Classic Car Watch
Alternative Classics

June 1, 2006
By Scott Lewis

This month I wanted to look at some alternative cars. I have looked at four door sedans, but this time I am really going off the deep end. All the cars below won't even come close to Muscle Cars. However, they are classics... by the definition of a classic as a car that is over 25 years old.

The car that started this month's list is a turquoise 64 Catalina. I was very impressed with the look of the car with the addition of some Torque Thrust wheels. It is amazing how a set of wheels can make a clean car look really cool. And Catalinas are not cool. Once I decided to use the Catalina I started collecting unusual cars. I never actually searched for any of these cars. They were mostly at dealer's web sites that I visit on a regular or not-so-regular basis.

Enough with my usual babbling, here are the cars I found.

1966 AMC Rambler - $5,995

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Description: 232ci 6cyl, automatic, power steering, correct AM radio, factory A/C, split bench, factory steel wheels & hubcaps, Caballero tan metallic w/saddle interior, rear window shade, original owners manual & copies of original title, original paint & interior, one owner car until January 2005, only 79,xxx actual miles, always garaged & well cared for, nice driving car! What a great find classic!

NADA: ???

Source: Fast Lane Classic Cars

Found: 4/5/2006

Comments: Now this is alternative. Why did a Rambler make the top spot this month. Well, one of the reasons to get a car "off the radar" is to get one cheap. This car may or may not be cheap for a Rambler. I could not find the Rambler on NADA's web site. However, at six grand it is affordable. Hot Rod magazine's March 2006 issue (p. 72) has a two page spread on a 66 Rambler.. with a 6 cylinder engine. The owner wanted to do something different. He touch up the original paint and added a couple of coats of clear (I assume so he color sanded and buffed out the clear for a great shine). He also added an Air Ride technologies suspension and some nice wheels for a slammed look. Simple and easy. Next, the May 06 issue of Car Craft magazine is starting a $3,500 Street Machine project. Guess what car they are using? Yep, a Rambler, however this time a 67.

I see this car following that same path. Keep in mind that although you can spend a lot less on a car that goes against the grain, parts will be much harder... and more expensive... to get your hands on. It's not like Year One has a Rambler catalog. You will have to search around and get real intimate with eBay to get any kind of replacement trim and interior parts. But with some elbow grease instead of cash you could have a fun project here.

Ultimately this car came out on top for being clean, unmolested, different and affordable. Just the reasons you get an alternative classic.

1968 Pontiac Catalina - $14,995

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Description: 400 2bbl V8, automatic, power steering, power brakes, factory A/C, factory AM radio, factory tinted glass, immaculate interior, factory steel wheels & hubcaps, black vinyl top, correct spare & jack, original build sheet, Protect-o-Plate & owners manual, only 12,230 actual miles, 1 family owned car, very original car! Unbelievably clean inside & out!!

NADA: $5,700 - $8,400

Source: Fast Lane Classic Cars

Found: 12/01/05

Comments: Definitely overpriced. But if they really can document this is a 12K original mile car it might be worth looking into. Show a lot of interest over time. I saw this car about a month before my "official" found date above, but just hadn't captured it for this column yet. It's still for sale, and I am surprised they haven't lowered the price. For this kind of money the engine compartment should be well detailed. With a detailed enigne compartment this car should be a nice car to take to shows.

I would detail the engine compartment, maybe adding some horsepower, and put some nice looking wheels and tires on it. I think if we could score this car for $10-12K it would be way cool.

1963 Chevrolet Impala - $16,500

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Description: 350 V8, power steering, dual antennas, AM-FM CD stereo, new American Racing Torque Thrust II wheels, leather LeCarra steering wheel. Recent mild custom restoration, beautiful new paint & interior, solid Western body. Runs & drives great.

NADA: $9,850 - $15,000

Source: Classic & Collectible Cars

Found: 2/2/2006

Comments: Story time. Back around 1983-84 I saw a 63 or 64 Impala SS with a for sale sign on it. The guy was in the lane next to me. I called out and asked how much he wanted for it. He said, $2,500. That was a little pricey, but was the exact amount of money I was planning to spend for a car. It was also in real nice shape. I memorized the phone number on the sign so I could call him later. Well, when I called later I got a wrong number. So much for my memory.

I still like this body style. Too bad this car isn't $2,500. Even NADA says this car is overpriced. I am not thrilled with the seat covers, but I love the wheels. If I had this car i would but buckets and a console in and add air conditioning. Considering NADA's price range for this car I would make an offer of about $12,000. That's me.

1967 Mercury Caliente - $9,995

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Description: This car has only 69,000 original miles on it. Numbers matching 289 motor. It features factory A/C, power steering and brakes, new exhaust. Excellent body and paint. No rust. The original interior is mint. Super stock and original. Runs and drives great. Extremely nice car in and out.

NADA: $5,750 - $8,813

Source: Premium Motors

Found: 1/27/2006

Comments. What is a Caliente? I never heard of this. I didn't think I would find it on NADA, but I did. Looks like a Comet to me. Regardless, this car looks really nice. They are asking top dollar for it, but even at that it is still an affordable car. If its condition matches what they are asking for it I could see bolting in some A/C and driving he wheels off this car.

1968 Plymouth Fury III - $12,900

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Description: 2 Door Hardtop, original big block 383cid, 727 auto trans, p/s, factory a/c, am radio, outstanding rust free body, recent quality repaint, rust free undercarriage, like new white interior, dual exhaust, white lettered tires, 69k miles. Excellent condition throughout. Drive anywhere. Must see!

NADA: $6,510 - $9,450

Source: Klemme Klassic Kar Museum and Sales

Found: 4/6/2006

Comments: I love a blue on white car. Now this would be really cool as a convertible. Clearly we get some extras like power steering and air conditioning, while keeping the price far below a 383 Road Runner. Due to NADA's pricing I would try to low ball and offer and think of this as a cruiser with a big block. It's heavier than a Road Runner, but we could always add some aftermarket components to pick up the horsepower.

1967 Pontiac Catalina Convertible - $13,995

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Description: 389 V8, automatic, factory cold A/C, power steering, brakes & power top. Beautiful yellow paint, new top & interior. Runs and drives like a jewel. Looks great with the torque thrust wheels!

NADA: $11,550 - $17,930

Source: Summer Classic Cars

Found: 10/12/05

Comments: This car sold almost right after I found it. I can believe that. This car looks real nice for a big cruiser. I have been avoiding looking at convertible, but the A/C and power top do it for me. Oh, and those wheels. I like them, though I would have went with the polished Torque Thrust wheels like the turquoise Catalina below. Overall I this car has me thinking about convertibles again.

1973 Pontiac Grand Am - $4,995

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Description: Original North Carolina car and has spent the past 25 years on the east coast! It sports it's original 400 CID engine coupled to automatic transmission, power steering and power brakes! Some new mechanics include a master cylinder, rear springs, shocks, flow master exhaust, and the Rimst tires have only 10,000 miles. This is a great sounding car and drives well!

NADA: $6,210 - $9,000

Source: Classic Auto Showplace Ltd.

Found: 12/14/05

Comments: I like 73-74 Road Runners and 73 up Laguna Chevelles, so why not this. I actually like the way they designed these bumpers. Much better than the big chrome monsters they put on so many cars starting in 73. Hey, the price is low and we could have fun with this.

1973 Buick Century - $4,900

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Description: 2-door hardtop in beautiful Florentine red with a black vinyl top and chrome Rallye wheels. Mint condition car with only 42,781 actual miles!! The 350 4-barrel engine is 100% factory stock, has never been tampered with, and is still fitted with the factory original Rochester Quadrajet 4-barrel carburetor. The automatic transmission shifts perfectly and the long 3.08 rear end allows relaxed high speed cruising. Power steering and power disc brakes for safe easy maneuvering. Ice cold air conditioning. Laser straight body with no signs of damage or repair ever and no bondo or panel work. Drives literally like a brand new car with no play in the steering, no squeaks or rattles, and a smooth comfortable ride.

NADA: $2,888 - $4,620

Source: Sports Car Gallery of Beaver Falls

Found: 12/23/05

Comments: Now here is the example of those big chrome bumpers. I had a friend that I used to work in a gas station with. He had one of these. I don't know what year he had, but it had to be close to this. This car is extremely clean looking in the pictures. If it is as good in person as they say (the description was a lot longer in their ad) and the picture show why wouldn't this be a cool old car to drive to cruise nights. And because it does cost much you don't have to worry about losing a lot of money driving it into the ground. Have fun with this old classic.

1964 Pontiac Catalina - $18,950

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Description: 2 door Hardtop, an original surviving car, turquoise on turquoise, 27,285 actual miles, 2-owner car from Tulsa, OK, cold air conditioning, automatic transmission, V-8, power steering, power brakes, am super deluxe radio. The only changes ever made to this car are the upgrade with modern 17" custom wheels, and one excellent repaint (due to fading), no damage or rust ever. I have driven the car over 300 miles at one sitting, it drives like new and rides superbly. Don't miss this one, it is a real sleeper.

NADA: $6,903 - $9,900

Source: Randy Blythe's Dream Cars

Found: 10/12/05

Comments: This is the car that inspired this month's unusual list. Now, this car is out of my price range, and I believe overpriced. However, I wanted to show it because it shows you what you can do with a really clean car and a nice set of wheels. The wheels really make the look here. What a simple and effective change. I like it.

I might be interested in this car if it was more reasonably priced. As it is I would pass. At $12-13K I would think about this cool old cruiser.

1958 Nash Metropolitan - $6,500

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Description: 26,000 original miles, NO RUST, new two tone turquoise and white paint. Five new tires, Excellent running engine. Cute as can be!

NADA: $5,575 - $8,950

Source: Wayne's Classic Cars

Found: 11/02/05

Comments: You want alternative. It doesn't get much more alternative than this. I saw it and just had to save the ad.

1963 Chevrolet Corvair Monza - $4,250

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Description: Corvair Monza 900 convertible, 6-cyl, 4-spd, manual top in good condition, nice interior, runs and drives.

NADA: $6,925 - $10,700

Source: Classic Connection

Found: 10/6/05

Comments: Unsafe At Any Speed! That's what Ralph Nader had to say about this car. And he was close to right. Chevrolet didn't understand rear engine cars well enough then. But the original 911 was also a rear engine car with very "special" handling characteristics. The 911 eventual was tamed. The biggest thing you can do to this car is put slightly wider tires on the rear.

What's not to like. O.K. No A/C. Oh yea, it's a manual top. Well, at this price who really cares. This is one of those funky old cars you just drive for the heck of it. Just to be different. And at this price how can you really go wrong.

1963 Buick Skylark - $7,995

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Description: This car is in excellent condition in and out. It features the original V-8 motor. New flow-master exhaust. Original paint still looks great. Original interior is like new. Runs and drives awesome. New Cragar wheels and tires. Nice car priced to sell!

NADA: $6,400 - $9,650

Source: Premium Motors

Found: 10/12/05

Comments: Four bolt wheels?!? That's weird for a sixties V-8 car. This is pretty different, and affordable. It actually seems price appropriately. The wheels are a nice touch. I just can't get warmed up enough on this car to move it higher on the list. Maybe it the over done white on red color scheme. Blame Mustangs for that.

1964 Ford Galaxie - $9,450

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Description: Nice clean Galaxie! V8, auto believed to be all original. Custom wheels and tires, runs and drives fantastic! Nice car.

NADA: $7,325 - $12,200

Source: Motor City

Found: 11/01/05

Comments: Why am I inspired by this car? I don't know, but this is another one of those times when a nice set of wheels and tires make a great look for a car. The price seems right too.

1964 Pontiac Bonneville - $7,100

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Description: This is a great 1964 Pontiac Bonneville 2 door hardtop with a maroon exterior, a white top, and a white interior. Miles are 53,085. This is a very nice all original car that would not take very much to bring to a show level. The engine is a 389 cubic inch V8 with automatic 3 speed transmission. What a great summer driver!

NADA: $9,500 - $13,550

Source: Classic Lady Motors

Found: 2/2/06

Comments: I was a little surprised at the value of this car with NADA. So not only is it affordable, but it seems to be a bargain as well.

1966 Oldsmobile Delta 88 - $4,995

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Description: 2-dr Holiday Coupe, 425/310 hp, automatic, PS, PB, PW, nice interior, good and solid outside, drive it anywhere!! Wheels/Tires optional

NADA: $7,800 - $12,000

Source: Classic Connection

Found: 10/6/05

Comments: NADA does not list a 425/310 hp engine. They list a 425/365 hp, and a 425/375 hp option. I plugged in the 425/365 for my pricing. It added 20% to the base price. Obviously we need to do some research. The 425/310 could be the base engine and not need any pricing.

1967 Buick Skylark Convertible - $8,995

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Description: What a Great Ride! This Good-Looking Gold 1967 Buick Skylark Convertible will provide lots of Great Cruising! Nice Gold paint with a good black soft top and nice original style gold interior. Powered with a 300 V8 Motor and Automatic Transmission. Also equipped with Power Steering; Power Top; Tilt Wheel; AM Radio. What a Great Deal!

NADA: $11,400 - $18,800

Source: Classic Auto Showplace Ltd.

Found: 1/26/06

Comments: Too bad it doesn't have air conditioning. Again, this is starting to get me interested in convertible.

1970 Chevrolet Kingswood Wagon - $12,500

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Description: This 1970 Chevrolet Kingswood Wagon had its engine and transmission rebuilt in 1999 (about 19,000 miles). It has a lot going for it including a very straight body and paint, ice cold a/c, power steering, power disc brakes (installed in 2000), and power windows. Under the hood, this Chevy sports a powerful 400 CID V-8 coupled to a turbo 400 transmission. This car needs absolutely nothing done to it. Other goodies include a tilt wheel and a AM/FM Stereo.

NADA: $7,530 - $13,260

Source: Classic Auto Showplace Ltd.

Found: 4/5/2006

Comments: I came across this car too late to put it in my recent four door article. My parents had a station wagon like this... with the rear facing third row seat. I always thought it was kind of cool... for a wagon. In today's politically correct world this is probably a bad thing. That's a shame.

1971 Buick Riviera - $4,995

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Description: 455 V8, automatic, air conditioning, power steering, power brakes, power windows, power seats, cruise control, AM-FM stereo, good straight original driver, runs & drives great, nice solid body.

NADA: $11,880 - $19,800

Source: Classic & Collectible Cars

Found: 4/6/2006

Comments: I love that boat tail rear end. I would  have moved this car way up on the list if it had buckets and a factory console. At this price we should be able to scrounge that up. I wonder how bad the gas mileage is with this boat.

1973 Ford Maverick - $6,500

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Description: 2 dr, auto, air conditioning, power steering, power brakes, 28K miles, green, green interior, completely original, runs perfect, 6 cylinders.

NADA: $2,750 - $4,345 (Note: price is for a Mercury Comet)

Source: Collector Car Trader

Found: 3/31/2006

Comments: I love finding super clean, original, low mileage cars that are unwanted. I would prefer the small bumper version before 73, but I like the idea here. I would still low ball an offer. This is a project car in my mind. Do we want to be different?

1977 Pontiac Grand Prix - $9,995

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Description: Professionally maintained and exceptionally clean, looks and runs like new, 38k original miles, original build sheet and sales contract, original manuals and books, always garaged. You must see to believe.

NADA: $3,878 - $6,435

Source: Specialty Sales Classic and Exotic Cars

Found: 12/16/05

Comments: Do you know some people look at an old car that reminds them of that car they drove in high school or college. This is that kind of car. I drove my Mom's 76 Grand Prix in high school and some of my college years for a lot more miles than I care to remember. We have one problem here. These cars are heavy and slow. I would only get this car if it were equipped with a 400. This car is clearly overpriced. For $5,000 I might consider this for fun. At least it's interesting.