IT HAS been a crazy year for prices of Aussie muscle cars. As you’ll read in News Front, a mint HK GTS 327 Monaro topped $300K at auction, with strong results for both chrome-bumper classics, Brock Commodores and early HSVs. While I’m not a close observer of the muscle car market, these kinds of results do create consternation in some quarters, with some folk arguing that it is making street machining unaffordable.
I’m not so sure. While I look back at the days of $5000 Monaros with fondness, there is no more point fretting over the prices of top-notch muscle cars than there is worrying about the cost of harbourside real estate in Sydney.
The real monster prices are only ever going to apply to cars that are either close to perfect, low-mile, historically significant, or all three. And while there is no doubt that the prices at the top do drag up the value of cars in lesser condition or specification, I reckon there is still lots of fun to be had in this sport for those of us who aren’t pulling Australia Post CEO-style coin.
For starters, there are still plenty of chrome-bumper cars out there in reasonable nick waiting to be lavished with love and attention. No, you may not get the most desirable bodystyle or the driveline you want, but if you have patience and the ability to spot a solid car, you can still pick up a fun 70s cruiser for under $10,000. Sure you can pay more – you’ll probably get a better car if you do.
Then there are the 80s rides. We saw more than a few early six-pot Commodores at the Ballarat Swap Meet that were cheap – we’re talking under $3000. They had patina, but looked like they wouldn’t need much for rego and would go straight onto club plates. Of course, you could also buy a terrible disaster of a car for the same price – buyer beware.
Even early-90s stuff is starting to earn some cachet; such is the power of nostalgia. A mint low-kilometre Atlas Grey five-speed VN SS is now worth north of $30K to some, though average or modified examples can be easily had for $10-15K. VN-VS HSVs are also on the move, but if you ever had a boner for the EF-EL XR6, the time to snap up a good one is now! All of this may be mystifying to folks raised on Monaros, Chargers and GT Falcons, but for those of us who were teenagers in the 90s, these cars can have a powerful attraction.
Of course, there are other ways to have fun besides getting your backside into a cruiser – just look at Project Taxi on page 120! It isn’t pretty and – as Scotty is finding out – not as easy to work on as an old Valiant, but there is something about the car that is getting people excited. As Grease Rat says in Mad Max: “Speed’s just a question of money. How fast do you want to go?” Well, we want to run 10s thanks, on barbeque fuel and with the air con pumping. How long the stock motor, transmission or diff will last is anyone’s guess, but we’re going to have a ball finding out. s