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Home > How To

Rookie Guide: How to Buy a Muscle Car Part 2

Posted by on October 8, 2009 with 0 Comments

Welcome to Part 2 of our 4-Part Series: A Rookie’s Guide to Buying a Muscle Car!

This series is designed for the person new to the muscle car world.  You know you’d like to own one, but you have no idea where to start.  We’ll assume that you want to really like the car as well – even if you are purchasing it as an investment.  Our series will deal with the following topics (and by the end you’ll be ready to wheel your new ride down the road):

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

Since we’ve already deal with Topic #1 (Deciding which make and model car to choose) we can now move on to the next step.


Will you use your car as a road warrior, or will it be a Car Show winner? Photo courtesy of The Annual Corning Car Show.

Today’s topic: Determine how you want to use the car

This portion of your muscle-car-to-be process is a critical one, as when it’s all said and done…..what you end up doing with the car is almost the entire reason to purchase one!  Below are the six most common uses of muscle cars today:

  • Weekend Funmobile
  • Car Show Winner
  • Pro-Touring Car (i.e. – a muscle car that can go, stop, and turn)
  • Drag Racer
  • Investment
  • Drive Anywhere, Anytime

Now that we know what the common uses are, let’s break those down a bit – and see which one if a fit for you!

Weekend Funmobile:

A  car that fits this category is one that you purchase simply for the please of driving it on nice days.  It’s never going to see snow, and will only see rain if you can’t beat the storm clouds home.  It need not have it’s original engine, transmission, etc., nor does it need not have a $20K paint job.  It’s only real goal is to be a reliably running, comfortable driving car that is likely in stock condition with the addition of a set of nice sounding mufflers.  Hop in and take the friends and family over to the Dairy Queen!

Car Show Winner:

A car that fits this category on a consistent basis will either be an all original numbers-matching car (meaning it has it’s original engine and transmission) that is in meticulous condition, or is a modified car – also in meticulous condition.   As a general rule of thumb, the popular models (Camaro’s, Charger’s, etc.) are a good fit here.  If they are a modified car, the modification will need to be unique and really well done (it needs to look expensive).  This is a car that won’t be driven all that much – perhaps only a few times a year.  It’s main goal is to sit, look pretty, and win you some trophy’s!

Pro-Touring Car:

A Pro-Touring car is a muscle car modified with some of the latest “go fast” suspension, wheels/tires, and braking components required to make a world-class handling cars.  It will likely have some engine mods done as well.  (View products from Heidts, Detroit Speed, Hotchkis, and Griggs to get a general idea of what I am referring to.)  You can purchase an existing car and bolt on the fun parts, or purchase a car that is already modified.  A numbers-matching car in this category is not overly important.  This is a car that you will take autocrossing or to open track events at road courses.  It’s main goal is to give you the driving experience of a new Corvette with the classic lines of American muscle.  Gas-brake-gas-shift-go!

Drag Racer:

A drag racing car is one……that you will take drag racing!  This category is fairly straight forward, but is specific to cars that have been purposely modified to run the 1/4 mile.  (As a side note, you can take any car you own to the strip and run it, but a purpose built car will beat you ever time!)  This car will run free flowing exhaust, a hopped up engine and transmission, will have a sparse interior, and will (likely) have a roll cage.  It’s not one for the faint of heart and DOES need a mechanically inclined owner.


An investment car is one that you purchase strictly for it’s potential growth in value.  You’re buying it now to sell it later (hopefully) at a higher price.  We’ll still assume that you want to like the car, but truthfully, an investment car simply needs to hit a few (or most) of these criteria: be a popular make/model, be a rare model, be all original, be meticulously kept, be well documented, and be in as close to original condition as possible (it should look like it just rolled off of the assembly line).  These are the reaaaaaly high dollar cars you may find at a Barrett-Jackson auction.  Think of cars like original COPO Camaro’s, Plymouth Superbirds, and BOSS Mustangs.

Drive Anywhere, Anytime:

A drive anywhere, anytime car is one that you would (almost) treat just like a regular car, and is essentially a mix-match of the other 5 categories mentioned.  Want to run it to Wal Mart?  No problem.   Taking a road trip to New York?  Top off the tank and let’s go.  Cars that fit this category need not be numbers matching, nor do they necessarily need to have terrific paint and body work.  On the flip side, if money is no object, it can have flawless paint work , a hot engine, great suspension, and still fit this category.  It may or may not be a car that goes to car shows, but it does need to run well, be reliable, and (above all else) be incredibly fun and enjoyable to drive.

Which category fits you best?  Put your thinking cap on.  The next section of our series will help whittle things down even further:  “Determine your price range and payment method.”  Take your time through this process and give it a lot of thought.  Know this though – somewhere out there a muscle car, which is a perfect fit for you, is waiting on you!

-Robert Kibbe


The MuscleCar Place – Great Muscle Cars for Sale

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

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