You Are Here:  Blog Home

Most Sought-After Classic Cars

Classic cars are an American pastime. Whether cruising, showing, restoring or racing, the classic car hobby is a multi-billion dollar a year industry. Like many other areas, the Baby Boomer generation is driving up demand, and therefore, costs. While some see this as a hobby purely for fun, others see classic cars as an investment. Whatever route you travel, here are some of the most sought-after cars on the road.

Oldsmobile 442Oldsmobile 442

When was the last time you saw an Olds on the list of anything desirable? Probably the last time the Oldsmobile 442 muscle car rolled off the assembly line. It was built on the same chassis as the Chevy Chevelle and Pontiac GTO, but is more of an unknown, and usually cheaper. Still, it could offer up to a massive 455 cubic inch V8 delivering 380 horsepower. A mean-looking ram air hood and distinctive grille finished the package. 442s are relatively affordable, selling for up to $100,000.

Pontiac GTO

The GTO is the car that created the muscle car. Back in the day, only full-size cars had full-size engines. Meaning, if you wanted horsepower, you had to saddle it with a massive 5,000 pound ride. Pontiac snuck around the rule book, and made the GTO an option in 1964, stuffing a big car’s engine into a mid-size body. The results were immediately noticed, as the “Goat” could do zero to sixty in around six seconds. Not bad for a car that was marketed like Scions are today. If you want to go faster, look for ones with “The Judge” on the fender. The extra power will cost you though, as a 1969 GTO Judge is worth about a quarter million.

Chevrolet Chevelle

Today, it’s a mediocre rock band, but 40+ years ago, the name Chevelle really meant something special. The Chevy muscle car had killer looks, a solid choice of powerful engines, a nice interior, and an affordable starting price. All of these are reasons the 1970 Chevelle Super Sport is arguably the pinnacle of the muscle car movement. Well, that and the 450 horsepower V8. If you go shopping, watch for “clones.” Many unscrupulous  builders are looking to cash in on the $300,000 estimated value of an SS by selling you a fake.

Shelby CobraShelby Cobra

No, not the Mustang. This is the little British car with a massive Ford 427 V8 under the hood. Cobras were the definition of cool back then, and still are today. While there were few of the street legal cars sold back in the day, replicas are the opposite: cheap and plentiful. A replica Cobra can be bought for $20,000, but an original will set you back at least a half mil, and much more if it has history. Mr Shelby even modified a racing Cobra with twin superchargers and gave it to comedian Bill Cosby. Bill thought it was too much for him, and gave it back. Bad move, as that car is well over a million dollars today.

Plymouth Barracuda

One of the kings of the Barrett-Jackson auto auctions is without a doubt the Hemi ‘Cuda. The Mopar alternative to the Mustang and Camaro never sold as well as its competitors, but that might be some of the draw. Nash Bridges might have refired an interest in the pony car in the late 1990s, as the TV cop drove one in the series. Good luck getting your hands on an original though, as a Hemi ‘Cuda sold at Barrett-Jackson for $2 million just a few years ago.

April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month

The National Safety Council has designated April as Distracted Driving Awareness Month. It is their goal to remind everyone of the importance of keeping your eyes on the road while driving.

Research shows that thousands of people are killed each year due to distracted driving, with the chief culprit being cell phone use and texting. The NSC urges drivers to keep their attention on the complicated task of driving and warns that even hands free devices can be distracting.

Here is a video sharing one family’s story of how distracted driving devastated their life:

And below is a vintage film discussing the importance of concentration long before the age of cell phone distraction:

5 Things To Do During National Car Care Month

April is National Car Care Month, and it’s the perfect time to get some basic maintenance out of the way. This last winter was brutal for most of the country, and that means many vehicles were neglected during the coldest months. It’s about to get very rainy, so don’t let that little issue turn into a big problem at an inopportune time. Here’s five easy things you can do during National Car Care Month to save you some cash and give you piece of mind.

checking oilCheck Your Fluids

An engine is only as good as its fluids. The best built, high-end exotic engine will quickly wear out if you run it out of fluids. Take the time to make sure your engine oil and antifreeze/coolant are at proper levels. If your transmission has a dipstick, check that too. Take a look at longer-lasting synthetics. The higher initial costs will be paid back by longer intervals between changes, and possibly even some gains in miles per gallon.

Check Your Tires

Tires are the only thing keeping your vehicle on the road, and now is a good time to look at them. Check for any cracks or dry-rot. Look at the tread for anything stuck in the grooves, or to make sure there are no nail/screw punctures just waiting to cause a leak. Use a $2 tire gauge to check the air pressure, and make sure it is within manufacturer’s specifications. Also consider rotating the tires, as that can help prevent early wear.

car filtersCheck Your Filters

A dirty air filter will make your engine work harder, reducing MPG and increasing wear. Fortunately, air filters are cheap (around $15), and super easy to replace. Engine air filters are about the easiest maintenance item on modern vehicles, usually requiring zero tools and about a minute of work. This is also a good time to check the cabin air filter. This is also usually very affordable, and when changed on time, keeps the outside grit and funk from entering your vehicle.

Check Your Electrics

The frustrating experience of trying to start a car with a dead battery is usually the only time many owners think about their vehicle’s battery. Avoid this issue entirely by testing your battery. Auto parts stores sell volt meters for as little as $10. If your battery tests less than 12.5 volts, it is probably time to start looking at replacements. Also, most auto parts stores and service centers will test your battery for free.

Check the Outside

All that nasty ice probably chewed up the wiper blades, so replace those before monsoon season hits. Make sure your headlights, tail lights and turn signals are all working properly. You don’t want to get a fix-it ticket, or worse, cause an accident. Consider a wash and wax. The winter takes a beating on the vehicle’s finish, and a wash and coat of wax will make it look new again. Remember that a little elbow grease and investment now will go a long way towards a more reliable ride with a higher resale value.

Marty Kennelly liked this post

Memories Car Club Cruise & Show

Car shows and cruise nights are an integral part of American culture. Whether setting up drag races, teenagers cruising for the opposite sex, or elderly men showing of the symbol of their youth, cruises and shows have permeated our culture. The aptly named Memories Car Club has one of the best cruise and show gatherings in the country, and would like to invite you to attend to help their good cause.

Memories Car Club is based out of High Ridge, just outside St Louis, Missouri. When the weather is nice, the group hosts an informal cruise and show that has grown to gain national attention. Between April and October, the first Friday of each month (June is 2nd Friday), the club gathers around 15,000 of their closest friends for a monthly meet. After outgrowing their previous venues, the only place big enough for the event is Faith Church in Sunset Hills. The club returns the favor by asking participants to bring canned goods for the church’s food pantry.

The show attracts a wide variety of participants, in everything from old school hot rods to modern muscle. Cruising into the lot you can see a custom 1951 Mercury lead sled followed by the Bandit’s 1977 Trans Am, plus a ’32 deuce and Datsun 510 all in the same view. Few professional shows match this variety, and that is possibly the reason so many spectators come out each month.

Community participation is also high, probably in part because of the good-natured people, but also due to giving back.  There are more than 60 sponsors for door prizes, so a lot of participants go home with something more than memories.

Here’s a look back at the 2013 season:

2014 Auto Shows: The Biggest & The Best

Car shows can be as small as a few guys with mullets drinking Coors Lite and talking about their sweet 1980s Cougars, on up to billionaires sipping wine while discussing their Rolls-Royce Phaetons. There is a lot of variety in vehicles, attendance, and locales. If you want to see the biggest and best shows of the year, here’s where to start.

2007 Pebble Beach Concours d’ElegancePebble Beach Concours d’Elegance

Concours shows celebrate rare, expensive, and historically important cars, and the Pebble Beach, California show is arguably the best in the world. Don’t expect to see much American iron unless it’s a pre-WWII Duesenberg or Cadillac, but the show will live up to its reputation. Among the Ferrari racecars, steam cars, and antiques, there is a recently opened class for Tatra, the Czech luxury car company known for aerodynamic styling decades before it mattered. The show is August 17th and tickets start at $275. No, that is not a typo.

Muscle Car and Corvette Nationals

Pretty much the opposite of Pebble Beach, the Nats will feature over 500 muscle cars, Corvettes and super cars. The show is Saturday and Sunday, November 23rd and 24th. Tickets are only $25. It is a family friendly event, as kids 12 and under get free admission, and there is a car model contest and scavenger hunt they can enter. Located in Rosemont, IL, the 2014 show features the 50th anniversary of the Ford Mustang and the Chrysler Hemi.

Greenwood Car Show

Advertised as “a mile and a half of classic rides,” the Greenwood, Washington show is one of the largest in the northwest. Attracting everything from classic Ferrari’s to modern wagons, the show in the small Seattle neighborhood is free to attend and offers a lot for families. The non-profit show is a part of Puget Sound’s week-long Seafair summer festival, and takes place Saturday June 28th.

Daytona Turkey Run

The 41st annual Turkey Run takes place each Thanksgiving weekend in the only state with great weather in November. The Daytona, Florida event is more than just a massive car show; the weekend offers a huge swap meet, a chance to drive on the Daytona International Speedway, live entertainment and local car-related artwork. This year the event runs November 27th through the 30th, and costs just $10 to attend.

SEMA

No nation-wide list of car shows is complete without including the annual Las Vegas trade show from the Specialty Equipment Manufacturer’s Association. SEMA is an industry-only gathering of what is new in the aftermarket and hot rod world, so what happens in Sin City definitely doesn’t stay there. While you may have difficulty getting in unless you work for an automotive related company, everything is available for viewing online without the crowds and expense. The giant display of “car porn” runs Tuesday, November 4th through Friday, November 7th in the Las Vegas Convention Center.

Car Scams in the News

March has been a particular rough month for car scammers — which is good news for their victims.

In Minnesota, a man was sentenced to more than six years in jail for fraud in connection with his car restoration business, Memory Lane Classics.  Between 2007 and 2010 he reportedly swindled car owners out of $1 million dollars in undelivered restorations.  In addition to jail time, he will be forced to pay back his victims.

Read the full story at http://www.startribune.com/local/250800571.html

crashed carIn New York, a man is awaiting sentencing after being found guilty of of insurance fraud related to stage car crashes.  Maxo Jean was the head of a team that caused over 30 car crashes and brought in over $150,000 in fraudulent insurance payoffs over four years.  Crews like this have been found operating all over the country. He faces a $250,00 fine and up to 20 years in jail.

You can read more at http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2014/03/new-low-in-insurance-fraud.html

Buying Your First Hot Rod on a Budget

So you’re going to finally going to buy the testosterone fueled hot rod you have always wanted. While there are tons of segments of hot rod culture out there, this article should provide a helpful guide as an overview that applies when looking for your first one.

32 Ford coupeKeep in mind, prices will vary widely with demand. If you are looking for a beat up ’32 Ford coupe, expect to pay well over $10,000 for a non-running version that needs a lot of work. Professional shops have been snatching these up the last few decades, along with all the 1920s and ‘30s iron, in order to do high dollar restorations and conversions. They are rare these days, so prices are outrageous.

That brings us to the other big price factor: condition. Immaculate cars simply cost more as they appeal to more buyers. A common saying in the car community is to pay now, or pay later. Sure, you can save money by buying a rust bucket, but rust repair can be expensive if it is in the frame, firewall, or floor pan. However, look closely. Surface rust can be hideous, but easy and fairly cheap to repair. Body work can also be tricky. That paint the previous owner sprayed in his garage could be hiding inches of Bondo®, or it could be flawless steel under that junk. Look closely at everything.

Also, consider if you will accept a modified car, or if you are looking for a factory survivor. Are you okay with someone else’s modifications? This can save you thousands if they started an expensive project and gave up halfway through. It can also cost you when you have to change things the previous owner did incorrectly, or where they went a direction you don’t like. Buying a tri-five Chevy already plumbed for fuel injection sounds like a great idea, unless you already bought the carburetors.

For the best deals around, you might want to look into more of an avant-garde hot rod. Sure, your Aunt’s Geo Metro will never be cool. But look at the alternatives out there. If you’re thinking 1960s and ‘70s iron, it isn’t just Mustangs and Chevelles. The Mercury Cougar is cheaper than its Mustang cousin, and offers all the fun. A first generation Oldsmobile Omega is an unknown at car shows and cruise-ins, but consider it for what it is: a cheaper Chevy Nova with a better grille. For the best bang for your buck, take a look at the obscure wagon variations of classic muscle sedans. No one wanted the wagons for decades, so they are still cheap to buy today, and a mid ‘90s Chevy Caprice wagon has the same basic small block as the Corvette, and can feel every bit the muscle car while hauling all your stuff.

The key to being happy with your project long term lies in you knowing exactly what you are looking for, and exactly what you may have found.