kayfabe is in play....
Old 04-17-2010, 01:44 PM
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Originally Posted by Johnny L.A. View Post
Why would the mechanic have said it would cost $6,000 to rebuild the engine?
Because he's seen the show and he knows that Rick has a lot of money?

Last edited by engineer_comp_geek; 04-17-2010 at 01:45 PM. Reason: typo
Old 04-17-2010, 02:22 PM
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Is there a difference in cost for rebuilding with newly made parts versus using only vintage parts, for that "more authentic" result?
Old 04-17-2010, 04:31 PM
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Originally Posted by ZenBeam View Post
Is there a difference in cost for rebuilding with newly made parts versus using only vintage parts, for that "more authentic" result?
I don't know if there's anyone out there that's that nuts about authenticity to rebuild an engine with NOS (New Old Stock) parts, but it is often the case, especially with old European cars, that there's the "prefered" parts source (which may be the OEM if they still support the old cars, or some sort of aftermarket specialty shop that builds them to OEM specs). There's usually a huge price difference between these sorts of parts and the plain old generic ones (if they're avaliable) and it's usually arguable whether you actually get better results with the more expensive ones.

It's kind of the same thing with the labor too. You can probably have the engine rebuilt at one of these engine mills where guys do nothing but rebuild engines and then have Smitty down at the corner garage drop it in or you can have Nigel down at Her Majesty's Import Motors & Fish and Chips Stand lovingly rebuild the thing using old-world techniques. Again, huge price differential and arguable difference in results. (Although sometimes the oddball old import mechanics are just doing it for fun and are actually quite reasonable).
Old 04-17-2010, 05:04 PM
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Didn't the shop guy point to more than the crankshaft? He mentioned spun bearings IIRC, which could involve connecting rods. The abrupt editing suggested there was a lot of other stuff, too, and that the necessary parts weren't made anymore.
Old 04-18-2010, 12:47 AM
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Everyone willing to pay 6 kilo bucks for a rebuilt BMC engine please PM me.
On both the Healeys and the MG mailing lists that I am on, this show was discussed. The general consensus was that 6 Kilo bucks was somewhere between high and insane.
bottom line, it is TV and the numbers don't have to match.

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