Posts Tagged ‘GTO’

2016 And The Year Ahead

January 12, 2016

No matter where your allegiance lies insofar as Manufacturer when it comes to “Collector Vehicles”, there are certain vehicles that can transcend mere bias.  Everyone involved with the “collector hobby” realizes that some vehicles are to be added to any collection if they become available.

Whether it is a post-war “Woodie” wagon, or maybe a Cadillac Convertible or even a “suicide door Lincoln” you simply add the piece when you run across it.

Rarely do I make predictions for the road ahead in “collector vehicles” other than to point out the inherent rise in values for the overall health of the marketplace.  However…. 2016 could prove to be the best “buyers market” since the economic collapse after 2007/2008.

I refer of course to the fall in the “oil market”.  The number of collectors in classic vehicles throughout the Texas/Oklahoma region have been almost immune to the “recession”.  If you follow Mecum Auctions as I do you have seen the Dallas and Houston Auctions remain impervious to the trend down in value during the recession. That is about to change.  With millions and even billions of dollars of value being lost in the energy sector those who count on the income will need to “thin the herd” as far as their collections.  Make no mistake, the oil sector contains a great amount of car hobbyists.  It is, was and always has been a direct tie-in.  That means the values at auction will be down this year (and possibly for a couple after that) and the buyers with spendable cash will be down as well.  This puts the Dallas/Houston Auctions on a level field with values across the nation.  And that is great news for collectors in other areas of the nation.

71 GTO Judge

I am not saying the value of cars everywhere will be down to the extent of what runs through Texas this year.  And I am not predicting falling values in the market.  I am saying the “overprice factor” of the past Texas marketplace will be going away for a while.  So whether you lean towards a 1946 Pontiac Streamliner Woodie Wagon or more towards a 1970 ram air 4 GTO Judge 400 4 spd

1970 Pontiac GTO Judge (Blue) or 1971 GTO Judge (Red) you need not ignore the Texas Auctions as in years past.

Davey Boy

Farewell to 2011 and Looking Forward

December 24, 2011

This past year has been rather extraordinary, to put it mildly.  For most of us it has been a nearly constant struggle to just stay even or try not to fall too far behind.  I would be in that group.  I know there are some who still scratch their heads and say “What Recession”, but they are the minority for sure.

I opened a new Detail Shop back in April of this past year and while I knew the economy was down, I reasonable expected it to start turning around by late summer.  That was the overall prediction of the so-called economic genius’.  It wasn’t untill around May or June that most revised their outlooks.  Too late for me to back out.  Having sunk everything into my shop, it was only the option of scraping along that was available.  The good news is that I am still going.  Bad news is the economy is going to wait untill the end of 2012 to make its decision on better or worse…. or so those genius’ now predict.

 Currently sitting in my shop are a couple of vehicles waiting to be picked up.  A 1977 Pontiac Trans Am.  These are fondly called the “Bandit” model from the Burt Reynolds movies.  My kids think they are very cool and I would agree.  My attitude is these are great cars to actually drive and enjoy.  This particular one has its original 400 CID engine and automatic transmission.  Dollar for dollar, these are better than the Corvette from 1977.  My opinion is based on the fact thaT only a 350 small block could be ordered in the Vette, while T/A owners could get actual big block engines.  Add the fact that a family of 4 or even 5 if the kids are small enough, and a weekend cruise is possible.  With the Vette, you need to hook up a trailer to haul any kids along.  Maybe the point of the Vette is to leave them home?

 

The other vehicle sitting in my shop has a rather interesting heritage.  It was on display at the Guiness World Record Museum down in Tennessee until recently.  It was the vehicle driven by John Candy’s character in the movie “Delirious”.

While intended to be a Ferrari GTO, it is actually a Datsun 280Z, with custom bodywork to appear as the famed GTO.  Untill November or this year, the GTO had the Guinness title of being the “Worlds Most Expensive Automobile” as the few out there have been selling for anywhere from $6 Million up to an estimated $20 Million each.  This is just beyond comprehension how anything could be so expensive… much less a car.

The point I am getting to in my usual meandering way is that while business is slow for my shop and the general economy…..there are signs that something could change soon.

So Merry Christmas to everyone, and Happy New Year.

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- Storm Clouds and The Rain Starts

February 12, 2011

 The introduction of the GTO in 1964  had caused enough of a stir in the hallowed halls of General Motors that John Z. DeLorean was promoted to being the head of Pontiac division in 1965.  And nothing creates more of a nervous climate than a hot-shot in the midst of “Corporate America”.  Starting in 1966 every division in GM was copying the formula that had been used to make the GTO a hot commodity.  I am referring to the “Tri-Power” setup involving using 3 dual barrel carburetors.

  The standard for Detroit during the 1960’s was to freshen sheet metal every 2 to 3 years and complete redesigns every 5 years or so.  The GTO got reskinned for 1966, mainly in the rear sections but the biggest news was it got its own body designation instead of being an option on the Tempest/LeMans platform.  It was still on the same platform but now was a stand-alone model- not just an option.

 The Goat was now a cultural icon and the most visible GTO was the “Monkeemobile” seen on television by every kid in America on a weekly basis.  While not a stock appearing vehicle thanks to George Barris who created it…there were styling cues left in it to distinguish that it was indeed a Pontiac.  And in the vein of “customs” for the 1960’s it had the obligatory blower intake which made the impression of being a dragster.

  Oldsmobile now had a tripower option for their 442 model.  The average buyer for Oldsmobile was not as mechanically inclined as other GM buyers and they did not sell many with the multi-carb setup but it was available.

  The multiple carburetors added a claimed 20 horsepower, although that was considered modest as most car magazines figured it was somewhere closer to around 40 or more.

The biggest news from the staid folks over at Oldsmobile was the introduction of the new Oldsmobile Toronado.  It was marketed as a personal luxury coupe but with its fastback styling it was definitely meant to draw attention from the performance crowd.  The Toronado had been in developement for over 2 years due to the fact that it was a front-wheel drive car and Oldsmobile wanted to be sure they had a workable system for it.  The big gain from the developement of the Toronado was the transmission.  It was the now legendary TH400.  The automatic transmission could handle more torque and higher horsepower than any previous design from General Motors and would become a valuable piece going forward with the “Muscle Car”.

The Buick Riviera for 1966 was based on the same body style as it’s Toronado cousin but retained a conventional rear wheel drive layout.  At the time it was believed to be the longest hood on a production car.  I do not believe they were comparing it outside of the 1966 model year since the 1920’s and 1930’s Deusenbergs would have the record with their straight 12 cylinder motors.

The Buick Skylark shown here and the GS400 that was based on it remained mostly unchanged although like the 442, Buick saw fit to make fender vents a styling clue.  Both the Oldsmobile 442 and the Buick Skylark had styling that was similar with its division’s full size vehicles.  Because of this there were plans to change the body designs for the following model year.

  Over at Chevrolet they were still building the Chevy II/Nova model but were realizing that it’s 327 was just not enough for the competition of the “Muscle Cars” even though it was a compact car, Chevrolet wanted it to be a competitor.  So plans were underway to remold the model in line with the other intermediate vehicles while remaining in the compact class.  They wanted a direct competitor for the Ford Mustang and the Plymouth Barracuda and to a lesser degree the Dodge Dart.  This was where the Muscle Car segment was headed in Chevrolet’s opinion.  If America had accepted the mid-size cars with full-size power, then it reasoned that smaller cars would be even more in demand.

The Chevelle SS396 and the entire Chevelle line got new sheet metal for 1966.  The sides were more rounded and the roof became more slanted in the rear.  Overall it was one of the best looking midsize vehicles you could buy in 1966.  While my opinion is just that- an opinion, only the GTO looked better as far as the GM vehicles in 1966.

  One of the by products of the Chevelle was the El Camino, which took on the Chevelle body design and also its option list for 1966.  It was now in the Muscle Car crowd as it could be had with the SS396 option like this one here.  The truck market now had options to join in the fun.  While the El Camino couldn’t haul what a real truck could and it was not a real workhorse, it gave the market a new option for a Utility Muscle Car.

During the 1966 model year, nervous GM executives again tried to slow down the upstart junior executives by decreeing that only the Chevrolet Corvette would be allowed to have a multi-carb option as of the 1967 model year. 

Next up the Ford answer….in the next post.

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