4 Affordable Muscle Cars

classic cars los angelesYou don’t have to be a millionaire to own a muscle car. There are plenty of cool models that we see on the road, at car shows and at the auto restoration shop that will set your heart aflutter. Look for models older than 1972 and you’ll find some affordable options with plenty of horsepower and character.

1. 1973 Pontiac GTO and 1973–75 Pontiac Grand Am.

These babies have tons of style but won’t break the bank. In 1973, all of GM’s mid-size A-cars were designed with bigger, heavier colonnade-style bodies. Most were built with 230-hp, 400-cubic-inch (6.6 liter) V-8 engines, with optional 250-hp 455. You can easily get your hands on one of these
classics for between $12k and $17k.

2. 1971–75 Ford Maverick Grabber.

While it may not look like your typical muscle car, this vehicle is easy on the eye and boasts by a 210-gross-horsepower, two-barrel 302-cubic-inch (4.9 liter) V-8. We’ve seen them pass through the auto restoration shop with price tags lower than $12k.

3. 1979 Pontiac Firebird Formula 400 WS6.

While most late 70s Trans Ams will put your wallet in a quandary, the Formula from 1979 received less hype—yet 1979 is the only year this car was offered with the 220-hp true Pontiac 400 (6.6 liter) V-8. In addition, it boasts a WS6 handling package with four-wheel disc brakes and those coveted
snowflake alloy wheels as well. Only 24,851 Formulas were manufactured that year, though not all featured 400 and WS6. Still, you can find one with a price tag of around $16k and lower.

4. 1970–71 Ford Torino GT.

Built on the same mid-size chassis as its predecessors, these Torinos have nicer interiors and most come with 250-hp, 351-cubic-inch (5.8 liter) V-8. You can find these for anywhere between $12k and $19k.

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There’s Something About Muscle Cars

classic muscle car restoration

There’s a reason why classic muscle car restoration is so popular in Los Angeles and across the country. Whether it’s the machine strength, sleek lines or ultra powerful engines that characterize these vehicles, muscle car enthusiasts just cannot get enough of these high performance automobiles.

If you walk into any auto restoration shop, you’re sure to see several muscle cars getting worked on. Even though newer models and modified versions of the same vehicles are available, muscle cars are in demand. They are popular items among collectors due to their nostalgia factor, but are also in demand among younger drivers, including teenagers who just started driving.

Many American-made classic muscle car restoration are available today as collectors’ items, worth thousands of dollars. The goods news is, their market value continues to grow every year, which is why muscle car restoration in Los Angeles is growing in demand. Muscle cars are also popular in Australia, as well as the United Kingdom, South Africa and Brazil. These countries were highly influenced by original American muscle cars, prompting car manufacturers to release popular variants during the height of their popularity.

If you walk into any auto restoration shop, you will see a wide array of vintage muscle cars, but there are some classics that have a rising value and seem to be a favorite among the collector community. Some of these include the Boss 429 Mustang, which was released in the late 1960s and available into the early 1970s. The 450-horsepower V-8 Chevrolet Chevelle SS 454 LS6 is another hot item, as is the Pontiac Firebird Trans Am SD455. Other favorites include the 455-cubic inch V-8 engine Oldsmobile 442 W-30, the aerodynamic Dodge Charger Daytona Hemi, the great looking Ford Mustang GT500KR and the hand-assembled Chevrolet Camaro ZL1. And muscle car enthusiasts will tell you—there’s just something about each and every one of these cars.

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image credit: pixabay.com

How to Sell Muscle Cars and Hot Rods

auto restoration shopYou’ve waxed and wiped the beautiful fully restored muscle car in your garage hundreds of times. You’ve taken her to shows and gushed about her lovingly. You took her to an auto restoration shop and fixed every single thing you could. You still love her. You do! But, you’ve got your eye on other girls. A curvy Dodge Charger? A Barracuda in need? Don’t beat yourself up, it happens to every muscle car enthusiast worth his salt. Sometimes you’ve just got to move on.

But, before you do you’re going to need some cash to fuel your new project. It is really tough to let go of a project, so if you’re going to do it, do it right. Parking it at the local supermarket with a “For Sale” sign in the window isn’t going to cut it. Here are a few tips to get maximum value for your primed and cherry American muscle car.

Keep Detailed Records from your Auto Restoration Shop

Buying a restored muscle car is an expensive venture. Make sure you have all original paperwork and a detailed history of ownership. You will also want a detailed history of the work you’ve put into the car. Which parts are original? Which parts are after market? Is the big V-8 under the hood stock or have you tweeked it to spike up the horsepower? If you have been organized from he start this should be easy. If not…

Build Up a Buzz

Don’t post an ad or join an auction until you have primed your audience. The internet is loaded with blogs and forums dedicated to specific muscle car makes and models. Got a Mustang to sell? Get on the forums, talk to other enthusiasts, post pictures of your ride. You’ll get a better idea of what your car is worth and you might just find a buyer while you’re at it.

Take the Leap

You can go the fixed price route and advertise on Hemmings.com (hardcopy or online). Or you can go the auction route and hope for a bidding war on eBay Motors. Either way have a cost window set. What is a fair amount to charge? What is the lowest amount you’ll take?

The biggest thing is to be patient. If the market isn’t right, wait. People love American muscle cars. Bid your time and you’ll find someone who loves that beauty in your garage just as much as you do.

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Top 5 Muscle Cars to Restore

Pink flame hot rod restoration Muscle Cars This is not a list of rarities or cars that fetch the most at auction. This is a sensible list; a list of American classics that combine reasonable purchase price, availability of parts and resell priceprojects that any muscle car enthusiast can restore and drive with pride.

#5 – Pontiac GTO – 1971-’72

Early models can be pricey but ’71-’72 versions are still in range for the average enthusiast. The body design has that mean and beefy look and a lot of body and trim parts have been reproduced. The top engine available for this model was the 455 HO V-8 rated at 335 hp. Their are a ton of GTO fans out there so reselling at the end of your restoration shouldn’t be hard.

#4 – Chevrolet Corvette – 1978-’82

A lot of rebuilds start out as rust buckets on the back of a trailer. But, if your not looking to dig that deep this could be your ride. Many of these are available in drivable condition and there are a bunch of Corvette specialists selling reproduction parts and high-performance speed parts. If you want to bring in the big money you’ll have to be flawless in your restoration, but a ‘vette is a ‘vetteinterest will always be there.

#3 – Dodge Charger – 1968-’70

Charger is one of the most desired and respected names in the world of American muscle cars. Production numbers were high so these models aren’t difficult to find and every mechanical part is obtainable. Naturally the bigger the engine the higher the restoration price. But if you can afford to drop-in a 426 Street HEMI that kicks out 425 bph during chassis dyno testing, why wouldn’t you splurge? Plus, the Dukes of Hazzard drove one of these. The General Lee. We’re just saying.

#2 – Chevrolet Camero – 1967 – ’69

They look great. They are easy to get parts for. They are fun to drive—and they can be built fast and mean thanks to a booming aftermarket for performance parts. What’s not to like? The first generation Cameros came with a lot of engine options the biggest factory offer being the L78 SS396 a 396 cubic inch V8 with 375 hp.

#1 – Ford Mustang – 1964 -’68

You didn’t think we would have a Top 5 list without a ‘Stang on it did you? Mustangs are perfect starter projects. They tend to be affordable and literally every part is available via catalogue or website. The support clubs are great and even forums can be helpful. Early model Mustangs are among the easiest restoration projects to resell. Do a good job on this one and maybe you’ll be able to dip into Shelby territory next round.

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What is a Pony Car?

red stripe hot rod restoration headlightsBelieve it or not, there are many car enthusiasts that come into our classic car restoration shop in Los Angeles don’t know the difference between a pony car and a muscle car. You may have hard the terms used interchangeably and wondered if they were one and the same. In addition, many experts disagree on the definitions, making it even more difficult to know the difference. This week, we’ll discuss the definition of a pony car, while we compare the two classifications in our next blog.

Standard Classic Car Restoration Definition

The most standard definition of a pony car was inspired by the popular 1964 Ford Mustang: an American class of highly styled car that is compact and affordable yet bears a sporty or performance-oriented image. The term was coined by Dennis Shattuck, the Editor of Car Life magazine, based on the Mustang’s iconic logo of a stallion.

From that point forward, the term was used to describe members of its ranks. The template of these cars has several criteria, including two doors, room for four passengers, a short deck, a sporty long hood and open mouth styling. In addition, for a car to be a true pony car, it needs to be American made and built with mass production parts, which results in an affordable base price. In 1965, that price was around $2,500 and under. These pony cars also offered a bevy of upgrades that made it easy to personalize each car.

While the Mustang was the original pony car, a ton of competitors followed suit over the next few years, striving to compete with its style, performance and affordable price. Some excellent examples of other pony cars include the Pontiac Firebird, Plymouth Barracuda and AMC Javelin, and today’s Chevy Camaro, Dodge Challenger, and of course, the Ford Mustang.

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Do Muscle Cars Attract Girls?

Muscle CarWhile the classic muscle car restoration industry is typically a man’s world, there is a slew of women who love muscle cars and the men who drive them. They may not actually drive them, but they certainly appreciate them. And chances are, if you’ve done any form of hot rod restoration yourself, then you may have already reaped some of the benefits.
Ultimately, it may be the guy behind the wheel that attracts the girls, but when that guy does his own muscle car restoration, his cool factor rises tenfold. While not all vehicles will have the same effect on women, there’s definitely something sexy about muscle cars and hot rods. You don’t hear many female characters on television talking about the cute guy driving that red Prius or the white Jetta, but you definitely hear about the hottie with the Hemi engine.

Of course, there are lots of women who prefer the real-world practical cars to fantasy vehicles—but most likely for their own ride. They can pretend they’re not looking at that Ferrari or Maserati, but deep down, we know they are. Yet wen you compare the woman looking for that luxe ride, such as one of the ones mentioned above or the latest Porsche, Mercedes or Lamborghini, the girl who’s all about the hot rod restoration shows a classic style of her own and an appreciation for history and timeless beauty. That makes her even hotter.

While many women will admit that the right muscle car makes a guy look better in her rear view mirror, you have to hope that it’s because she appreciate your dedication to the care and upkeep of a classic vehicle, and that it shows commitment, rather than dollar signs.

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5 Tips & Tricks for Muscle Car Performance

hot rod restorationWhether you’re a muscle car fanatic or don’t yet know the meaning of chassis dyno tuning, if you’re in the market for a muscle car or recently bought your dream vehicle, read on for some excellent tips for maximizing performance from our favorite muscle car restoration shop.

Be prepared. This goes for any car owner—keep a fire extinguisher in your garages or hot rod restoration shops and make sure it’s easily accessible. You don’t want to lose your investment because of a fire.

Avoid short circuits. Dead battery too soon? If so, you may have a short circuit. Test it out by disconnecting one of the battery cables and connecting the clip from the test light. Then touch the test end to the battery terminal. The test light will illuminate if there is current flow. Disconnect main circuits until the light goes out to find the faulty circuit.

Tee up. Block dangerous disconnected fuel lines with a wooden golf tee. Press it into the end of the line and you’re solid. The tee’s wedged end will do the job for an array of hose diameters.

Be matchy-matchy. Ensure that your oil pump pick up tube and screen match your oil pan. Ideally, it should be approximately three-eighths of an inch above the pan’s bottom.

Get the Right Lube. It’s important to properly lubricate threads, especially since they are essential for determining friction. While many use standard motor oil for lubricating threads, when specially formulated, low-friction lubricants are used for specific tasks, the required torque can be decreased up to 30 percent. Note that if the recommended tightening specifications are based on the use of a special lubricant, that type should be used. While engine oil can be good for hydraulic-bearing, it is not a good lubricant for extreme pressure. Be sure to use a specialized thread lubricant when necessary.

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4 Awesome Chase Scenes on the Silver Screen

Muscle CarIf you’re into hot rod or auto restoration, you probably enjoy good car chase scenes in movies, especially when cool muscle cars are featured. While computer-generated imagery has changed the modern day chase scene—and some will say not for the better—there are plenty of amazing scenes throughout film history that will satisfy even the most discerning lover of fast cars.  

1. Bullitt (1968). This film is unrivalled when it comes to movie chase scenes. Steve McQueen’s 1968 Ford Mustang Fastback GT raised the bar for all muscle car collectors back in the day—and still inspires every hot rod or auto restoration fanatic. It’s a rush just watching McQueen racing through the steep hills of San Francisco.

2, Gone in 60 Seconds (1974). The original version of this film is a low-budget, cult classic that culminates in a 40-minute chase scene that leaves 93 wrecks in its wake.

3. Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry (1974). Peter Fonda robs grocery stores and races stock cars in this movie filled with hot pursuit. Vic Morrow stars as the sheriff on Fonda’s tail.

4. The Blues Brothers (1980). Brothers Jake and Elwood rock wayfarers, sing the blues, blast rock ‘n roll and outrun the police all while going 120 miles per hour in a 1974 Dodge Monaco.

5. The French Connection (1971). Gene Hackman received the best actor Oscar for his incredible portrayal of New York City detective, Jimmy “Popeye” Doyle. The car chases through Manhattan are absolutely unforgettable—and probably contributed to the other Oscars bestowed on this film: best director, best screenplay and best film editing.

6. Two Lane Blacktop (1971). Starring James Taylor and the Beach Boys’ Dennis Wilson, this movie is packed with quintessential muscle car chase scenes involving a custom 1955 Chevy hot rod and a 1970 Pontiac GTO racing across country.

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Legend of The Little Hot Rod Red Wagon

It’s 1965 and you’re in the grandstands at the Grand American race in Long Beach. Heat is kicking off the asphalt and sun is burning into your retinas. You hold a newspaper over your eyes to block the glare. What the hell is that coming up to the starting line? It looks like a midget delivery truck, red and covered with decals. Is it here to collect debris?

You can’t believe what you’re seeing. This little red wagon wants to race! The lights go green and the driver stomps on the accelerator. BOOM! The little red wagon blasts off the starting line with its nose in the air, full wheely. That wheely sure as hell isn’t slowing it down. It rips through the quarter mile in 11 seconds at 120 mph. You’re on your feet. You’re roaring. You can’t wait to see the little red wagon line’em up again.

You weren’t the only one to get jacked-up about the little guy that day. The Little Red Wagon gave birth to the wheelstanding era. It said (bleep) you to I think I can, I think I can and became an instant hot rod classic.

Why and how?

The 60’s were a time of extreme experimentation for drag racing. Chrysler wanted to sell more pick-ups and saw a chance for symbiosis. Using the A100 model as a jumping off point Jim Schaffer and John Collier made the adjustments needed to fit a 426 HEMI in the bed just behind the cabin.

They wanted a fast truck. The fact that they ended up with a wheely popping red devil was just a happy accident. One they didn’t discover until legendary driver Bill “Maverick” Golden got behind the wheel to film a commercial. The Little Red Wagon gave him a two-wheel thrill ride. Maverick fabricated a brake system that let him steer while the wheels were high. He hit the the road starting in Long Beach.


Hot Rod + Muscle Car Communities

Muscle CarIf you’re working on a custom hot rod or classic American muscle car on your own, chances are you spend a lot of time in the garage by yourself, tinkering—ratchet and radio the only sounds you hear. If you don’t have a friend to rebuild with, you may want to consider getting involved with one of the many online communities with members from across the country—and even the globe.

Sometimes you have questions. Sometimes you need advice. And sometimes you just want to shoot the sh—. Online communities are a great way to connect to fellow enthusiasts. Here a few simple ways to get connected.

The Google+ communities section is growing fast and is easy to use. You can search through existing groups or you can start a brand new group, giving yourself more control over content and membership. Here are the search results for hot rods + muscle cars.

You may have to wade through ‘for sale’ posts, but Reddit does aggregate a lot of content from all over the country. Browse around and you’ll find good people and good chats.

Facebook and Twitter
The old war horses of social media. Facebook has a lot of communities connected with muscle car restoration and classic hot rods. These communities are typically less specific than the Google+ communities; you may be one of 100,000 members as opposed to 100 or less. Twitter is good for following updates from the car shows and major brands you like.

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Click here to see some of the new muscle car restoration posts that go live each week along with our repeat readers. Comment and ask questions—the Brauns community is listening!