Choosing A Vehicle – Part 3


 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

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