08/02/13 11:10PM Buying a Muscle Car, hot rods, Muscle Cars

Get a Hot Rod in Your Cool Hands: The Art of Buying a Muscle Car

You were hooked on cars the first time you watched some teens cut donuts in the school parking lot with their tricked-out '68 Barracuda. There was something about driving a powerful, sexy car that stuck in your mind, and every now and then, a rumbling engine brings back those memories. You now have the time, money and space. It's time to make good on your dream of owning a muscle car.

What Resonates With You?

First, pick the years you want to look at. The '60s and '70s saw unique designs come out of Detroit for muscle cars. Start thumbing through the car magazines and Hemmings Motor News,and just look at the photos. What features do you click with? Smooth lines? Hidden headlights? A street car or race car look?

What kind of engine do you want? Street legal or drag? Do you want vintage restored or newly rebuilt? Check out the hot rod magazines, such as Mustang Monthly and Super Chevy, to see the options available to you. It's also time to get out to the local car shows to see some of these beauties first-hand.

How Will You Use the Car?

Now narrow in on why you're buying your muscle car: 

  • Fair-weather Driver - You'll drive your car on nice, sunny weekend days through the city, and maybe stop at a drive-in for lunch with your wife or girlfriend.
  • Trophy Winner - This car just looks great, and you'll only drive it back and forth to muscle car shows. Your glove box is packed full of blue ribbons.
  • Drag Racer - Self-explanatory. Power. And speed. And more power. The more modifications, the better.
  • Investor - You buy the car with plans to sell it later for more. You can love the make and model, but don't get attached to a particular car. Like puppies in a basket, they're all going to another good home some day. Muscle cars are still increasing in value, the New York Daily News reports, especially the rare and limited-production models.
  • Everyday Driver - This car rolls out of your garage almost every day. To work, to the store, to your son's Little League game. This car goes where you go, because it just feels so good to be behind that wheel.

How Much Can You Spend?   

Now that you have an idea what you want and how you'll use the car, set your budget. Kelly Blue Book has used cars and prices for any make, model and options combinations you want. Just like real estate, cars are valued by the market. If everyone is looking for a 1966 Pontiac GTO, that'll be one expensive car.

Keep in mind the costs you'll need to cover, such as insurance, inspection fees and the cost to ship your car home. Don't run out of money before you get your car into your garage.

With all of this information in hand, it's time to go shopping. One final tip: It's all about how the car makes you feel when you sit in it. Enjoy.

How to buy a Muscle Car

Photo by Flickr user aresauburn