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Old May 10th, 2004, 04:50 PM   #1
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Return of the Muscle Car -USAToday Article-

Muscle-car remakes pump up prices
By Earle Eldridge, USA TODAY




The Hemi is back. The Pontiac GTO is back. There is talk of
bringing back the Dodge Charger. As automakers dip into their
nostalgic goody bag to sell new versions of classic muscle cars,
sale prices of the original models are skyrocketing.

Though auction sales of 1960s and early-1970s muscle cars have
been booming for a couple of years, the recent buzz generated
by advertising for new versions has pushed prices for the older
ones even higher. Auction prices for restored Detroit muscle cars
have grown anywhere from 4% to 50% in the past year,
according to Sports Car Market magazine's 2004 price guide.

What haven't climbed are auction prices for classic European
sports cars. Prices for cars such as Porsche 911 Targa, Ferrari
365 GT4 and Mercedes 450 SL have been flat or even fallen.

Hemi-mania hits auctions

Particularly prized among the American muscle cars: rare Hemi-
powered models, which are hitting new highs.
A 1971 Hemi-powered Plymouth Barracuda convertible one of
only seven built recently sold for $1.5 million.

The new models "only drive more people into the market for the
originals," says Richard Lentinello, editor in chief of Hemmings
Muscle Machines magazine.

On the other hand, Detroit automakers are smartly trying to
capitalize on the surge in classic car sales that has been going on
at least two years, he says. "Those names GTO, Hemi,
Charger have magic," he says.

Helping push the prices: Those who remember the original muscle
cars are at the peak of their earning power, says Thomas
duPont, publisher of duPont Registry, a buyers' guide to luxury
and exotic cars.

In the 1960s and early 1970s, Detroit automakers pumped out
dozens of muscle-car models, some merely souped-up versions of
family cars ready for the drag strip.

American muscle cars of that era were often lightweight vehicles
with big V-8 engines packed with enough horsepower to burn
rubber in an attention-grabbing scene at stoplights.

Dodge and Plymouth 426 Hemi-powered cars such as Plymouth
Roadrunner, Dodge Charger and Dodge Challenger were popular
on racetracks and weekend drag strips across the nation during
that time.

Hemi refers to the hemispherical shape of the engine's
combustion chamber. Chrysler says that helps it crank out more
power with less weight than comparable V-8s.

In 2002, Chrysler Group introduced a new version of the Hemi V-8
engine on the 2003 Dodge Ram pickup. Recently, Dodge has run
entertaining television commercials promoting the new Hemi.

The Hemi now is also available on the 2005 Dodge Magnum RT
sports wagon and Chrysler 300C sedan. And Dodge plans to
build a Hemi-powered sedan next year likely to be called Charger,
according to Automotive News.

All of that has given the older Hemis a shot of recognition.
"Everybody knows about Hemi cars right now," says Colin Comer,
owner of Classic Auto in Milwaukee.

Beyond that, Comer says, sales of Camaros and Mustangs and
Dodge and Plymouth performance cars from the 1960s and early
'70s have soared at his store the past two years.
"Some people are dismayed because they are getting priced out
of the market," he says.

In March, Fred Smith of Rochester, Mich., paid $77,000 at an RM
Auction in Florida for a rare 1966 Plymouth Belvedere I HP2 Hemi.
It's one of the first Hemi-powered muscle cars, so early in
production that Plymouth put an HP2 emblem on the fender
because Chrysler had not fully developed the Hemi logo.

When new, the 1966 Belvedere had a base price of $2,700, and
the Hemi was a $1,105 option. The base price plus Hemi option
would equal about $21,600 in today's dollars.

Smith's car had been restored and carefully pampered by its
previous owners and has only about 4,000 miles on it.

Smith, a semi-retired CEO of a machine tooling company he
founded, has about a dozen classic cars. Through the years, he
has owned at least six Hemi-powered cars.
"There was another Hemi that came up during the auction," Smith
says. "If I wasn't in the bathroom at the time, I would have bought it, too."
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Old May 10th, 2004, 04:51 PM   #2
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New GTO shines on old

The buzz from Pontiac about its GTO has revived interest in the
originals. Prices have as much as tripled for GTO convertibles in
the past year, Comer says.

Classic GTOs from model years 1964 to 1972 have been selling
for as much as $66,000 the past year, according to Sports Car
Market magazine.

Dan Peters, a firefighter in Abilene, Kan., feels lucky. He was able
to buy a 1967 Pontiac GTO for sale at Valenti Classics in
Caledonia, Wis., for $17,800.

Peters spent several months searching the Internet to find the
GTO after he sold a 1968 Pontiac Firebird that he cherished for 20
years.

He says he bought the GTO because it has more room for his wife
and two sons than the Firebird.

He wanted an original GTO that wasn't customized. "This will be
my daily driver in the summer," Peters says. "It's got the power,
it's got the big engine, and it came straight from the factory ready
to run."

Pontiac officials say bringing back the GTO helps revive Pontiac as
a maker of exciting performance cars.

"It was to get back to our core of pure power, handling and
performance," says Mark-Hans Richer, director of marketing at
Pontiac.

Some legends of the muscle-car era can't believe the recent buzz
and skyrocketing prices for the classics.

Carroll Shelby, creator of the original Cobra and frequent
consultant to Detroit automakers on hot rods, was dumbfounded
by recent auction prices for rare muscle cars.

"They're selling for more than $300,000," he says. "One sold
(recently) for $240,000. That's stupid. They wore out 40 years
ago."

Contributing: James R. Healey


Article Here
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Old May 13th, 2004, 02:19 PM   #3
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Im kinda torn on this issue. Yes, muscle cars are back with a vengence. Yes, lots more people are buying them again, and yes thats pushing old prices up. But are these "fast and the furious" type of muscle car fans? Are they buying hemi's because they see TV ads and think its cool? Do half these people even know what they are shelling out $75,000+ for other then the fact its a old original hemi?

And GTO's too. I wonder how many people go buy an origanal first year GTO, pay $50,000 because its restored, and have no idea the chevy 350 in it isen't the original pontiac 389. Who knows

I can only hope its a REAL revival and everyone who gets into it stays into it after the commercials stop......
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