Classic Car Watch
Before It's Too Late

June 1, 2005
By Scott Lewis

Before it's too late. I say that to myself each month when picking the cars to include on the list. I look around the Internet once or twice a week at a handful of sites I trust. I trust them to have decent cars at decent prices. Then once or twice a month I search for models specific to the month's topics. It is during the regular searches that I say to myself, "I better use this one before it's too late."

This month I want to list just cars that have evoked that response. The cars listed below are cars that I feel will sell quickly. They are cars that I have wanted to list, but have not had a chance to include... until now. They mainly don't get used because I try to maintain a central theme each month. This is their month. A month with no central theme. I don't have to wait until I do a column on Pony cars to include a nice Mustang Coupe. I don't have to wait until I am listing Mopars to include a Coronet. I don't have to wait for a list of GM intermediates to get a Chevelle in the mix.

On May 1st I compiled my initial list of cars for this month. On May 2nd I went to confirm that they were all still for sale. Unfortunately, I had to remove about 5 cars. Those 5 or so cars were available in late April, so they did sell like I thought they would.

I was right on those cars, I should have used them while I had the chance. Especially for a really well done Chevelle that was advertised as having the SS "look." It was not advertised as a clone. I really liked that. It also had a 307 engine, so they were in no way making a performance claim with the car. It was purely a car that had "the look." Oh well, better luck next time.

As I said, I confirmed on May 2nd that every car, except one, was for sale. The only car not confirmed is the Ford Maverick Grabber below. The Maverick is listed on Cars On Line and they have a nasty habit of not updating their site well. Whether this is an issue of the site or the people not returning to update the site I do not know. I regularly see cars listed there for over a year. Come on.

The Maverick's page counter showed over 3900 visits since early January. That's a long time. However, the page was updated for price. When I first found the car it was listed at $15,500. When I checked it for this article on May 2nd a comment was added stating, "serious offers under $15,000 would be considered." Hmm. The car is overpriced, as we'll get to below. What is important here is that everything is negotiable. I have seen some cars drop in price as much as $5,000. Considering the price range I am looking at that is significant.

I did manage to add a couple of cars after May 2nd, and of course those were for sale when I added them. All in all I am very interested in how many of this month's cars sell before press time.

On another note, I was having trouble using CPI's web site, so this month I am switching to using NADA's prices. Below are the average retail and high retail prices (unless otherwise noted in the text). Since I don't have an old NADA book for comparison I can't provide a percentage increase.

Well, enough babbling, let's see what we can come up with:

1968 Chevrolet Chevelle Malibu - $14,900

68_malibu_327_ac_restored_1.jpg (144876 bytes) 68_malibu_327_ac_restored_2.jpg (144784 bytes) 68_malibu_327_ac_restored_3.jpg (150518 bytes) 68_malibu_327_ac_restored_4.jpg (148020 bytes)

Description: # matching 327, at, ac, ps, 72k original miles, blue with blue int. Restored in excellent condition.

NADA Price: $9,685 - $14,430

Source: Just Muscle Cars

Comments: You have to love it when they can say so much in such a short description. So, we have a restored, numbers matching Chevelle with low mileage and all the power accessories I need. What's not to like. The pictures look great too. For a restored car the engine compartment needs a lot of detailing. Oh well, where do I sign? I want it.

Since we are at the top of our budget here, I will just have to drive it as-is. No problem there. Over the years I would save for some modifications. First up would be a stereo for those long drives to work. Next up would be brake and suspension upgrades for better performance. Then we can address the engine. I might try playing with the stock 327, but I will probably swap to a crate engine in the long run... maybe even a big block.

As for the exterior, I would like to get an SS hood and have it painted to match. I don't know if I would put stripes on it. It looks so good now. Of course, we would want to add period correct bucket seats and a console.

NADA puts this car overpriced. I find that rare, so I would negotiate this car down. Use the engine compartment as leverage. What kind of restoration did it get that didn't include restoring under the hood.

1969 Plymouth Barracuda Formula S - $9,995

69_barracuda_s_383_4speed_1.jpg (49139 bytes)Description: 383 V8, 4 speed manual, posi traction, new brakes, interior, dash, headliner, seats, battery, exhaust, complete wiring harness, plugs, wires, cap and rotor.

NADA Price: $13,703 - $21,315

Source: Play Toys

Comments: This one showed up at the end of the month while I was checking for sold cars. Normally I wonder if the car is original, or has the original engine. Not this time. I have one question... does it have rust. If it is rust free I am all over this car. I love the notchback coupes in the 67-69 Barracuda. Add to that this car has a 383, 4 speed, buckets and a console. It's even in my favorite color.

There are two simple reasons why this car is number two. 1) I already had the entire list set, and 2) The pictures were too low resolution to bump off the Malibu from the top spot. At this price I don't care if this car is original, or that it needs all the power accessories. I will gladly take this on as a project. Hopefully one that will only go up in value.

1964 Chevelle Malibu Super Sport - $12,900

64_malibu_ss_6cyl_1.jpg (82425 bytes)Description: True SS that is in outstanding condition. Same local lady owner (Malibu Barbie) for years. I have known this car for a long time. Very well maintained. Gorgeous red with original black interior (except steering wheel non original). Correct, original 230 cubic inch engine with automatic transmission. Motor has some dress up items, but original parts come with the car. Power steering and power brakes. Bucket seats and console. Stock AM radio. Whitewall radials on stock wheels with correct wheel covers. Very nice throughout. Runs and drives super.

NADA Price: $11,925 - $20,070

Source: Gentle Touch Motor Cars

Comments: I love the idea of this car. An SS with only a 6 cylinder engine. I was really surprised to see it so well equipped with both power steering and power brakes. And it even has bucket seats and a console. I would love driving this classic around. This should make an economic cruiser. I wonder what kind of mileage it gets. In fact... I wonder if we could hook up a 200-4R 4 speed overdrive automatic to that engine. What kind of mileage would it get then.

This is almost exactly what I want. If this was a 69 Camaro it would be perfect. I love the blank canvas approach. I would drive this car almost as is. I would have to add air conditioning for daily driving. After the A/C I would put in a decent stereo... without cutting up the dash. Then I would save up and look into an overdrive transmission.

In the long run I could see dropping in a crate engine and parking the 6 cylinder for a while. Maybe some suspension upgrades and disc brakes as well. Everything would be bolt on, so the car could be returned to stock. Any rust would definitely be a show stopper.

1971 Dodge Dart Swinger - $14,900

71_dart_swinger_4speed_black_1.jpg (386622 bytes)Description: This very nicely done Mopar has had it's much sought after 1970 340 small block modified with a 'HEMI Grind' camshaft and 2.02 valves with hardened seats. This Swinger also has a ton of new parts to make this Dodge just right! The bench seat and floor mounted 4 speed just looks cool!

NADA Price: $6,720 - $11,430

Source: Classic Auto Showplace

Comments: Here we have a problem. NADA doesn't list the 340 engine for the 71 Dart Swinger. I remember CPI doing that. The 340 is worth money. The price I listed from NADA is for a car with a 318. However, that is false too, since this car does not have its original engine. So what do we do. Well, for starters we can deduct the 10% NADA gives for the 318 because that assumes the original engine. But if this is a true Swinger 340 that's worth something over a Swinger 318, isn't it. See how we have a dilemma.

Now let's take a look at the car itself. Jet black with dog dish hub caps and a 4 speed. That is cool. This is a great sleeper. If the price were low enough to add air conditioning I would consider it. I expect someone will consider it sooner than I, which is the point of all the cars this month.

I would love to pick this car up for $10-12,000.

1967 Chevrolet El Camino - $11,995

Description: 327 V8, automatic, power steering, power brakes, power door locks, premium sound, CD player, alarm.

NADA Price: $11,850 - $14,900

Source: Play Toys

Comments: What is wrong with this car? I don't get it. This looks like a very nice, mild custom El Camino. Doesn't every Joe Blow with a custom anything think it is worth a small fortune. It looks like this Elky was lowered, it has nice wheels and a tastefully done mild custom interior. I like it. All he forgot was to put in air conditioning, but we could finish that for him.

I could see adding A/C and driving this everyday. I would look into putting an overdrive transmission in it to maximize the mileage. What would it take to get over 20 mpg. Is 25 possible. Gas is regularly over $2 a gallon.

1968 Plymouth Satellite - $9,950

Description: Who needs a Road Runner when you have a 440 Satellite that looks this good. Solid 440 big block that gets with the program. Nicely detailed with lots of receipts. All metal body with bright yellow paint that you can't miss, new top, nice dash, a few rips in the seams of the seats but an easy fix.

NADA Price: $6,675 - $13,000

Source: American Dream Machines

Comments: Wow, a potential Road Runner clone that is priced where a Satellite should be priced. How refreshing. I was really grabbed by the color and the overall look of this car. If I really want power then the 440 is a great choice. I built a 440 for my own 73 Road Runner GTX back in 1984. They are powerful engines. I just have to decide if I really want to get gas mileage that bad. In fact, that may be the biggest thing holding this car back.

1970 Mercury Cyclone GT - $10,900

70_cyclone_gt_green_1.jpg (83721 bytes)Description: Very hard to find, especially this original. Ivy green metallic exterior with mostly original paint. White vinyl top. Gorgeous white interior. 351 cubic inch V-8 with automatic transmission. Bucket seats and console. Power disc brakes and power steering. Hideaway headlights. Motor compartment is clean, but needs detailing. Clean trunk. Stock wheels, caps, and rings. Raised white letter radials. Very stock throughout. Runs and drives excellent.

NADA Price: Montego: $5,100 - $8,050

Source: Gentle Touch Motor Cars

Comments: Here's where we get desperate. With the typical Muscle Cars fetching high prices we would normally start looking toward the base model cars. However, Chevelles in Malibu trim are getting out of hand. So we have to get further off the beaten path, so to say. In the Ford camp they had the Torino. Keep going and you end up here, with Mercury's Cyclone GT, which is based off the Montego.

Hey, beggars can't be choosers, and with a $15K budget we are close to beggars in the Muscle Car marketplace. So here we have a viable Muscle Car from the era. For daily driving we need to add air conditioning. The 351 engine has plenty of speed parts available if we want to get more performance. The important thing to notice here is that this is a classic Muscle Car from the era and we could drive it for an affordable price.

I could not find any mention of the Cyclone on NADA's web site, so I was forced to use the Montego's price. This does not do this car justice, so do some more research before you buy.

1972 Chevrolet Chevelle Malibu - $12,900

72_chevelle_350_green_vinyl_roof_1.jpg (68714 bytes)Description: Original color of Sequoia green with black vinyl roof, mint original Covert beige interior, 350cid, auto, p/s, new dual exhaust with chrome tips out the rear, new American Racing aluminum wheels, new white lettered Goodyear Eagle GT's, 69,000 actual miles. Excellent driving car.

NADA Price: $8,150 - $12,900

Source: Klemme Klassic Kars

Comments: This looks like a cheap project. Someone got there hands on a car that was close to original then added some cheap aftermarket wheels and tires. I don't ever remember seeing a Goodyear Eagle GTII tire before. If you are going to put American Racing wheels on a Muscle Car era car don't put some psuedo high tech looking thing, put the Torque Thrust II on them for a great Muscle Car look. Another clue to the cheap approach is that this car was originally an A/C car, but there is no compressor.

If we bought this car the first thing would be to replace what's left of the factory A/C system with a Vintage Air system. Next we might like to spruce up the interior with buckets and a console. I like this car. It is unassuming as a Chevelle. Hey, it's not an SS Clone, that's a big plus in my book.

I do have an issue with the price. If this car really is a 69,000 mile original AND it has the original engine, then I might be willing to bite. But they are asking top dollar. Is its condition really that good? My guess is that this will have a two speed Powerglide transmission, so expect to budget in a TH-350 as a replacement. Better would be to drop in a late model 700-R4 overdrive transmission for some better highway mileage.

1972 Chevrolet Nova - $9,900

72_nova_rally_brown_1.jpg (167476 bytes)Description: This 4 speed 350 Nova will kick your head back in every gear! The engine compartment has had a lot of work under the hood. The car has a 4bbl carb on an Edelbrock intake and full exhaust, as well as much more! The steep rear end gears make this car awesome to drive in any gear. This car is a very nice dark gold with black interior and a black vinyl top. The paint is very nice and the motor is shinny and strong. The interior is very nice other than the wear on the drives seat.

NADA Price: $7,225 - $13,075

Source: American Dream Machines

Comments: Wow, a 4 speed Nova that is not overpriced as an SS clone. What a surprise. I like it. The car looks decent and we have plenty left over in the budget to add air conditioning and modify the suspension for good handling. If we get ambitious we can up the ante with a 5 or 6 speed.

1970 Chevrolet Nova "SS" Clone - $13,995

70_nova_350_5speed_green_1.jpg (98214 bytes)Description: 350 Cubic Inch Engine Attached to a 5 Speed Richmond Transmission With a Hurst Close Ratio Shifter. Completely Rebuilt Engine With New Steel Crank, Forged Pistons, Edelbrock RPM Performance Intake Manifold, Competition Cam, and a Holley 4 Barrel Carburetor. New Dual Flow Master Mufflers, 10 Bolt Posi-traction Rear With 3:73 Gears, Front Disc Brakes, New Fuel Tank, New Radiator, New American Racing Torque Thrust Wheels, New Carpet, and Many More Parts.

NADA Price: $7,425 - $13,325

Source: Muscle Car Garage

Comments: I hate the word clone. It is always used to ask more than a car is worth. Now that I have switched to NADA I can't tell you that CPI puts this car at little over $7,000, and that its value has changed about 1% in the last two to three years. NADA is much more forgiving, putting this car at only slightly overpriced. I can live with that if the 5 speed was installed properly. We better check this one out very carefully. We can also show the NADA price to get them down... which can help pay for the air conditioning I need.

1970 Ford Torino GT - $13,900

70_torino_gt_orange_1.jpg (19163 bytes)Description: Great color combination of Orange with White Bucket seat interior. Power Steering, Power Disc Brakes, 351 Engine, Shaker Hood, Magnum 500 Wheels and more. Looks, Runs and Drives Great!

NADA Price: $10,699 - $17,010

Source: Cars 2NV

Comments: The Torino is down the list of popular cars compared to Chevelles and Mopars, so we have a chance for something affordable. The engine pictured even shows air conditioning. Too bad we don't have an interior shot to determine if it is an automatic or a manual transmission. I would roll over if it turned out to have a 4 speed. With all of our power accessories I think we have an excellent driver Muscle Car. Too bad it doesn't have a 351 Cleveland, but there are plenty of speed parts available for the Windows family of engines that it should not be a big deal.

I like this car. NADA lists so many models of Torino. I was able to find a Torino Grand Touring Fastback with a 351, air conditioning and Ram Air (the shaker hood) that was priced between $11,888 - $18,900, average to high retail, respectively. Since they didn't mention the A/C I am assuming that it does not work, and deducted that from the price range above. Either way the car is priced right, so we just used the A/C to negotiate if that is necessary.

1971 Ford Maverick Grabber - $15,500

71_maverick_grabber_black_1.jpg (43053 bytes)Description: Documented one of twenty produced. Original black V-8 with silver stripes, buckets, A/C, tinted windows, numbers matching car. The only modifications are mild cam, Offenhouser aluminum intake, 600 Holley and Cobra valve covers which were done by the original owner. I bought the car when it was 6 years old with 7k on it. If you're looking for an all original unrestored car take a look at this one. Due to other interests I am forced to sell this unusual Maverick.

NADA Price: Comet GT: $3,444 - $5,365 (read text)

Source: Cars On Line

Comments: Let me mention a few things. The first time I saw the ad for this car it said the price was reduced. Reduced from what? As stated above when I was rechecking the ads for this month's column he added "serious offers under $15,000 would be considered." Apparently he is coming to the realization that his documented 1 of 20 car is not that popular. Let's face it, just low production numbers is not enough to guarantee a high value. It also takes demand.

I happened to look this car up before CPI's site stopped working. It gave me the $5,125 price. Normally I get a little wishy-washy when I look at CPI for a price. Most every dealer out there is quoting NADA. After all NADA provides retail prices, so dealers will naturally lean toward it. CPI's values tend to be lower, but I think they are fair... especially if you are buying a car from an individual and not a dealer (or even buying a car on consignment at a dealer). I looked this one up on NADA. Guess what. NADA doesn't even list a Maverick. I could not find the Maverick anywhere on their web site. I decided to fudge it and look up a Mercury Comet, which is a cousin to the Maverick. Regardless I can't see this car being worth $15K.

Granted, this car is a really nice looking, mostly original car. That counts for something. But I can't see spending a small fortune for a Maverick. I would try to offer him $8,000 while showing him the documentation to back up my offer. If the car stands up to a good inspection (rust free, numbers really match, paint in good condition, A/C blows cold. etc.) then I would be willing to go up to $10,000.

Now, let's assume for a second that we can get this car for 10K, what would we do with it. Not much. Are those the original wheels? I vaguely remember seeing those style wheels when I was a teenager. But I don't think they are original. Assuming they are not I would replace them with Torque Thrust II wheels with some decent rubber.

Remember, the Maverick is a cousin of the Mustang. Huh? Let's look back for a moment. The Mustang was built off the Falcon. The Maverick replaced the Falcon as Ford's economical car around 69-70. So the Maverick is sort of close to a Mustang. O.K. I am reaching on this one.

Since this car looks good and has air conditioning I would leave it visually alone, except the wheels. I might consider a crate 302 or 351 down the road, and possibly an overdrive transmission. More power and more economy at the same time. I don't know what kind of parts swapping is possible, but we also might look to upgrade the suspension a little to try to get closer to modern day ride and handling. If you buy this car you better like it because I really don't see it ever being worth a lot of money.

1971 Pontiac T-37 Tempest - $14,750

Description: Beautiful Lucerne Blue Pontiac Tempest T-37. 350 4 barrel, rear wing, Turbo hydramatic transmission, Power Steering, AM/FM. New radials and Pontiac Snowflake wheels, new bumpers, and new Legendary black interior.

NADA Price: $4,600 - $6,475

Source: Classic Muscle Cars

Comments: Here is another example of patients paying off. This car was originally listed on their web site at $19,750. When I saved the ad for it, the price of this car was lowered to $16,750. On May 2nd I check it and it was listed at $14,750. That's a total drop of about 25%. And as my comments are about to show... it may need to go lower.

Let's look at the car itself. The T-37 Tempest was basically a stripper car. This was a very base level version of the LeMans. So, it won't have a lot of sound deadening, as if a lot of cars had much during the era. But it should be a little lighter than the same year LeMans. They claim this car is rare, and that is probably true. But just because a car is low in volume does not automatically make it worth a lot of money.

They have a video of this car on their web site and tell how rare it is and how good an investment. But this car has a 350 Chevy engine. Sorry, any chance for this car to be collectible went out the window with the original engine. It doesn't even have a Pontiac engine. Also, they either replaced the factory tach with an aftermarket unit or they just replaced some other gauge (like the clock) with a tach. This car just keeps losing its collectability the more we look at it.

Looking this up on NADA (which this dealer uses) and they are still asking way too much. Sorry! What gives? How does a dealer that touts NADA prices for their cars justify more than twice the NADA value for this car? Good question.

You may be wondering why I bothered listing this car. It is at the edge of my budget (now), and doesn't have air conditioning. Well, I am hopeful. If we track this car for a couple more months they may drop the price again. We can show interest and once we have them contacting us to try and "close the deal" start low balling the car. How low? I don't know. I really like the color, and really like those wheels. So... are the wheels original? If so that would be a nice touch. Is the wing a factory item?

I would love to pickup this car in the $11-13K range. The paint looks excellent, and I can see myself driving it as it with just A/C added.

1972 Chevrolet Camaro SS - $15,500

72_camaro_ss_white_1.jpg (69222 bytes)Description: Real Super Sport, and the last year for SS Camaros. Over 20K spent on extensive restoration, gorgeous white paint with black SS stripes. Less than 3000 miles on detailed 350 motor, new tires on freshly painted SS rims, rebuilt transmission, also this was a factory air car.

NADA Price: $12,280 - $18,720

Source: American Dream Machines

Comments: Wow, an real RS/SS Camaro at a price I can almost afford. All we need is air conditioning and a lower price. We can always try to negotiate. Since I am listing this car this month I expect it will sell quickly, which makes it hard to negotiate. But we can hope can't we?

When they say this was an "air car" that means it doesn't have the A/C anymore, and I used that against it when pricing it on NADA's web site.

1972 Dodge Dart Swinger $8,995

72_dart_swinger_318_ac_black_1.jpg (42938 bytes)Description: One owner, 318 V8, automatic, factory A/C, original AM push button radio, all original (interior, paint, vinyl top) new radiator and fan clutch.

NADA Price: $6,210 - $10,620

Source: Play Toys

Comments: These cars are light, and can be made to go very fast with a small block. Even the 318 can get decent performance. The car seems to be priced about right. I like the "all original" down to the paint. Since it has air, the first thing I would do is drop those wimpy looking hub caps for some decent looking wheels. After that who knows. We have a decent looking all original car that could make a quick little ride.

1969 Chevrolet Chevelle - $9,000

69_chevelle_350_4_speed_1.jpg (71710 bytes)Description: "Special This Week". 350 engine, 4 speed, all new interior, gauges all work, new exhaust, new shocks, new ball joints, new chrome bumpers, new emblems, new wheels & tires, CD player with new speakers, weather stripping & glass good, priced to sell.

NADA Price: $12,293 - $19,705

Source: Greene's Classic Cars

Comments: "Priced to sell." "Special this week." Bold claims. Let's take you back a bit.

I thought this car was looking into a while back, but it appeared to have been sold. At least that is what I thought when it was no longer listed by the dealer. Then I saw it listed again with the new "Special This Week" claim. In case your curious (and you should be) the car was originally listed for $12,800. Apparently they saw the light. They lowered the price $3,800. Don't ever try to tell me that a price is not negotiable. It also tells you that patience can really be a virtue.

As for the car... I was surprised to see air conditioning on this car. They don't mention it in the ad. Why? Is it not working? Well, we still need to do something about those non-power drum brakes. I like this car at its new price. It seems like a great chance for a project car with a manual transmission. I would love to call about it. I wonder how long it will stay at the price of the week.