Before You Buy a T34, Some Good Advice
Buying a Type 34 is purely an emotional experience, thrilling, exciting, with your blood pumping, and you're just dying to own one ... NOW. But the T34 is not an easy car to inspect from a distance to see whether it's a good original buy or a disaster waiting to happen to your bank account. I've seen over 500 T34s and have assisted many prospective T34 buyers with inspecting them up close, and here's what I recommend if you're serious about buying a good one.

FIRST DECISION: Ask yourself what kind of T34 you want to own. Do you want a museum show car, fun daily driver, cool custom racer, or a full restoration project? Do you have the time & patience & funds to dedicate to a full restoration that could easily reach $10-15,000? Or do you just want to start enjoying one now with little work required to get it reliable & nice looking? My best advice is to buy the best quality original T34 you can find because it will end up costing less and be ready to enjoy now. Be patient, learn about the marque and its differences over the years, and ask for the advice of people that have experience with T34s. You'll be happier in the end and your efforts will be rewarded with an oustanding T34 you'll enjoy for many years instead of a mistake you wished you didn't buy.

BEFORE YOU GO: Bring your camera with you to see the T34 because there will be many things you'll want to check out later and photos can easily be shared with others to help identify issues. Bring a paper & pen to write down details from the seller and notes to yourself during the inspection process. Don't bring any money! If it's the right T34 then you can buy it in a few days after you've had time to decipher the photos & get advice.

EXTERIOR INSPECTION: Begin by asking the seller to give you a tour of the T34. Often times the seller will show you the individual personality of a T34 without really meaning to. Ask if the T34 has been in an accident or repainted and ask why. When looking for rust there are several areas that T34s are prone to this killer. Look carefully at the corners of all four wheel wells and run your hand along the rocker panels curve to feel for irregularities. It's also common to see rust in the rear air ducts. Check the gaps of the doors & hoods for irregularities. Rust in these areas can be catastrophic and lead to thousands of dollars in repairs. Check the nose for bumps & bondo and make sure the center ribbed section is even & smooth. Check the door sills for rust when the doors are open. Check the beltline all around the car for signs of bondo. Check the rear panel overhang angle to see if the rear has been hit & repaired. Look along the sides of the car (about 4 inches up from the rockers) along the doors for the "ghost lines". These lines are difficult to repair and easy to identify if they're straight. Look for even gaps in between the bumpers & body. Check for poorly fitting parts on the body, a sign of previous repairs. Check the rims to see if they are 5 or 4 lug, a sign of brake modifications on the pre-1966 T34s. A good T34 will have little signs of rust, good gaps, and the majority of its original parts. Original paint is always a good sign as are the aluminum window trims, stock hub caps, and good chrome. The rocker trim strips are often missing as are the rear scripts. Take your time & take good notes. The body is where you'll be spending a great deal of your restoration budget.

INTERIOR INSPECTION: Lift the rear seat bottom and write down the chassis # then compare it to the # on the aluminum ID plate inside the spare tire area on the right. These numbers should match and if they don't then the pan has been swapped with another car. The battery area should be relatively solid (photo on left), no flintstone cars. The floorpans should not show daylight, and the heater vents should be rust-free. Check the door pads and dash pads for cracks & vinyl covering. Check for added items in the dash (extra lights, ignition switch, stickers, like in photo to left). Check the dash color to see if it matches the body color, a sign of poor paint jobs & careless owners. And check under the dash at the wiring for signs of "personalization". Make notes on what parts are missing or broken (ie turn signal arm can cost $200!). Original door panels are always a plus but only if they don't need to be repaired, but the interior upholstery (carpet, interior panels, headliner, & seat upholstery) is not too difficult or expensive to restore/replace, so those are not as important as rust & modifications to the dash. Confirm the gauges are clean & not rusty, as this is a sign that the rest of the car will also be prone to rust. Turn the ignition switch to start it, and check the electrical items (lights, wipers, turn signals, horn, fuel gauge, etc) both on the inside & outside. Most original T34s still have their Blaupunkt AM/FM radios, so don't be too surprised. Don't get bummed about the upholstery but concentrate more on function & completeness.

COMPARTMENTS INSPECTION: Open the front hood and look for a full set of vinyl material lining. Remove the spare tire and look inside for signs of damage & rust. Check the edge of the front hood for signs of rust as well. The rear compartment should have the same vinyl material lining and a decent engine trapdoor lid underneath. Look for rust in the air duct drains.

ENGINE INSPECTION: Look for original parts (coil, carbs, air cleaner, fuel pump, & distributor. Check for oil soaked engine parts and drips on the ground after a quick test drive. Ask if it's been converted to 12 Volt, a commonly botched job if done by amateurs & less-than-detailed shops. When it starts, check for a good idle, smooth rpm range, and no smoke from the exhaust.

PAN INSPECTION: Don't be afraid to climb on your back to take a good look at the undercarriage. Rust under the footwell areas and battery won't be able to hide from under the car. Look for previous pan section replacements, easy to spot since they won't match the ribbed design of the pans.

AUTHENTICITY INSPECTION: Know what parts are unique to each year and confirm these parts are on the car. Make a short list of these parts by looking in the Annual Refinements section on this site. Next check the car for the most basic of parts, since many of these are both expensive & difficult to replace. The most common problem areas are the body scripts, bumper guards, fog lights, headlights, & tail lights. Lenses are easy to replace but the bases are not. Bumpers are expensive and very difficult to replace.