Archive for July, 2010

Decisions To Make and What To Do ?

July 19, 2010

This is the 1985 project vehicle that I am currently doing.  When you get a vehicle there are some basic decisions you need to make.  Should you restore the vehicle to original or stock specifications?  Or is your goal to build a street machine or “Resto-Mod”?  Or as a possible third option are you going to race the vehicle at the strip or the local track?

In the case of the Trans Am the decision is based on getting some return on the car.  Granted the investment and return on this particular car really is not anything serious.  It is a thousand dollar vehicle that if left in street condition may bring $3,500 when sold, so the restoration needs to be done carefully and frugally as well.

This car already has a MSD ignition, MSD billet distributor, Edelbrock headers, Edelbrock aluminum intake manifold, Holley 4 barrel carb, and other goodies.  There is also the fact that even though this vehicle is an 85, it has IROC-Z rims from a 1988-1990 Camaro as well as that car’s engine.  Also under the vehicle, is a newer 2 1/2 inch exhaust system leading to a dual outlet muffler.  Not a dual exhaust system, but it should provide the needed back pressure to keep the motor from scorching valves.

Under its lift off hood, it also had a non functioning air conditioning system.  That was the first thing to eliminate.

The compressor, hoses and the dryer were removed to clear up space in the engine compartment and to eliminate about 20 pounds of weight as well.  While the weight isn’t a big deal the clutter was.

As you can see in the photo, anytime you gain space under the hood you get not only more room to work on a vehicle, you also gain better cooling for your engine.  And since the system was not working why keep it?

The parts do have some value for someone possibly so they can be sold through either E-Bay or Craig’s List or a local newspaper ad.  Usually you will also have a local race track that has a parts list network to sell unneeded parts and pieces to other guys or gals doing a project.

Always remember that your “junk” could be someone elses “treasure” and also, anytime you can recycle a part or parts, you are doing a good thing.

Well that’s the status report.

Later fellow car people.

Davey Boy


Des Moines, Iowa Auction Over With and Somebody’s Gonna Make Money

July 19, 2010

 For the faithful few who follow my blog here on WordPress, you know I spent 3 of my recent posting on what cars are due to climb in value and make money by increasing in value.  One of the forgotten cars from the Muscle Car Era is the Chevrolet Corvair.  When Ford came up with the Mustang and car manufacturers devoted attention to smaller sporty cars, Chevrolet relied on the Corvair to be its contender in the segment.  Rather than admit the rear engined car had little or no chance to compete with offerings from Ford and Dodge, Chevrolet came up with performance upgrades that included the Monza and Monza Spider versions that delivered on the more power mantra from the era.

This 1968 Corvair with its 110 hp air-cooled four-cylinder sold at auction for the price of $2000.

This makes it a collector car that sold for less than the price when new, or about that amount.  Within the next 2 years it should be a $10,000 to $20,000 vehicle.  Nice return for someone.

The Auction in Des Moines showed the market is a little weak right now in my opinion because there were several really low sales prices for some of the cars.  The fringe cars were especially short on bidders.

This 1969 Chevrolet El Camino with it’s 350 cubic inch small block went for $9,100.  While the El Camino’s have lower values than the Chevelles they are based on the 350 small block V8’s are among the cheapest in the bunch since it was the entry level V8.  The 350 is a fine motor, but it is a small block and a true muscle car needs a big block.  This “truck” should be worth $15,000 now and possibly the 20’s by next spring.

There was a 1971 El Camino also sold at Des Moines for $12,750.  It was the very popular “Cortez Silver” and while it had SS badges it was not a documented vehicle so it was sold as a “regular” El Camino.

And for those who want a stylish old car but not necessarily a Muscle Car there was this 1976 Cadillac Eldorado Convertible.  You do not see a lot of them in the Buttercream color.  And it was in really great shape.  And it sold for the least I have ever seen one go for.  A mere $9,250 and it had a new owner.  Normally these stay in the $20,000 range but I have seen them dip down to 12,000 to 15,000 dollars.

This 1969 Ford Torino GT Fastback is another bargain from Des Moines, as it sold for $9,100.  There are a lot fewer Torinos than Chevelles out there and finding a real GT fastback puts it in rare company.  To get it for under $10,000 is just crazy.

There were several “Second Generation” Trans Ams sold at the auction and ranged from 12 to just under 20 thousand dollars.  This 1978 Formula 400 sold for a nice $7,500.  This is a vehicle that I showed you in my 3 part series, and is going to gain value ahead of the curve in the coming years.

Anyway, that’s the update this time and I’ll be letting you know what progress I am making on my 85 Trans Am soon in another post.

So, enjoy Summertime, and remember to stay hydrated.  LOL

Davey Boy

New Project and Still Alive

July 13, 2010

Okay, admittedly a little over dramatic perhaps, but it could have been worse than what it ended up being.  Looking at my picture you can see that I got stung in the upper eyelid by a paper wasp.  And as luck would have it, I am one of those people who are allergic to bee stings so I am supposed to carry an Epi-Pen which I don’t.  Anyway, I am still alive and the swelling is down from what it was all weekend.  The worst part was the migraine headache all weekend.

Anyways,… I once again went to my favorite place on Saturday.  I am of course talking about the Volo Auto Museum in Volo, Illinois.  They had a local club there with a large gathering of cars and it was cool.  It got me in the mood for a “flip” project.  That is a car to buy and turn around and sell hopefully for a profit.  It is just something to keep busy with and they rarely turn into financial windfalls.  After trying the E-Bay Motors site for a 1974 Dodge Challenger, I ventured on to a 1969 Mustang coupe and neither panned out as I got outbid.  No problem since neither had motor or transmission.  They are what is known as “roller” chassis vehicles and would end up being several months work to make the car complete again.

Then an interesting ad caught my “good” eye.  It was a 1985 Pontiac Trans Am up for bid.  So to make a short story out of all this I ended up buying the thing with a winning bid of just over a thousand dollars.  Not that the car is in bad shape, but the engine does not run.  The kid selling it said it ran for a while and then quit.  He stated that the plugs “fouled” out and now it wouldn’t start.

Now I am not a mechanical genius but to me it sounded like the car would need heads or a complete engine.  So figuring $500 for a junkyard 350 small block and another $500 to overhaul it would put me at just a tick over $2000 bucks for a car that was worth maybe $3500 to $4000.

And it will give me something to do as well.

So keep checking in and I’ll let you know any progress.  So far the bills are $190 for the tow truck charge and another $60 for a battery.  I will start taking bits off the engine in a day or two, and let you all know what surprises I find.

The previous owner got rid of the “pod” gauges and installed a mini-tach as you see in the interior photo and the radio has been removed also, but it’s not in too bad of condition bodywise.  No holes or rust showing on the doors or the floor pans or any of the fenders.  Paint is iffy because the black is good but the clear coat top layer is peeling in spots.  I do not plan on investing in a paint job because that would leave me with NO chance of getting my money back.  Well, I will write more soon, so everyone stay safe and enjoy your summer time activities.

By the way for anyone interested the website for the Volo Auto Museum is

Check them out because they always got something going on in the summertime.

Davey Boy

Choosing A Vehicle – Part 3

July 5, 2010

 One of the areas with the highest potential for increasing their value would be what are considered the “fringe” vehicles.  Examples like this 1959 Chevrolet El Camino would fit into that corner of the collector car market.  This would be an extreme example since it is before the “Muscle Car Era” started.  The version shown here was based on the Impala or the Biscayne model line and therefore not an intermediate per se.  Other fringe vehicles would include the Mercury Cougar. 

This one being a 1969 with a 351 Windsor small block.  The “Cleveland” did not reach production untill the 1970 model year.  This is a discussion I have had many times before with guys who are supposed to be knowledgeable in the field.  The Cougar was marketed as a personal luxury coupe to compete with the segment that included the Riviera, Toronado and eventually the Monte Carlo.  As far as sales go it was not very competitive, but with the right options it could compete with some of the lesser Muscle Cars at the time.

The Dodge Charger as this example from 1969 shows was very much a muscle car and its 440 cubic inch big block engine was only outdone by the 426 Hemi from Mopar.  Although it lacked a few cubic inches when compared with the 455 and 454 engines from General Motors.  The big difference was that Mopar was installing this beast into intermediates long before General Motors lifted their 400 cubic inch corporate limit for intermediates in the 1970 model year.

GTO’s and 442’s and Chevelle’s and Gran Sport’s had to do with their 389 and 400 and 396 engines while over at Mopar you still had 2 options above them to choose from.  This is one of the reasons why Mopars are among the most valuable collector vehicles.  While there are a lot of Chargers still around the model year of 1969 is among the most sought after due in small part to the “Duke’s of Hazzard” who’s General Lee is probably one of the most famous cars of all time.

This 1969 American Motors AMX with its 390 big block is another example of a vehicle that while not at the top of the food chain in its time is sought after today.  The Javelin it was based on was equiped with a back seat while the AMX version was shortened and did not have a back seat, but rather a “package area”.

The early models of the Chevelle are also climbing in value a little ahead of the curve.  This is a 1968 138 series which is a SS396.  But the models with the 327, 307 and of course the 350 small blocks are being bought and restored as well.  Later versions of the 396 actually used a 402 engine despite being billed as SS396 models due to the popularity of the engine.  The change was due in part to the blocks having scratched cylinder walls and needing to be rebored by the factory, or so the story goes.  Not everything said by General Motors was as honest as you would have believed during their attempts to get around “Corporate” rules restricting their engine selections.

This 1978 Pontiac Formula is another example of vehicles that are choices when you start looking for cars to invest in.  The Trans Am was bona-fide “BIG DOG” of the Firebird group but the Formula was an equally impressive car with slightly more civilized manners.  The Pontiac division was probably the last Detroit carmaker to give up on the Muscle Car as the Trans Am continued being the fastest thing other than a Corvette, that you could buy from Detroit.  Even though these later vehicles were smog controlled and detuned versions of their former selves, in their time they were the best you could hope for.  And due to this most “collectors” will always have at minimum a Formula in their collection if not a T/A with the 455 HD motor.

So besides the obvious choices from 1964 to 1971 model years there are many choices for you to look through when it comes to picking a car for an investment.

This 1971 Chevrolet El Camino SS454 is an example of what the final year of the “Muscle Car Era” had in store for buyers. 

When you decide what manufacturer you prefer then you start looking through their lineup and based on what you have to spend, you should be able to find something, either an actual muscle car or a fringe vehicle.

Sometimes the choices are overwhelming because there are literally hundreds to choose from, but if you are not in the market soon you will find it much more expensive in the future to get in.  The values on some of these cars will nearly double in the next 2 or 3 years and no matter what they will probably outpace the rate of inflation.

So my advice would be get off the couch, and either get logged into the internet to start searching or go out to your local car shows and see whats around.  Someone always has someones dream car for sale.  And you don’t want someone else getting yours now, do you?

Davey Boy