Classic Car Watch
What You Can Find at a Car Show... or Two

November 1, 2007
By Scott Lewis

This month we can to do something completely different. I attended not one, but two car shows during October. The Super Chevy Show and a local Mopar show. Each show had cars for sale, and I took some pictures of them.

You are going to have to rely on my memory of these cars, their features and their prices... if they had one. Quite a few did not. I find this silly. You take a car to a car show, and park it in the "Car Corral" area and don't put a price on it. How would any potential buyer know if you were serious or not about selling it if you didn't price it, or if it was even worth their while.

Anyway, I did the best I could to try and look up something on NADA for these cars to give us some help. One car at each show stood out from the rest, but only one of them had a price... and I was impressed with the price for the condition. For this month I decided to quote al three of NADA's prices (low, average and high retail). I did this because one of the sellers did this.

Let's see the cars.. and how good I can assess a car with little to no factual information.

!970 Dodge Charger 500 - $16,998

Description: Driver condition car with a repaint. There is bodywork, but the owner did not do it, and could not say how good it was. But he owned it for 6 year as is and there was no visible rust in the body. There was some surface rust inside the engine compartment, and he admitted to some same rust in the trunk (which I did not get to see). It has an all stock 318 with factory air conditioning. The air was not blowing cold, and you could see something was leaking around the compressor. Whether it was freon or engine oil I could tell with a quick visual inspection. There are some problems with the trim around the rear window and rear part of the vinyl roof. If you look closely you might be able to see a couple of small sheet metal screws holing down the trim. The upper door panels had some cracks. The owner claimed to have replacements for them in the trunk. The owner reached in and started the car from the outside and it purred like a kitten with a very light dual exhaust tone. I am always impressed when people do this with 30+ year old cars with carburetors.

NADA: $17,050 - $33,880 - $65,120

Comments: Well, this is clearly my favorite car of all the ones here. I was able to talk to the owner about the car, and it started flawlessly. In fact, he drove it down from Dallas (about 300 miles) for the show, and if he didn't sell it that weekend was going to drive it back. He said he bought it in 2001 with 30,000 miles showing on the car, and he put 31,000 more miles on it. He could not say for sure it was a 61K original mile car, but he thought it was possible. I didn't care about the mileage as much as the condition. The interior was very clean, and could be refreshed for under $500 to be as nice as you would like in a driver. I really thought this car would make a great classic daily driver, or even a part time driver as you do a little hot rodding.

This guy did what I do... he priced the car on NADA, printed it out and left it on the dash for all to see. However, he priced it with the 235hp 318. I am not sure, but I think the 235hp version was the 4 barrel version, and not the two barrel. I think the car had a two barrel. Even still, he priced the car just below low retail. I think this is a bargain.

If I had the cash I would wait a week and call with a $15K offer.  Of course, we would have to service the air conditioner as it was not blowing cold. Depending on how long it has been without freon it could need a new compressor. I wish I could get this car. Its condition is a little lower than that of the 67 Camaro RS Convertible I used to own, and it seemed to run smoother. Perfect for a driver.

1969 Chevrolet Chevelle - ???

Description: Very clean stock looking car. 307 V8 engine with and older aftermarket air conditioning. This car did not have a price on it, and the owner was not around to talk to. This condition of this car was a little better than my 67 Camaro. The paint had some spots that had some really bad touch up paint. I can only assume that mismatched touch up paint on a tiny paint scratch was better than letting rust come along. The vinyl roof looked excellent, and I could not see any rust on the car. This was a very straight car. The 307 and A/C were about the only options. It was very plain. But very clean.

NADA: $3,300 - $6,380 - $10,120

Comments: I really wish the seller had left a price on this car. I would be curious if he was selling it for a reasonable price, like the Charger above, or if he was going to be gouging the price because it was at a car show. This car was in noticeably better condition that the Charger, but I suspect the Charger would be worth more restored (as does NADA), and there was no price for me to compare. Oops. Oh, I prefer the bucket and console in the Charger to the bench seat in this car.

!970 Plymouth Road Runner - $17,500

Description: 383 engine, possibly numbers matching. Front disc brakes and power steering. You basic Road Runner with a bench seat and column shift automatic. Plenty of rust in and around the trunk. Engine runs good.

NADA: $15,500 - $30,815 - $55,775

Comments: This is one of those 50 foot cars. From 50 feet away it looks real nice... especially from the front. But the closer you get the worse it gets. Look at the about of rot around the rear window and the trunk surround. This rot was all around the trunk opening on three sides. It was just horrible. But... and this is a big but... if you can do the work yourself to fix this kind of rot (welding in patch panels and such) then you could buy this car, fix the body and have it painted. It already has new seat covers and new carpet. The interior was clean, but could use a freshening. The front of the car was in much better condition. I could not see any rust in the front, though the drivers fender looks like it was replaced. You really would need to get this car on a lift before assuming anything. Even if you had to pay 5 grand for bodywork and another 5 grand for a paint job, this car has the value potential to make that worthwhile.

I could see buying a car like this and driving it for a couple of years as is. Then put the money into it to get it right. Keep in mind though that rust never sleeps and it get worse. You may need to attack the rust before it becomes even more f a problem.

BTW... I was a little surprised that NADA values a real Road Runner below a Charger with a 318.

1969 Chevrolet Impala - ???

Description: All original car. Lots of patina. numbers matching 427 engine, air conditioning and power windows.

NADA: $5,070 - $10,725 - $16,315

Comments: I managed to do a little eves-dropping on this one, but didn't bother to talk to the seller. He was trying to pawn this car off because of patina. I think it was beyond patina and bordering on crap. However, this car had some significant options with factory air and power windows with the 427 engine. I think it also had power windows and power disc brakes. When new this car was a loaded big block car. But now its condition is terrible. This car would need a lot to make it even presentable, and tons of work to restore it.

1971 Chevrolet Camaro - $21,900

Description: Includes trailer, 350 engine, Automatic.

NADA: $5,875 - $11,750 - $20,100

Comments: This car was too much race car to drive on the street, and could not be used as a daily driver. Personally I think it was overpriced, but I don't normally price race cars. Oh, and I guessed on the year, I don't remember it.

1975 Chevrolet Vega - ???

Description: Manual transmission.

NADA: $2,075 - $3,850 - $5,650

Comments: I can't understand why you sell a car like this at an event like this and just leave it there with no price on it. I did a column on Vegas and Pintos once, so I was really curious on this one. However, I prefer the early 70-73 cars over the big bumper cars. Like the Camaro above I guessed on the year of this car. I could see a stick and clutch pedal through the window. Without know anything more I couldn't say much. If this car was priced right (for me that would be $4,000 or less) it would make a nice project.

1968 Chevrolet Camaro - $22,900

Description: Hot rodded engine.

NADA: $9,850 - $18,050 - $32,900

Comments: I was not able to tell if this car was a real SS or a clone. I strongly suspected it was a clone. As a clone I think it is overpriced. I priced this on NADA as a regular Camaro. If it is a real SS that would increase the values above about 50% each, so you be the judge. The interior looks fine in the picture, but I would rate it as slightly worse than the condition of the 67 Camaro I used to own. Overall I just couldn't warm up to this car without more information.

1970 Chevrolet Nova - $5,500

Description: 307 V8, factory air conditioning.

NADA: $5,143 - $9,350 - $18,040

Comments: Not much to know about the car, and yes... I guessed on the year. This car had enough rust to mean a lot of body work was coming. I could see light through the quarter panels. That's bad. Also, the bench seat had more duck tape than I think I have ever bought in my entire life. It's priced at slightly above NADA's low retail, which seems high for the amount of rust on this car. It is my opinion that it would cost far more to restore this car then it will be worth when it is done. And this car will never be worth what the rotting out Road Runner above will be worth. I am looking at it and wondering if a patina/sleeper would be possible, but not at this price. I would not pay more than $2,000 for it, and I would have a hard time convincing anyone that it was worth it.

1970 Chrysler Imperial - ???

Description: N/A

NADA: $3,200 - $6,600 - $11,300

Comments: This car is the way I like my big fuselage cars... in giant two door coupe form with hide-away headlights. It probably has a 375 hp 440 under the hood. They were quite common that way. The paint on this car did not look impressive, which would have me curious of the bodywork that is beneath that paint. Once again I can't determine if this car is worth it... because they did not display the price. If you haven't guessed, you should be ashamed by now... I guessed on the year on this one too.