So much good malaise muscle at Indy.
I really want to be at Mecum Indy this year. There is so much really good malaise muscle with many cars at no reserve. Are you heading to Indy next month?
Check out the lots. Mecum Auctions | The World's Largest Collector Car Auctions
Off topic, real muscle car shit
Muscle cars, the real old time classic ones aren't my big interest anymore. Don't get me wrong much respect still but I'm into something different now. The underloved machines of the disco malaise era, I suspect you might be too. Still every once in while I come across something new and interesting. Read up on the Cross Boss induction system for the 1970 Boss 302 Mustang.
Here is the Hemming's article on this rare race piece modified for the street by a kid with his first new car.
Some decent values at Glendale particularly if you wanted a Corvette.
Along with price guides and want ad transaction prices, auctions like Mecum and Barrett Jackson are part of the market analysis puzzle. So, what have we learned from Mecum Glendale this past March? While the 10th Anniversary Trans Am still commands big bucks, that is anything over $30K for the malaise era. Corvettes, particularly the C4, are a relatively hassle-free performance bargain. We cover a couple here but not even all of them. Curiously one low mileage 1984 Corvette with a “Prototype Paint” did not find a new owner at $15K.
This one has 61,000 on the odo, about $2K recently spent on maintenance and "upgrades" including a Borla stainless steel exhaust. Also said to have ZR1 wheels and be "loaded". It sold for $7,700 that is a bargain in my book.
1985 Capri ASC McLaren Convertible
This one looks like a driver quality car you can enjoy with no guilt on the road or at the local C&C. Showing 4,100 on the odo I can almost guarantee that is 104,100 miles. This sharp two seater with a Ford 5.0 sold for $9.9K, not a bad score. It is already being advertised for flipping with a $19.7K asking price at Country Classic Cars in Staunton, Il. While this Capri is certainly more unique, from a driving perspective that 1995 Corvette was a much better deal.
1979 Camaro Z28
The '79 Z28 is a malaise muscle all-star. This is one I should be excited about. Truth be told if these GM F-Bodies don't have T-tops I feel they are incomplete, just a personal preference of mine. So I probably wouldn't bid on this. That doesn't mean you wouldn't. Down side is the automatic transmission and maybe a little rough for some. It's basically survivor paint. Upside is apparently the 350 has been rebuilt and de-smogged to the tune of 425bhp. Described as mechanically restored with a Magnaflow dual exhaust and 57,000 miles. It hammered for $13,200 which isn't bad, these 3rd generation F-Bodies are starting to command big dollars.
1993 Corvette 40th Anniversary
This sharp looking, fun to drive convertible was estimated by Mecum to fetch $15-20K. It hammered for $14,300 and while I'd prefer the 6 speed manual I'd be happy to take this home at that price. It appears well cared for and with 74,000 miles there should be plenty of relatively trouble free years left in it.
1989 Camaro IROC Z
Like the 2nd gen example above this Camaro is a malaise era all-star. An icon of American performance cars and it was a glimpse of a hopeful future as the 80's was winding down. Like the 2nd generation of GM F-Bodies I'm only buying it with T-tops. This hard top is also an automatic but by this point you couldn't get the 5 speed manual with the top-shelf 350/5.7 V8. It appears exceptionally cared for with 69,000 miles and a Flowmaster exhaust as the only modification. It appears well optioned with A/C as well. The hammer came down at $15,400 not bad at all, perhaps T-tops would have brought more interest and a higher price.
1979 Trans Am
I really like the 1979 Trans Am. I just don't like this one, not for the nearly $19K sale price. This car looks rough, no engine pics and a low optioned automatic car. They are increasingly harder to find under $20K but it's doable with a little biding of one's time. Hard pass on this.
This one is a love or hate scenario like most heavily customized cars. Now this isn't my bag, cup of tea or style. It does scream Disco Era. This is a 427 with dual 750 CFM carbs, 11.5:1 Keith Black pistons do the heavy work. Are the wheelie bars necessary? Who knows. You won't see another one at Cars & Coffee. I don't know that the $25, 300 is a good deal. What do you think?
1978 Corvette Pace Car
This one is all about mileage. The 1978 Corvette Pace Car incorporates all the malaise era styling tricks, the base car looks boring by comparison. The 1978 PC is not cheap but not rare either, so if you want a PC driver passing this one up would be the smart play for your wallet. With 9,500 miles at $27,500 this was a pretty good deal. The L82 is the engine you want paired with the Gymkhana suspension.
1994 Camaro Z28
We reach our limit on price and the edge of the malaise era with this Z28. The hammer price of $29,700 is largely based on mileage, just under 4,000. Otherwise it's pretty typical, the LT1 with 275bhp and 4 speed automatic with T-tops. Today this car is still a fun spirited driver and cruiser but it's too pristine to enjoy that way. It's been treated to a mild over haul so it shouldn't leak all over the garage floor. I'd pass on this one too because of how nice it is.
If I had been sitting in at Glendale it would have been a C4 Corvette that I was after.
With the Glendale auction in the rearview mirror I look ahead at Houston coming up April 8th through the 10th. I decided to pick one if I were bidding. Looking through the lots already committed my pick was easy. A 10th Anniversary Trans Am with T-tops. Hands down this is my favorite Trans Am, a malaise era superstar.
Of course superstar is the problem. Part of the charm of the malaise era muscle cars is the relative low price to get into the hobby. The second generation Trans Am tends to be on the pricier side of the street. With the 10th anniversary cars being budget busters. When we play with monopoly money we want to keep our bidding under $30K. Above that your talking genuine muscle car money, a whole other scene. To get there we need a car going on the block with no reserve and a crowd not interest in smog era machines. This example is tagged at the Mecum website with the Star label, not the No Reserve label. What we have going for us is based on the pics, this might be a #3 condition driver, not a #2 show-queen. It certainly isn't a #1 although many 10th anniversary package cars were socked away in storage just for that purpose. Another reason to believe we're not getting a bargain is the preferred drivetrain, the 6.6 T/A motor and 4 speed manual. The odometer is showing 48,900 miles, which could be original. The listing information hasn't been completed yet, so far now assume that is actually mileage.
What makes this smog era Pontiac special? Not the new silver and charcoal paint treatment, not the super bird a unique extra large screaming chicken on the hood with wing tips that ran atop the fenders. Not the red gauge backlighting. This 10th has the Poncho 400 that came mandatory with a Borg Warner Super T-10 4 speed manual, which mandated the WS6 suspension package that included bigger sway bars and 4 wheel disks. In 1977 GM began a corporate engine policy, the days of big block Pontiacs were numbered. Pontiac stock piled some extra 6.6/400 engines in 1978 for use as an upgrade in some 1979 Trans Am and Formula cars. While this engine wasn't going to be emissions compliant in 1980 and GM phasing out Pontiac V8 manufacturing, the 400 was given a good send off. It was a better performer and a bit more robust than the Olds supplied 403 that came with the automatic cars. Among the 10th anniversary cars that can mean a $10K premium over the 403 TH350 birds.
I'll stop bidding at $28K.
1979 Pontiac Trans Am 10th Anniversary | F110 | Houston 2021 (mecum.com)
Update: this one sold for $44K a bit over priced in my opinion. Beautiful car for sure.
The Italian Vega was also the right car at the right time.
Ladies and gentlemen, I present my opening argument on why a V8 equipped Chevrolet Monza Spyder is a malaise era muscle car. First, almost nothing from the malaise era conforms to the purist definition of muscle car. While the enthusiast and youth market was evolving The Big Three were still reaching out for sales from the muscle car buyer. The guy that wanted a V8 and a stick-shift in a lighter body to wrench on for more power. The Monza Spyder provided this platform with a good looking swoopy body that had Italian design cues. These smaller cars like the Mustang II were the hot new attention grabbers of magazine writers. They called them Hot Hatches and Super Coupes, lighter quick cars that could corner and brake as well.
While they are low compression smog motors there are three different V8 you might find in one, 262, 305 and 350. Along with obvious automatic transmissions 3, 4 and 5 speed manuals were available too. Go fast parts and handling items were available at the after-market counter. Today H-Body enthusiasts can be found doing their thing at Facebook and web forums.
Here is one I like that recently sold at Mecum for $14.3K.
This one had 38K miles. It is equipped as how I'd order one, 350 V8 and a 4 speed manual, all it needs is a sunroof. Treat that 350 to a mild performance rebuild, maybe throttle-body EFI. I'd up size the wheels to 16" or 17" wearing some good performance rubber. I'd also do a rear disc brake conversion.
What about you? Like one or had one? Hate it?
Roadkill takes one to the extreme...yes leaf-blower superchargers.
Are you hiding this street freak in your garage?
Now obviously a 1969 high-compression big block machine is not our normal bailiwick. Sometimes something comes across your desk you gotta share. Ford built a running mid-engine Mustang research vehicle that unfortunately didn't deliver any meaningful performance results. Before scrapping the program they should have tried out a small-block. This car was destined for the crusher, as the story goes it may have gotten away. Is it hiding in your Hazel Park, MI garage?
Anyway I suggest you read all about here: A Mid-Engine Boss 429 Mustang? Yes, It’s True (mustangandfords.com)
...what might have been.
As winter sets in the auctions heat up at Scottsdale and Kissimmee.
Mecum is serving up sweet malaise muscle at Kissimmee and Punta Gorda, FL this year. I've selected 8 interesting ones which is not all the malaise muscle crossing the block. I've got Monopoly Money to play with so I'll let you know my max bids.
1979 Camaro Z28
This is a heavily optioned 350 4-speed car. It looks like it's 41K mile car. I wish it had T-tops but sometimes you don't get everything. Listed at no reserve. This is a museum piece that comes with the following warning.
"All cars being offered at the Muscle Car City auction have been set up for long term museum display. Please note that any car purchased from this auction will likely require essential basic service prior to driving on the road including but not limited to fuel systems and carburetors, batteries, brakes etc. All cars are being offered at no reserve and will be sold as is/where is".
Sounds like bring a trailer. Considering I want a decent deal and the need for some minor overhauling I'd stop bidding at $18K. *Update: stunning this sold for $44K, I have no words for this.
1975 Corvette Convertible
Here is a chance to experience C3 convertible ownership without braking the bank. A bit odd this car wears L-48 emblems on the hood but is supposedly equipped with the numbers matching more powerful L-82 350 V8. 4 speed manual and A/C among the options. It's described as having had a complete frame off restoration. Like the Camaro from the same collection it is offered at no reserve but will need fresh fluids and some other TLC. I'd stop bidding at $22K. *Update: another surprise high sell price of $49.5K.
1984 Camaro Z28
This is the blue light special, the dollar store Camaro. A beater or base for something wild. Maybe you dragged your 14 year old to the auction to let him bid with his own money. It's a 305 V8 with A/C and an Earl Scheib paint job also missing bits here and there. Take it for no more than $4.5K. *Update: this sold for a high $6,050.
A pair of Fox Body Mustang Convertibles
I always preferred the clean lines of the 5.0 LX or the cheese grater GT. The GT is a 1988 with the LX being a 1993, both are automatics. The LX has the more powerful 5.0 V8 and only 18,000 miles. The GT has 64,000 miles. Either will be summer time blast to own. I'd stop bidding on the GT at $16K, I'd keep bidding on the LX till about $18.5K.
*Update, the GT sold for $17.6K, the LX hammered at $19.8K.
1987 Regal T-Type
Now this is a bit of an odd car and in black doesn't make total sense when you consider the Grand National exists. This is listed as a T-Type Turbo Regal which for 1987 was just called Turbo T. It was option code WE4 which got you all the Grand National goodies minus the modest rear spoiler, available in the full Buick color palate. The WE4 Turbo T had interior choices not available to the Grand National. Say you wanted a Regal in gray with a 1/4 landau roof but GN performance, the WE4 was for you. Thing is for a brief time in 1987 before Buick pulled black off the WE4 color sheet you could get a GN looking Turbo T that in theory was a faster car. The WE4 came with lighter aluminum wheels, aluminum bumper supports and aluminum rear drum brakes opposed the GN's steel and cast iron pieces.
This Turbo T has been worked now producing 400 bhp. Frankly, I'm not sure what this is worth. Since I like my GM G-Bodies with T-tops, which this car doesn't have, I probably wouldn't bid on this not over $20K anyway.
*Update, this sold for $38.5K, wow.
1981 Yenko Turbo Z
Now this sparks me up and would tempt me to do something stupid. I have great appreciation for the few tuner dealerships that soldiered on attempting to make the effort that the OE just gave up on. While the guys at Pontiac couldn't get a turbo Trans Am right. Don Yenko finished on a high note turning the Camaro Z28 into a turbo GT screamer. This example is a one of three Stage II Turbo Z. A more complete package than just slapping a turbo on a Z28. Aside from the engine making an estimated 250 bhp up from the stock 175. Stage II was fatter rubber on two piece Weld wheels, beefier sway bars, Koni shocks, polyurethane bushings, performance leather bucket seats. This car with 38,000 miles sold for $68K two years ago. Today it sits looking the same with less than 39,000 miles.
*Update, bidding stalled at $70K with the car not meeting the reserve.
1978 Trans Am
Wow, I nearly lost my mind looking at this. I'm all in on this restomod Trans Am. If you wanted a 1973 Trans Am with T-tops and an 5.7L LS1 here it is! It is actually a 1978 vintage. A six-speed manual and 4 wheel discs. It appears the buckets came out of the same 2006 GTO that donated it's engine. Air conditioning, so you can enjoy this everywhere anytime. Maybe I don't love the big white stripe but I could live with it a while. I'd bid up to $40K on this, I dig this that much.
Update, it sold for $43.5K.
1986 Trans Am
This is a potentially fun machine that you drive while you upgrade kind of project. I wouldn't bid more than $6K, the idea is to get a bargain to restomod without breaking the bank. It's got a carburetor 305 with an automatic, ditch the smog stuff then just treat it to a Chevy small block mild performance rebuild. Give it a good wash and wax, pop the tops and have fun.
Update, it sold for $7.7K a little high for my taste.
The new year starts March 21st!
Happy New Year! We're all thrilled to put 2020 behind us, amirite? Let's get real for a moment. The next two months are going to feel like month 13 & 14 of 2020. I'm fine with that. Spend the next two month of winter hunkered down in safety. When spring comes mid-March with the thaw of winter that's when the new year begins. A year of promise. Exciting things to come. We'll still cover auction results from the big houses. We'll still highlight the great deals and the ridiculous on eBay. What will be different and the most interesting is getting out meeting you, covering those great disco era rides you wrench on and enjoy. What won't change is carrying the flag for those unloved, misunderstood faux muscle cars of the malaise era.
The big coming out party for the Fox body.
Ford had a lot riding on the new Fox architecture. While the Mustang II was the right car at the right time it was a victim of compromises. The new generation Mustang was to be the exciting symbol of the new and modern Ford. The hype machine in Dearborn was given the green light to recapture the pony car market. A big splash would be the official pace car of the Indianapolis 500. With the street edition pace car representing Ford’s vision of a modern sporty car. A Mustang steeped in tradition yet also carrying European sophistication.
First, let’s talk about the actual pace cars. Three cars were commissioned to pull duty at the Brickyard. The 5.0 V8 engines were prepped and modified by Roush, using 351 Windsor heads, 1970 Boss 302 solid lift cam. A modified C-4 automatic was the transmission in all three cars. The track duty editions were T-top cars an option that wouldn’t appear on street Mustangs till 1981. Racing legend Jackie Stewart who ran many a Ford to victory piloted the car to open the race.
When discussing the exterior appearance there isn’t much to differentiate the pace car from the street version pace car. Good job, Ford! Pewter is the main body color, flat black below the beltline and on the full-length hood scoop, tasteful orange and red accent stripes. Of course, no pace car package is complete without OFFICIAL PACE CAR decals emblazoned on the doors, orange is the hue. While T-tops were still a few years away for the Mustang all pace cars came with a pop-up/removable sunroof panel.
The 1979 pace car would start a Ford/Recaro relationship that would last decades. Pace cars came with Recaro bucket seats standard, the major auto magazines were pleased. Between the buckets was the console shift for the C-4 automatic or 4 speed-manual.
Unlike the actual pace car doing track duty the street version got an engine choice. The 2.3 liter turbo four-cylinder good for 130 bhp/142 ft-lbs, 4 speed manual transmission only. You could also get the 5.0 V8 just like the one in the track car, just kidding. You didn’t get the specially prepped Roush V8 without a care for emissions. You got the smog-choked V8 that last did duty in the Mustang II, good for a 140 bhp/250 ft-lbs. Choosing the eight also allowed one the option of an automatic. Despite the power deficit some 1,400 more customers left the dealer lot with the 2.3 liter turbo four-banger.
All pace cars came with a TRX performance suspension package. HD front and rear sway bar diameters and shock valving specs were engine choice dependent. All came with 390mm aluminum wheels which is just a tad over 15” for us red-blooded American types, shod with 190/65R Michelin tires. Discs up front, drums in the rear.
When searching for an authentic pace car look for 48 after the fifth character in the VIN. Speaking of there is a pace car available now on eBay.
Interesting that the owner seems to raise the price every 48 hours. This pace car was listed at $18K and now after a few re-listings is priced at $23K. What the seller seems to be going for is more of a survivor, mentioning things like original paint and stripes, original interior. Fading and wear can be seen inside and out. The seller mentions new reproduction 16 inch TRX wheels, new exhaust and a 5 speed manual which is great if you're really going to drive the car. According to the Hagerty value guide that current price is a #2 condition car. That is not what I see, more like a nice #3 driver. Get it at $18K then maybe you have a sweet deal.
An interesting side-note. One of the original 3 track-spec pace cars is housed in Indianapolis at the speedway museum. The other two were repainted white and repurposed for the 1979 Detroit Grand Prix, those cars sit in the Roush collection.
Questions, comments or like this below, thanks for reading.
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.