Archive for April, 2009

Summer is Near and So Are The Cars

April 26, 2009

Ahhh, summertime and that means summer drives.  Whether you prefer cruising through town with the windows down in the evening or doing it in the afternoon with the top down and feeling the wind through your hair ( or in my case- the wind over your bald head ).  Or maybe the country drive with your gal by your side watching the fields roll by.  For me it’s load up the wifey and the kids and go find some open rural road to actually run a tank of gas through the beast and enjoy the afternoon.

1965 "Goat" Convertible

1965 "Goat" Convertible

The spring is the best time to be a seller of these cars because the urgency factor comes into play.  People who have waited and watched all fall and winter now feel the urge to get out and cruise in their vintage car.  And if they do not have a car, they are running out of time to get one and get some use out of it.

I feel a little sorry for the guys who have the cars valued at $100,000 and more because you can’t really enjoy those like you can a nice restored or driver vehicle in the 30-40 thousand dollar range.  Being worried about where you can park it at the restaurant or the drive-thru just isn’t for me and I like it when people come over to check out my ride.  After all the reason for having a convertible is to be seen in it and the reason to have a muscle car is for people to see IT.

So while I wait for a couple more weeks for the weather to cooperate here in the Northern Illinois region, I will keep thinking about where I want to cruise to first.  Wisconsin’s farm fields or out toward McHenry’s classic car shows and check out the other rides?

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Why is it so Hard to Understand?

April 21, 2009

For the uninformed…I do not wish to get on a soapbox here and detour from what this blog is about.  It is about Muscle Cars and the people who follow or the people who want to learn more about them.

However, the ongoing hypocrisy about the American car manufacturers and their “broken” business model is sadly all out of whack and most of the info out there is just plain wrong or just lies being used by the political supporters of one party.  You know which one.

Fact- American car makers pay their employees health benefits or greatly subsidize them.

Fact -the Foreign makers do not.

Fact- the profits of American makers are taxed under current American law.

Fact- profits from foreign makers are not even taxed by their home countries until those profits are taken to their home market. And are almost totally exempt from U.S. taxation.

The wages between the car makers are within a couple dollars of being even, it is all the retirees and pension costs and health care that creates the uneven playing field.  The Japanese and the Europeans build some vehicles here.  For the Japanese there are a couple reasons. They cannot build their large trucks and cars in Japan because they are too wide for Japanese roads and would have a tax levied on them, so the export only models are actually cheaper to build here.  The other reason and this applies to all the Europeans as well is Health Care costs.  Yes the very same as what our makers have to pay under union contracts here are National Law in every one of these car manufacturers home country.  Every worker in England, Germany, Japan, France, Italy- every one is covered by National health care and it is paid through their taxes on the employers as well as the taxation of all citizens.  Here they pocket those costs and fore-go the cost on the employer side because they do not employ the extra workers at home but rather in the U.S. where they get by being WalMart and not ponying up the cash.  And those dollars go back to where ever the home company is based as added profits.

We gladly handed out Hundreds of billions to try and make the greedy bankers and Wall Street solvent without any plan on making them actually solvent.  Here’s your blank check, since you are a banker you know better than us how to use it.  Basically that was it.  But when Detroit came calling for help, we made them jump through hoops and made them beg for tens of billions.  Despite the fact that these guys directly control a million jobs in this country compared to the financial sectors hundreds of thousands of jobs.  And between their suppliers and their iron mining and rubber making and the electronic suppliers and every thing else that goes into building and maintaining their factories there are another 2 million jobs involved.

Up until the 1970’s every foreign made car sold in America had an added import tax on it.  We eliminated that to make it fair for the foreign companies and instead we opened the floodgates and not only made the field level- we made it advantage to the foreigners.  Our politicians are telling us that our manufacturers are not competitive but they are not because the laws are biased toward the foreign companies.  We give tax benefits to American companies that end American jobs and send jobs overseas.  We blame the American workers in our factories and say they are not competitive enough or they are overpaid and too greedy and EVERY TIME YOU TURN AROUND ANOTHER WALL STREET TYPE HAS STOLEN MILLIONS OF DOLLARS. Or more correctly 60 BILLION DOLLARS.  It is not the workers who have caused this mess.

It is POLITICIANS AND WALL STREET AND BANKERS.  And we know who they are and why they hang together.

And for all you people who have lost your jobs and watched factories close and industries move out of town, I do sympathise with you all, but how many are driving a foreign made or a car made by a foreign manufacturer here in the U.S.  Sad fact is when you weaken one part of the economy you do not make the rest stronger….that is a lie.  A 3 legged dog is never as fast as a four legged dog and a house with 3 walls cannot protect its inhabitants when the wind and the rain come from the open side.  The economy is the same. It needs all of us supporting each other, not selling out to foreign companies that do not care about what it means to be an American.

If General Motors goes bankrupt and Chrysler goes out of business then America may as well raise a Korean or a Chinese flag over the White House lawn because we will have lost.  Without a viable auto industry, every European and Asian country knows you are doomed and they have spent billions to assure that their car makers stay alive.  And here in America we tell ours to find a foreign buyer and cut down in size so those jobs leave the country.  Somehow we Americans are now the stupid people and the rest of the world scratches it’s head. 

And while I could go on for another 6 hours with this tripe…that’s the end of this…..for now.

Busy Week with Amazing Potential

April 11, 2009

I guess I should start by admitting that the reason for this blog is to promote the American Muscle Car as an investment.  There are several objectives for me in this endeavor.  The first would be to obviously promote myself, as someone with a fair amount of knowledge about them of course. 

This goal is being achieved partially through an online magazine (known as an E-Zine) by the name of American Musclecar and can be accessed at http://openzine.com/americanmusclecar.  Since it is basically a one page deal I really don’t get into the production numbers or the engine availability or any of the myriad of values for these cars but rather give a basic write-up of them and deal with a specific model in each issue when possible.  It seems to be doing quite well since it has gotten a larger audience with every passing issue.  The Ford and the General Motors fans seem to be drawn to it more than the Mopar but that could be because the Mopar guys may be more into “tech” and that’s not what it is about with the e-zine.  Anyway it seems to be one of the more popular zine’s on there so I put an issue out every 3 weeks or so. Check it out and judge for yourself.  I try to appeal to the novice more than the pro’s because my objective is to spread the word and get more people into the hobby.

1970 Buick GS455 Stage 1

1970 Buick GS455 Stage 1

The current issue for example deals with the Buick Skylark derivatives that went under the Gran Sport banners. 

Then there is the on-line “chat” phenom called Twitter that I occasionally visit.  The premise of “what are you doing” seems cool and all but mostly it seems everyone is an Internet entrepreneur and usually I myself use it for keeping up with the various race crews and car hobbyists out there.  You can look me up under “dwayne1957” if you feel the urge. 

Like I said this blog ties in more with the e-zine and with my trying to promote my end game of starting a Muscle Car Dealership of my own and so that brings me to the final part of the blog this time.  I have spent the past several years pouring over web sites and finding various cars I can buy and sell to make money and working diligently toward my end goals and feel like I may finally be coming closer to that goal of a business.  I have a couple weeks to work out the final kinks with my business plan and a presentation to a potential backer is in the works.  Wish me luck and hopefully my wasted trip to Bloomington, Indiana to see John Mellencamp will be just another story to tell the grandchildren some day about “Grandpa the Stalker”.  Maybe even a story I can share here with you all some day as well.

NHRA and Racing as it ties into Muscle Cars

April 5, 2009

I gotta tell you the only thing that pumps me up more than a 400 plus horsepower beast from 1970 or 1969 is when the roar of those nitro rails and funny cars launch at the Route 66 Dragway here in Joliet, Illinois.

While even my holy musclecars pale in comparison to the 7000 horsepower plus these monsters put out…there is a connection.  Even if a faint one, these muscle cars were conceived for street and strip performance in their day since the entire goal to their development was to be able to brag about speed and quarter mile elapsed time.

The top three teams in the business are all very much class acts that really do everything they can to not just promote themselves, but to actually promote the entire sport.  Believe me when I tell you that I have no connection to these teams or to anyone who works for them yet even as just a fan, I have had the privilegeto get into their courtesy tent areas and talk to their drivers and share their hospitality both with a free meal and soda.  John Force Racing was my first.  The preeminent Funny Car Team in Nhra is John Force Racing.  My “in” with them was Fadal.  This company makes CNC and computerized milling machines for Force Racing and machine shops around the globe.  And as both a sponsor of Force Racing and a supplier for my brother-in-law’s work, we managed to get the pit passes through his job and we got the star treatment with autograph sessions with all their drivers and photos with them.  Very cool when you are in the tent area and you look out at the other fans on the outside of the ropes where you used to be.

The very next year was the year we managed to get invited into Don Schumacher Racing’s pit area.  That happened by chance when we showed up at Route 66 in my PT Cruiser Turbo and happened to be parked next to a guy driving a Dodge Ram Quad-cab with dealer plates and he had extra pit passes to give out.  He told me nice ride and asked if we had our tickets yet.  Yes, we replied and he gave us the pit pass cards with the lanyards to wear them and once again we were into the courtesy area getting the whole royal treatment with catered lunch, soda, photos and autographs.

The 3rd; and it is my opinion that there are still 3 or 4 I would like to visit in coming years; would be Kalitta Motorsports.  I have not been into their pits as of yet..so if anyone can put in a good word to Connie Kalitta for me I would be grateful.  This is Conrad’s 50th year in drag racing and I would love to be able to share in that, so hopefully I can find myself an in, with getting that accomplished.

Anyway I do follow all the teams I mentioned here through my Twitter pages and hopefully as time goes on I can get my chance to further promote myself as a fan of the entire NHRA and hopefully promote them as well to all of you. 

Anyone who has not been to a live NHRA Drag Race needs to go. The television coverage on ESPN and ESPN2 is excellent but nothing compares to the experience of being there.  Seriously, when you are 30 rows up in the stands and they launch these things on the starting line you feel the vibration through your feet and into your actual bones.  When 2 of these beasts leave the line together it is AWESOME.  Nothing can possibly compare short of being there standing on the train tracks as a train rolls through.  That is something you really do NOT want to do.

Collector’s and Storage

April 4, 2009

While most of the collector car hobbyists are able to keep their car or even two cars in their garage at their home, there are many who find that the collection has outgrown their storage space.  The options become somewhat complex at that point.  You can rent a storage space or maybe find a warehouse in most metropolitan areas that will rent you floor space in their building.  Usually these are climate controlled and both heated in the winter and air conditioned cooling during the summer.  They usually end up being pricey to say the least and normally they are not always that conveniently located either.  The final option would be to buy or build your own building.  If you are in a rural area or an area with acreage available you could build a pole barn or a suitable building yourself.  Granted this option is for only the larger collections.

Sealed Floor

Sealed Floor

Whenever you decide you need to build or buy a building for your collectible vehicles there is one expense that truly needs to be done.  Sealing the concrete floor to prevent “dusting”.  All concrete will become dry and then the powder actually becomes loose from the slab.  This dust becomes airborne and will end up on the paint surface of your vehicles and dust of any type will be an abrasive on those vehicles.  A sealer or an epoxy coated floor will eliminate nearly 80% of your potential dust problems.  The floor will be protected from wearing away under foot and tire traffic and the appearance of a shiny smooth floor will only highlight the vehicles in the building.  And one more thing to consider is that a shiny floor, especially one of a lighter color will reflect light better and enable you to light your building using less electricity and fewer watts of lighting.  Anything that can save money today will be nothing but good.  Find a qualified vendor in your area for the epoxy or the sealing options you will need.  Get a couple of estimates and ALWAYS check with the BBB (Better Business Bureau) about vendors to get someone who is reliable and good.  There are many companies doing epoxy flooring and they rely on a pickup truck, a mop bucket and a hand sander to prep your floor.  These are not the guys you want to do more than a one car garage.  A reputable company will be able to handle everything from edge grinding, crack repairs, rebuilding floor joints, concrete polishing and staining, shot blasting, epoxy and flake floors, and any line striping you may need.  For those people in the Chicago, Illinois area you have the luxury of having one of the best in the business in Busy Beaver, Inc.  They are located in Lake Zurich and can be found on the web at www. busybeaverinc.com

I will add that I recommend them and yes, I also work for them.  I have been friends with the owner since 1994 and was once their equipment mechanic and returned to work there in 2004 as their warehouse manager.  But they are the best, and I also know several of the other vendors who compete against “Beaver”.  Busy Beaver also subcontracts for some of the Custodial services for their own customers and works with most of the major industrial building management company’s throughout the area from Milwaukee all the way down through Indianapolis.  Even if you are looking to Epoxy the floor of your 3/4/5 car garage at home give them a shout and tell them americanmusclecar sent you.

Added for the guys building up around Indianapolis for all those Race Teams…We travel for larger floor spaces and with all you guys building 50,000 to 500,000 square foot shops down along Nitro Alley….give us a call to see what we can do.  At the going rate of $3 and up per sq. ft for an epoxy floor with proper preparation you should give the team at Beaver a shot to discuss what you want, as well as have their experts tell you what you need.  After all you know performance for racing, they know performance for flooring.  And they are a “Green” company.

Epoxy Floor

Epoxy Floor

Musclecars as investments

April 2, 2009

What $30,000 can buy you today

What $30,000 can buy you today

While most of the population here in the United States, including myself have been brainwashed into thinking investments involve giving our hard earned money to a “professional” to find the right type of investment for “our” unique situation.  Unfortunately, the unique situation everyone has is all treated the same by these guys.  All financial investments are done with the reality that whether you gain or lose money, the professional still gets paid.  Bottom line is whether it is my broker or yours, unless you start out as a multi-millionaire….your broker makes money and drives a better car than you do.  And he is paying for it with money from you and a hundred other you’s.  There may be a difference in the individual stocks you have in your portfolio, but you are not treated differently than the next guy.  You are the cash cow.  And you pay.  You pay to buy, you pay to sell and if you profit you pay some more.

Because I am not able to invest 6 to 8 hours a day into the financial markets every day, I was one of the idiots who bought mutual funds and left it to the brain’s in New York to pick what stocks to buy…and because of their greed, I lost 70% of my money.  So much for them being smarter than me.  Actually they are smarter since I lost and they still got paid by me while giving my money away. 

Real Estate is the other investment high up on the list for ways to get rich.  When home values are losing money and people are losing their homes they have, even the people who invest in rental properties are having trouble finding people who can pay the rent.  If their are no jobs then there is no one to buy a home or to rent one from you.  Your real estate will be worth more over time eventually but for now can you pay the mortgage for the next year or two until the economy straightens out?   If you have the savings already to do so then real estate is probably still an excellent investment.

But for the vast majority of America whose nest-egg is less than $100,000 the choices for investing become limited.  Enter the Muscle Car.  There are lots of quality cars available that can be in really good condition that will run you around $25,000 to 45,000 and these cars will only become more valuable over time when they continue to get older and rarer. The choice of what model of car to purchase should be decided by you based on what you like and what you want to have sitting in your garage, but unless you are very mechanically inclined my advice would be to stay away from cars with multiple carburetors and early fuel injection systems.  Stick with cars that would tend to be more general appeal and more popular instead of the rare, very limited production models.  GTO, Chevelle, Camaro, Mustang, Torino, GS, GSX, GTX, Road Runner, Charger, Coronet, Super Bee, Cuda, Challenger, Cyclone, and the list goes on.  Every one of these cars would fit into the under 60,000 range depending on what engine they had when they left the factory.  You need to make sure the engine in the vehicle is what was the original size when it was built, preferably the original engine if you want maximum return for your investment.  Give a professional classic car dealer in your area a visit before you buy something if you do not know how to verify original engine numbers and such because nothing is worse than spending 50 grand and finding out your SS454 Chevelle is actually a 307 “clone” car that will never be worth more than 25 grand.  You may as well give my broker a call at that point.

The muscle car investment has added benefits as well.  You can actually get in and drive your vehicle and get some joy from it when you cruise through the town on a cool afternoon and the sun is shining.  Nobody I know of can say they take their certificate of deposit and get any enjoyment out of it until the day it matures and they get to cash it in.  Just do not expect to be able to drive the vehicle every day or to take it out when it’s rainy or worse yet snowing.  These vehicles need to be driven occasionally but not often. Wear and tear, even normal use is the way they depreciate in value.  So the more pristine the more value.

Some areas of the U.S. are better as buyer’s areas and some areas are better as seller’s areas.  The west and southern states are definitely better for the buyer’s as there are more vehicles that have survived the years fairly intact.  The upper Midwest and upper east coast are seller’s areas due to the fact that harsh winters take their toll on all vehicles and there are fewer to choose from.  Ideally as a result a Chevelle may sell for 30 grand in Florida or Texas and the same car can be trailered or trucked to Chicago and sell for 40.  And to be honest it only costs about 2 thousand dollars to have the car shipped so the extra 8 grand is just in finding the right buyer.  E-Bay is a classic success story for selling these vehicles because with the advent of the Internet you can be located in Sarasota, Florida and still get in front of that buyer in Bismark, North Dakota who has the desire to buy the car.  The problem with E-bay is most cars are for sale through individuals not dealers so be careful when checking out vehicles for originality.

One day I myself hope to put my knowledge to use and start my own dealership in these vehicles.  Until then anyone who wants to ask me questions about these cars or gain some of my knowledge can do so by contacting me here, and even if you just want to say hello, this is where I am.

What and why are Muscle Cars?

April 1, 2009

What..that depends on whom you ask. The standard answer would be the mid size cars produced from 1964 through the 1971 model year that were created and marketed towards the performance oriented automobile buyer.

But that would be too simple.  The reason for the start year is because most experts contend that the muscle car started with the Pontiac GTO.  Myself and others feel it actually started earlier than that.  The 413 Max wedge powered Dodge Dart was on the scene 2 years prior in 1962 and by the time John Delorean and his designers converted a Tempest into a GTO, every NHRA and IHRA track in the country had already seen the little Dodge Dart rewrite every track record.  And they did it as stock vehicles.  Even today some of these cars troll the strips across America to keep their legend alive.  And save for  the replacement Dart created in 1968 with the introduction of the famed 426 Hemi into the Dart chassis by the factory, the 413 Max Wedge would still be the utmost performance car ever produced by an American auto-maker.  Remember that Yenko and Shelby and all those “ultimate” muscle cars were modified vehicles and not true factory production vehicles.  So whatever the start date of the Muscle Car Era was is debate-able but it ended in 1971.  That is the vote of 99.9% of people who collect and own these vehicles.  That was the year that all American car manufacturers cut their engine compression ratios and the horsepower was gone.  1970 saw the change from gross horsepower to net horsepower ratings and some people think that meant power was taken away then, but it was merely the required rating system that changed.  The fact gets more confusing because most notable the Mopar Hemi’s saw the same Horsepower ratings both in 1970 and in 1971, so a lot of people assume that Dodge and Plymouth were the only companies to not cut power from their top engine.  The fact was that while Mopar had been claiming 425 horsepower from this motor; they and everyone else knew these hemi’s were a lot higher than that, and so the net rating required in 1971 was actually just closer to reality.

The why part of the Muscle Car phenomenom is a little harder to explain.  To understand means you need to not only drive one of these vehicles but understand the context of the time period.  The hot rods of the 50’s were created from the earlier vehicles and most of these homemade cars were never designed nor intended to run 90 or 100 miles per hour on the open road.  Add the fact that organized racing was occuring all across the country and this was the ideal opportunity for car manufacturers to showcase and promote their products to the American car buyers.  By 1966 nearly every Car Manufacturer in America had at least one model that was a Muscle Car and several makers had 3 or 4 or even more.