Classic cars, muscle cars, hot rod, street rod, sports car are all names that might come to mind when you hear that loud car from the 60’s, 70’s or 80’s coming up the block.

I’ve always loved classic cars since I was a little kid. My dad has always had muscle cars. The earliest memory, probably because there is a picture. Is me in front of my Dad’s 1967 Red Pontiac Firebird.

I’ve had a few (almost) classic cars throughout the years, myself. Probably more considered to be in the end of the Muscle Car Era, but my classic cars were still cool cars. I always like to have something different or something that stands out just a little, if possible.

My first car was a 1985 Chevy Monte Carlo SS. My daily driver for a few year in college was a 1986 Oldsmobile 442 with a 350, headers and dual exhaust. I even owned a 1978 Camaro Z28 for a few years, but I never really enjoyed it since there was always something wrong with it that I didn’t have the money to fix, plus it was a manual 4 speed, that I never got quite comfortable to drive. I sold that Camaro a few years ago and since last spring, I kept thinking about getting another classic car.

I spent hours upon hours last spring and summer, weeding through craigslist ads, classic car listings and eBay auctions. I came close with one car. But I had to deal with the dreaded, used car dealer. He was a nice enough guy, but someone who is just trying to flip a car, doesn’t really know much about the history of the classic car. It’s mostly a what you see is what you get situation. I was so close to that car, but I just couldn’t get schedule a union between the salesman and my trusted mechanic for a quick “looks good” check. I don’t really know what I’m looking at, mechanically. Sure I can look for rust, dings and dents. But any car I’m looking to but, I try to get to my mechanic to make sure I’m not buying a paperweight.

The weather here in my area finally been consistently warm, so people have been listing their classic cars.

I don’t have a single dream car that I’m looking for right now. I almost wish I did because it would make this process easier; if everything isn’t checked off, I’d move on. But, alas, I’m a bit open. I do have a decently narrowed selection comprising of price range and car type.

My classic car requirements:

1976-1981 – Chevy Camaro Z28, Pontiac Firebird/Trans Am
1982-1989 – Chevy Camaro Z28/Iroc Z, Pontiac Firebird/Trans Am
I would also look at some 1966-1978 Oldsmobile Cutlass/442 cars, for the right year/condition/price. But most of these cars will be way too much money for me.

  • I would prefer a car with T-tops but no convertibles.
  • Manual or Automatic doesn’t matter to me. I’ve been told that a “stick” is fun, but at my age (31), I’ve been driving automatics for 15 years and don’t have a super strong desire for a manual transmission. I would love to learn (I have the basics down), but it’s not a deal breaker, like it is for, my dad, for example.
  • Good paint and interior. (I would prefer recently painted)
  • Slightly worked motor would be great. (Chevy Crate 350 with headers, mild cam and dual exhaust)
  • I prefer Red paint with a black, leather interior. But I’m open to combinations that look nice.
  • Budget is around $15k. Cars can be found for cheaper.
classic car camaro z28

1983 Chevy Camaro Z28

The first classic car that really got my attention was this 1983 Z28.

I found it on Craigslist. The description calls it a “survivor” which usually means that the car is in original condition. The price is $8,000 so I was all over this one. After going back and forth for a while I find that the car is about an hour and a half away and I would drive to see it the coming Saturday. After some more back and forth I come to learn that the person I had been speaking with was not the owner, but a salesman that the owner had hired to sell the car for him. What did I learn? This car is in fact, not a “survivor” but repainted by the previous owner (I prefer this as original paint always looks better in pictures, and not so much in person). The current owner isn’t really sure what car the 350 engine came from and that there might be an issue with the alternator. Awesome. I had planned on driving to see this car last weekend, but due to bad weather, didn’t go. If it was closer, I would have made more of an attempt, but my excitement scale went from about a 10 to a 3. The more I thought about the car, the more of a headache it seemed like if I had bought it, so I told the guy that maybe next weekend would work better. I’m still thinking I might look at it. We’ll see.

I had a few other classic cars I looked at that I’ll talk about in Part 2 and beyond.

Do you have a classic car that is garaged and only comes out in the summer for beach cruises or to show off at a local car show? Do you have experience buying from a flipper or dealer? I’m curious to see other people have dealt with. I’ll get into more of my process next episode.

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