Archive for the ‘Stalker’ Category

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

Is The American Dream Dead ?

August 17, 2011

What a million bucks looks like.

It has always been said that the “American Dream” is to be your own boss and be the owner of a successful business, most likely doing something you love doing.  The old adage of the best way to make a small fortune…. is to start with a big fortune and open your own business… also comes to mind right now.

I would not say the “American Dream” is dead, but I would say it is in intensive care.  The bad news is that it is also under a HMO for its care.  Anyone in business knows that the current economy “sucks”.  Just totally sucks.  I chose to start my own business a few months back and while I am fortunate enough to still be in business after 4 months, it has not gotten any better.  The future looks bleak, but not without a few glimmers of hope.
I have been working in the “Automotive Detailing” field since the early 1980″s.  The first shop I worked for was an established company that I helped expand and grow from a few thousand dollars a year into one of the largest in the Chicago area at the time.  The second was a Marina on the Chain of Lakes that I did their “In-House” detailing for the boats they sold and their Marina customers as well.  I was a one man operation there.  The third was a tunnel car wash in Northbrook, Illinois that needed to be expanded into a full service Detail Center to expand their car wash business.
Each time the result was the same…. grow the business into a good cash flow and then I was shown the door when the owner decided to keep the cash himself.  There is nothing wrong with that, since it was their money on the line and I was well paid each time.
1967 Riviera

When I decided to go back into the Detail Business this time it was for a shop of my own.  Build something for me and my families security.  Of course, my thought was that with the economy down, it would be starting at the bottom with nowhere to go but up.  Nothing I read or saw prepared me for the fact the economy would run along the bottom in basically a “flat-line” for any length of time.  Normally you would expect to see either an upswing or even further dropping.

With my basic “Business model” now broken, it is time to either reinvent the plan or to expand into additional avenues for income.  So it is that now has become what will be either a colossal financial failure….. or a truly genius move on my part.
1976 Eldorado Convertible

Only time will tell which this will be, but as I said at the start…. The American Dream is not dead…. just in intensive care.

davey boy

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

Last Post For 2010…Loose Ends

December 31, 2010

  Although not unprecedented, I am leading off with a photo that is not a car although, as I will explain is car related….kind of.

Photo credits to HRC/WENN via Wonder Wall for the picture.  It is John Mellencamp with his wife Elaine.  After 20 years they have decided to split and while it is sad, I hope the split works out for the better.  Having went through a divorce myself, I can testify that it doesn’t have to be a mess and sometimes things have just run their course and it becomes time to move on.

Anyway, on to the long story.  Having been born and raised in Indiana, John Cougar as he was known in the early days was a musical hero for me and I have followed his career in music since the start.  He is the “Elvis Presley” of Indiana.  He went through the New York and California stages and decided to come back to Indiana because he liked the “small town” life for raising a family and it just suited him better.  That combined with the fact that you would never know by appearances that he was the multimillion dollar powerhouse that he is, is what led me to try my hand at becoming a “stalker”.

The Rolling Stone magazine ran an article about him and his life in Indiana back in August 2008.  After reading the article I decided to try to approach him about my “Muscle Car” idea.  So after a few hours of internet searches and map searches, I decided to drive to Bloomington, Indiana to talk with him.  Now, I live north of Chicago, Illinois so while on the map it is mere inches apart, it is actually about a 6 hour drive one way.  The PT Cruiser was gassed up and the mission was commenced on Labor Day weekend…Sunday.  The drive is nice and while I can skip details of that, the end result was that after bothering his neighbor since I had picked the wrong driveway to buzz the gate, I finally located the correct address.  It was a waste of time.  No answer, and I remembered that a few years prior when I was vacationing at Hilton Head John and his family had also been there at the Holiday Inn at the same time, so quite possibly they were out-of-town for the weekend.  My bad.  With the 6 hours invested in the trip, I did have a backup plan, just in case.

That was to see if his friend and band mate Mike Wanchic would talk to me and possibly pass on some information I had printed up for John.  I did find Mike’s house on the first try and he was home.  We had a conversation in his driveway and afterwards I felt pretty good about what I wanted to do and that I had possibly made a connection that was going to get this deal rolling.

The photo credits belong to Matt Detrich/The Star and this is Mike Wanchic playing with John Mellencamp at the Hinkle Fieldhouse at Butler University on November 11, 2010.  When I met Mike he had much shorter hair.

Anyway, the point is that while I do not know if Mike passed on the information or not because neither John or anybody else has ever gotten in touch with me, I am still plugging away at the Muscle car game one car at a time and still trying to get the ball rolling.  I talk with a lot of people over the course of a year, and I do try not to be a pest but I am sure I am one anyway.

The whole point of this post is that while my dream may be silly to most and most of the time it seems as if it is a huge failure, you have to do what you believe in.  With the New Year comes our New Years Resolutions and while most of us will not keep them or will fall flat on our faces, it is what helps drive us and makes us who we are.  So while I keep plugging away at searching for my illusive “investor”, you should all be moving ahead towards your dreams as well.  We have another year beginning and while we are not getting any younger, you cannot let your dreams die.  Push on and keep trying, because sometimes dreams can and do come true.

Davey Boy