Archive for April, 2010

This would be Part Two of The Mecum Returns to Kansas City

April 14, 2010

As I said in the first part of this blog article there were several cars that could be really good “return on investment” vehicles.  Here we have a pair of  1970 Ford Mustang Mach I vehicles.  The first one is with a nice 390 big block motor.  The second with the more popular 351 Cleveland.  Little known fact…there were no 1969 cars with the Cleveland engine.  It was not produced until the 70 models came out…..this is an argument I have had many times when dealing with used Muscle cars as far as finding original engines in 1969 vehicles.  The 390 version sold for $18,750 while the 351 version sold for a mere $16,000.  Either one would cost you $25-30,000 from a reputable dealer and could be in the mid 30’s in a matter of  another year.  The market is slowly coming back and the time to buy an investment car is NOW.  The entry level cars are going to be climbing in price all summer and although it may be a couple years to get to where they were 2 years ago, profits are going to be better for the people who buy at the “bottom”.

The third picture shows how the 390 engine is literally “stuffed” into the engine compartment.  This is why they decided to balloon the Mustang when it was redesigned for 1971.  The 1971 Mustang was designed for the big block engines and to be able to accommodate the ability to actually work on the engine.

The Mustangs are among the lower priced Muscle Cars you can buy, primarily because they produced so many of them.  The original Mustang when it came out sold a million copies before it’s 3rd year of production was over.  So even though it has a huge following there are plenty of them still around to supply the market.  Add the fact that it has been in constant production since the model started and you see why the price is reasonable for a car as powerful and stylish as it was. ( And some would say still is.)

The next vehicle is NOT a true Muscle car, but rather a Collector Car.  It is the 1956 Chevrolet Bel Air.  This one has the original 265 cid V8 engine and it is a 4 door.  The 2 door Chervolets from 1955, 1956, 1957 will almost always sell for double or better what a 4 door will.  That fact notwithstanding, this little beauty sold for a mere $8,000.  Double the money to $16,000 and you probably still could never find one this cheap anywhere when it’s in this kind of shape.  Realistically, this 56 would sell for around  $25-28,000.  TRIPLE what she sold for.

I have seen 2 doors go for 40 and 50,000 dollars in this kind of shape with original V8 engines.  And even the interior is in great shape with this one.

While I am off subject here, there are a couple other interesting cars that sold at the Kansas City Auction.  Almost all collectors will usually have a few period vehicles in their collection that are not “Muscle” cars.  These are vehicles either chosen for their style, luxury, or their manufacturer to be part of their collection.The vehicle here is a 1966 Oldsmobile Toronado.  It came with a 425 cid big block V8 that produced 385 horsepower.   She was the ultimate for Oldsmobile personal luxury with plenty of power and the styling was a very streamlined aerodynamic departure to anything Oldsmobile had ever done before.  This was a front wheel drive system that GM would use to power future Cadillac Eldorado and Buick Riviera models.  But Oldsmobile was the first to try it.  Notice the flat floor in the interior shot.  No trans hump or driveshaft tunnel up the middle.  It sold for $10,000.

 The Chevrolet Monte Carlo here is a 1972 model and has a 350 small block.  While it is a personal luxury car and not a muscle car per se, it was available with almost any power option you could get in the mid-size Chevelle including the SS454 option, so it does show up on dealer showrooms from time to time.  This one because it was a 1972 and with the small block sold for $6,900.  It could list for $12-18,000 at a dealer.

Then comes a pair that are close to my heart.  If you follow me on Twitter….I am Dwayne1957… probably know I am a fan of the Chevrolet Chevelle.  There were a couple that snuck through the Mecum Auction for very reasonable prices.  A Blue 1970 Chevelle with SS badges and a 350 small block sold for $24,500 and a Red SS396 went for $28,000.  Trust me when I say the Red one could fetch close to $40,000 from a dealer without any problem.  There were other Chevelles that went for $40,000 and up at the Auction.  The color that a lot of collectors prefer is the Cortez Silver, but I do not know why.  I prefer the Reds and Blues.  Just saying, you buy a Muscle Car to be seen not to blend in with your surroundings.

There were several Corvettes that went for reasonable money but the couple of 1982 Collector Edition models they sold went for $16,500 and $14,500.   Note to my friend Randy….hang onto yours for a couple more years.  The 82’s were the first years produced in the Bowling Green factory and were also the first Corvettes to retail over $20,000.  This is useless information, but it was free.

The 1967 Pontiac GTO shown here went for $16,500.  Very low for a GTO.  She had the hood tach which is rare, and the 400 cid engine with an automatic transmission.  Other GTO’s sold for the $40,000 range at this auction, so maybe there were no buyers who liked the Light Blue color.  And yes, these guys who shop the auctions do have a preference.

The Blue Mercury is the peak of the mountain for that division.  It is a Cyclone Spoiler with the 429 Big Block engine.  This car was capable of driving UP the mountains on Interstate 80 through Pennsylvania doing over 100 miles per hour without ever losing speed as she climbed the altitudes.  I know because my brother and me took that trip in 1974 in his 1970 Cyclone Spoiler with the 429 engine.  She was and will always be one of the coolest cars in my memories.  This one sold for $23,000.  If I had been there at the auction it would have went for more because I would have still been bidding well into the $30,000 range if needed to get it.  As the pinnacle of Mercury muscle she should retail for mid 30’s.

This final car to show you….is one of the best “Muscle Cars” ever built.

This is a 1964 Plymouth Belvedere.  While Pontiac has always been given the title of creating the Muscle Car genre with it’s GTO.  Dodge and Plymouth were building these monsters since the earlier 60’s.

This vehicle would be like any other 64 Plymouth except it has the 426 Max Wedge Engine.  This engine was so savage and unruly that Mopar had to detune it and use the hemi head design to make it streetable.  She had 426 cubic inches and put out a claimed 425 horsepower.  Most car magazines back in the day figured the number was quite possibly 50 horsepower too LOW.  Notice the dual four barrel carbs staggered on the intake manifold.  This was the factory cross-ram manifold.  She was a true beast and did not like to idle for street use at all back in the day.  This one is documented by Galen Govier who is the top authority on the Mopars of the era and as such, it’s selling price of $30,000 means someone bought a vehicle that should sell for double it’s price right now or even possibly triple in a year or two.

Anyway, I will keep looking for the bargains out there so if this type of article interests you let me know and I will do more.  Or just tell me to shut up, that’s okay too……although I probably won’t listen.

Davey Boy


Mecum Returns to Kansas City

April 10, 2010

First off I apologize to anyone who came back hoping to read an anecdote story about my past life.  This week I have returned temporarily to the Muscle car sales theme that has prevailed in this blog from the start.  Mecum Auctions are/were in Kansas City for a big Auction and there were a lot of cars that sold.  There were many that to the trained eye were what are know to the masses as “money in the bank”.  Most of the sold vehicles went for reasonable money and yet there were probably 30 that sold for well under what a good dealer would sell them for.  These are the vehicles that people like me look for and try to buy to resell for a living.  These are cars that can net someone a nice $10,000 or more profit if you shop right and do your homework. 

In an effort to both educate the novice among you and to show my own ability to spot a bargain, I will share a few of these actual cars with you.  First up would be a car that here in Chicagoland is almost impossible to get ahold of.  A 1968 Oldsmobile 442 with a 400 CID engine and in really good condition.  Add the fact that it has the bucket seat interior and wood rim steering wheel and the Ralleye wheels and she is a numbers matching car.  Rough estimate would put it somewhere around $35,000 to $40,000 range, IF you could find one.   Want to know how much someone actually paid?   $17,000.  Yes, my friends….someone managed to pick up a car worth double the money.  And this was not the only one from the sale.

  There are several companies that deal with Muscle cars and run auctions.  One of the best is Mecum.  They seem to be able to get sellers to lower their reserves enough to move a lot of bargains across the staging area.  Some companies seem more intent on helping the seller.  And I understand the seller is who lists the vehicle with the company of his choosing but if it doesn’t sell there is no commission.  There is a listing fee that the auction house gets but the sellers commission is what makes the auction house their money.  So, no buyer and no sale then no commission.  Being the buyer, I like this type of thinking better, anyway.

Then there was a 1969 AMC AMX with a 390 and a 4 speed manual transmission.  Red with a silver vinyl interior.  A very nice “driver” car.  Something you can actually take out for a cruise on the weekend and not be afraid of putting a few miles on. 

While I benefit from my proximity to Kenosha Wisconsin and the fact that this area has a rather high AMC fan base due to the fact Kenosha was home base for AMC,  this vehicle that sold for $16,000 would bring from $25,000 to $30,000.

So, while not double your money, it comes close.  And sometimes close is nice, too.

Next we have a 1969 Oldsmobile Cutlass 442 convertible.  The 1969 convertibles used the “S” body for the convertible.  Later years even the 442 convertibles used the Supreme body style with its squared off rear quarter panel tops.  This was despite the fact the Supreme body style was not used for the actual 442.  This convertible would sell for around $40,000 and it went out the door for $23,500.  Nice little profit for someone to make and it’s value should climb actually ahead of the majority of the Muscle cars due to the huge following these 442’s have.

The 1969 Cortez Silver Chevelle SS396 is another GM that has an amazingly huge following.  There is a guy who lives just a few houses down from me who owns a landscaping company that has a matching his and hers set of 1971’s.  His is Blue – hers is Red….or maybe it’s the other way around I don’t know for sure.  Anyway it seems like the Chevelle is similar to being a Ferrari guy.  You don’t own a Ferrari- you collect them.  The same seems to be true with Chevelles.  A tow truck company owner I know also has 4 or 5 of them.  This silver SS396 version sold for 26,000 dollars and is worth probably close to $35,000 or maybe $40,000.  So figure a 30% premium there.  Not too shabby.

Next vehicle is a 1967 Pontiac LeMans.  It is not a GTO.  It has a 400 engine with the tri-power carburetor set-up like the 1966 and earlier 389 GTO’s had.  This was not a factory deal.  This is something the vehicle owner did to make it unique.  The car is a convertible and that makes it more valuable than just a hardtop.  It sold for $23,750.  The guy who owned it did not do the usual clone job and did NOT put GTO badges on the vehicle as would normally have been done.  He was not trying to make a clone, he just wanted the GTO experience without the price tag.  A true GTO convertible would have set him back in the neighborhood of $45-50,000.  A Real Estate salesman in my subdivision has a GTO clone that he has paid over $40,000 and it’s a hardtop with the LeMans tail lights not the slotted GTO blinkers that tells everyone what is real.  This car is more difficult to figure a price on, but I would say it should fetch $35,000 from the right person fairly easily.

Anyway, before I run into a blog entry that resembles a draft of War And Peace…( way too long )…I should wrap this up.  The point I am making is that Auctions present some very good bargains and they are an excellent source for finding vehicles.  The major Auction companies spend enormous amounts of time and money checking documentation on vehicles and making sure that they are presented as what they actually are.  And while you can find everything from totally restored better than new cars you can also find daily drivers and unrestored vehicles.  And if you arm yourself with the knowledge, you can really make or save yourself some cash too.

davey boy

Early Cars In My Life

April 7, 2010

To say that I went through a lot of cars when I started driving would be a bit of an understatement.  My first car I ever bought was a 1966 Ford Fairlane.  I did not actually pay for the car.  Somehow I managed to scam a cousin out of the car with the promise to pay him $200 for it.  Which in honesty, never happened.  I drove the little 4 door car for a couple weeks and kept having problems where it acted like “vapor lock” because the car would act like it was choking itself out and my engine speed would slowly decrease to around 25 or 30 mph then it would mysteriously clear up and drive fine for a couple hours.  Never did figure out the problem but the car finally crapped out on me on a dirt road north of Angola Indiana.  The engine refused to turn over so I walked to the closest farmhouse to use their phone to call my cousin for a ride home.  The guy at the farm looked like a typical 1970’s hippie with the full beard and happy-go-lucky disposition.  He allowed me to use his phone and then walked with me down the road to where my car was stranded.  The car was a light green color with the green vinyl interior and the body was in mint condition.  The “hippie” fell in love with the car even though it did not run and by the time Steve (my cousin) got to us I had the car sold to the hippie  for the $200 I owed for it.  Break even for Steve except then I got on the hook for the next car- a 1968 Galaxie 500.  Whereas the Fairlane had a 289 with a 2 barrel carb, this one had a 352 Police Interceptor engine that really hauled ass.  I was on the hook for $300 dollars now.  This car I paid for over the course of about 2 months, by which time I had thoroughly abused the vehicle to near death.  Another car sold for $200 and then I was onto a couple Pontiacs for my next rides.  First came a 1966 Bonneville with a 389 4 barrel.  Big boat of a car but at 90 mph she floated down the interstate like the land yacht she was.  And there was room to load up 7 buddies and go running around on the weekends.  Then came a 1969 Gran Prix SJ with the 428 cid engine.  The Gran Prix was not marketed as a muscle car from the days of yore, but as a gentlemans personal sports coupe.  This was the car that made me quite a few dollars on Friday night street races, however.  Nothing short of a Camaro Z or a Mustang Mach I or Mopar with the 440 or a Hemi could beat it on the 5 mile road course we ran.  At $50 a race, I might have lost 4 or 5 times and won a couple dozen.  This was the car that peaked my curiosity for performance cars.

From there it was a 1969 Buick GS400 convertible, 67 GTO 400, and a beautiful Jade Green Camaro SS396 convertible…..1969 of course.  These last 3 cars came to me through my part time job working for a neighbor of ours who owned a body shop.  It was actually a “Rebuild Shop”.  He specialized in buying wrecked vehicles and rebuilding them and selling them as used cars.  This enabled me to buy cars and drive them and sell them after a month or two for more than they cost me to start with.  It also enabled me to get the prize jewel of my arsenal.  That was a 1973 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme.  It was a totalled out wreck and when it was brought to the shop the owner found it had frame damage and was going to scrap the car.  After begging for the thing I bought it for $500.  I sent it down to another body guy in the area and he cut the entire front frame rails back to the firewall and welded in new sections with a box around the outside of the cuts for added stiffness.  Then with some modifications put Delta 88 A-frames and front axles.  This increased the engine compartment width enough to drop a Chevy 454 into the engine bay.  The motor got the deluxe treatment with domed pistons and forged race crankshaft and a wild cam.  Then an intake manifold with a 750 Holley carb and electric fuel pump and electric cooling fan.  I do not know what all the guy did to build the motor but when it was done I bracket raced the car at Avilla Indiana and ran the quarter at 11.9 seconds, which for a street car in 1975 was AWESOME.

The first problem to show up was that the car jerked and surged at about 110 mph on the Interstate so back to the shop it went for further engine mods.  It was determined that the engine was starving for gas and thus the jerking at top speed.  So out came the intake and the Holley and in it’s place went a Taranchula Hi-Rise and dual 480’s.  The new carbs required cutting the hood and adding a scoop that stood about 4 inches above the hood.  It messed up the forward view but at the track it cut the time to 11.6 and more importantly the speedometer now buried past 120 and the surging was gone.  This car’s first loss on a street race was due to me blowing the rear end all over US 20 just east of Columbia Ohio and once more it was back to the shop to get a new heavier duty rear end.  The donor Delta 88 now gave up the rear axle for the Cutlass.  And for the next 6 months we were the terror of the streets.

But like all great adventures it had to end.  For the Black Beauty that was my Olds, that end came at the hands of a telephone pole.  The street race was going well untill I topped a hill to find a slow car in front of me.  As it was a double hill I could not take a chance on swerving out into the oncoming lane so I rationalized the shoulder was wide enough and swung right to dart around the slower vehicle.  The flaw in my quick thinking was that the shoulder was gravel and when I swerved right at about 90 miles per hour the corresponding swerve back left did not occur.  The steering wheel swung and the tires turned I am certain but the Cutlass continued in it’s beeline off the embankment and into the aforementioned telephone pole.  The pole was merely used to slow the vehicle as it sheared off and the Olds settled into the clump of small trees that lay beyond it.  I remember hearing a voice yelling from the distance ” Hey, are you alright?”  Then my world went dark.  When I woke up it was in the Bryan Ohio Hospital Intensive Care ward and it was 2 days later.  There are probably still pieces of the Olds on that hillside although most of it was hauled off to the junkyard.  My insurance company never paid for the car because it was a “modified” vehicle and I never claimed it as such.  And Ohio Bell charged me 250 dollars for their pole.  That bill got to me before I even left the hospital.

The sad thing about the whole episode is that it did not make me want to drive slower or not take chances.  It probably made me think I was even more invincible because my love for fast powerful cars is as strong as ever.  But now at 52 I can say that I have slowed down some.  But honestly, that is because it now takes a lot longer to heal.

davey boy

Change Of Focus And Time To Expand This Blog

April 3, 2010

While I have always said this blog is both to expand the horizons for the Muscle Car Universe and to help promote myself as a possible recipient for an interested investor; I am now at the crossroads for a slightly new direction with what I am doing here.  It has been long enough for me to harp on the possible money that can and is being made with regard to these cars and instead I am going to relate some of the stories from my younger years when these vehicles were a daily part of my life. 

The problem anyone finds when telling or retelling an episode from 30 or 40 years ago is that inevitably, the cars get faster and the “fish” gets 6 inches bigger, so to speak.  But in fairness, I will at least keep these tall tales within the realm of possibilities……or try to anyway.  Remember please that these instances happened a long time ago when the world was a much simpler place and in an area where you would best describe as rural…not urban in setting….and of course since no body was killed, the statute of limitations has definitely run out so there can be no legal repercussions.  LOL

Somehow, one of the most maligned cars from the Muscle Car Era was the Chevrolet Nova.  The Nova was the replacement for the boxy little Chevy II/Nova from the early and mid 1960’s.  The car was available with 2 or 4 doors in a sedan or a coupe body and because of it’s smaller size was very popular with the young crowd.  It’s low price didn’t hurt either.  And when you combine all that with the fact that the engine selection ran the gamut from a straight 6 cylinder to the small block V8’s and then all the way up to either the 396 big block and for a couple years anyway, even the 454.  It was a street racers dream.

The problem with the Nova, and there were a few, was it was an early attempt at unibody construction.  That means it had front and rear frames that were welded to the floor pan to make the chassis.  Most cars during the time used a full frame and the body sat on the frame.  This full frame made for a sturdy base to support the tendency of a large engine to try to “torque twist” the entire car when you launched hard from a standstill.  Basically the torque of the engine twisting the driveshaft to spin the rear tires makes the car try to spin like a clock when viewed from the rear of the vehicle.  With a full frame the steel ridges down each side of the car and the cross braces help keep everything in place.  With a unibody it was stamped sheet metal trying to hold everything in place.  Similar to expecting a sheet of aluminum foil to do the work of a roasting pan.  Exaggeration but you get the point.

The benefit of this flex though was that the body/frame flex did help keep the tires contact patch actually in contact with the road.  Some of the hardest neck snapping launches were in those little Novas.  But almost every one of those cars developed what is referred to as “doglegging”.  That is where the twist or flex in the frame makes the car go down the road slightly sideways.  Not good if you want your tires to wear correctly or want your front end alignment to not make the car shake at anything over 40 mph.  Like I said this was especially prevalent in those Nova’s that had the big block V8’s or had just been driven hard by some young kid trying to impress his friends.

Back in the 60’s and the 70’s nearly every kid in High School either had or knew someone who had some kind of a muscle car.  They were a fact of life.  Gasoline was under 50 cents a gallon and $5 kept you driving around town all Friday night.  Get 2 or 3 friends together and pool your gas money and even when your car got 6 or 8 miles to the gallon a mere $10 covered the weekend.

The reason I mention the Nova is this.  The only car that ever pulled a wheelie in the parking lot at East Noble High School in Kendalville, Indiana during the spring of 1976 was a 1970 SS396 Nova.  I know because I was in the passenger seat when my friend Brad did it.  And it was all anyone talked about for the next couple months….until the end of the school year and we all graduated.  And no, it was not factory stock.  Back then very few cars were.  You put headers and Lakewood ladder traction bars and glass pack exhaust and usually a 1/4 or half race cam.  And get rid of the Rochester Quadrajet carb and put a Holley Double Pumper and maybe an intake manifold.  By the time you were done with a $1000 upgrade your 350 horsepower stock engine was pushing 450 plus.  Then you needed to take your skinny rear tires and put some 60 or 50 series tires on a nice set of Cragar SS Mags.  Cause that power does no good if the car just sits there cooking rubber.  After all, no kid in 1976 could afford to buy new tires every couple months.

This isn’t the actual car, but rather a representative of what it was.  Manual 4 speed transmission and bench front seat.  Nothing real fancy, just fast as hell and this one does not have the Cragar SS nor the Goodyear 50’s that Brad had on his Nova.  Color is correct though, too bad that nobody thought we needed to actually document these cars for a time when they would be the Dinosaurs of a long past era.

Davey boy