Archive for January, 2011

Auction Season Starts For 2011

January 16, 2011

 Well despite the fact that January started the new year over two weeks ago, the year officially starts this coming week for the Muscle Car crowd.  That is because the Auctions are beginning in Arizona.  You have the Barrett-Jackson begin on the 17th and then Russo and Steele on the 19th.  Then on the 20th you have Gooding and R-M startup theirs.  Arizona has a definite edge in the marketplace due to the number of auctions and the fact that they start before anyone else.  While I follow these and they do tend to set prices and trends for the coming year, they also tend to be more show than sale for guys like me.

  By that I do not mean to take anything away from them because all are great auctions; what I am attempting to say is that I am looking for bargains to resale and not looking for vehicles to add to a collection.  I do not buy cars for what they are worth, I buy them to resale and make money.  For me the auction to go to in January is in Florida in a week.  That is for those who do not follow my blog on a regular basis, the Mecum Auction in Kissimmee.

  The types of cars are “collector” vehicles at all of these auctions, but that term has become very obscured over the years.  You will find everything from a 1940 Ford Street Rod to a 1987 Chevrolet Monte Carlo.  And for me and probably 90% of the public, we wonder why a 1995 Mercedes-Benz 420 would be considered a “collector” vehicle?  Same with a 2006 Silverado, just because it has custom fiberglass panels bolted onto it with a 20,000 dollar paint job.  Custom to me would be that 1940 Ford Street Rod or the pictured 1968 Ford Mustang Station Wagon.  After all, when if ever have you seen a Mustang Station Wagon?

What you will find would be cars like this 1972 SS Chevelle with it’s 402 Factory big block.  The venerable 396 was upped in displacement, allegedly because of blocks having to be rebored during production a year or so earlier and Chevrolet kept the SS396 designation on their literature as well as labeling on the vehicles.  In 1972 the Chevelle SS396 was just called the “SS” because the package could be ordered with any engine and was considered merely a trim package.

 While the Chevelle SS396 gets most of the attention due to its popularity when it was new, the same 396 was available in the 1969 Camaro.

The SS/RS Camaro was smaller and lighter than the Chevelle so as a result was faster as well.  The main drawback was that it may have been too much power for the car.  The Chevelle could be equipped to actually put the power to the pavement which the Camaro needed someone who could actually drive the car to get the most out of it.  In 1976, I had a good friend in Kendallville, Indiana who had one of these and his was also a convertible although it was a nice “Jade Green” color with the white SS stripes up the hood and down the trunk lid.  It was an awesome performer to say the least.  Forget the factory ratings on power for any of the true Muscle Cars as the 396 had to be over 450 horsepower and the factory was claiming from 350-375.

For any of my regular readers, I apologize if you came here this week expecting to see the blog about the other 1965 vehicles, I will get to that maybe next week.  For you guys, here’s a 1972 Dodge Challenger R/T with the 340.  Unlike it’s “sister-car” the ‘Cuda, the Challenger was actually 2 inches longer in wheelbase because Dodge felt the longer wheelbase gave better performance and handling.  It was a lesson that their engineers had learned from all those Coronet’s, Super Bee’s, Charger’s and models that came before.  With the “Muscle Car Era” ending with the 1971 model year, this should sell for a reasonable price, I assume.

  And since I mention the Charger, we come to the first year and indeed only year that the Super Bee was based on the Dodge Charger platform.  1971 to be exact.  Final year for the purists to consider it a Muscle Car as well.  There are collectors that consider this the best Muscle Car ever built due to all of it’s one and only circumstances.  A one year shot at immortality as it happens.  This one has the 440 engine and comes in the ultra cool Citron Yellow to attract attention.

The Charger here is a 1969 Charger 500.  This is one of the rarest models produced under the Charger name and only was made in 1969 and 1970.  The 500 model was designed to win in NASCAR and as a result the people at Dodge had to have a production model for sale.  It had a flush rear window without the normal “sail-panel” roofline extensions.  As I recall it had a slightly longer nose as well.  This particular car was once owned by none other than Galen Govier.  For those who are not into the car hobby, he is the most well-known Mopar expert that there is and he does verification certificates for the collector’s on their vehicles.  So as a result it is probably one of the most documented vehicles on the planet.

For a final photo I am trying a new concept.  To get a little more feedback from people who visit my blog I am having a “Guess-This-Car” contest.  While I would like to give “A Million Dollar Prize” for the first correct answer, I would be about $999,999 and some change short for that, so there is no prize involved.  Just the satisfaction of knowing your stuff.

Answer if you can…..what year and model is it?

Davey Boy


1965 – The Big Blocks Come Out To Play

January 9, 2011

 This would be a 1964 Impala SS.  This is the car that the Beach Boys wrote the song “She’s Real Fine, My 409” about.  It has the 409 cubic inch big block motor.  While not a dual carb setup, it was and still is a potent performer and worthy of its own song.  The 1964 Impala has the distinction of being the “Best Selling” car model ever made as it sold 1,074,925 copies in 1964 alone.  This feat is even more amazing when you consider that they totally redesigned the Impala in 1965 and that car holds the number 2 spot at 1,046,500 copies.

 This was one of the facts behind the Chevrolet Division at General Motors being slow to respond to the introduction of the GTO model over at Pontiac.

The GTO in 1964 caused a stir in the automotive community and the car manufacturer’s scrambled to come up with their own performance models.  But Chevrolet, through its own arrogance as the #1 division at General Motors felt their Impala with its Super Sport model had already established the Muscle image they needed.  And better yet they did it with the heavyweight class, not the welterweight division.  After all, why would the car buying public want to drive a “Prince” when they could have the “King”?  And as a company, why would they want to earn a couple hundred dollars when they could earn double on a “full-size” vehicle.  Chevrolet had the Corvette model which was a true sports car, and they had the Corvair which was designed to compete against the European sports cars.  With the full size Impala carrying the Performance torch for the division with the American family, why would they need to claim the title for the junior league as well?

 The 1965 Chevelle Malibu SS 327 had the engine from the standard model Corvette although slightly detuned it was the venerable 327 from it’s “sports” car.  Oldsmobile responded to the 389 powered GTO in 1965 by upping the ante with its 345 horsepower 400 cubic inch power plant being installed in the 442.

 The 442 model now stood for 400 cubic inches, four barrel carb, and dual exhaust.  Despite in my opinion a rather stodgy design it was a good performer and put the Oldsmobile division on par with Pontiac in the new Muscle Car marketplace. 

  In 1965 Buick finally came into the marketplace with its Buick Skylark Gran Sport.  This was the version of the Special model with the Buick “Nailhead” 401 cubic inch motor.  Due to new rules limiting the engine size to 400 CID for midsize vehicles, Buick simply listed the engine as a 400 on its literature. 

  For the sake of clarity the GS as these cars would come to be known did not stand for Grand Sport, it was Gran Sport.  Buick made GS or Gran Sport versions of almost all its models, partly because the management did not want to miss the boat for the next wave of performance buyers.  They had a Riviera GS as well as the Wildcat GS which moved them into the 425 CID “Wildcat” engines since they were larger vehicles and the displacement restrictions did not apply.

With Pontiac laying claim to being the “Original” muscle car and both Oldsmobile and Buick now pushing big block engines and their massive power, it was finally time for Chevrolet to either throw in the towel or answer the bell.

 So answer they did.  It was the Chevelle Malibu SS396.  It would go on to become a true legend.  The original 1965 versions were built on the stiffened convertible chassis because of concerns over the engines massive torque compared with the small block engine.  This was a lesson picked up from the Pontiac division since all GTO’s were also built on different frames than the Tempest and LeMans models.  This also meant these cars had their own VIN number and as a result makes them “easier” for collectors to identify as such today.  In the case of the GTO there is also a frame identification to use for verification.

 The 1965 Chevelle Z16 SS, as it was known due to the engine designation, was however limited its first year of production.  A handful of prototypes such as the one pictured here and another 201 were all that was made in 1965.  They are among the rarest and most valuable muscle cars today.  This prototype sold a couple of years back for around $375,000.  Not bad for a car costing around $3500 new.

 This covers the General Motors end of the 1965 model year as pertains to the “Muscle Car” segment, and there are more than just GM vehicles to show you, but the others will have to wait for the next installment.  After all, I need you to keep reading this blog.  So, later all.  Thank-you for stopping by and more in about a week.

Davey Boy