If you’re considering buying a muscle car, there are a few things to consider. While you want to find your dream car at a bargain, you also don’t want to end up with a lemon. It’s best to do some homework so you end up with a deal rather than a money pit. Whenever customers of our auto restoration shop are thinking about buying a new classic, we recommend they follow the tips below.
1. Know What You Want
There are so many years, makes and models of muscle cars to choose from. Browse as many as you can so that you can really set your sights on the dream car that fits your budget.
2. Do Your Homework
One of the most important things you can do is research the cars that you are interested in. Once you have an idea of what you want, you can research prices. There are plenty of forums and articles to check out and you can always visit car auctions or expos to get an idea of price ranges. Prices can vary incredibly in this market, so you may want to enlist the help of an expert so you don’t get ripped off.
Inspection is key when buying a vintage muscle car. If you can afford to hire a professional, do it!
4. Assess Mileage Based on Your Needs
In an ideal world, a muscle car will be an investment that you make money on down the line. Keep this in mind when checking out the speedometer. While less mileage increases the car’s worth, many muscle car enthusiasts maintain their vehicles impeccably. This means that if you’re not too worried about getting your money out at a later time, you may be getting a well-maintained vehicle in mint condition, regardless of the mileage.
5. Stay Away From Rust
A good indicator of a car’s condition and how well it has been maintained is rust. While rust can be treated and often times eliminated, it may be a sign of problems to come. If there is a little bit of rust here and there, you’ll probably be okay, but serious rust is something to avoid.
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You 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 – and any one of them will fulfill every muscle car dream you’ve ever had.
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. As rare as they are, 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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You took her to an auto restoration shop and fixed every single thing you could. You’ve waxed and wiped the beautiful fully restored muscle car in your garage hundreds of times. You take her to shows and gush about her lovingly. 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 tweaked 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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