Classic Car Watch
Stale Cars

February 1, 2006
By Scott Lewis

This month I want to look at what I call "stale cars." What is a stale car? Simply, it is a car that has been on the market for so long that it has become stale. Granted, some cars need to stay on the market for many months, even years. You are not going to get $6 Million quickly for your Hemi Cuda Convertible when you are willing to turn down a $4.1 Million bid at an auction (true story).

I don't look at high dollar cars that fit in tight niche categories. This column lists far more affordable automobiles than an original Hemi powered car. In my usual $15K budget you really shouldn't expect a car to stay on the market for 4 or 6 months unless... 1) it is overpriced, or 2) there is something wrong with the car. If "there is something wrong with it" that is usually fixed by lowering the price. Given the cars I look at for this column we are talking overpriced cars. Clearly the market is speaking with its wallet.

I was inspired by a nice looking Cyclone GT. It was unusual enough that it shouldn't sell too quickly. But 9 months on the market. Lower the price and get it off the lot.

You may be wondering how I know how long these cars have been on the market. I don't. However, I do know at what point I saved the ad for the car when I first saw it. To be listed here a car must be on the market for at least 6 months... by my records. To build this list all I had to do was sort the folder I store ads and pictures by date and it became very apparent which cars have been sitting on my hard drive for a long time. All but two cars were still for sale at print time. If you see something you like make a low, cash offer and snag a bargain. Lowering the price is the easiest way to move a car. Just ask General Motors how well it worked during their Employee Discount for Everyone program.

I was not being picky this month, just listing cars that are still for sale (plus the two that sold while building the list). If you are interested in any of the cars listed here you should call about them and try to negotiate the price down.

Let's see the cars:

1970 Mercury Cougar - $15,000 Preferred Car Of The Month

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Description: Mercury's top cat for 1970--the longer, sleeker, sportier and bolder Cougar. Is it an Eliminator? Nope, it has a few of the Eliminator's features: hood scoop, chin spoiler, trunk spoiler and a new stripe kit in the trunk. With the exception of the Eliminator add-ons (and chrome valve covers and custom American Racing wheels), the car is a stock, 2 owner 80k mile car. 351 V8 engine with optional 4 bbl, optional Select Shift automatic transmission with floor mounted shifter, power steering, dual hydraulic brake system with self-adjusting brakes, and a flow-thru ventilation system. For comfort there is power steering, air conditioning and an AM/FM/cassette stereo. The interior features high back bucket seats covered in vinyl, full door trim panels, color-keyed carpeting and headliner. This Cougar also has a carpeted trunk, dual sport mirrors and a dash mat. A nice additional bonus is the original owner's manual. Extremely clean inside and out, this Cougar is powerful, agile and luxurious and earns every bit of its "top cat" status.

NADA: $11,906 - $17,406

Source: Midway Auto Sales & Classic Cars

Found: 6/22/05

Comments: This is the favorite of the month. I love the look of this car. Since it has been sitting for over 6 months we should be able to get away with low balling it by 2-3K. If this car doesn't sell by the end of 2007 I may have to make an offer.

1970 Mercury Cyclone GT - $10,900

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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: $6,153 - $10,178

Source: Gentle Touch Motor Cars

Found: 3/7/05

Comments: This is the car that inspired this column. When I first saw this car I thought it was a really nice looking car that was different. Go figure, after seeing this car sit for months and getting me to compile this list, the cars sells. What are the chances.

1970 Chevrolet Camaro - $14,500

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Description: Blue with silver stripes. Matching numbers car, 250 6-cyl., 4 speed, 3.73 posi-traction rear. Original paper work with car, Protect-o-Plate, cowl hood. Offenhauser intake, Holley 4 barrel, power steering, disc brakes, A/C, headers. Bucket seats, factory gauges, AM/FM/CD. Rallye wheels. Good looking car, good driver.

Value: $10,133 - $15,208

Source: East Coast Classic Cars

Found: 5/9/05

Comments: Here is a classic case of an overpriced car. I love the idea... 6 cylinder engine with a 4 speed transmission. I have my doubts about the aftermarket A/C system, and I hate the color of the stripes. For $10,000 - $11,000 this would be a good car.

1966 Chevrolet Corvair Monza - $3,800

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Description: This great Corvair Monza is black on black. With 106,925 miles, the engine is a 6 cylinder with 4-speed manual transmission. This is a nice daily driver road ready and one you can drive and eventually bring up to a show quality. It is an original car with good paint. Interior is in good condition. The driver's back has one rip seat repairs. There are new rubber seals around the windows, doors, trunk, and hood.

NADA: $6,250 - $9,250

Source: Classic Lady Motors

Found: 05/09/05

Comments: Another car that gave some inspiration for this column also and sold just as I was making the list. This car was low enough in price I really couldn't understand why it didn't sell. Was it so much worse in person than the pictures? 

1974 Plymouth Road Runner - $12,500

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Description: 340 V8, Runs great! 16,932k miles reading on the odometer, power steering and brakes.

NADA: $10,450 - $17,100

Source: Ted Vernon Specialty Automobiles Inc.

Found: 11/14/05

Comments: This car gets the award for the stalest car on the list. I use to own a 1973 Road Runner GTX, so this one has a special pull with me. I can only guess that they are asking far too much for this car. After over a year being on the market it is time to lower the price. I just looked this car up on NADA and they don't list the 340 engie as an option. Wasn't the 340 replaced with the 360 in 1974? Is this a numbers matching car. For what they are asking it should be. Maybe that's the reason it hasn't sold. Maybe an offer of $7,500 will get it off the lot.

1972 Dodge Swinger - $7,000

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Description: Nice car, 66,000 miles, PS, Auto, AC, Nice interior, Great little Mopar.

NADA: $7,288 - $13,310

Source: Hyatt Classics

Found: 12/21/04

Comments: Another car on the market for over a year. Drop the price and get rid of this car. How about $3,500. At $3,500 we can paint it and do a full interior makeover. Maybe we can bring out the cool in this car, but it will take a lot of cash.

1979 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am - $11,500

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Description: 403 4BBL V8 (6.6 Liter), Automatic, Power steering, Power disc brakes, Power windows, Tilt & cruise, Factory AC, buckets/console, Correct AM/FM, 8 trac, Factory tach, Newer tires, Rear window defogger, Fresh paint & decals, Shaker hood, build sheet, Correct honeycomb wheels, Great Driving Car! A Great Collector Car!!

NADA: $10,285 - $18,260

Source: Fast Lane Classic Cars

Found: 2/7/05

Comments: I always liked Trans Ams when I was in high school. This seems like a decent one, if you can tolerate the red interior. Why isn't it selling?

1970 Ford Torino GT - $13,900

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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: $11,880 - $20,183

Source: Cars 2NV

Found: 2/9/05

Comments: I don't know why this car isn't selling. It looks decent in the tiny pictures. I would love to see high resolution images. 

1972 Dodge Dart Swinger - $8,995

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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: $7,950 - $14,520

Source: Play Toys

Found: 4/26/05

Comments: This car seems plain, but clean. It has air conditioning, so it should make a decent driver/project car. Offer $6,000... cash. At least it looks cooler in black than the green one above.

1971 Chevrolet Chevelle - $8,995

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Description: 307 V8 engine. Automatic transmission. Power steering. Rallye wheels. New paint. Very nice car.

NADA: $4,825 - $7,300

Source: Oldies But Goodies

Found: 5/5/05

Comments: Deja Vu. I bought a 1970 Chevelle with a 307 and column shift Powerglide automatic back in 1985. I bought it off my step brother for $500. The engine was shot and I built a 350 for it. I never did get a chance to see what could be made of the 307. I wonder if we could get descent performance and good gas mileage out of this car. This is a project car for a couple of reasons. 1) It needs air conditioning. 2) That interior is ugly and needs to be converted to black.

Clearly I am not alone in bashing this car. It has been sitting for over 6 months. NADA also agrees as it shows this car to be overpriced. I bet an offer of $7,000 would fly, but I would start at $6,000.

1973 Pontiac Grand Prix - $8,995

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Description: 400 4BBL V8, Automatic, Power steering, Power front disc brakes, Power windows, power locks, Tilt, A/C, Power seat, Buckets/console, Factory AM/FM, Factory tach, Remote keyless entry, PMD rallye wheels, Dual exhaust, Tinted windows, Have receipts for service and restoration, Great driving Pontiac, Original Texas Car!!

NADA: $6,750 - $11,340

Source: Fast Lane Classic Cars

Found: 6/9/05

Comments: I like Grand Prixs. I drove my Mom's 76 GP for far too many miles to remember. A car over six months on the market should be ripe for the picking. Let's start at $5,000 for this less desirable year of a alternative car.