Hot Rides for Cool Dollars

With so many cool body styles to choose from, ranging from the late 1960s to late 1980s it is fairly easy to modify a classic car. My favorite is any Chevrolet model. With unparalleled performance working on a Chevy is a blast. But, with the prices of classic cars soaring into the hundreds of thousands, what is a hot rodder to do? Be different, that’s what being a hot rodder is all about. Find the Chevy models that have not been already cornered by the market and build it yourself. Models from the 1970s and 1980s sell for a lot less money, but can still make a great project car. Here are some cars to look for.

âÂ?¢ Second and Third Generation Camaro- The early 1970s Camaro’s like the Rally Sport (RS) are often offered at bargain prices compared to the popular 69s. The RS bumper was available on all 1970-73 models. Second Generation Camaro’s have large engine bays which fit any Chevrolet V8. Aftermarket parts are also plentiful for this model.

âÂ?¢ Mid 90s Camaro- The third generation IROC or Z28 came with a factory 350 Chevy Big Block Engine, which surprisingly had good fuel economy. Hard tops are better than T-Tops because the body doesn’t flex as much.

âÂ?¢ 1978-88 A and G Body Chevy’s- Cars like the Monte Carlo SS, the Oldsmobile Grand National, the Chevelle, and El Camino also came with a factory V8, usually a 305 engine and 200 R4 Overdrive. Today you can buy one for between $4000 and $6000 in good to average condition.

âÂ?¢ 1994-96 Caprice/Impala- The Police Caprices offer lots of factory engineered performance parts. Typically these police cruisers came with a factory 5.7 Liter V8 and the 9C1 police package that included separate coolers for the engine and transmission oil. The top speed for most of these police cruisers is around 140 mph. You can buy them at a Police auction for around $1500. It is best to get one that wasn’t used for patrol 24/7; a chief or captains car is better because it wasn’t driven as much.

âÂ?¢ 1968-74 Nova- This model has nearly the same suspension of its counterpart Camaro. 1968-72 Camaro’s typically sell for more than the later models.

� 1975-79 Nova- Parts are easily interchanged with the Pontiac Trans Am.

� Early 1970s Malibu- This Chevy also came with a factory V8. The 2 door sedan is always better than the 4 door model. Most of the parts are compatible with any kind of Chevy vehicle.

� 1982-92 C1500 and S10- These trucks were styled after some of the first of the Chevy big boy trucks. These were some of the best model years for the Chevy Truck. These trucks typically come with a standard 4 cylinder engine but it is an easy swap for a V8. These trucks are fun to modify mechanically and with paint.

Where to Get ‘Em

One of the first places you can look is locally. Check the local newspaper and on line listings or blogs. Searching locally will allow you to see the vehicle at your convenience and hopefully help you choose a good buy. If you can’t find anything in the paper try driving around the neighborhoods to see what people have. Sometimes people are contemplating selling their car but if you don’t ask you will never know. These cars disappear quickly so if you see something you want, say something.

If you are willing to look out of town try on line markets or auctions. You can also attend Police auctions or used car auctions either locally or out of state. Avoid super low priced cars that need everything or you will spend forever turning junk into what used to be a car. It’s not worth the time, money, or aggravation. If you’re handy at body work pick up a car that needs a little work and you will save a little money. Just avoid cars that have excessive rust or frame damage; these problems are not easy to fix and can be very costly. This buyer’s checklist will help you when picking out a car.

� Make sure car has a clean title. If the title says SALVAGE it means the car has been deemed a total loss by either the DMV or insurance company.

âÂ?¢ Make sure the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) on the title matches the one found in the car. Usually the VIN is located on the driver’s side of the dash. Sometimes the VIN can also be found in the trunk and on the engine.

� Make sure that the car can be registered and insured.

� Inspect the undercarriage of the vehicle on a lift to check for cracked or broken parts, rusty exhaust, etc.

âÂ?¢ Inspect the front end and the tires. The car should sit level on the ground and the tires shouldn’t have any unusual wear.

� Make sure the electrical components of the vehicle work properly. Check the lights, and power inside of the vehicle if it has power windows, locks, or seats. Fixing electrical problems is pretty much just a pain in the @#$.

� Check for wet carpets or mildew inside of the car. If you find water this means there is a leak or serious rust damage to the body of the car.

� Check for rust in the trunk, around the doors, and T-Tops if you have them. Cars without T-Tops are better because they do not twist.

âÂ?¢ If the car is in working order run the engine to make sure there isn’t any knocking or bumping. Make sure the brakes and all gears work.

Easy Fix Ups

Once you have found your dream car it is time to start working on it. If you are looking for a fast fix up there are several things you can do that are not time consuming. First get a professional paint job. Depending on where you go and what kind of paint job you get, it may cost you between $500 and $3000 to get your car painted professionally. Replace the old tires and get new rims. Replace all the hoses in the engine and change the fluid.

If you are looking for more conventional fix ups for your new muscle car try replacing the usual standard 305 with a 350 Big Block. Most emissions tests won’t notice the change or you may be exempt from emissions readings because of the age of the car. This rule varies from state to state so check with a licensed motor vehicle repair shop. Changing the interior and completing any body work will add the finishing touches to your new hot rod. With some homework and effort you can find a great car at a good price. Buy a car that matches your ability, budget, and schedule to get the best deal.

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