How to Buy Muscle Cars

November 12, 2013

Learn about the 3 most popular muscle cars, what to look for in a classic or modern muscle car, and how to research muscle car prices.

The price of muscle cars depends heavily upon the market and the overall economy. It's not unusual for a muscle car to range in price quite dramatically over a few months or even weeks. It's also possible that different locations will feature very different prices for these vehicles as well, as muscle car values are determined by supply and demand; if there is larger demand in one particular area than another, the price of a car is likely to be higher. For anyone interested in buying or selling one of these classic cars, there are several tools that can be used to identify a fair market price. This article will discuss what to consider when buying muscle cars, and things to take into account when doing so.

Muscle Car Prices: An Average Price List of Top Selling Models

Since pricing is so important, this article will begin by covering the average prices of some of the top selling muscle car models, based off the 2011 production year.

Ford Mustang
A new Ford Mustang for production year 2011 averages at a manufacturer's suggested retail price of just over $22,000. This is a fair average price to base your assessments of recent Mustangs on. However, because the Ford Mustang has a long history and has been in constant production for several decades, older cars range in price quite a bit. Older models of Mustangs are more expensive than new ones, and it's not unlikely to find certain model years selling for up to $50,000 or more.

Pontiac GTO
The first muscle car created was popular from the late 1950s up through the early 1970s. The fact that it went out of production following that has made the cars that remain in good condition or better extremely expensive. It's not unusual to pay upwards of $50,000 for a Pontiac GTO from this era. In the 2000s, the Pontiac GTO has been revived with a slightly different style and a new set of trim options. This vehicle is available in trim types that range from approximately $28,000 up to $40,000, depending upon the number and type of luxury amenities that you include.

Dodge Charger
The Dodge Charger is a vehicle that was formerly a muscle car and has been redesigned in recent years to feature a new style and shape. The later models of the vehicle are mid-range sedans with prices ranging from about $22,000 up to $30,000, depending on the number and type of luxury amenities that are included. Older models of the Dodge Charger, however, typically sell for quite a bit more. Dodge Chargers in the classic style are usually available for an average of between $30,000 and $40,000 each.

Ford Torino
The Ford Torino tends to be the most affordable of the popular muscle cars. This vehicle was popular after the ones listed above, and the relatively lower level of appeal has made the price of these used cars somewhat lower. The average cost of a used Ford Torino in good condition is between $10,000 and $20,000, depending upon the exact model year.

Muscle Car Value Guide: Understand Where the Real Value Lies

If you have never considered buying a muscle car before, it may be wise to look over a muscle car value guide to see where your purchase stands. One of the first things you should do is make a list of certain cars you have on your mind that you might want to own. After that, figure out what year that you are looking for and if there are any special details or extras you want as well. Once you have these aspects in mind, you can start to determine the value of your purchase.

If you have chosen a car that is hard to find, the rarity will increase the value of the vehicle. The less produced the car was, the more valuable it will be; any car that was only produced for a limited time and limited amount are going to be far more valuable than a car that was mass produced. This rarity, however, must also be matched by a desire to own the car—a low supply is meaningless if there isn't a high, or at least moderate, demand for it.

Another value raising factor is just how close it is the car to its original condition. Many buyers seek out stock cars, while others look for something with a little bit of work done to it. You may have a greater value in your car if it has been restored, but if all you did was trick it out, that may actually decrease the value of the vehicle.

Believe it or not the value of the car will differ from one location to another. Your car may also increase or decrease in value based on what time of year it is when you purchase it. You need to keep these factors in mind when you are looking for a car in your area to see if you are willing to go where you can to find the best value for your money.

It isn't hard to determine that certain makes of vehicles will be more valuable than others. That all depends on the year the car was made. Most GM cars and Mustangs will be held in a high value, but everything changes from year to year.

What year is the car that you are wanting to purchase? Many cars of the same make and model may have been produced for several years, but that does not mean that all of them will be the same value. The older the car is, the higher the value of the car (after a 35-year period to make it a classic). If the car is not yet a classic, a newer muscle car will actually have more value than an older one, but only for a limited time.

Condition of the car also plays a big part in determining the value of any muscle or classic car. It is obvious that if the car is in mint condition, it is going to bring in a lot more money than one that is in bad condition. When you are trying to add the condition in with the value, make sure you take the following into consideration: the body, the undercarriage, the top of the car, the paint job, any trim it may have, the glass in the vehicle, the dashboard, the condition of the car seats, the carpeting, the compartment the engine is held in, the engine, the brakes, the steering and the transmission.

Market Value
One more factor that adds or takes away from the value of a muscle car and that would be the market value. The market value is what the average price is of a particular vehicle. If you are going to buy a muscle car that is similar in model and make to another, it is probably safe to say it is going to be around that market value price tag.

How Accurate Is Muscle Car Blue Book Value?

If you're planning on either buying or selling a muscle car, Blue Book value is an important gauge of the quality and price of that car. The Kelley Blue Book is one of a small number of trusted guides for the value of used and new cars. It's available for free online and allows you to search for any vehicle and any year, model type, trim type and condition. Still, it's important to be aware the classic car value can change dramatically from the price listed in the Blue Book according to several different factors. Knowing what the Blue Book value represents will help you to keep in mind the true value of a muscle car that you're attempting to sell or buy.

How Blue Book Value Is Calculated
The Kelley Blue Book value is an average value that is based on sales of cars of a particular type over recent months and years. Prices on the website change periodically in order to reflect the fact that prices in the real world market also change. However, the Kelley Blue Book values are not indicators of exact prices for any car; they simply show general trends for the sale of those cars.

Problems with the Kelley Blue Book Value
There are several reasons why the value for a muscle car that you see in the Kelley Blue Book may differ from how much money you can actually expect to pay for a muscle car. One of the most important ones has to do with fluctuations in the national and international auto market. These may happen slowly and develop into long term trends (which are typically reflected in the Blue Book values of cars) or they may happen relatively quickly and not be reflected. Local spikes and peaks for prices on the national market happen all the time due to a variety of factors having to do with the economy.

Local fluctuations in the market can also contribute to skewed NADA muscle cars values. Because the value that you'll see in the listing is simply an average, certain areas may tend to have much more expensive vehicles and others tend to have much cheaper ones. If you live in an area that's skewed to one side or the other of the average, the actual price that a vehicle may fetch in your location could be several hundred or even thousands of dollars off from the Kelley Blue Book value. One good way to check on the accuracy of the Kelley Blue Book value is to compare local prices on cars in your area with their prices on the Kelley site. Look for muscle cars and other types of vehicles as well to get a sense for where your community lies. If your location means that you're likely to lose money on a transaction, consider waiting until the national market has changed, or look in a different location.

Are Muscle Car Values Dropping?

With the recent downturn in the economy, the fear of muscle car values dropping has set panic in the hearts of muscle car enthusiasts all over. If you too have feared that your muscle car isn't worth as much now as it used to be, you might be surprised by some of the information below. Read on to find out the facts about muscle car values.

Modern Muscle Cars
Some people don't consider anything after 1970 as a true muscle car. Assuming you aren't one of those people, you will find that modern day muscle cars have dropped in value as a result of a downturn economy. The NADA value for a car often plummets significantly once it is driven off the lot, and the current state of the economy has led to an even bigger decrease in these numbers. The fact is that countless people who just recently bought a new Mustang or Camaro are finding their cars are no longer worth close to what they financed them for. In this case, numbers are starting to level out once again, but it'll be several years before anything bought new within the last two years or so will regain its value.

Classic Muscle Cars
When it comes to the classics, the drop hasn't been quite so bad. Prices haven't necessarily declined that much, but the demand for the vehicles has. Fewer people have the extra money to spend nowadays on a 1967 GTO or a 1969 Chevelle, and as a result, the demand for the cars has decreased. This has impacted classic muscle car values a little bit, but not as much as it has hit more modern cars. Assuming you don't need the money for the car right away, you can still get what you want out of your classic car if you keep it out there long enough. Anything that is 35 years old or older will not be too susceptible to market changes, at least not when compared to new cars.

Specialty Muscle Cars
Specialty muscle cars almost never lose their value because they are made in such a limited supply. This includes any special edition vehicles, like a Shelby Mustang or an SS Camaro. People who actually want to invest in muscle cars will seek those out before the standard ones that were released. These cars are easier to sell and they hold their value throughout the years. There may be a slight deflation in the price of these cars, but not much.

Muscle car values have been affected by the economy to a degree, but not as much as you may assume. Depending on your vehicle, its care, and its mileage, you could still have a high valued car in your possession. If you fear your car has dropped in value, just wait a few years for things to pick back up. In time, your automobile should be back to normal.

If you're in the market for a muscle car, one of the most prized type of collector's items that car enthusiasts everywhere search after, you'll be best off in your search if you take the time to consult a muscle car price guide first. The NADA muscle car guide is one of the most trusted sources of information for accurate prices of muscle cars, taken on average throughout the country. The Kelley Blue Book is another collector car price guide that many enthusiasts rely upon for estimations of the cost of these vehicles as well. Having a general sense for the cost of a variety of the most popular types of muscle cars will further help you to get the best deal on your vehicle, either when you're buying or when you're planning to sell a car.

Ford Mustang
The Ford Mustang is one of the most common muscle cars. In fact, many collectors feel that this vehicle is an archetype of the muscle car category of vehicles. Mustangs vary in price considerably depending upon the year in which your vehicle was made as well as the condition of the car currently. Mustangs generally vary in price from around $20,000 to $25,000 for new vehicles, up to nearly twice that in some cases for particularly rare models. On average, however, you can expect to spend between $25,000 and $30,000 for a Mustang classic muscle car.

Chevrolet Chevelle
The Chevrolet Chevelle was another very popular muscle car that was in production through the 1960s and beyond. This vehicle tends to be significantly more expensive than the Ford Mustang, because the Chevelle is much less common. In fact, this vehicle has been discontinued and is out of production, meaning that the car is even rarer. Thus, the average price for a used Chevelle in excellent condition is around $39,000, while a new vehicle can go for anywhere up to about $60,000.

Pontiac GTO
Older models of the Pontiac GTO are among the first muscle cars to have been built. This vehicle dates back to the late 1940s and was one of the very first vehicles designed with a particularly small frame and a powerful motor. GTOs from this era are exceedingly expensive; new vehicles can fetch up to $80,000. Older models of the GTO, however, are considerably less pricey. The cost of an older GTO may be as low as $20,000. Again, this depends significantly upon the year in which the car was made.

The prices of these vehicles are by no means static. They are subject to fluctuations in the auto market, just as any other vehicles are. Classic and muscle cars are often much more expensive in certain locations than others, due to demand. It's important to search around your area to get a good sense for the local market for muscle cars, before you trust any guide book.

Muscle Car Classifieds: Keyword Tips for Finding the Right Car

You will undoubtedly look through the muscle car classifieds if you are looking to buy one as a project. If you want to plan a project and your first thought is a muscle car, you might have a fair idea where to look to find one. These cars usually date from the late 1960s to early '70s. They are rear wheel drive, large V8 cars with a lot of 'oomph.' There are still quite a few of those older cars about, although they are becoming a little harder to find unless you have an idea where to look. Most of them have ended up as old rust buckets in someone's yard, but there are a great number of them still out on the roads and in tip top condition.

Use keywords specific to your search. Choose a keyword for example, that is the name of the car you intend to buy. Chevy, Dodge Challenger, Dodge Charger, Ford Mustang and so on, are all suitable and will all return search results. If you want your project muscle car to be inexpensive, have a good idea of what you get for the money in the current market, using 'cheap' as a keyword. Choose words appropriate to your needs. Other good words to use are muscle car, V8 engine, old car, red, black or any color you like which might fit the criteria.

Sentence Keywords
If you have thought of all the words you think you know that are associated with your muscle car and you still haven't found anything, try using some of the words together. A keyword does not have to be one single word. It can be a sentence, or just a chain of a few words. 'Finding a muscle car project,' 'cheap muscle cars,' 'red muscle car' or any combination thereof.

Depending where you live you can search by state on eBay Motors using the keywords of the make of car you want.

Have a clear idea of if you want a project muscle car that you can put your own personal mark on or finishing touches to, or if you want a finished project car that you can drive home and park on your driveway in pride.

If you live within the UK, try the classic car classifieds in Auto Trader or the Evening Standard. There is also Loot, or Exchange and Mart. Owing to the muscle car being essentially American, you might not have a lot of luck finding one unless you are able to import one from America. This will cost you import taxes and import duties, so keep costs in mind. They could soar beyond your original budget.

You can search links for finding cheap muscle cars for sale online and streetcars for sale. Classic cars are readily available, with some being projects that are already finished. Always be cautious to view and test the car before you buy it and remember, you can haggle the price if you think the buyer might take less.

Muscle Car Appraisal: Tips for Getting the Most Value

Before you can sell a muscle car, you'll need to go through the muscle car appraisal process. This not only helps to ascertain the muscle car value, but it also provides you with the chance to see what it is about your car that could improve the overall quality and condition, as well as the price you could ask for the vehicle. A muscle car appraisal is also good to conduct before you consider purchasing one of these vehicles. Muscle cars are collector's items that can fluctuate in price significantly depending upon where you are and the status of the current auto market. it's easy for people to attempt to charge too much for a muscle car, so an appraisal will help you to gauge whether or not you're getting a good deal on the vehicle.

What Does the Appraisal Process Consist Of?
An appraisal of any automobile entails a thorough examination of all the working parts of that car. The vehicle will be turned on and checked for electrical power to all of the interior systems. The appraisal inspector will also examine the engine and the interior parts of the car as well to make sure they're fully functional. Going off of a NADA price value or a Kelley Blue Book value for the vehicle, the appraiser will reduce the value of your car to certain degrees based upon the condition of all the various parts of the vehicle. After the appraisal process is complete, the inspector will provide you with a sheet outlining the various systems of the car and their conditions, as well as the value of the car and how they arrived at that number.

How to Improve the Appraised Value
Before your vehicle is appraised, you should do all that you can to ensure the various parts of the car are working properly and are in place as they should be. Take some time to inspect all of the systems and make any minor repairs you know how to fix. If you know of any major component of the car that is either out of alignment or entirely broken, consider having it fixed. Because the appraisal process itself is oftentimes expensive, and because you'll need to use the appraised value as is and without changes, it makes sense to make any repairs necessary before the car is valued. That way, the repairs will be reflected in the estimated value of the car and you won't need to have the vehicle appraised a second time.

Other Considerations
Consider having your vehicle appraised by multiple inspectors. This is particularly useful if you disagree with a stated value of the car as given by an appraiser.

If you have any other questions or concerns, speak with the appraiser beforehand. There are a variety of appraisal services located all throughout the country.

How to Buy a Car at Muscle Car Auctions

Muscle cars are among the most popular (and expensive) vehicles that are available today; one of the cheapest ways to purchase one of these classic cars is through one of many dedicated muscle car auctions that take place around the country. Because muscle car prices are generally very high, muscle car auctions are a good way of finding excellent specimens of these vehicles for sale at discounted prices. In order to get the best deals, however, and to take full advantage of the selection at muscle car auctions near you, you'll need to know how to go about buying at muscle car auctions.

Research Auction Dates and Sites
Before you can go to a muscle car auction, you'll need to know where and when these events take place in your area. Look online or in the local phone directory for a list of muscle car auction companies. Many of these companies are nationally run and provide local auctions at fairgrounds and other convention center spaces throughout the country. Contact each company for a sense of how often they provide these services and events and, if possible, for a listing of events in your area.

Know the Selection in Advance
Most muscle car auctions provide some information about the vehicles that will be made available for sale well in advance of the auction. Once you've determined the date of the auction and you know the amount of money that you're willing to spend, take some time to research the options that will be available to you at the upcoming auction.

Register in Advance
Some auctions have a limited number of spots for potential consumers. To avoid the frustration of arriving at the auction and being barred from purchasing a vehicle, take the time to register in advance. This ensures that you have a spot in the auction and that you'll have access to all of the cars that will be listed for sale.

Plan for the Auction Date
If there are multiple rooms where cars will be shown and sold at the auction, take time in advance to plan out where you'll need to be in order to have the best access to the cars that you're interested in.

Bid Early and Often
Once you've found the vehicle that you're interested in and you're at the auction, plan your bidding strategy carefully. Depending upon the interest in the car, it is sometimes preferable to bid early and often, and in other cases it's better to wait until other bidders have raised the price of the vehicle before you enter into the bidding.

With a small amount of luck and some careful planning ahead of time, you'll leave the auction with a new muscle car that fits your needs and desires and doesn't break your budget.

A Muscle Car Buyer's Checklist

  • Set a budget. Have a budget in mind. If you want your project muscle car to be cheap, have an idea of what you get for your money. Is your car going to be large and bulky or a light and agile sports car? If so, where can you buy sports car parts for an inexpensive price?
  • Determine the type of car. Have a fair idea of the type of best muscle car you can buy, which will let you narrow the search criteria. Are you looking to buy classic cars? How do you decide which is the best muscle car to buy?
  • Clarify the purpose of the purchase. Think about the reason why you are doing this project. Consider if you want to sell the vehicle for a profit afterwards, or if you want to put it in your garage to drive about and polish every Sunday. Think about whether it is going to cost you more money than it will be worth and, finally, whether you have time to spend on the project and finish it.
  • Search online. The Internet is the most popular place to conduct searches for anything, so you are very likely to find something that will interest you. Many sales sites will have an option to search close to your area.
  • Check local listings. "Local first" is the best policy. Check the 'nickel ads' which you can get at your nearest grocery store. Someone might be selling a good project car and you could bag a bargain.

Muscle Car Financing: Tips for Getting the Best Rate

Although there are several companies that deal specifically with muscle car financing, you need to do your research in order to get the best rate of interest. Every lender, bank or independent company will offer you competitive rates. However, to get the best rate you must ask the lending institution certain questions and look for any hidden fees that could increase your overall expenditure on the muscle car.

Getting the Best Rate

  • To start off, you need to find out the actual value of the muscle car you wish to buy and what other buyers are paying for a similar vehicle. Although you can research the Kelley Blue Book and other price guides, take the assistance of a professional mechanic, to determine if any given classic car is worth the price quoted.
  • Shop around in order to get the best deal. Ask for quotes from at least three lenders before selecting any company to work with. This also allows you to estimate your monthly payments and be better prepared when negotiating the selling price with a car dealer. If the dealer is offering you a financing option, find out how the interest is calculated. Moreover, you need to find out if the rate offered, is a fixed rate of interest or a variable rate of interest.
  • Some lenders may charge you an auto loan application fee. Others may also charge you a pre-payment penalty if you wish to pay off the outstanding amount on your loan, before the loan term expires. Sometimes this penalty works out to more than the outstanding loan amount. Thus, obtain all details and read the auto loan agreement carefully so that you understand the terms listed therein.
  • All banks and lenders will ask you for your credit information. Before you approach any bank for an auto loan, find out your credit score and look for ways to increase this score. The better the score, the better the auto financing rates and options offered.
  • The lowest monthly payment plan offered isn't always the best deal. Find out the term of the loan and calculate what you will have to pay over several years. You may be surprised to find out what you will have to end up paying, given the rate of interest.
  • Some financing companies will also charge you a late fee if you don't make your payments on time. Carefully read the clauses listed on the auto loan contract and try to set up auto loan payments online so that you avoid unnecessary fees.
  • Consider making a higher down payment on the loan in order to qualify for a better rate of interest.
  • Finally, if you cannot get a better rate since you're stuck with poor credit, consider refinancing the loan after you've worked on improving your credit score. This will help you save a large sum of money over the years.

When buying a muscle car, you must adopt the right negotiation techniques to get a good sale price. Also make sure that you're dealing with a reliable financing company that's been in business for a while.

The 4 Best Selling Muscle Car Books

If you are looking for some muscle car books to add to your library, you should be in for a real treat. There is an array of literature out there about these high powered rides, ranging in information from the historical side of muscle cars all the way to their upgraded performance. Here are 4 titles that should be on your muscle car book list.

American Muscle Supercars
Written by David Newhardt, this book features the stories of some legendary tuners and builders who truly paved the way for modern day muscle cars. The author takes a close look at some of the lives and innovations of well known names, like Carroll Shelby, Nickie Chevrolet, Mr. Norm, George Hurst, Don Yenko and more. The book covers the whole span of these popular tuners, from the humble beginnings to advances in the modern world. It's a great read for people looking to get an overall look at American muscle cars.

How to Rebuild and Modify Your Muscle Car
This book was written by Jason Scott, and the title explains it all. Within the 160 pages of text, How to Rebuild and Modify Your Muscle Car covers a range of muscle car improvements to help your car get better handing, better power or better looks, depending on what you want. The primary focus of the book is to help old cars perform like new ones without losing their classic integrity. It provides step by step instructions you need to implement the changes. Pictures are included for easy understanding, as well as a solid overview over the processes.

Muscle Car Confidential: Confessions of a Muscle Car Test Driver
This book, written by Joe Oldham, tells the history of the American muscle car right from the driver's seat. Oldham uses the book to review various cars that have popped up throughout the years. Focusing on the cars from 1962 to 1976, Oldham tries to provide a new perspective on the vehicles than what people might have found in magazines back in the day. The real life experiences that flood the book are ideal for a person wanting to know the behind-the-scenes story of some of the greatest vehicles of our time.

The Complete Book of Classic GM Muscle
General Motors has always been one of the front runners in the muscle car world, and this book by Mike Mueller looks at many of the wonders this company has produced. It takes a look at 40 years of vehicles made by GM, all matched with beautiful illustrations of the cars in their true form. The vehicles are broken down by their specs, and each one has extensive information about how the car came about. If you are any sort of GM enthusiast, you must have this book in your collection.

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