I get around. Maybe that should be the name of this column. After more than 25 years in the hobby as a journalist- okay, a photojournalist because I take pictures, too- I have a feel for the market. I’ve done over 5,000 magazine articles, mostly on American performance cars such as Hemicudas, Cobra Jet Mustangs, LS6 Chevelles, Pontiac GTOs, and Shelby’s glorious Cobra, my favorite. I remember a couple months before I bought my first Cobra, a 289, a 1965. I was taking pictures of Carroll Shelby with a ’68 Trans Am Mustang for a feature. We were in Dallas. It was hotter than blue blazes. He wanted to get out of the heat. This was 1987, three years before his heart transplant. As a courtesy, he stayed long enough to sign autographs for a friend of mine. I mentioned, as he signed, that I wanted a Cobra. Shelby peered back at me and advised, “Well, you better hurry and get one cause they’re going up in value. Fast.” He was right. I paid $65,000 for my 289 Roadster and before a year was up they were bringing triple that. Shelby lit a fire under my butt to get out there and find a deal.
Getting around and talking to people in the hobby is a great way to find things out, and to find deals. Let me backtrack my schedule the last month or so to give you an idea. Last week, I was at the National Corvette Museum for their Labor Day weekend. The week before I was in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. The week before that I was in Detroit shooting a magazine cover for AutoWeek (of the 2005 Foose Mustang). The week before that I was in Columbus, Ohio for the Mopar Nats. I shot ten features there. Oh, it’s just one big car party in show season. A few weeks before that I attended the Camaro Superfest in Ann Arbor, Michigan. I shot a ton of features there and visited with Camaro owners from various parts of the country. I saw a car there I never knew existed, a Dickie Harrell 427 Camaro, vintage 1970 owned by a serious collector from Las Vegas, Nevada.
You may be pointing a finger at Vettes, that they’re not muscle cars. When muscle cars started skyrocketing a few years ago, the L88 of 1968 and 1969 shot up. (The 1967 L88 was already out of sight.) Corvettes are muscle cars. Sometimes they’re thought of as sports cars first. An L88 is certainly a muscle car. They’re American. They’re big block. They’ll blow your doors off. They’re 150 to 200 grand for the ’68 and ’69. The ’67, forget that price range and go for a cool mil if the car is documented and has great paperwork and pedigree.
One of the most illustrious muscle cars was the ’69 ZL1. Most of us think about the Camaro ZL1. Chevrolet built 69 total. Then, there’s the Corvette ZL1, also a ’69. Chevrolet let two out to the public, we believe. I actually got to shoot what we believe to be one of the two, heretofore unknown, for a magazine feature, in Texas at the Lone Star Classic last May.
You see how so much of this information I get is from getting around. The All-Ford Nats at Carlisle this past June turned up leads and cars. You can e-mail me your input. I’ll keep sources secret when need be. In Pennsylvania I shot a very rare Cobra Jet for a magazine feature and the owner told me he just learned about a hot muscle Ford I could buy. It was a restored Boss 429 Mustang. The price was reasonable at $110,000. The car had been a show winner. Presumably, the owner wanted to sell quietly and get out. He didn’t want to promote. The catch was the person who found the Boss-9 wanted a 10 grand finder’s fee. I balked. First, the car wasn’t the color I liked. Second, I just didn’t want a Boss 429. Before I can buy a car, even if it is a good deal, I have to want it. I’m not a dealer. This column, as you might have guessed, has to do with prices and the market on muscle cars today. I’d like to get e-mail from readers. Since this is the Internet, we can be up to the minute. We don’t have to follow any set rules like you do in print magazines. I can say what I want to say. I can let you in on stuff that happens in my travels. If you know of a car selling and want to tell me but need to keep your name secret, that’s fine. I protect my sources. If I don’t protect my sources, then, I burn my sources. They won’t be coming back to me.
Maybe you know about an old muscle car tucked away in a barn somewhere. Or, you know about a car deal that all of us would like details on. When I’m at shows I am constantly hearing stories, like the original owner Hemicuda. I got a lead on this car at the All Ford Nats, not the Mopar Nats. If you want leads, use your show time to talk to car owners or just anybody who passes by your car. Taking your car to a car show is like tossing bait into a river. You never know, you might catch a big fish. Even if it’s a small fish, if it’s a muscle car, feel free to let me know about the deal or the find. Then, I’ll put it in here. I’ll write what’s going on with muscle car prices and the market.