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Car Corner
911 Influences The Classic Car Search

June 1, 2004
By Scott Lewis

Last month I told you about the impact my wife's 1999 Porsche 911 Cabriolet had on my plans for a new car for myself. This month I want to show you what kind of impact having a 911 can have on my ideas for a classic car.

I have searched the Internet for classic cars of varying price ranges four times in the past:

January 2000 - Looking For A Classic Car
     This search used two fictional budgets ($10K & $20K).

September 2001 - Classic Car Search
     This time I searched for cars from $5000 - $20,000, 
     concentrating on Camaros & Mustangs.

March 2002 - Project Car Search
     This time I tried to stay close to $5000, not one car went over $7500.

April 2004 - Classic Car Search Returns
     This time I used a very realistic budget of $14,500. 
     Everything is negotiable, so I looked at cars up to $16,999.


How do all those cars stack up to what I would want to drive while I have a 911 parked in the garage. This could take a while, so sit back and grab a cup of coffee, we are in for some fun. I am going to take another look at the list from April and eliminate those cars I would not park next to a 911 in my garage. Below I am going to quickly list all the cars from the April search. I will highlight all the cars I would still consider buying if I had approximately $15K in my pocket.

Manual vs. Automatic

This is the biggest problem. If you check the April article you will see that I found about twice as many cars with automatics as those with manual transmissions. And I was trying hard to find cars with manuals. You will notice that even of the cars I highlighted below only half of them have manuals. This shows that I am more serious about a manual transmission. However, one of two reasons keeps automatics on the list. 1) There aren't a lot of manual transmission equipped cars out there, and 2) I really like some of these cars even though they do have a slush box. I am pretty sure that I will try very hard to get a manual transmission car when I do buy my next classic. However, the automatic equipped cars that survived appealed to me in a way that is purely subjective.

Air Conditioning

Of the 15 cars that are still on the list we have a tie... 7 with A/C, 7 without A/C or the A/C is not working. Oh, and one unknown. Of the 7 cars that did not have A/C, 6 were priced below $13K leaving me enough money in my budget to put air conditioning in right away. This shows you how much more important A/C is to me now that I have been spoiled by an A/C equipped convertible. The only car still on the list without A/C and over $13K was a Mach 1 Mustang with a 351 and 4 speed. It was priced approximately 5 grand below its value, and looked excellent. If the price could be negotiated to account for the lack of A/C the car would be perfect.

The List

Here's the list with highlighting for the cars I would still like to buy if I had the chance right now:

1969 Camaro, 6 cyl, 4 speed, no rust - $9,500
1969 Camaro, mint original, A/C, etc. - $12,900
1969 Camaro, very clean, white/black - $11,888
1969 Camaro, SS clone, 4 speed, needs A/C - $15,888
1969 Camaro, 350, 4 speed, plain - $8,500
1969 Camaro, all original, no rust, clean - $12,500
1969 Camaro RS, bargain RS w/ bad paint - $10,900
1969 Camaro, possible SS, black, northern car - $8,500
1969 Camaro, big block, needs finishing - $13,900
1969 Camaro SS Clone, 350, 4 speed, blue on black - $15,000
1969 Camaro, black on black, needs paint - $7,950
1970 Camaro, 350, 4 speed, needs A/C, overpriced - $12,900
1971 Camaro Z28, split bumper, 4 speed, real Z28?? - $12,900
1973 Camaro, split bumper, black, overpriced - $11,957
1970 Camaro RS, funky color, lots of body work - $11,900
1969 Camaro SS Conv, needs finishing, expensive - $15,000
1965 Mustang, 289, 4 speed, A/C, fully restored - $10,759
1966 Mustang GT, triple black, 4 speed, no A/C - $12,500
1967 Mustang Fastback, needs A/C, PS & PB - $11,900
1967 Mustang Fastback, 3 speed, needs A/C and more - $12,500
1969 Mustang Mach 1, 351, 4 speed, needs A/C, mint - $14,900
1966 Mustang, 289, 4 speed, project car - $7,850
1970 Mustang Fastback, 351 Cleveland, orange, plain - $10,995
1966 Mustang GT 350 Clone, nice but has roll cage - $10,595
1966 Mustang Shelby Clone, 4 speed, need A/C, etc. - $12,595
1965 Mustang Conv, 3 speed, needs A/C, power top? - $11,500
1968 Mustang California Special, plain, project car - $10,500
1969 Mustang Conv, loaded, nice, decent price - $12,900
1967 Mustang GT, 4 speed, A/C, etc, mint, overpriced - $16,950
1973 Mustang Mach 1, 351 CJ, needs A/C - $10,900
1976 Mustang II, way overpriced, not a real car - $7,950
1969 Buick GS 400, restored, mint, overpriced - $16,900
1969 Chevelle Malibu, restored, mint, overpriced - $14,900
1972 Buick GS 350, loaded, mint original, overpriced - $15,500
1970 Impala mint original, overpriced - $10,957
1967 Cougar, mint original, way overpriced - $12,750
1970 Chevelle Malibu, looks great, perfect project - $8,500
1969 Chevelle SS 396 clone, looks good, BB project - $8,900
1967 Chevelle, stripper 6 cyl, original, neat project - $9,500
1970 Chevelle Malibu, clean & nice project - $8,700
1968 Firebird, unusual 6 cyliner, very clean driver - $8,000
1970 Cougar XR7, 351, loaded, nice original - $10,888
1972 Chevelle, blower, unusual project car - $9,500
1971 Nova, mild hot rod, project, little pricey - $9,950
1969 Pontiac Gran Prix, foundness for Gran Prixs - $6,500
1967 Impala SS, nice look, nice price for project - $6,995
1968 Dodge Dart, 383, plain, very clean - $9,950
1972 Dodge Challenger, Mopar project car - $9,900
1967 Chevelle Malibu, hot rod project car - $5,975
1969 Chevelle, hot rod project, decent price - $9,595
1967 Chevelle, nice look, very clean, overpriced - $14,888
1969 Dart GTS, mint but it's not a Camaro, auto - $13,900
1970 Chevelle Malibu, 4 speed, perfect but plain, pricey - $13,995
1972 Chevelle, SS 454 Clone, very nice looking - $13,500
1972 Dodge Demon, 383, Plum Crazy Mopar - $14,600
1968 Dodge Charger, 383, blue on white - $13,200
1969 Plymouth Roadrunner, 383, A/C, PS, very clean - $13,800
1967 Mercury Cougar, 390 BB, nice cond., overpriced - $12,900
1972 Nova, low mileage, one owner, plain, overpriced - $13,500
1969 Nova, 350, 4 speed, A/C, mint, looks great - $13,900
1972 Chevelle SS Clone, 4 speed, nice int., overpriced - $14,888
1967 Chevelle, 283, auto, great look, overpriced - $13,500
1964 Chevelle Malibu, mint, expensive, SS? - $16,850
1972 Chevelle, very cool paint, way overpriced - $14,888
1970 Chevelle SS Clone, 4 speed, well equiped - $13,995
1972 Dodge Challenger R/T, bright blue, overpriced - $12,500
1969 Dodge Charger, 318, needs A/C work - $13,500
1974 Dodge Challenger, 318, auto, nice color - $12,500
1972 Malibu Conv, white interior, great looking - $12,900
1967 Firebird Conv, nice Camaro alternative - $12,500
1971 Buick GS 350 Conv, red on black, nice look - $11,500
1970 Barracuda Conv, plain, lots of potential - $13,000
1971 Buick Skylark Conv, white on white - $12,900
1971 Cutlass Supreme Conv, priced right, white int. - $8,995
1973 Cougar XR7 Conv, white int., loaded - $8,995
1972 Chevy Chevelle SS 454, budget buster, auto - $14,900
1972 El Camino SS 454, 4 speed, no A/C, two seats - $12,950
1968 Pontiac GTO, 4 speed, needs paint, expensive - $15,900
1974 Dodge Challenger, 4 speed, no A/C, expensive - $14,995
1972 Barracuda, loaded, auto, very expensive - $16,950
1970 Plymouth Roadrunner, 383, good, no options - $13,900
1971 Plymouth GTX, needs A/C, budget buster - $14,700
1966 Belair SS 396, show car, no options, expensive - $16,990
1968 Chevelle SS 396, 4 speed, no options - $15,900
1971 Chevelle SS, 350, 4 speed, needs A/C - $15,900
1968 Chevelle SS 396, auto, much chrome, needs A/C - $13,900
1969 Charger R/T SE, 383, 4 speed, unknown options - $16,999
1970 Coronet 500 Conv, 440, auto, loaded, expensive - $15,950
1971 Firebird Formula 400, 4 speed, needs A/C work - $12,500
1971 Trans Am, auto, great look, needs A/C - $13,900
1977 Trans Am, 4 speed, loaded, overpriced - $14,900
1978 Trans Am, 4 speed, loaded, all black - $12,500
1976 Trans Am, 455, 4 speed, all black, overpriced - $14,900
1975 Trans Am, 400, 4 speed, needs A/C - $8,975
1972 Dodge Dart Custom, 5 speed, loaded, way overpriced - $17,500
1970 Dodge Coronet 500, Super Bee clone, way overpriced - $13,995
1974 Plymouth Barracuda, hot rod, way overpriced - $13,900
1955 Chevrolet 210, not a 60's daily driver - $14,500
1957 Chevrolet 210, investment, not daily driver - $13,950
1965 Corvair Monza Conv, 4 speed, funky, no power top - $9,995
1965 Pontiac Tempest, 6 cyl, three-on-tree, funky - $9,888


Wow, what a reduction. Let's take a look at the cars in huge chunks. Almost all of the overpriced cars are out of the question now. Why would I want to spend so much for a classic that is not "perfect." That means that of all the cars I listed above the only overpriced cars to survive my new scrutiny are the following: 1969 Chevelle Malibu - $14,900, 1972 Buick GS 350 - $15,500 and 1969 Nova with V-8 and 4 speed - $13,900.

I love the look of the Buick, the Chevelle was in immaculate condition, and the Nova had the right color combination plus all the options I want including the 4 speed. The Buick was $1,000 over my original $14.5K budget, and the Chevelle was $400 over budget. These are actually reasonable amounts over budget. I have yet to see a car dealership that was not willing to deal at least a little. The one dealer I talked to actually told me that he lists cars a good deal over what he expects to get for them because he knows he will have to negotiate.

There are three cars on the "short" list that were expensive, but clearly priced reasonably by their value. They include the 1969 Dart GTS - $13,900, 1969 Mustang Mach 1 - $14,900, and the 1969 Charger R/T SE - $16,999.

The 1969 Dart GTS looked excellent. The interior was really nice with the bucket seats and factory console. The only thing wrong with it for a classic driver was that it had an automatic. It was priced about where a mint condition Dart GTS should be. This car could be a good investment as it is going up in value rather well (I will discuss that more in a month or two).

Next, the 1969 Mustang Mach 1 with a 351 and 4 speed. Too bad it doesn't have air conditioning. That means I would need to try and get the car for around $13K. This car has the most investment potential of the cars left, since it was priced well under its value, just as long as its condition is as good as its pictures. However, as we will learn in a couple of months the Mach 1 is not going up in value, and may actually be going down.

Finally the 69 Charger. Wow, a mint big block Charger with a 4 speed. It was never said if it had air conditioning. If it did I would love this slightly luxurious big block cruiser.

The only convertible to make the new list was the 1972 Malibu Convertible with white interior. I love the look. It has white SS stripes over a nice dark bronze color. The white interior would be perfect in south central Texas. The big plus was that it was not overpriced. Since it had air conditioning the difference between the asking price and my budget could have been used to try and start swapping in a manual transmission. Even with the automatic this car looks like it would make a great cruiser convertible. This is different from the 911, which begs to be driven hard. This Malibu would be for more relaxed driving... exactly the kind of driving I should be doing to and from work every day. I really like this car, and it is probably the first car I would call about if I had the cash right now. If it is rust free I would buy it.

Now, given that I might want to look at cruiser convertibles, I might want to keep the 1971 Cutlass Supreme Convertible and the 1973 Cougar XR7 Convertible on the list. Both of these were under 10 grand which leaves plenty in the budget to tinker with them. Each had white interiors (stays cool in the sun) and came with plenty of options including air conditioning and power tops. Their low prices alone should make them desirable. We'll see. The Cutlass has quite a bit of value potential, in case that is important. As we will learn in a couple of months, the Cougar is accelerating up the price scale rather quickly, and it might be a chance to get it while it is still affordable.

The other convertibles just don't inspire me enough with a 911 Cabriolet parked in the garage. The 1971 Buick GS 350 Convertible inspired me when I built the list, but the black interior scares me now. Notice that the only convertible I found with a manual tranny was a Mustang that had the base 3 speed manual. I would bet it did not have a power top, which I will not even consider after having spent some time behind the wheel of a 911 with a fully automatic power top.

Looking back I still love the Camaros and the Mustang that had 4 speed transmissions. All the Mustangs that survived the latest cut have 4 speeds. Camaros took a 50/50 split with two automatic cars and two with 4 speeds.

I love the blue and white 1970 Chevelle Malibu & 1969 Chevelle SS 396 clone. These cars where inexpensive enough to allow me to start tinkering with them right away. Neither had a 4 speed, but that would be addressed early in the "project car" stage. In fact, looking over the affordable drivers (which I consider drivable project cars) only one had a 4 speed, and that car looked like it would be risky, though cheap at around 6 grand.

Conclusions

Well, I took a list of of 101 cars and dropped it down to 15... just because I have a 911 Cabriolet in the garage. Of the 15 cars 7 had manual transmissions, the rest automatics. One convertible is left, though two are still trying to get back on the list.

It looks like I need to reassess my requirements. In fact, I will be doing that over the next few months. I plan to take another look at all the previous searches, and pair down the cars to those I would still consider now that I already have a performance oriented convertible in the household. Basically I have become much more selective in my criteria.

Stay tuned, this is not over yet. I will be saving again for a classic. I think it is more likely that I will end up getting a classic project car before I buy another new car.

Until next time...

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