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West Peterson

Appraising a rare muscle car

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It's also significant that you were asked for an opinion not a full blown appraisal. In that case you would be right in taking a more casual attitude. Such as, your car is worth around X dollars but would be worth more if you can document its originality and history.

Exactly. If no paperwork, then it's a cut and dry pat answer. Get the paperwork, then let's talk.

In this case, the "appraisal" was only on its condition, and not its value. The asking price was far less than that of restoring it to its "perfect" condition, so the buyer was in a "can't loose" situation. He suspects the car is "real", but was paying clone price.

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Mr. Peterson, you are a brave man! What was that song? "Fools rush in where angels fear to tread!"

Hey, we all know a car is only worth what someone will pay for it, no more, no less. Value, depends on how you look at it! "Value" to each of us could mean something different.

Enjoy the discussion young man, or simply ask the Eagle Scout in your family to get the right answer!

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The vin and body plates on GM vehicles do not reveal any muscle car lineage. You must rely on paper documentation.

That statment is not necessarily true. For example, the 1968-1971 442s carried a unique VIN. Unfortunately, the VIN in these years does NOT carry the engine code, so you cannot prove that the car was an original W-30, for example. Since Lansing-built cars rarely had build sheets in them, and Olds did not retain the build records for these cars, proof is usually VERY difficult.

Prior to the 1968 model year, true 442s carried a designator on the cowl tag that indicated the 442 option. On these cars, the 442 package was an option availble on several Cutlass/F85 models.

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While I used to professionally appraise automobiles, I was not the appraiser in this case. An appraiser called me to get my opinion. And, like I said, he was basically appraising the condition of the car (the quality of its restoration). I think in passing, he was just curious as to what I thought it was worth. I'd rather not say what kind of car it is, although it's pretty much been ferretted out that it's a GM product.

Good discussion, I thought. I'm not sure where the "fools rush in" part comes in, but if a fool is needed, I'll certainly rush in to help.:D

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If it is a Chevy and it still has the original drivetrain there is a good chance it can be proven to be an original Muscle Car by an appraiser who has experience with the specific marque. In the Camaro world many high dollar cars are "certified" without any documentation which makes them much more valuble than a clone when sold. My 1969 Camaro has no documentation, but by checking things like the pad stamp on the engine that I have attached, it has been certified as a real muscle car with "born with" drive train. Worth much more than a clone. Of course engines can and are "restamped" to try and fool a buyer. A good expert knows how to spot a restamp.

Billy

post-55974-143138131302_thumb.jpg

Edited by Billy McKee
grammer (see edit history)

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Hello West, you are probably aware of the Pontiac Historic Services. If you have a Pontiac you can get a copy of the build sheet for that VIN for about $30, a great service.

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Makes me glad that my collection is comprised mostly of Studebakers. For $40 you can request a copy of the build sheet from the Studebaker National Museum and it will show exactly how the car was built. Unfortunately, there are no records for any of my horse drawn vehicles (nor do they have VIN's).

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The value ,is in the guy that owns it,if you like it keep it,there is no money in this hobby,if you think there is,it is not a hobby.Just my point,i would just like to keep the old ones going,with a 16 year old behind the wheel.

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In 1970 original Buick GSs can be identified by body number:

43437 = GS coupe

44637 = GS 455 coupe

44667 = GS 455 convertible.

However the VIN does not indicate V8 engine, so I don't think the car is a Buick.

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If the car is a Chevy it can be roughly authenticated from the engine numbers. There is a 3 letter code for the motor that should match up to what the car is purporting to be. For instance a 454 1970 Chevelle SS will have an engine code between CRN and CRX, depending on horsepower, compression ratios, and transmission. A '70 LS6 Chevelle will have a CRW code w/ a 4 speed, a CRY code with a 4 speed and "heavy duty clutch", or a CRS code with a TH400.

These codes vary between models. An engine pulled from a Chevelle will not have the right numbers for the same motor in a Camaro.

If the code on the engine checks out, then the date code on the engine should make sense with the VIN number. An engine dating from May 1970 should not be in a car built in October 1969, for instance.

I suppose all of this could be forged, and has. However if the numbers are replaced and it cannot be told that they were, all bets are off anyway.

See Cars & Parts Magazine's Catalog of American Car ID Numbers 1970-1979 for more information.

19771254.JPG

Edited by Dave@Moon (see edit history)

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However the VIN does not indicate V8 engine, so I don't think the car is a Buick.

Oldsmobile system is similar to Buicks, with the body # serving to id the series. Their VIN numbers do indicate series and 6 or 8 cylinders, but the only bodies that had 6s were F85s and base Cutlass models, neither of which would be a muscle car.

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This has been a fun topic. Thanks West.

My brother bought a 70' Challanger new. Had a 318 in it. About a yr. ago Barrett-Jackson had the same car go across the block. The talking heads said the org. VIN #'s showed the car to be "born" w/ a 318 (bet there was a bunch of em') but had been rebuilt w/a hemi. Brought alot but I'll bet the guy that bought it didn't care it wasn't Original when he was out drivin it.

I'd have rather had the 318 myself.

But to your point I think you are correct. If not provable, it's not worth more than a clone.

I found out when selling my Dad's Binder on line that the VIN # wouldn't tell the engine cubic inch. The build sheet (behind the glove box) would, the engine #'s stamped into block (passanger side,front) would or the tag in front of radiator would. Seems to me a good body man could remove from one & replace on another and nobody would ever know. Just my 2cents.

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At a local cruise in one year I saw this nice GTO but when I looked the VIN tag it did not have the rights numbers to be a true GTO. My twin was with me at the time and I mention it to him as we look over the car. The following week guess what the same car was there but the VIN tag was covered up. Why hide it. There is no way he could pass it off as a true GTO when he turns around to sell it.

A person can spend a lot of money trying to make a clone look like a true muscle car but it is still a clone. No ifs ands or butts

Edited by Packin31 (see edit history)

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Guest mystarcollectorcar.com
Makes me glad that my collection is comprised mostly of Studebakers. For $40 you can request a copy of the build sheet from the Studebaker National Museum and it will show exactly how the car was built. Unfortunately, there are no records for any of my horse drawn vehicles (nor do they have VIN's).

Yet another strong case for Studebaker-they had nothing to hide I guess.

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Guest mystarcollectorcar.com

I thought about this a little more and I think what really killed the fun in collecting was the monetary side of the options.

If a guy ticked off some kind of weird option list 40 years ago then suddenly the value went through the roof in the 21st century-with documentation.

Then suddenly you had a cottage industry that "aged" documents to fit the car so now you need a full compliment of forensic evidence to document a car.

That sure sucks the pure joy out of the hobby.

Edited by mystarcollectorcar.com
spelling (see edit history)

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mopar VINS after 1966 tell exactly what size etcengine was installed, not just a or 8

How so? For the sake of this discussion, the vin reveals that the car was equipped with a V8, not which one.

Getting back to my original question, if it's unprovable, wouldn't its value be no more than that of a clone?

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I'll make some popcorn before reading all the expert advice. :rolleyes:

I was just asked for my opinion on the value of a 1970 muscle car, perfectly restored. No documentation. I told him the value should not exceed that of a clone. Was I incorrect?

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A person can spend a lot of money trying to make a clone look like a true muscle car but it is still a clone. No ifs ands or butts

A clone is as good as the real thing, except in value (forgetting about any fraud that may be involved). So, depending on your perspective, a clone may be better.

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If it is a Chevy and it still has the original drivetrain there is a good chance it can be proven to be an original Muscle Car by an appraiser who has experience with the specific marque. In the Camaro world many high dollar cars are "certified" without any documentation which makes them much more valuble than a clone when sold. My 1969 Camaro has no documentation, but by checking things like the pad stamp on the engine that I have attached, it has been certified as a real muscle car with "born with" drive train. Worth much more than a clone. Of course engines can and are "restamped" to try and fool a buyer. A good expert knows how to spot a restamp.

Billy

Yes. As it turns out, this car was a Chevy (not a Camaro). And I've just found that my appraiser friend did not tell me all the information. The numbers on the engine pad, as Billy has pointed out, do match, and they didn't appear to have been re-stamped. Just no paper documentation.

So my answer on value would have to change. Certainly an authentic paper trail would be good, but as Mystarcollector pointed out, even "aged" documentation exists. sic transit gloria mundi

I think I'd rather just go out and buy a known clone for a fraction of the price, because it would be a whole lot more fun.

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I was just asked for my opinion on the value of a 1970 muscle car, perfectly restored. No documentation. I told him the value should not exceed that of a clone. Was I incorrect?

Yes. You don't mention if the numbers all match (which if taken literally is very hard to do). A fully documented muscle car (especially Mopar or Chevy) is worth more then a numbers matching but not documented car. But a numbers matching car is definitely worth more then a clone car.

Edited by alsancle (see edit history)

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Yes. As it turns out, this car was a Chevy (not a Camaro). And I've just found that my appraiser friend did not tell me all the information. The numbers on the engine pad, as Billy has pointed out, do match, and they didn't appear to have been re-stamped. Just no paper documentation.

So my answer on value would have to change. Certainly an authentic paper trail would be good, but as Mystarcollector pointed out, even "aged" documentation exists. sic transit gloria mundi

I think I'd rather just go out and buy a known clone for a fraction of the price, because it would be a whole lot more fun.

I'm puzzled as to why you have not stated exactly what the car is supposed to be (other than it is not a Camaro.) Someone may know other ways to tell exactly what the car really is. There are often hidden stampings and unique components that people miss when building a clone.

I once had a lengthy conversation with Greg Donahue regarding a supposed "R" code 1964 Ford Galaxie. He told me all the secret places to look that would verify if the car really was an "R" code. Most of these things would be unknown to someone hoping to replace a 390 with a 427 and pass it off as an "R" code. Sure enough, upon closer examination by the prospective buyer (who I had passed Greg's info on to), the car turned out to be a fake. A good one, but a fake none the less.

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