Posts Tagged ‘AMC’

Indy Auction Set To Start

May 12, 2014

ImageThis 1969 Pontiac GTO with its 400 cubic inch V8 and 4 speed transmission goes on the block at this months Mecum Auction in Indianapolis.  With one repaint it should be a relative bargain for its new owner.  The knock against it for authenticity is the fact it has Metallic Black paint which was not yet created in 1969.  That would first show up on Dodge pickup trucks in the future.  Pontiac vehicles are even more collectible now that Pontiac has ceased to exist as a “Manufacturer”.

For some time now I have been trying to create a “Collector Car Mega Store”, and while not to any success so far, I continue on the mission. All while Banks pay return on your cash of 1 to 2 percent and act as if they are doing you a favor.  The stock market continues to churn your investments to buy newer and better homes for your broker.  Gold and silver continue to rise and fall and even your real estate has been plowed under in its value.  The lone survivor in investing continues to be “collector vehicles” overall.

ImageCars such as this 1971 Plymouth ‘Cuda with its 426 Hemi and 4 speed pistol grip equipped transmission are the “Holy Grail” for collectors. The engine and transmission combo make for a 1 of 56 combination for the year of production.  Total production for Barracuda/’Cuda in 1971 was a mere 18,690 to start with.  That makes it low volume to start with.  Add the expense of $1082 to the $3,155 base price and you see why few selected the Hemi engine.

The “Collector Hobby” has had its downturn and while new records continue to be set at auctions, there are plenty of vehicle to make money on.  The ability to routinely make money on buying and selling is all in knowing what to buy and where the market is headed.  My assessment is with the proper inventory and level of investment you can make a “Return On Investment” somewhere in the 25% range.  That is “NET” return before taxes and after paying your overhead, salaries, cost of inventory, insurance, and the actual cost of the building.  Between sales, servicing, restoration, consignment sales and other revenue sources the potential is there to even exceed that number given time to establish the business.

ImageEven this 1966 Fairlane 500 with its 289 and automatic transmission is a sought after “Collector Vehicle”.  While a GT or GTA version may be worth $20,000 and up the base model can still draw $15,000.  All in a car that stickered for around $2,500 when sold new.

So as it says in my “description”…… “INVESTOR NEEDED”

Davey Boy

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Thanksgiving 2012

November 18, 2012

  No matter what make or model of “Muscle Car” you may personally prefer there are what most consider “Icons” of the genre.  One of the milestone vehicles would be this model year 1968 code 138 Chevrolet Chevelle SS396.  Being an intermediate or “mid-size” vehicle and having a big block V8 makes it officially a “Muscle Car”.

If you are a collector or have a collection, then odds are one of these is in said collection.  While some prefer the look of the single headlight 1971 and later models, you need a dual lamp 67-68-69-70 to call it a “Collection”.  That is of course my opinion.  I actually know several collectors who have a single manufacturer collection and that in itself does not diminish their enjoyment in the least.  And bottom line is that how someone spends their money or how they enjoy the hobby is ultimately their decision.

When I refer to the hobby, I do so in terms of appealing to the widest segment and do not try to interject my personal bias.  Key word in that sentence is “TRY”.

The internet “Shows” I have personally been on or involved with may think I am a “dinosaur” in terms of what I consider collectible or valuable, but I remain true to the consensus that “Muscle Cars” were made and marketed from 1064 to 1971 inclusive.  The few that survived beyond 1971 are continuation models and while receiving refinement to handling and suspension are not the power monsters of their predecessors.  And for clarity, there are no Muscle Cars being produced today.

  This 1967 Pontiac Firebird 400 is another example of the genre, although because of its size it is actually a subclass termed “Pony Cars”.

While there are current vehicles being produced and marketed as Muscle Cars and they include the current Ford Mustang, Chevrolet Camaro and Dodge Challenger and Charger, these are NOT true Muscle Cars.  The problem with them is that the average person cannot work on them or tune them and without an advanced degree or computer training.  I give full credit that these cars put out more power and greater refinement and even the fact that they can hold a tune up for thousands of miles of use without spending an extra dime.  That is something none of the true “Muscle Cars” can say.  But the hobby counts on people with rudimentary mechanical skills being able to pull and rebuild an engine without needing $100,000 worth of computer equipment to do the job.  Add the smog requirements that 90% of the country has to meet for a road vehicle and proper factory maintenance is what dooms currently produced vehicles from achieving collector status.

For 2013 I plan on coming out with more information on what every collection should include as far as specific models.  These are vehicles that for some reason made a milestone in the evolution of the “True Muscle Car”, or at least an indelible mark on their own manufacturer or model line.

Davey Boy

1967- Dodge and Plymouth

October 23, 2012

  The introduction of the Dodge Charger in 1966 was a success for Dodge, so in 1967 it received minor improvements.  The most obvious was the elimination of its full length interior console that gave it seating for only 4 people.  Getting in and out of the rear seat was the “big” complaint that Dodge chose to deal with.  With the optional front seat flip down armrest the Charger could actually seat 6 now.  The exterior now received the Coronets new side indents as well and front fender indicators for the turn signals mounted on the leading edge of the fenders.  The 426 Hemi was added to the option list during the “66” run and continued to be an option.  It added $712 to the Chargers base price of $3128.  Due to the steep price only 117 were ordered with the Hemi.

The 361 was eliminated and in its place the 383 was offered and new to the engine choices as well was the new 440.  Having sold 37,300 Chargers in 1966, the 1967 model was a disappointment as far as sales and only 15,788 were produced.  Clearly the similarity with the AMC Marlin as well as the Chargers overall “puffed up styling” was not winning over the “Performance Crowd”.  Restyling was in order for 1968.

  The Coronet continued with minor changes including the aforementioned side indents.  The executives at Chrysler decided that other than the Charger they would limit the availability of the “Street Hemi 426”.  The official stance was the Hemi would only be available in the “Letter-Series” vehicles.  That meant the R/T series package for the Coronet.  Despite this there were several Coronet Deluxe built with the factory installed Hemi engine as well as at least 1 Coronet 440, 1 Coronet 500 and 55 Super Stock Drag vehicles known as WO23 models.  The 440 and 500 designation were merely trim level packages and had nothing to do with engine choices.  Some people believe since the 440 was an available engine choice that 440 models came with that engine but such was not the case.  The top engine for Coronet was to be the 383 unless the R/T package was ordered, but this was ignored in most cases and many Coronets received the larger engine.  An interesting fact on Dodge and Plymouth vehicles was their use of “fender tags” to indicate options used on their vehicles.  While Ford and GM only listed basic info on theirs Mopar would routinely use 2 or 3 added tags for “loaded” vehicles that help make them the easiest to authenticate even today.

The styling department did a total makeover for the Dodge Dart for 1967.  Now its 4th makeover since the model first came into being, the Dart had gone from Full-size to compact and now into the Pony Car segment.  Standard engine was the 170 slant 6 or optional 225 slant 6 engine.

V8 choices were the 273 small block or if you ordered the GT or GTS you could get the 340 or even the 383 in the model.  The Dart saw an increase in production from 112,900 in 1966 to 154,500 for 1967.

  At Plymouth they had the same engine restrictions on their Belvedere model as Dodge did on the Coronet.  Their Valiant was restyled since it was the “corporate clone” to the Dart.

Sales for the Belvedere/Satellite fell from 189,752 in 1966 to 148,080 in 1967.  Similar to the Coronets fall from 250,900 in 1966 to 184,200 in 1967.  Plymouth still managed to outsell Dodge as far as cars by over 210,000 vehicles.  636,893 compared to 410,088.

  The Plymouth Barracuda got restyled and sales went from 38,029 in 1966 to 62,534 in 1967.  The Barracuda was standard with a slant 6 cylinder engine but options included the 273 as well as the 340 and even the 383 with the right option package.  The “Fish” was clearly trying to take aim at the Mustang but by 1967 there was no way any “Pony Car” was taking the top seller title from the Mustang.  After all Mustang alone counted for 472,121 units built and sold for Ford in 1967.

Davey Boy

1967 – Ford Makes a Statement

October 9, 2012

 When Ford created the 1965 Mustang, they were building a car to compete with the emerging import market.  It was to be a compact vehicle with seating for 4 or 5 people and with its 6 cylinder engine it was aimed at being an economy car as well.  The small block V8 was to make it competitive as being a sporty vehicle to appeal to the younger buyer.  What they did not count on was the fact that they created the most successful new car to come along since their own Model A in the 1920’s.  While Plymouth actually got the jump on them a few weeks earlier with the Barracuda, it was the Mustang that set the pace and the market segment now known as the “Pony Cars”.  These were vehicles smaller in size and less powerful than the midsize vehicles touted as “Muscle Cars”.

For 1967 Ford made the Mustang wider and longer than before.  This was in part to make the vehicle now capable of installing a “big-block” engine under the hood.  With the addition of the 390 cubic inch motor they had a performer capable of taking on the Muscle Cars and in a smaller package.  While Shelby was creating their “350” and “500” versions of the Mustang, these were not Factory vehicles and in fact Shelby was classified as an Automobile Manufacturer at the time.  Ford learned a trick or two on styling from the Marlin from AMC/Rambler and the Dodge Charger and made the fastback model smoother and wider to where it no longer looked like they just added a chunk of metal and glass to the coupe.

During this time Ford also grew jealous of Shelby getting all the credit for “Performance Mustangs” and was deeply involved in improving their image as such with the addition of special models.  There was the “High Country”, “California Special” and “Hertz” Mustangs plus now the GT and GTA factory models.  Various trim pieces and engine choices designated the respective packages but the top factory option for 1967 was the GT and GTA- both carried the 390 with the later being an automatic transmission hence the “A”.

  The Fairlane continued with minor revisions for 1967 and the GT and GTA versions as well.  Ford was going to change its look to separate it from the full size Fords but that was due for 1968, so 1967 saw minor change.

  The Ranchero was now solidly based on the Fairlane for both its sheet metal and engine choices.  While few people saw the Ranchero or its rival the Chevrolet El Camino as real trucks, they did appeal to the market for people who wanted a vehicle capable of hauling things but without the harsh ride of pickup trucks from the era.  The added benefit was they had a vehicle with some style and with the right equipment checked on the order form – a vehicle capable of serious performance as well.

  Mercury still had its Comet based Cyclone model and the 427 was available as an option although the main engine choice was now the 390.  Some Fairlane GT and GTA models also left the factory with the 427.

 But the big news was that Mercury finally got into the “Pony Car” market with the introduction of the Cougar.  Once again it was Lee Iacocca behind another hit for the Ford Corporation.  Based on the Mustang with a stretched frame and sharing no sheet metal similarity it was to be Mercury’s shot at the market.  The downside was the bigger vehicle meant it needed more power than the Mustang to achieve the same performance and all motors used for the Cougar could be also had in the smaller and more nimble Mustang.  Mercury instead figured their market was a more upscale buyer and while offering “Dan Guerney Specials” they instead went to the luxury models for their focus.

Ground Zero and Time To Start Back Over

October 3, 2012

Greetings and salutations to all who may stumble upon this blog.  I realize I have been absent from this for a rather extended time.  The short explanation is that my business venture has taken all my free time that I formerly used for this endeavor and left me no time for research and trying to keep this going.  That may seem like a “cop-out” to some if not most of you, but this blog actually requires major investment of time and research.  I know you thought it was easy being me, but in fact it is major work and commitment to be this disorganized and confused.  The “Detail Shop” I opened in April 2011, sad to say is no more.  The economy is simply no longer there to make a living washing and waxing cars.  This is my astute observation only after wasting $65,000 of my money trying to prove otherwise.  Back to the drawing board.  Or, rather….. Ground Zero.

Every year on my birthday, I evaluate where I am at and what goals can be set for the following year.  This year is no exception to that routine.  Having been born in 1957 means I have hit the age of 55 now.  Time is running out to get where I want to be.  Should anyone reading this be interested in contacting me involving a business endeavor involving “Muscle Cars”, please do so.

Hopefully someone has the needed funds and lacks the expertise to make a financial business out of what is undoubtably my strongest asset.  That being my knowledge of where the market is and anticipating where it is headed.  My knowledge of the vehicles is also a plus.

While almost everyone knows a 1957 Chevrolet when they see one, there are many details to know if you want to make money on one.  Things such as is it a Bel Air or a 210….. 2 door or 4 door…..original engine or not….all things that greatly vary the value of the car in question.  Is it worth $20,000 or in excess of $100,000 ?

While there are literally thousands of serious “Car Collectors” out there making money on this so-called hobby, there are hundreds of thousands of people doing it as a hobby.  While this blog lends itself towards the actual hobby, the goal I have is to be one of the minority who actually make a living doing it.

I do not mean to offend anyone but the guys like Jay Leno who buy cars just to have them and preserve them for future generations are very rare.  It does help when the individual has somewhere in the neighborhood of about 100 million dollars to play with.  The area where I live has a few guys who make their living buying, selling and restoring cars, and they all have their market niche’s to fill.  There is always new ways and new ideas to move into the market for more dealerships or collectors.  And as the economy turns around the market will grow massively in the future.

 Just as the 1957 Ford Fairlane was the competitor to the Chevy that year there will be different markets to fill and different needs for those markets.  I do not claim to be the expert on all cars, but I also do not shun any one model over another.  While the hobbyists prefer a Chevelle, Camaro, Mustang, Charger, or another model for whatever reason; I also know there is a market for a Maverick Grabber and Mercury Cyclone and even the Nova SS has a following.  Being limited by the Manufacturer such as Pontiac, Ford, Buick, Chevrolet, Dodge, Plymouth and Mercury means you leave out the AMC Marlins and Rebels and even the “lowly” Gremlin X.  It means you also miss out on the Studebaker Avanti, and the Oldsmobile Cutlass and 4-4-2.

There were dozens of models from every manufacturer in America during the Muscle Car years and every one of them had a following because they had a story and a legacy to tell.  Some literally sold millions over time and some sold only a few hundred copies, but every one of them deserves to be mentioned for the mere fact that someone thought they were special enough to buy when they were sold new.  Now it is time for me to get back to the blog and let you know what their story was.

Davey Boy

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

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

Status Update and More Apologies

June 2, 2011

  After the first month in my new shop, we finally have the signs up at the business park entrance.  Small advances seem to be where we are at currently.  We also have the overhead door magnets on and the doors labeled.

  Inventory is in and we are open for business.  Now we just need customers.  The “Detail Business” is one of those types of enterprises where you just build slowly and eventually you get where you want to be based on referrals from your customers.  The whole key is doing quality work and letting your customers do your advertising.  There are people I have known who thought the mass mailing programs and coupons work, but in the end, if you get too big too fast and start slipping in your quality, then you are doomed for failure.

  The best thing to remember about “detailing” is that you are a service business.  That means people will spend what they feel is appropriate for what they perceive to be quality, but nobody wants to tell their friends they got taken advantage of and the referrals end at that point.  Anyway, we ran the Trans Am up to the Volo Auto Museum for their Car Corral, but the weather sucked and turnout was low.

So despite a guy interested in the car, it did not sell.  Not yet anyway.  Never know if maybe he will still turn up for the vehicle.  Well, the good news is I am posting again for the first time in over a month. Now I have to get back to the 1967 model year continuation.  It will be coming soon so check back.  I thank you all for your patience.

Davey Boy

1967- Pontiac and Chevrolet

March 7, 2011

 For regular readers of my blog, I apologize for having to repost this article.  I will try to vary my wording so as not to repeat myself too much.  The “WordPress” site has a couple of quirks where new pages are not part of a sequence and cannot be simply placed where you want them, so I have to rewrite to try to keep the posts in a chronological order.

The GTO was by 1967 an American Icon and John DeLorean was setting his sights on going after even bigger fish.  He was developing the Banshee prototype to give Pontiac a true “sports” car similar to the Chevrolet Corvette.  Because of the stir he caused with the GTO, this did not sit well with the Executives at Chevrolet who basically shut down any challenge to their only “Ace-in the hole”.

What was offered instead was the new Camaro and Pontiac was told to develop a version of that.  The Banshee was dead as far as Pontiac was concerned, however in a rather slap of the back of the hand, it would resurface as the base for the next generation Corvette.

Because of the elimination of multi-carb setups, Pontiac decided to bore out the 389 and came up with the maximum 400 cubic inch engine allowed by GM for the GTO.  This at least made them head to head competitors with Buick and Oldsmobile as far as engine size.  So now everyone but Chevrolet had 400 motors.

The Firebird was the car Pontiac designed from the Camaro platform.  The base engine was a 6 cylinder with the 326 being the standard for V-8 engines.  The 400 from the GTO was the top engine option from the factory.  Several dealers around the country found that the newly enlarged 428 fit in the car and did some engine swaps to further upgrade the power ratio.  This was the former 421 that was used in full size vehicles at Pontiac.  As the corporate bigwigs came up with rules to keep the engineers from exploiting engine size and power ratios, the Division Heads came up with new tricks to open loopholes.

In future years the biggest loophole would be the COPO orders where engines were used in vehicles that did not show up on a dealers option sheet.  This was mostly done in response to what some of the Dodge and Plymouth Dealers were doing with regards to engines and transmissions.  More on that in future posts.

Pontiac even got their Grand Prix into the fray to some extent.  Although it was based on the full size chassis lines, it got styling cues from the intermediates with louvered tail lights similar to the GTO.  Even the front turn signals carried the louvered look.  And with its hidden headlights, the look was stunning to say the least.  Since it was a personal luxury vehicle, the name plates and exterior styling was kept relatively low-key.  The engine for the GP was a 428, which was as big as it got for 1967 at Pontiac.

Over at Chevrolet the Chevy II or Nova was now just called the Nova.  Its styling was smoothed out somewhat, but the designers still felt the time was at hand to restyle the car into a less boxy shape so the plan was just one more year for the body.  The cars narrow front end meant the top engine was a 327, which was now increased to 350 CID.

This Butternut Yellow beauty was the then “New for 1967” Chevrolet Camaro.  It was built to not only compete with the Ford Mustang, but to beat it.  The base 6 cylinder was normally optioned out for the 350 or all the way up to the Chevelle’s 396 if someone checked the proper boxes on the order sheet.  One of the “flaws” in the ordering system was that you could order the SS and the RS on the same vehicle.  This occurred quite often and gave the dealer the opportunity to put almost every available option on a lot of Camaros.  The dealers had maximum profit potential if a vehicle left the lot fully loaded.  For the dealers who wanted to really make a profit,they put the 427 from the Corvette into the Camaro to create a vehicle that was just on the edge of insanity.  Since it was the dealers doing this there was no breaking of “Corporate” rules.

The Chevelle was designated with the 138 body series when ordered as an SS396.  Chevrolet now was the only division with less than the 400 cubic inch maximum engine in their “Muscle Cars”.  All intermediates were being redesigned for the following year, so styling changes were basically just minor sheet metal reworking.  Creases were smoothed out and tail lights and grilles were restyled.

So for the people keeping track, I used the same photos, and I think I did a good job of reworking the information.  Kind of like the factory when they rework a model for a new year.

 Davey Boy

1966- The Dodge Charger Is Born

February 13, 2011

 The Plymouth Barracuda with its 273 cubic inch V8 was the Mopar answer to the Ford Mustang.  And technically it was the answer before anyone asked the question, since it came out 2 weeks before the Mustang.  But unlike the Mustang it did not come in coupe, convertible and fastback styles.  Only a fastback was used.  That combined with what was considered a less than attractive fastback body did not help it achieve domination in the area of sales.

It was of course based on the Valiant chassis and as such had limited choices as far as available power.  The Dodge division also wanted a fastback Muscle Car of their own, but Plymouth would not allow them to have one based on the Valiant/Dart chassis because it would be competing with the Barracuda.

The Belvedere for 1966 got fresh sheet metal and the big news was that the 426 Hemi engine had been tamed for street duty and was now available for purchase as an option.  The previous engines used in limited production and full size cars was now suitable for everyday use by anyone who wanted one.

The top of the Belvedere line was the Satellite and it got the Hemi as an option as well.  The 426 with its rated 425 horsepower was the most in a production engine for the 1966 model year.  And it was considered about 50 horsepower underrated.

During the Muscle Car Era this was a common occurrence due to manufacturers wanting to downplay their advantages over one another.  And to keep the watchful eye of Washington regulators off of them as well.  Car manufacturers were not supposed to be involved directly with racing and while GM did a good job of honoring the rule, Ford and Chrysler were still supplying engines and parts to NASCAR race teams as well as other venues such as SCCA.

The Dodge Coronet was the choice for its sponsored teams running NASCAR, but that was to change with the introduction of their newest model.  The new model was the Charger and it was based on the midsize Coronet platform and since the Hemi was available for the Coronet, it was available as an option in the Charger as well.

The Charger had a similar style to the AMC Marlin, but although the Marlin was a new model for 1965, the 1966 Charger was the first Muscle Car created as an actual Muscle Car.  Every previous model in Detroit had been either an option for an existing model or was already a model being produced.  The Marlin was a new model, but lacked the big block engine to claim itself a legitimate Muscle Car.  The Charger was created with the 318 as a base engine and then you could get a 383 big block or the new 1966 street Hemi 426.

While Dodge wanted a competitor for the Mustang, they had went to the far side of the scale and came up with a vehicle that was going to stake a serious claim as the King of Muscle.  The interior offered such options as a full length console which essentially gave you four bucket seats in the interior.  The rear armrest shown was an option and what you see is the “Deluxe” vinyl seating option here.

 The 426 Hemi gave new meaning to the term “big block” as it was the heaviest engine produced at the time or even since as far as gasoline engines are concerned.  The lightest engine was the Ford 427 which tipped the scales at around 650 pounds.  The Chevrolet big block rang up about 685 as a 396 engine.  And the 426 Hemi was overkill at an amazing 843 pounds.  It was called the “elephant” motor not just because of its weight but its size.  The heads were the widest ever seen due to the dual set of rockers for the valvetrain.  And the trademark giveaway and what makes it a hemi; the spark plugs are in the middle of the valve cover as you see in the photo.

Some of the styling similarity with the Marlin can be seen from the rear view of the Charger here.  The full width tail light lens had the “CHARGER” name across the full width lest someone think it was something else.

  The front view however would never remind anyone of the AMC Marlin or any other car.  Not even the Coronet that shared the underneath could match the Charger in the style department.  The grill look has been called the “electric shaver” grill.  Kind of looks like an older model Remington doesn’t it?

  Well, that’s the deal with the 1966 models.  See you soon for more.

 Davey Boy