I could sit in the driveway to stare at it all day.
That slow week between Christmas and New Year's. I begin to fantasize then tell myself the fantasy could be made real. I've got that itch again for a 1975 Road Runner. I know of one available that won't break the bank but I'll almost certainly suffer 318 remorse. If I go down that rabbit hole to buy a 1975 Road Runner I need a 360 or 400 car. Despite the rumors of a few made consensus is no 440 V8 was available.
The way I'm sitting right now I'd drop serious cash for one with sliding metal sunroof, a 360 or 400 V8 and a tach. Silly I know but I want the tach! Then I'd do what Plymouth should have, install a pistol gripped manual transmission. A five speed with an overdrive. I learned recently the only manual transmission available on the '75 RR was a three on the tree coupled to the 318 bread 'n butter V8.
I love the 1971-1972 two door Plymouth B-body. With no hint of irony, I see the family lineage in the 1975. I find the 1975 Road Runner nearly as attractive and it's a base that takes modding well.
If you know of one in real nice driver condition or better for sale let me know. Good thing my wife doesn't read this page.
Update: Prices in Kissimmee were INSANE. As you'll see below.
I'll write more on the current state of the market in coming days.
No shortage of Malaise Muscle honies for Kissimmee 2022.
C4, Fox bodies, 2nd & 3rd generation GM F-bodies, it's all there. I selected five that I find of a slightly different flavor, a bit more unique and certainly the ones I'd be bidding on. You know, the stuff you're not really seeing at cars & coffee.
1973 Chevrolet Chevelle SS
Now we can debate whether or not this is malaise muscle. From my perspective the era starts in 1975 with the catalytic converter. Between 1972 and 1974 things start down a path of low compression and power. Still, there was good stuff happening from the factory. Like this Chevelle SS with a 454 and 4 speed manual. It's also got the swivel seats, 3.42 Positraction rear. Supposedly 72,000 miles, the original spare tire and good documentation. The car presents real clean and well cared for. I'd hope to get it at $18K, bidding as high as $25K. It would not surprise me to see bidding halt just under $30K.
1975 Oldsmobile Hurst/Olds
I like this for many of the same reasons as the SS above. Like the big block and swivel seats with reversible seat inserts. I think the Chevy is the more attractive Colonnade with clean sporty lines but the Hurst/Olds has T-tops a.k.a. Hurst Hatches. Are those nifty hood air extractors functional? No manual transmission here but you get the Hurst Dual Gate shifter. A/C and tilt wheel provide even more comfort. This car isn't as clean and near perfect like the Chevy. I expect bidding to top out $26K, I'd be out at $22K.
1976 Buick Century Pace Car
I've written about one of these recently. It just really captures the wild look of the malaise era in a way that the later cars from the 80's do not. This pace car replica still has it's original 350 V8, the 2 barrel has been swapped with a four on an Edelbrock intake. Edelbrock heads and performance exhaust with headers are tasteful mods. No A/C but it has T-tops, Vintage Air no doubt has perfect fit kit. This car is driver quality. You can show it proudly, enjoy driving it, just don't pay more than $12K for it. Under the Mecum lights I could see someone paying concours money, don't be that guy.
1979 AMC AMX
It's no secret the malaise era till the mid-eighties was more style than substance. This AMX is high on style, all the spoilers, flares and decals the era is infamous for. Damn that looks hot. It comes with a 304 V8 for one to modify with go-fast parts. This one is presented as an 8,000-mile survivor with original paint that looks great. A/C, PS, PB, power locks but hand crack windows is weird. Great looking sport steering wheel and full gauges. Lower it two inches, give it a four barrel and performance exhaust. Drive it like that for a few years, then treat the engine to a performance rebuild after putting some miles on that AMX. The downside is the AMC unobtanium parts, steal it at $8K, pay no more than $16K unless it's the one and only thing missing in your life.
1987 Oldsmobile 442
This one I'd consider using as a well-treated daily driver. These GM G-bodies of the mid-eighties were a sign that the manufacturers were finally getting the new world of emissions and MPG mixed with fun figured out. On a platform that muscle car fans were familiar with, almost like the good old were back. It's a shame they would be soon replaced with FWD appliances. Aftermarket support for these cars is very good. V8 and T-tops, the perfect base to build a fun cruiser. This one is listed as having 39,000 miles, A/C and a four-speed automatic. I'd bid up to $20K for this.
Let me know if you snag one of these or chime in if you think my valuation is way off. My valuations were WAY OFF.
Missed out on a sweet T-top Magnum that had nearly everything.
What a damn relief. This just isn't really a good time for me to run off 860 miles to bring home a car I have no room for. Many of us have a list we'll move around heaven and earth for. A solid, clean, T-top Magnum GT is one of those on my list. The only fault I could find is the column shifter, cloth seats don't bother me. Now I'm obviously making assumptions with out having physically inspecting the car. The seller provided many good pics, including the data plate, also decent detail in the description. I also did some Fakebook creeping and sleuthing to find more detail. I liked what I saw so much I was ready to offer full ask, no hemming and hawing. I made my self deal, if it was still available this morning I'd hatch a plan to get to Peru Il. I poured my morning coffee pulling up the Fakebook Market Place ad, it was marked SOLD. Strangely there was no pain of regret. Although a T-top Magnum GT this nice for $10K may not become available again until the market collapse. When all the Boomers and Gen-X decide to cash out before or after death.
1979 Dodge Magnum GT, 360 V8, A/C, T-tops, Cruise, PW, 42,000 miles...the tach! I have some questions about the wheels, they're not the 15x7 Super Coupe looking wheels. Again not a problem, I'd get some 17x8 Year One Mopar Rallye Wheels then call it a day. Because this car is ready to show and go. Damn, now I'm feeling a twinge of regret...anybody got a 1975 Road Runner for sale?
No supply chain issues at Mecum Kansas City, get your Christmas shopping done!
There are several no reserve malaise muscle cars up for auction at Mecum Kansas City next month. I've got $20,000 in imaginary cash, here is what I'm bidding on.
1990 Pontiac Firebird Formula
First, I could go on all day about how attractive I find the understated look of this car, simple, clean, mature. The exterior and weather strip around the T-top seems to indicate the 38K miles are legit, the engine compartment looks clean and complete. The cloth seat interior shows more signs of wear, nothing terrible, it seems all there. It's described as being garage kept wearing original paint, a Flowmaster exhaust, and WS6 option package. It appears to have the LO3 305 V8 good for only 170 bhp and 255 lb-ft of torque. The TPI 305 with 225 bhp should have been the standard mill. The optional B2L is the 350 V8 with 235 bhp/340 ft-lb, that is good for 14.4 seconds. In the plus column are the aforementioned T-tops, negative for me is the automatic transmission. This could be solid #2 condition car or a top #3, I'd keeping bidding up $14K.
1990 Pontiac Firebird Formula | T53 | Kansas City 2021 (mecum.com)
1984 Ford Mustang GT350
This should be a budget car, looks like a tired survivor. With a 5.0 and automatic transmission, these cars came well equipped so you have everything you need for a comfortable road trip...top down when the sun is shining. Among the Ford community is the Deluxe Marti Report, all the good info on how your Ford was built, etc. This Mustang comes with documentation. In 1984 the 5.0 was still a sub 200 horsepower mill. Still these Fox body Mustangs have a lot of fun potential and aftermarket support. I'd stop bidding at $9K.
1984 Ford Mustang GT350 Convertible | T91 | Kansas City 2021 (mecum.com)
1979 Chevrolet Camaro RS
Let's just get it out of the way. Yes, 1979 is like rock bottom for the malaise era. So the 305 V8 doesn't back up the Rally Sport's good looks. Again, that's what tools, parts and a good machine are for. Personal point of order, I need T-tops to get real excited for this. That out of the way this is still a well equipped, good looking, solid and clean Camaro. We have no idea on mileage but this looks like a garage kept cream puff. I'd stop bidding at $16K.
1979 Chevrolet Camaro RS | T115 | Kansas City 2021 (mecum.com)
1979 Pontiac Trans Am
No T-tops but it is a four speed manual, the description says Muncie M21. I'm assuming drive-train transplant which is fine if everything is done right. It looks like a solid #3 condition car. I got a thing for 1979-1981 Trans Am, so much so I'd keep bidding till $18K.
1979 Pontiac Trans Am | F69 | Kansas City 2021 (mecum.com)
1981 Pontiac Trans Am
Remember what I said above? T-tops for summer time cruising a big plus. An automatic transmission, insert sad face emoticon. Turbo! Normally with most cars that is something to get excited about. Now I'm not going to rehash the whole crappy turbo 301 thing. Technology has come a long way, the Buick boys learned a lot and even helped with a good Turbo Trans Am a mere eight years later. In short I'd give the 301 a mild performance rebuild and some modern turbo tech and forgo some played out LS swap. This car is a solid #2 with some great equipment, WS6, 4 wheel disk brakes, A/C, tilt wheel. A 55,000 mile survivor. I'd stop bidding at $22K but would hope to get it at a lower price.
1981 Pontiac Turbo Trans Am SE | F93 | Kansas City 2021 (mecum.com)
1979 Chevrolet Corvette
Red, 1979, automatic, L48. I mean what is there really to say? It's a can of Bud Light...alright a Bud Light in a plastic bottle. Oh, 52,000 miles you say? There's that. Still, it's a Corvette which is better than no Corvette. This is perfect for the person that wants to start their Corvette journey on a budget. Take it at $12K but bid no more than $14K because you're entering C4 territory at that point. Unless you place a premium on swoopy curve body work over driving dynamics.
1979 Chevrolet Corvette Coupe | F83 | Kansas City 2021 (mecum.com)
1994 Chevrolet Corvette
Bang for the buck there are very few value buys right now better than a mid-late C4. While the 1979 Corvette was a punchline of a bad joke, the C4 remains a legit real world sportscar today. This appears well cared for with 52,000 miles. A fun car you can drive cross country with confidence. This can nabbed at the $12-16K range.
1994 Chevrolet Corvette Coupe | F90 | Kansas City 2021 (mecum.com)
What's your bidding strategy, which one are you taking home?
Only the Deuce and Fox matter!
The fine folks at Hagerty who insure my 1978 and send me a glossy magazine every other month are running a Mustang valuation article. Around here only two generations matter, for the complete story click the link below.
The most valuable Mustangs from every generation - Hagerty Media
We like the Mustang II and we don't apologize for it. Now if you were asking me to guess I'd say the 1978 King Cobra. Offer me a 1978 King Cobra with T-tops, a four speed manual with 3.40 in the rear axle. Prove it's a #2 condition car, I'll write $20K check. According to Hagerty the most valuable Mustang II is the 76-78 Cobra II, #2 condition averaging $32K. I have to believe that is with the 302 under the bonnet.
"Mustang IIs are appreciating faster on a percentage basis than any other car on this list"
For the malaise era Fox body the most valuable is no surprise, the 1993 SVT Cobra R. This was Fox body going out swinging. The Cobra R was a track day car right off the show-room floor. With only 107 built it's no surprise prices have sky rocketed, #2 condition are averaging $94K.
Do you own one now? Have you ever owned one? Chime in on the comments section below.
Stepping out of my regular lane.
Part of the focus on malaise era muscle cars is their accessibility. We basically cover cars that can be bought for less than $20K, cars you can afford that are driven not trailer queens. So I don't spend a lot of time discussing the 10th Anniversary Trans Am, those are $30K all day long. The much maligned Mustang II is seeing a rise in values and the King Cobra is the most elite Mustang II. The one pictured above sold for $36K and no it doesn't have super-low mileage or a stick. It does have T-tops and A/C. It is a well cared for one owner survivor with 54,000 miles. Based on the few flaws seen in the pics and the Hagerty valuation tool this should have sold for $26K. I don't know the dynamics of the day in Chattanooga but someone really wanted this car. I won't pretend I don't understand it. The car has super cool character and with a little wrenching could be a decent street bruiser.
It looks like it was treated to rust proofing back in the day. It was obviously garaged kept. Still, the price is way too high, an outlier not the norm.
1978 Ford Mustang II King Cobra | F102 | Chattanooga 2021 (mecum.com)
Outrageous looking and a cog in the Grand National machine.
On paper the 1976 Buick Century Pace Car is not much to write home about. Still, I'd really like one with T-tops in the stable. It drips with early malaise era fake machismo. With just a little work this machine is a great cruiser with grunt. I'm talking a 4 barrel, a bump in compression and a good exhaust system.
There are always differences between race pace cars and the replicas sold at dealerships for street duty. This time the smaller engine was putting out the real power, so it went into the actual pace car. I'm talking about the Buick Turbo V6 of course. The street car replicas received the Buick 350 cu in. V8. Simply put, the now famous Buick Turbo V6 program was in it's infancy. A crude, simple single turbo/carburetor engine great for high speed track work but lacking any low end torque for street use. In 1976 it's not like the muscle car crowd was ready to accept a V6 anyway. So a tried and true 350 V8 that could be sold with a warranty and serviced at a dealership was chosen. This is a set up any gear head could modify with plenty of available go-go parts.
No doubt as cost saving measures the replica cars would not come with the front air-dam, necessary for stability on the track. Nor the bulged blistered hood necessary clear the turbo mounted atop the carburetor. Even the graphics package is scaled back.
If you want one there is a 1976 Buick Pace Car for sale on ebay Motors, unfortunately not equipped with the Hurst Hatch T-tops. The aggressive Buy It Now price is nearly $29K for what is described as at best a #2 survivor.
1976 Buick Century Indy Pace Car | eBay
For more in depth reading and cool pics click the links below.
1975 and 1976 Buick Indy Pace Cars - Dean’s Garage (deansgarage.com)
Performance Design | GM Design
V-6 on the Track: V-8 on the Street - 1976 Buick Century Pace Car... | Hemmings Motor News
Mac's Motor City Garage popped up on my Fakebook newsfeed. Soon I was descending down a rabbit hole of Camaro goodness via King Rose Archives.
Experience Woodward Dream Cruise Week!
I never thought I'd be a Woodward Dream Cruise veteran. I thought Detroit might be a city I'd visit one day. We had no idea the boy would relocate there. As a red blooded American Gear Head getting to know this city has been super cool. Going on four years now the Woodward Dream Cruise has been a family tradition, including the "canceled" 2020 event. Officially the WDC is always the third Saturday in August but in reality it is the entire week leading up to Saturday. The locals are out each night, then each day more out of town folks show up. I'd argue the best night of cruising the eight lane Woodward Avenue is Friday night, Dream Cruise Eve. At that point you have the right mix of max participation and vehicular movement. Remember this is a car cruise event not a static car show. Unfortunately on cruise Saturday you really put your car's cooling system to the test. In some spots mostly on the southern end of Woodward Ave you sit in traffic questioning why you're torturing yourself and your machine under the hot August sun.
On Friday night you're rolling. Great exhaust notes everywhere. You get to pull hard enjoying torque. Less cops on the scene for when you want to safely bust the speed limit, maybe do a smoky burnout for the kid holding the sign. You'll see everything on the road that night including some of the best malaise era stuff, often tuned and hopped up right.
Rare sights are Mopar F-bodies like my 1978 Dodge Aspen Super Coupe or a Plymouth Volare Road Runner. Not this year! I counted six while cruising north and south, even made some new acquaintances.
For 2022 we're going to try something a little different. Remember I mentioned static car shows? They exist on the margins, each town along the boulevard has events going on. With side streets blocked off for walking around taking in the live music, OE manufacture displays, food trucks and other vendors. So we'll do a morning pass on Saturday then park the ride at our AirBnB, walk over to Ferndale and enjoy the carnival atmosphere.
Two last thoughts. One, some old curmudgeons will try to convince you it's all modern muscle cars and exotics. Simply not true. It's everything, muscle, malaise muscle, sports cars, Tri-Five, hot rods, freaks, etc. Second, is that kid holding the burn out sign working for the cops, is that entrapment?
Hit me up in the comments if you're attending next year, maybe share your favorite WDC moments.
Scroll down to go straight to the results.
I doubt Peart had any love for malaise muscle but no doubt he was a gear head.
We're definitely going off script today, there is no malaise muscle in this collection. Most of these rides are European. I doubt Peart recognized the charm of colorful tape stripes, wheel flairs, spoilers and fake hood-scoops on show ponies with low compression engines. Still, Neil Peart was a man I admired, a man that provided me so much great music and memories. He was a gear head so when his "Silver Suffer" car collection is up for auction I'm interested in talking about it.
Who was Neil Peart? His day job was highly respected rock drummer for a power-prog trio out of Toronto, Canada. He was also the main lyricist for his band, RUSH. The song Red Barchetta is an ode to the generations of gear heads. More shy musician than celebrity during later concert tours he'd skip the adoring fans to hop right on his BMW motorcycle to ride to the next city. The band concluded their "farewell tour" in 2015. Peart died of a brain cancer a short five years later. Now most of his car collection is being auctioned off.
So I'll imagine I'm at Pebble Beach dressed in my finest seersucker suit, sipping mint juleps? I'll go over which ones I want in order of desire. Placing a premium on how much I'll want to take them out and drive them. Estimated prices and pics are provided from the Gooding & Company auction house.
1. 1964 Shelby Cobra 289 $900,00 - 1,000,000
This one isn't silver. It's the last car he acquired back in 2015. It went through an extensive restoration about ten years before he purchased it. I'd do a seats, wheel/tire and brake upgrade then just drive the damn thing...drive it hard.
2. 1965 Maserati Mistral Spider $575,000 - 650,000
I've got a thing for open air motoring. I've also really come to appreciate little sexy Italian roadsters lately. This had a comprehensive restoration performed under Peart's ownership and is described as in superb condition. I'd consider a tire and brake upgrade then just cruise with the wife in this one.
3. 1973 Maserati Ghibli 4.9 SS $250,000 - 300,000
My next desire is another Maserati and when you see my forth choice this might seem controversial. A sexy exterior, an opulent comfortable interior, a 4.9L V8 with 330 bhp, A/C and seating for four. This GT has been described by some as a sexy Italian pony car. After a modern tire and brake upgrade I'm hitting the freeways...notice a theme?
4. 1970 Lamborghini Miura P400 S $1,200,000 - 1,500,00
What hasn't been said about the first supercar, a 370 bhp V12 with a five speed transaxle, this one has A/C. Still, with a much more business like interior I see my self driving this less than Ghibli. I prefer drivers over trailer queens.
5. 1963 Chevrolet Corvette $150,000 - 180,000
Speaking of trailer queens. As a gear head that fly's the flag of Uncle Sam I'm surprised this comes in at number five. This 327 V8, 340bhp split window coupe is equipped with a 4 speed manual. It was fully restored before Peart brought home in 2011. Other than some mild local miles I see this mostly trailered to shows...meh.
6. 1964 Jaguar E-Type Series 1 3.8L $140,000 - 160,000
Initially as I pondered Neil's collection I thought I'd rank this much higher on my desire list. It is a classic car icon properly restomodded by Neil himself. The list of upgrades includes a Tremec 5 speed, Wildwood disk brakes, and various other suspension pieces. Brace yourself for blasphemy, this clown shoe does nothing for me. Perhaps as a roadster I'd be desirous. I'm reminded I need to finish that Hagerty article by Sam Smith about driving an E-Type on the Blue Ridge Parkway.
7. 1964 Aston Martin DB5 $650,000 - 725,000
This is the car that gave a young Neil Peart the car hobby virus. They are all really nice cars but something has to come in last. Again, this desirability list is about what I'd like to drive around not collectability or probability of ROI. The 4.0L inline six is good for 290bhp, backed by a 5 speed ZF manual the car is sure to be zippy. There is no mention of an ejector seat option so no sunroof. I like having an open air motoring option.
I don't know Alex and Geddy's opinions on cars as a collectable hobby but it would be cool if each of Neil's former bandmates wound up owning one of these. Check out Classic Car Auctions | Gooding & Company (goodingco.com) before August 13th to get in on the bidding.
John is a GenX car enthusiast who grew up driving classic muscle cars. He enjoys the new modern muscle cars that can out perform the classics in every way. In the sportscar world his banners are Viper and Corvette. John has a guilty pleasure. The disco era street machine. Those unloved, underpowered cars festooned with scoops, spoilers and stripes.