7 hours ago in Articles
The Harvey brothers dominated autocross in an obsolete Datsun a couple decades ago.
I'm 18 and looking at maybe buying my first muscle car. The problem is that I don't know much about cars or even where to start. I want to spend under 7K and I'm looking for cars between 67 and 77. My favorite builds have been the impala and the mustang, but I haven't had any luck finding anything with little to no rust that is even drive-able for under 7K. I'm always open to new options on cars because I don't know anything about anything at this point. I'm just looking to learn.
Buy something that is not the normal picks for muscle cars. How about a Lemans turned GTO clone... Where are you located? That makes a big difference.
In reply to jstancel:
I am located in Houston, Texas but moving to San Marcos, Texas on Sunday about 30 minutes outside of Austin. The biggest priority to me right now is a V8 with good availability on parts. I checked out the LeMans, and it is an absolutely BEAUTIFUL car. How is the availability on parts?
If go for a Galaxy 500 with 390 then do a 445 build like my F100 when you get the money.
Or a 66ish Dodge Dart.
Later Impalas like my brothers 68 are still affordable and ride awesome.
You just have to think outside the box and not just pick a Chevelle Camaro Mustang type of thing.
In reply to FranktheTank:
Yeah I definitely love the Camaro but have had trouble finding it in my price range at all. I love that Galaxy 500, I'm going to add that to my list right now. the first step for me is building a list of some cars that I am interested in, and can be affordable within the next year or two, so I don't go out Gung-ho and buy a car I know nothing about and can do nothing with. I haven't grown up around cars much and it's really something I want to get into so this is kind of my first few steps into this thing.
To the OP the Austin area is dry, and rust free. Wait till you move to buy a car. Do an early Mustang, tons of parts, great aftermarket.
8k talk him down
6k in the range!
In reply to clownkiller:
Thank you ClownKiller those are both beautiful cars. You guys have all helped a lot.
FranktheTank wrote: If go for a Galaxy 500 with 390 then do a 445 build like my F100 when you get the money. Or a 66ish Dodge Dart.
The '66 and earlier Dodge Darts have a narrower engine bay that makes V8 exhaust routing a pain and are harder to find restoration parts for than later Darts. On the other hand, the styling is totally different, and they're a lot less frequently seen.
Also look at AMC Rebels, Javelins, etc. Those can usually be found cheaper then cars from the big three.
Checking out Austin...
$7000, with LS1 swap
I'd be looking for a Nova!
66 Impala wagon with a big block?
Define "muscle car." There are a lot of fairly small Plymouth & Dodge sedans out there that are killer, shockingly, fast. And they often can be found at reasonable prices because they are not called Road Runner or other big names. Often the same drive train and same body can be found in a Chrysler product at a fraction of the big name's cost.
You might also want to consider the Pontiacs in the same vein. A Tempest with a V-8 is pretty hot but at not nearly the cost of a GTO or a Sprint.
Of course, should you really look for a sleeper, consider a Catalina or a Grand Prix. Both of these, while large can include great drive trains and often walk away from name models.
One other point. If you're driving a name ride like a GTO, a Road Runner, Mustang 2+2, etc. and your age is under 40 or so, you just painted a target on your back. Not only will you be harassed by every kid in a Pinto or whatever he/she thinks is hot that day. You will also automatically qualify for a "pull over" conversation with the local gendarmes just for what you drive.
Drive a Fury or a Tempest with the same or more guts or a Catalina with a 421 Tri-power & you're usually under the radar. You're also a whole lot less likely to have your car stolen too!
Instead of suggesting cars I am going to suggest buying tips.
Do not ever buy anything in primer unless you are more than certain that there is no filler anywhere.
Be very wary of very shiny new paint jobs or crappy rattle can ones, see my thread for the latter
Rust is a killer on many of these, and don['t let someone tell you that it's just a little rust that can easily be fixed. A friend bought a pretty clean Falcon and found the cowl rusted to crap - essentially unrepairable.
If it's been modified, tread carefully. A 305 small block chevy looks just like a 500 hp 383 small block chevy.
Look for unmolested unmodified cars that have faded paint. Drivability issues are usually tuned out easily enough once you learn how to use a carb and a mechanical advance.
Don't buy any sort of race car and try to use it on the street.
Do look for off brands. Even the most obtuse weirdo muscleish car has more of a following than you need for basic stuff. AMC has a few good ones, Ford has a few oddballs and Dodge has plenty.
Ford makes the best rear ends and transmissions. AMC rear ends are terrible. Chevy rear ends are terrible.
If you're not scared of size, try a Cadillac, Buick, Oldsmobile, Pontiac instead of the typical intermediate size car. Big blocks mean big bucks, in chevy and Ford land, though, so be careful. The BOP 455s were pretty good, though, all of 'em. The Caddy 500 is awesome.
Don't fear the truck. Trucks can be easier to work on and still have similar powertrain options from the muscle car brethren.
I love the Catalina 421 option, but it is really a matter of what you like and what you find.
Hooniverse has a 'obscure muscle car garage' series that can be pretty fun:
So, to summarize: If someone is selling a shiny car, they just painted over bondo and paper mache. If someone is selling a primer car, it might be worse than that. If someone is selling a stumbling, misfiring car with super MSD spark plug wires, a 6-AL box, braided flex line over their radiator hoses, and some wiring under the hood that looks a little too new, run away. If someone is telling you their 10 second drag car (which never actually broke the 13s, but could have if...) which can -easily- be street driven, run away. If you climb under and find bent crap and bolts that look wrong, run away.
Let us know what you find. Good luck.
In reply to tuna55:
All of those are awesome things! Yeah I'm looking for something with an original paint job or close to it. Paint is one of the things I want to do myself so that I know exactly what is on the car. I want to make sure that for the most part the car has original parts. I don't want someone's project car that they messed up on. I want the pure original and I don't want anything super flashy to buy. I want something that a lot of people would pass up, and when I'm done with it I want it to look great so I can step back and be proud of my work.
In reply to Rupert:
Right now I was looking at a Mustang Fastback or something like that. I'm going to take a look at your suggestions though because like I said I have an open mind and know almost nothing right now compared to the people on this forum but I have already learned so much from you guys so thanks you for that.
One other thought brought up by my wife who worked in casualty insurance for over forty years. At 18 you really should consider the cost of insurance on a SS 396 or a GTO, etc. Actually in fact you need to consider if you can even get coverage on them at all without going into the extra high risk catchall pool! And no, I'm not talking collision insurance, I'm talking basic liability insurance here.
If you or your family have a regular insurance agent, get insurance quotes on every car you consider. You might find a 440 Plymouth Belevedere or a V8 Tempest a much more inusreable ride.
Rupert wrote: One other thought brought up by my wife who worked in casualty insurance for over forty years. At 18 you really should consider the cost of insurance on a SS 396 or a GTO, etc.
For this reason, I often will get a 6-cylinder version and swap in a V8. The VIN says cheap, but the accelerator says muscle.
I was never a big Mopar fan. Its kinda like buying a Harley instead of a Honda. There is a cult prestige, but muscle is muscle. Mopars tend to be excessively expensive for what you get, just because they're mopars. They aren't faster, or better, and most of them are unibody cars which can have adverse effects when they rot or get damaged.
I prefer a full-frame car. If you're really looking for a cheap, easy to modify, beginner muscle car, I would do a GM. Parts interchange is stoopid easy. Aftermarket support is abundant. A good example... I have three different B-bodies; a 66 bonneville, a 73 impala S/W and a 96 Impala SS. With very few exceptions, much of the suspension, brakes, frame, shocks, springs, seats, steering components, and even turn signal flashers all interchange. Because of such wide universal usage, parts tend to be CHEAP, and almost always on the shelf at the parts store.
Another thing to consider is an A/G body; monte carlo, el camino, cutlass, regal, malibu, etc. same cheap parts, cheap cars, and the frames are all drilled for multiple GM engines and trannys.
As far as I know, all the older cars we are discussing don't show engine choice on the VIN. Ask any Mustang LX owner whose car came stock with the hot V8 the main difference in his/her car and a Mustang GT. Invariably after laughing, the response will be "my insurance is so much cheaper!"
Today anyone can look at a VIN and discover not just engine-transmission packages but also trim line, various accessories, etc. In the older cars you could only tell the model name(GT, LX, etc.) and the order the car came off the line.
Therefore I'd not advise an 18 year old to do an engine swap on an older car to save on insurance issues. As long as you pick a model name that's not SS, GT, 2+2, Camaro, etc., you're pretty much home free.
Farm Bureau was cheaper on my Camaro than it was for my dually. (I had 5 vehicles licensed and insured at one time in HS) it really depends on how his company calculates the risks of each vehicle. To them my 7k lb flat bed was more dangerous than my 3400 lb drag car if I were to lose control. Both were around 35 and 50 a month. I would never buy a vehicle based on a vin code I've driven vehicles with lift kits, methanol injection, drag slicks and open headers (not in one trip) to the ins office and they just shake their head and hand me my cards.
So... What did you buy? I mean if I had 7k in my hand you better believe I'd have a car within days or truck or 4wd van.
curtis73 wrote: I was never a big Mopar fan. Its kinda like buying a Harley instead of a Honda. There is a cult prestige, but muscle is muscle. Mopars tend to be excessively expensive for what you get, just because they're mopars. They aren't faster, or better, and most of them are unibody cars which can have adverse effects when they rot or get damaged.
My Mopars weren't too expensive until Corvette collectors discovered the Hemi and brought all that numbers matching stuff with them.
Camaros/Novas/Mustangs/Cougars are all unibody as well. Having worked on all of them, I'm still a Mopar guy. Of the other two Big 3, I'd bring home a GM before a Ford. That's just personal preference. But the Mopars are still faster.
To the original poster, go look for something that you really like. Then go find the nicest one you can afford. It's a whole lot easier to find the time/energy/money to get something going when you are excited about it. The more mainstream models have a higher buy-in, but also have a much higher level of aftermarket support.
Pretty much anything you need for an early Mustang or Camaro is available reproduction. Mustangs have incredible amounts of reproduction parts available. '70-up Challengers and Barracudas have good support, but pricier than Mustangs or Camaros. The Firebird has decent support too.
For a mid-size, Chevelles have great support, with the other GM siblings to a lesser degree. Mopar B-bodies like Road Runners & Chargers have good support, but not to the level the Chevelle has. I don't think the Ford mid-size support is as strong as the other two.
If you can find it a 7 mercury zephyr with a 302 and a 5 speed. They made these with the 302 but I don't think they came stock with the 5 speed.
This is my next sleeper project since it is really a mercury badged for mustang wagon. and I like the 4 headlight look better on the zephyr.
How about a muscle truck? Short box 2wd trucks look pretty sweet with suspension work. I think to an extent that muscle cars are a dime a dozen and have been done to death. It is to the point now at car shows where I just walk by most Mustangs, Camaros and similar era muscle cars and go for the not seen every day stuff.
You ain't from round here, er you.
I can't tell you how boring all the "muscle trucks" are around here. There's not one at every stoplight, but it seems there's one at every light I get stopped by. And typically it is rolling smoke. Sitting to wait for a light to change with the top down & a jacked up Cummins rolling smoke right at you isn't a lot of fun!
The other thing I've noticed locally is the "trucks" never carry anything in the bed but air. Just as the "SUVS'" only trips "offroad" are into a mall parking lot.
Rupert wrote: 92dxman, You ain't from round here, er you. I can't tell you how boring all the "muscle trucks" are around here. There's not one at every stoplight, but it seems there's one at every light I get stopped by. And typically it is rolling smoke. Sitting to wait for a light to change with the top down & a jacked up Cummins rolling smoke right at you isn't a lot of fun! The other thing I've noticed locally is the "trucks" never carry anything in the bed but air. Just as the "SUVS'" only trips "offroad" are into a mall parking lot.
Which, you know... isn't at all what he was talking about.
In reply to NewHouston:
I assume you're in Houston (I'm crazy like that) and thought you maybe missed some options like this;
Beautiful car from the 10 seconds I spent looking at it. Inline six so not exactly a muscle car, but otherwise....
They're out there, but they're not always easy to find.
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