Whether you don’t know what defines a muscle car or if you can wax poetic about chassis dyno testing, we’re certain you can appreciate the sight of a classic muscle car restoration. They’re beasty and loud yet at the same time beautiful and graceful—a classic muscle car gets us all going at least a little bit.
Here are just a few of the greats:
1. Pontiac Firebird
Just the name reminds many of Burt Reynolds’ baby in Smokey and the Bandit and evokes images of those painted-hood icons of the ‘80s. A close relative of the Chevy Camaro, the Firebird actually dates way back to the ‘60s and is considered one of the best muscle cars on the market.
2. 1970 Boss 302 Mustang
This serious vehicle features the high-rev Boss 302 V8 engine, which was perfect for a little racing action with its ability to reach zero-to-60-mph sprint in less than seven seconds.
3. 1970 Hemi Barracuda
We had to include this hemi in this list—even those who haven’t a clue what chassis dyno testing is probably have heard of the infamous hemi. This car was completely redesigned in 1970 with five high-powered V8 engines that generated an unrivaled 425 horsepower.
4. 1970 Chevelle 454 SS
Ah, the Chevelle—one of the most classic of the bunch. This baby packs the engine—with about 7.4 liters to be exact—giving it tremendous power that was difficult to compete with. Still highest-output production car to date, this car and its engine was a force to be reckoned with when it came to power wars.
5. 1969 Dodge Charger
Everyone remembers the General Lee from the iconic television show, The Dukes of Hazzard—it was the baddest of the early Dodge Chargers. While its standard engine brought 375 horsepower, the 426 Hemi gave it a full 425.
Whether you’re a newbie to the muscle car world or are an expert in chassis dyno testing, we know you’ll take notice whenever one of these classics flies by. Click here for information on our classic muscle car restoration shop.
Whether 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, the tips below will help maximize performance of your favorite muscle car .
This goes for any car owner—there should be a fire extinguisher in all garages or hot rod restoration shops and it should be easily accessible. You don’t want to lose your entire 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.
An excellent way to block dangerous disconnected fuel lines is 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.
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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If you’ve been chassis dyno testing your rides for years, then you know these cars well. 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 price—
projects 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 ‘vette—interest 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 Camaro – 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 Camaros 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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