Top 5 buyer tips: muscle cars

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Holden Torana A9X Holden Torana A9X Holden Torana A9X
Ford Falcon GT-HO Phase III Ford Falcon GT-HO Phase III Ford Falcon GT-HO Phase III
Valiant Charger R/T E49 Valiant Charger R/T E49 Valiant Charger R/T E49
Holden VK Commodore SS Group A Holden VK Commodore SS Group A Holden VK Commodore SS Group A
Holden LJ Torana GTR XU-1 Holden LJ Torana GTR XU-1 Holden LJ Torana GTR XU-1
Ford Falcon XC Cobra Ford Falcon XC Cobra Ford Falcon XC Cobra
Bolwell Nagari Bolwell Nagari Bolwell Nagari
Holden HT Monaro GTS 350 Holden HT Monaro GTS 350 Holden HT Monaro GTS 350
Chrysler Valiant VG Pacer Chrysler Valiant VG Pacer Chrysler Valiant VG Pacer
Ford Falcon XD-XE ESP Ford Falcon XD-XE ESP Ford Falcon XD-XE ESP
Ford Falcon XR GT Ford Falcon XR GT Ford Falcon XR GT

In the market for a muscle car of your own? The values of some cars can look pretty scary, but you can still come across the odd bargain out there.

 

Top 5 buyer tips: muscle cars

The payoff of the pricetag is, while the purchase and/or restoration might cost a lot, there’s a good chance you’ll get a decent return on your investment. That’s particularly true at the moment, when the market is not as overheated as it became just before the last global financial crisis.

Here are a few tips…

1. Do your research: we really can’t over-emphasise this. A little patience will bring great rewards. See if you can get to chat with owners of the cars you’re homing in on, buy the books, have a look at what info is available online. Just beware that forums in particular are a mixed blessing – sometimes they have sage advice, other times they’re just plain wrong and filled with opinionated gibberish. Print and online info from professional publishers – while not always perfect – at least goes through a checking process.

2. Join a club before you buy: if you’ve settled on a particular model, a specialist club can be invaluable. They’ll welcome a fellow sufferer and often hear about cars coming on the market long before they’re advertised. Plus you’ll have access to people who can check your purchase.

3. Buying a restored one is cheaper: if you want the thrill of restoring a car yourself, go nuts as it can be immensely satisfying. Just be mindful that’s it’s usually a bigger task than most people realise and will almost certainly blow the budget. If bang for your buck is the priority, buying one that’s already had the work done is nearly always better value for money, even at a premium price.

4. Beware fakes: the difference in value between a real GT-HO and a tribute car can be hundreds of thousands of dollars. As Dave Morley cynically suggested about the Phase III GT-HO in issue #379 of Unique Cars, "While Ford made 300 of them, there are probably only about 700 of them left." Now there’s absolutely nothing wrong with buying a replica – it will be just as much fun to drive – so long as you pay replica prices.

5. Bodywork can be the killer: all the cars featured in our Australia's Greatest Muscle Car series tend to have big, relatively simple, and robust engines. So if you’re assessing a tired car to buy and restore, the mechanicals are likely to be least of your problems. We built a GT-HO tribute car a few years ago and, while the engine build took a couple of days and was pretty straight-forward, something like 300 hours went into the body. If in doubt, get someone in who can assess what you’re looking at.

- See our top ten contenders of Australia's Greatest Muscle Car here

 

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