"If we only knew!" That statement could category many things. But for me, and many other addicted car nuts, classic muscle cars are the subject in this rambling. In the 50s, 60s, 70s and even 80s who would have ever dreamed, muscle cars that sold for just over $3,000 brand new would be worth what they are today in 2018?
In 1963 I priced a new "Plain Jane" sleeper, 63 Plymouth Savoy, equipped with the 426 Maxi Wedge 425 HP package. The price was $3100. Today a mint version of that car is rated as "INESTIMABLE."
63 Plymouth Savoy Maxi Wedge - 63 Maxi Wedge engine
A 70/71 Hemi Cuda Convertible costing about $3900 in 1970/71. A number one rated condition is currently valued in the "Old Cars Report and Price Guide" at two million dollars ($2,000,000). At an auction recently, one went for $3,600,000.
How about an AC 427 Cobra? In 66 I had the pleasure of working on one and driving it frequently. A local doctor in my home town Peru, IL., ordered it through Peterman Ford in Peru where I was a mechanic. The price was $6,000. Doc then ordered a special fiberglass removable top from Fiber Fab. In fact, I was elected to install it. In 1967 after I quit Peterman Ford and leased a full service gas station in Lacon, IL., Doc, apparently tired of a sports car and traded the AC in for a new red Caddy convertible. That Olds Cadillac dealer in LaSalle, IL was a friend of mine. In 1968, he called and told me they had the Cobra and wanted to move it quick. Offered it to me for $3,500. Yes Thirty five hundred.
Today a 427 AC Cobra is "INESTIMABLE" no matter what condition.
AC 427 Cobra--could be the same one
God, I loved that car. It was so fast and nimble. The best street car I ever drove to this day. It was like driving a giant "slot" car. Zip, Zoom - Ala-KaZAM!
But we had opened our own business in Lacon on a shoe string. Even $3,500 was out of reach at that time. Might as well been $35K.
In 1970 we traded our 67 GTX on a new Cyclone GT. 429CJ 4 speed. The new Cyclone window sticker was $3,300. A couple years later we spied a 70 Cyclone Grabber Green Spoiler, with 429 SCJ and 4 speed, at a small lot in Peoria. Pretty decent shape. I bargained and got it for $500.
That same car has been recently restored by owner I sold it to. That car is now worth $60 to $75K.
By the end of 71, car dealers where running scared of the gas hog and dangerous muscle cars. The "Do Gooders" crying gas guzzlers, high insurance and danger had done their deed. Most the muscle car enthusiasts and buyers back then were young people, who insurance companies already considered a risk. Couple a teen or even a 25 year old with a "dangerous, gas guzzling "Super Car" back then, and the Insurance companies rammed outrages premiums to them. Many young muscle car owners had insurance payments higher than the car payments.
Even a basic Mustang with a 289 200 HP engine with a 2 barrel got a ridiculous high sur charge if the owner was young. By 72, Car Dealers and even private owners were almost giving muscle cars away.
By 1972/73 decent street car horse power, and the auto maker's race for bragging rights of big horsepower, for their factory cars was over.
I have countless examples of crazy pricing of early Muscle cars compared to now. And the decline in value after 1971.
In 75 while looking for a car to make a Super Stock drag car out of, I tried out an almost new pure stock Boss 429 with very low miles. The" Boss 9" was burgundy with all white interior. It was at a small corner downtown Peoria, IL used car lot. The desperate to unload it dealer- let me drive it. Price was $1,900. Today that car in that shape would be worth $400,000. Earlier that same day in 1975 I had tried out a 69 Mustang 428CJ 4 speed at Murphy Ford in Morton, IL. Very nice car. Price was $1,500. Today, in that shape --- around $100K.
While thinking those 2 Mustangs over a good turnkey used Pinto Pro Stock came up for sale in National Dragster. We bought it, and all our effort went back to a serious ace program once again. We raced for 35 more years with 7 different race cars of our own, and a couple I drove for other owners.
Our Pinto Pro Stock 1975 to 1979
There are countless price comparisons examples of my own cars I had, from my first car in 1957. It was a 1950 Buick Special -Price was $125, a short time later, a customized 51 Merc, then a 56 Chevy with factory 8V Corvette engine, 57 Merc Convertible, 57 Fords and Chevys, a 63 Merc 427 R code at only $3700, 67 GTX, a70 Cyclone GT 429CJ 4 speed new at $3300 and a 70 Cyclone Spoiler 429 SCJ 4 speed, just to mention a few. To tell and describe all the cool cars I had, I could bore the most avid readers to severe, perhaps terminal yawning.
And I am sure many car folks out there also have many examples.
Here is one I just remembered. I tried to sell a customer's perfect Dodge Coronet RT 440 in 73/74. It had the hemi 4 speed trans and Dana rear. Fresh balanced engine. No one wanted it. Not even for $600. Now, that car in that condition would easily be $40K.
Here is another: A 63 Ford Galaxie XL that had been a R code 427, but had a 390 in it. I sold it for $300. And it had the 427 cast iron headers--that are now worth $1200/$1500.
In the 70s, 80s and even 90s, I bought and sold some 50s,60s and early 70s classic and muscle cars. But not for prices like they dictate today. I sold a 68 AMX 390 4 speed for $1200. A 51 Merc 2 door that ran, in decent shape for $350. LOL!!!
As I mentioned earlier, many old muscle cars are now classed inestimable.
I did get smart and perhaps lucky in 2002. We invested in a purchase of a 64 Galaxie 500 R code. The 5th digit, which is a letter. In vintage Ford products the letter designates the engine package.
Our 64 R code Galaxie
The R means it is a 427 FE 425 Horse Power engine with two four barrel carbs. The value of that car, along with many other high horse power cars of the 60s to 71 had gone up over 300% since 2002. Look in a current Old Cars Report Price Guide.
Value now for my Galaxie 500, 200% is added to value level if an R code and equipped with the original 427. The Price Guide gives car condition values from 1 to 6. One being the highest. Our Galaxie would be rated somewhere between a 2 and a 3. It is a nice car.
A number 1 Galaxie 500, which would not be driven. It would be a trailer queen valued at 37K.
Ours rated as a 2/3 would be valued, let’s say if it was a Z code 390 at 20K. But HEYYYYYYYYYYYYY! It is a R code. Now ad 200 %. Walla! That car we bought in 2002 for $18,000 is now worth???
Answer is: $60,000 (Sixty Thousand). In the immortal words of Betty Davis—“How Nice.”
As for other classic possessions, I have a 63 Mercury Monterey 2 door sedan. It is only a Y code with entry level 390 engine, with three on the tree. Not real valuable. But it sentimental to me. It represents fond nostalgic memories of my black 63 R code 427 Merc I had brand new when I was 22. That 63 R code Merc was a one of. Where-abouts unknown. Lordy---I have searched.
We also have a 66 Mustang still under construction. Value? Hard to say. It is a mild street machine. We have a lot invested. But so what?
Our 66 Mustang Under Construction - Engine shot of our 66 Mustang called The Electric Pony. Color is Electric Yellow.
My 2005 GTO Linda bought for me brand new, 13 years ago this March, is closing on classic statist. I wonder what it will be worth in 50 Years?
I also have a Vulcan Mean Streak 1600cc Sport Cruiser Motorcycle. Also new in 2005. Very low miles. I need to ride more!
My Vulcan 1600cc "Mean Streak"
And of course two old race cars. My 57 Merc Big Animal, and "ZEKE" my famed 79 Mercury Zephyr that was my Pro Stock from 79 to 86, and helped lead the way to Pro Modified as am "Outlaw Nitrous Pro Stock" in 87 to 90. I also did select vintage match races with Zeke 2002 to 2012.
And I still have my 2004 F-350 Crew Cab and 46 foot enclosed Eagle Trailer. And our family ride is a 2008 Explorer. And a 455 John Deere diesel tractor to help take care of our 5 acres. And if that is not enough, I have a John boat here in Lacon for the Illinois river and a bass boat at our cabin in Wisconsin.
I often wonder, how we let the do-gooders get away with killing the muscle cars in the 70s. Like prohibition in the 20s, the general public let an organized minority decide what they thought was right for the majority.
Funny thing is,.. now no one says a peep about how much horsepower a production car can make. We have street production cars making 400, 500, 800, 1000 hp. No one says whoa!
It must be, because the contemporary factory hot rods get better gas mileage. Even my 400 HP 13 year old GTO gets 23/25 MPH. LOL!!
Stay Safe Ya All. And thanks for reading my ramblings.
XXXXX Animal Jim
NOSTALGIA DRAG WORLD - Words: Animal Jim Feurer - Photos: Courtesy of AJ