After creating our rolling pile and inventorying the stationary piles, we realized we'd need more parts than we had. Our only transmission was an automatic, the differential was open, and there was that whole problem with the front of the frame rails. A few weeks of Craigslist hunting revealed this '96 Miata with a manual trans, factory Torsen diff, and a big tree imprint on the driver's door. The owner's son apparently “took it to the store” and came home complaining that the big oak tree jumped out in front of the car.
The asking price was $600, but some astute negotiation brought the price down to $200. (Turns out showing up with a trailer and then threatening to drive away with it empty is an effective negotiating tactic.) We would, in the end, sell $2000 worth of parts from the car, including the scrap metal value of the shell itself.
LeMons accounting lets you recoup costs by selling parts off your car. There are no specific rules for how this applies to parts cars, but we just went with the assumption that we could zero out the price of our parts car, but not actually count it as negative $1800. This picture of Jay counting the $400 or so we got for the 1.8-liter engine was the best proof we could come up with for how much these parts sold for.
The precision alignment of the two cars was done like this. We sawed off the bent part of the white car, looked for a similar-looking spot on the blue car, eyeballed a proper cut line with a Sharpee…
…and then freehanded the cut with a sawzall (hint: always use lube).
This sloppy approach to splicing two cars was made possible by the fact that nothing dimensionally critical had to happen forward of the splice. We didn't plan to run front fenders (this was before they were required), and the front sway bar won't care if the front of the car is misaligned by a few (dozen) millimeters.
Don't think we weren't tempted to race like this…
Aligning the frame rails during assembly was a little tricky, especially since it turned out the nose of the blue car was a little tweaked from that little run-in with the old Oak tree. To hold things together while we welded, we tacked short lengths of angle iron to the inside corners of the rails to act as alignment tabs. (You can just see one of them failing to go inside the white frame rail on the bottom of the far side frame rail.)