Archive for September, 2011

Getting Back Into The Groove

September 20, 2011

  The Mecum Auction is over for St. Charles and while prices are somewhat depressed still, there were some very nice high-end cars that drew big money.  I am not going into those here since that isn’t what I deal in – nor is it what impresses me.  If you gotta haul your car on a trailer for a show, then what’s the use having it?

  I prefer nice “driver” quality cars and there are plenty of them available.  I admit to being old.  Physically I am 53….almost 54.  Mentally sometimes I am either 14 or 80.  Rarely anything in between.  While I promote the Muscle Cars as investment tools, there are also other cars that someone can purchase to either enjoy or sell and make a decent profit.  While I promote Muscle Cars, there are many Collector Vehicles that would make nice driver or investment vehicles.  The 4 speed Beetle pictured here is a 1974 and sold for a mere $3100.  If you ever owned an original Beetle with its “jingle-jingle” engine rattle then you would understand the slow but steady charm of tooling around in one of these reliable air-cooled boxer 4 cylinder marvels.

 

  Then if the Beetle doesn’t turn you misty-eyed we also have the Type 2 Wagon pictured here.  The ever traveled “Hippie” van, this one being a 1970 version.  The Westfalia version had a complete kitchen and bed in it, while this wagon is your basic passenger hauler.  Again, very slow compared to my normal preference for a livery, but when you go nostalgic not everything was built to do 90-100 mph in the 1/4 mile.  The other side of the “slow” equation is that Volkswagen’s were from Europe, not Detroit so they couldn’t be Muscle Cars even if they did have big V8 engines.  This vehicle sold for $5500.

  For the Pony Car people there were several Mustangs that sold for decent money.  Someone bought this 1967 with its original 289 and automatic transmission for just $6000.

  Mustangs are usually very nice entry-level cars for someone who wants a fun, sporty car without breaking into their 401K to buy it.  This is because for much of the early models they were a really big seller and from 1964 through 1970 they produced literally millions of them in all body configurations.  From coupes to convertibles to fastbacks.  From straight 6 cylinder engines to small V8’s and even massive big block V8 engines.  You could buy them as economy cars all the way to full-bore factory prepped race track cars.  Mustang was the only car during the Muscle Car years that was marketed and designed to fill almost every niche in the automotive consumer marketplace.  The only missing piece would have been if Ford had actually built Mustang Station Wagons as well.  If you have been reading my blog, you realize I have actually had a photo of a Mustang Station Wagon before that sold at an auction in the past, but it was a custom conversion unit.

 While we are dealing with Ford vehicles, we need to touch on trucks a bit as well.  This is a 1970 Ford Bronco with its original 170 cubic inch engine and 3 speed manual trans.  These could be ordered with the 289/302 or upgraded further to a 351.  This was the most capable off-road vehicle of its time. Surpassed only by the Jeep CJ so far as rock climbing ability.  Properly equipped I have seen these Bronco’s go places no other off-roader would even think about.  They were small and built to take a beating.  They are still very popular with the off-road racing crowd.  This beauty went for $8500.

  Then we have this 1972 Ford Ranchero.  While the Ranchero did not have the following of the Chevrolet El Camino, it was a very nice looking vehicle for being a “quasi-truck”.  That is a truck that is built as a car….or is it a car that is built as a truck?  Most people do not like the big grille years such as this is, but for me the “fish-mouth” grill is what I like most about the styling.  I am also one of those who find the 2 head light El Camino sleeker and more stylish that the 4 head light versions.  I prefer the Chevelle with 4 headlights, don’t ask why…it’s the way my brain is wired I guess.

  The 351 Cleveland engined Ranchero went for $6700.  While the value is less for a 1972 compared to a 1970 or 1971, that’s due to the fact engine compression and therefore power was down significantly thanks to Federal regulations.  But they were still pre-Catalitic Converter so if you have basic engine skills it is relatively easy and cheap to bump the horsepower numbers back up on these.  And the ease of just swapping the motor for a serious big block such as the 428 or 429 is just icing on the cake.

  While talking about 1972 vehicles we turn to this 1972 Chevrolet Monte Carlo with its 402 big block V8 engine that sold for $8750.  While rated at a meager 240 horsepower, that is very easy to change to closer to a rating of 350-400 horses since the 402 is actually the venerable 396 engine that Chevy used for many years in some of their grandest performance vehicles.  The Chevelle just a year prior with this same 402 engine was still being marketed as the SS396 because the Bowtie fans knew what a 396 was and Chevy did not want to have their fans think it was a new engine.  After all it wasn’t.  It came about because a group of blocks came through with scratches in the cylinders that Chevrolet had to hone out to be able to use them rather than junk the entire batch.  The increased bore is why it became a 402.  Once they had increased the bore size and pistons to fit they did not want to shrink the engine size back and admit that it was a “manufacturing flaw”.

  The final couple to review are both Oldsmobiles.  This is a 1969 Cutlass convertible with it’s “Rocket 350” engine and a 4-speed trans.  Not as good as a 400 cubic inch 442 from 1969, but definitely a nice driver for summer fun.  This baby sold for $10,500.  Nice.

   Then we come to a true Oldsmobile 442.

  For the very reasonable price of $13,750 someone drove this green beauty home to their very own garage.  With its white vinyl roof and white stripes it was a nice looking vehicle.  The only thing I would change would be to put a Ram Air Hood on it instead of the base hood.  Aftermarket fiberglass would run about $450 while a steel NOS can fetch up to $1200 depending how authentic you want to get.  As you can see from both pictures, they used pretty much the same steel “Ralleye Wheels” for several years on the Cutlass and 442 lines.

Davey Boy

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Ten Years and What I have Learned

September 10, 2011

 The date of 9-11-2001 is burned into the memory of everyone in America.  There will be literally millions of posts and retrospectives and endless rehashing of the events of that day and no doubt it will be to the point where our minds turn numb from thinking about the horrific events of New York City and Washington D.C. and even the Pennsylvania wooded crash site and what was perhaps the one shining event of the day, if you can take anything out of the day and say it was a “good” thing.  The passengers and their bravery to determine from what they knew from earlier events decided their fates and ended what was to be an even worse outcome and they brought their plane down before their attackers could harm countless thousands more.

  I was working as a “Handyman” at the time and as luck would have it I was off that day and at home.  I had the CNN news in the background on the television while I went through my morning e-mails looking for job leads and prospective projects.  Then they broke in with what was described as a small engine airplane had crashed into the World Trade Center.  When they cut to live video of the scene, the first impression was that there was a large amount of damage area for being a Cessna.  It turned out to be much worse than the first report.  By the time the second plane flew into the second tower on live TV, everybody watching knew we were under attack.  There was no “accident” in the events we witnessed.  This was an open and shut attack on America.

  To say the date changed my life is only to say the date changed the lives of every single person in the United States and quite possibly… the lives of nearly everyone around the world.  We in America know how our lives were effected, but as we put together our “coalition” of nations to wage war in Afghanistan and then further to invade Iraq, we effectively made our problems those of the world as well.  The chain of events caused by our “War on Terror” are now part of history and I am not going to debate whether good-bad-or indifferent.  They are done and we still are going to be paying the bills for what has happened for the next 20 to 50 years.  We basically borrowed the entire funding for the war and we have yet to start the payment plan.

  I do not get into politics here on my blog and I am not going to now either.  The point is, the events of 9-11 made changes not just to our government but to our citizens as well.  Personally, I decided life was short and the events proved to me that nobody has any guarantee for a future.  Most of America decided the same thing because as a whole… America went on a spending binge.  We went out and bought bigger houses and more cars and boats and RV’s and ran up the credit card debts to the point where when things started getting tight, everything came tumbling down.

  We went from under 5% unemployment to almost 10% in the past 3 years.  Literally millions of Americans have not only lost their jobs, but also their homes.  Real Estate in no longer “Money-In-The-Bank” as it has been since I was born in 1957.  The value of your home was a savings account for anyone who owned their home.  Those days are behind us as values are often half of what they were 3 or 4 years ago.  I live in a subdivision that was built about 7 years ago and just on my cul-de-sac of about a dozen homes there are 3 repossessed homes sitting empty.  It was 4 but after 2 years one was finally bought by the people who defaulted in the first place.  Apparently after 2 years of no mortgage payments they saved enough to not only buy their house at its new reduced price but also to put another $20,000 into landscaping and privacy fencing, new patio and a new car.

Anyway, even in a bad economy there are ways to make steps forward is the point I guess.  The Classic Car hobby has also changed in the past few years.  The million dollar “Muscle Cars” have tapered off and unless the vehicle in question has a substantial pedigree it certainly will not draw a million dollar bid these days.  That’s not to say new records for price are not being set…. they are…. but it has to be a historical piece, not just a low production hemi powered Plymouth convertible these days. 

  The current situation for what I see at the major auctions is more of a thinning of the herd in collector circles.  With the overhead associated with larger collections, they seem to be selling the lesser value cars for reduced prices in order to buy higher value cars at equally reduced prices.  In other words they are selling a 25,000 dollar Mustang for 12,000 in order to buy a $60,000 Chevelle for $30,000.  In their minds they are not losing $13,000…. they are saving $30,000.  Actually a gain of 17,000 when you consider the loss.  But the downside is they are using cash out-of-pocket to do it and will not see that gain for a few years in all likelihood.

  For the guys like me, this is good news because there are more cars available at what is considered entry-level prices that come already restored or at a minimum in very good “driver” condition.  Even my beloved 1971 Plymouth GTX with it’s 440 engine and 4 barrel carb can be found for half of its previous $60,000 value.  Patience is all you need and of course….cash.

  Anyway, I guess the point I am trying to make is that despite the current bad economy, and all we have been through in the last 10 years, there are bright spots for all of us.  And the brightest thing of all….. is that we are still here 10 years later.

  Davey Boy