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Home > How To

Rookie Guide: How to Buy a Muscle Car Part 1

Posted by on October 1, 2009 with 2 Comments

I thought it would make sense to answer the big question that seems to come up more often than not when shopping for a muscle car: just how do I buy a muscle car anyway?  For some, there’s not a lot to it – it’s just love at first site, a price is agreed upon, and the car has a new owner.  For others, it can be a bit more intimidating.

We’ll assume that you’re starting at the ground floor and have decided to buy a muscle car as an investment and for enjoyment, but don’t have a lot of experience or historical knowledge of the muscle car era.  We’ll also assume that you want to really personally like the car you plan to buy and that you’re not simply planning to buy it based on it’s investment potential only.  Now what?

Over the next 4 posts in this series we’ll dig into the following topics:

1) Determine the make and model you want

2) Determine how you want to use the car (drive often, show car only, etc.)

3) Determine your price range and payment method

4) Evaluate the car, set up insurance, and purchase


Could this be the grille of your dreams?

Today’s topic: Determine the Make and Model you want

The best method period in determining the make and model of car you want is to first start looking at all of the options available.  GM, Ford, Chrysler, and AMC all made some incredible muscle cars during the 1960’s and ’70’s, and they all had their own style.  Go through these steps to clarify the car of your dreams.  Remember – there is a muscle car out there for you….and it’s been waiting a long time for you to find it!

Step 1) Begin looking through the Classifieds listings of cars here at The MuscleCar Place and on other sites as well.  The more you see, the better.  Take note of the shapes you like first.  Nothing more.  See which one grabs your fancy and jot it down.  Having a lot on your list at this point is a good thing.  Look at the stance of the car.  Look at it from every angle – not just the front.  Do you like cars with bulging fenders, or do you prefer something a little straighter?  Do you like something that looks like a race car, or a street car?  Do you dig hidden headlights?  Take note of all of these factors.  Don’t get too hung up on the colors at this point, as almost all models came in many different fantastic colors and paint schemes.  Do take note that a particular model of car may be EXTREMELY different from year to year (a 1966 Charger vs a 1971 Charger, for example).

Step 2) From the previous step, you may be interested in a half dozen to a dozen models at this point.  Now it’s time to do a little more homework and see what trim levels, engine combinations, and the like were available on those cars.  Start with the Make and Model page in our Resource Vault and then move on to automotive magazines (Hot Rod Magazine, Super Chevy, Mustang Monthly, etc.).  These magazines will be plentiful at your local shopping center, library, and so forth.  Nothing will beat the benefit of seeing these cars first hand though, so attending a local car show is an absolute must – and try to hit a big one (like a Good Guys show) if you can.

Step 3) After completing the first two steps, it’s time to get more specific.  You’ve likely whittled the list down to 2-3 at this point, and now it’s time to start looking at those cars, and only those cars.  Look again through the Classifieds section here at The MuscleCar Place, and hit the other online sites as well.  Look for color combinations of cars that you like, taking specific note of the options they have or don’t have.  If you’re a stick shift guy and you plan on keeping the car original, only look at manual transmission cars.  The same goes for engine combination, wheels/tires, etc – even paint colors can be changed if you’re not inclined to keep the car original.  Revert back to the Make and Model page in The Resource Vault if you need more details or get lost in things that seem similar but aren’t (as an example, Chevy made 3 different versions of their big-block 396 ci engine).    If a particular couple of cars keep coming up (or that you keep coming back to), that’s a good thing.

You may be down to one model at this point, but if you’ve still got two or more, not to worry – that will likely get sifted out in the next section: Determine How You Want to Use the Car!

Filed Under: How To, Popular, Rob's Blog

2 responses to “Rookie Guide: How to Buy a Muscle Car Part 1”

  1. Laura says:

    Good topic, I am on pins and needles for part 2

  2. Thanks for these tips for buying a muscle car. I actually didn’t know that you should try to learn what kind of engine combinations were available on the cars. It could also be fun to see what combinations were typically used for the cars and the reason for it.

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