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Hagerty
Hagerty Employee

Know these 4 common muscle car restoration gaffes to save yourself a costly mistake

Do you find yourself lost when trying to learn concours-caliber details about cars? Are you filled with self-doubt when checking out a car for purchase, especially from afar? You're not alone, fellow enthusiast! But rather than focus on the nitty gritty that's out of your league, why don't we hone on the things that are easy to discern and go from there?
https://www.hagerty.com/media/buying-and-selling/common-muscle-car-restoration-gaffes-noticing-these...
96 REPLIES 96
buellerdan
Instructor

Is it me or does the rear wheel seem not centered in the wheel opening on the blue 442?
OMPguy
Intermediate Driver

You “hone” cutting tools. You focus by “homing in” like guided missile.
BMD4800
Gearhead

Hone - the final stage of machining, sharpening, etc. precise refinement.

Home in - taking a larger idea and breaking it down to the core concept.

Dictionary says the former is interchangeable with the latter, but not the inverse.

Now, get that concours overspray on properly.
69goatconv
New Driver

Pontiac engine colors are often mispainted. Pontiac used several different blues throughout the fifties, sixties, & seventies (sometimes changing shades mid year). I've even seen high dollar restorations from non Pontiac shops that painted the Pontiac engine with a Chevy color....
Snailish
Instructor

Add a layer to the can of worms with Canadian spec cars where GM's "predictable engine colours" seldom matched what was going on in the USA.

 

(and pre-70s Canadian Pontiacs often had Chevy engines in them).

19Poncho67
Pit Crew

I own a 1967 Firebird, and will never have an issue with authenticity. That's because it is for enjoyment, not investment. 455, 5 speed, nice seats and steering wheel. Different A/C, alternator, HVAC controls, radio....you get the picture. By the way, my first car was an early 65 Mustang. When I traded it for the Firebird, I was amazed at how much better the Bird handled.
DallasHearn
New Driver

Oops. Looks like a got misrouted over to BAT when I was trying to read Hemings.
okfoz
Advanced Driver

Buick used "430-4" Decals on the Valve covers for 67-69.
OkJustOneMore
Intermediate Driver

Good to know about the a/c 383s. Never heard that.
Gary_Bechtold
Specialist

I see the points of purists wanting the car as it came from the factory. However I do see why some people may want to do things that the factory never did in terms of decals, badges, etc. having said that putting Cobra badges on a non Cobra Mustang is wrong for instance. It does make it harder for someone that is looking for a model to find an actual model versus a car that was modded to be like or look like a different model. (Like fake GTO's etc.)
DUB6
Specialist

Oh, here we go again, picking on the fake GTOs!  😋

Snailish
Instructor

Bedazzle your car, cover it in Z/28 decals, whatever. If you chip off some resale value that is your choice.

 

It's those trying to pass off something as an original Z/28, GTO and such that is the problem, not the cloning.

 

I love late 60s Pontiacs. Unless it was a stellar original example I would very likely swap a GTO enduro nose onto a 68-72 onto a Tempest or LeMans. Me, personally I would put the LeMans script in the spot GTO is supposed to go in the grill opening as that amuses me. But I wouldn't put Cobra decals on a Mustang. Not sure what that says about me.

 

If someone always wanted a GTO and their way of getting it was a clone, thumbs up to them. Ditto for the replica cobra crowd and so on. Live the best version of your dream that you can.

MrKnowItAll
Advanced Driver

Wide whitewalls on anything 1962 and newer.... except '62 Studebaker and Imperials, the last holdouts.
Bevelfan
Pit Crew

Good to know someone else notices that!
DarrylZ
New Driver

I'm in the process of re-restoring a 67 GTO that was finished 19 years ago. Biggest problem here in Florida is rust, especially on nuts bolts and washers. For that reason, this time around I'm using much more stainless hardware. I'm shooting for #2, rather than concourse and wonder how much this decision will affect value and judging scores. I'm not replacing any "Crown" bolts but everything else is fair game.
Racko
Pit Crew

So removing a decal from an air cleaner cover is costly? Had no idea, thanks for the heads up.
Diego
Advanced Driver

@Racko, you missed the point of the article. Nonetheless, I hope you enjoyed it.
oldmustangs49
Intermediate Driver

If you are selling your restored vehicle, you need to be careful what you say about it in print. I worked for a dealer who advertised an older Ford as being "restored to original condition." A person bought it, took it home, and later sued the Dealer and won because the court decided a car could not be restored to original condition. Brings to mind the old saying, "They are only original once."
I see a lot of high-end muscle cars with poverty hubcaps. It is my recollection that the Chevy SS, Ford XL, and others all had spinner caps as standard equipment. The lightweights probably didn't follow that.
I have a hard time figuring out what a "Survivor" is. I don't see rust buckets are survivors or cars that have been repainted as being survivors.
JGMan
Intermediate Driver

"Survivors" the new class we can all argue about next! But this seems like a good place to insert something I found to be humorous (and saddening) the other day: An ad for what looked like a really well-preserved 1968 El Camino. The seller stated it was a rust-free "survivor" car that only needed some interior TLC like armrests and a cracked dashboard (seemed likely from the pics). But then he boasted in his ad that just a month ago, he brought it cross-country (to our rust-prone North East are where survivors cars are even harder to discover) and quickly replaced the meek 305 SBC with a much peppier 350, so now it is allegedly great fun to drive ... Until the driver is embarrassed at a stoplight after being antagonized by a teenager in, well, just about any car made by Honda or Toyota (to add insult to injury) in the last 10 years with a V6... So now this beautiful, very original Chevrolet that had made it 53-54 years without being Cosbied, is still not going to win any drag races, still has a SBC under the hood AND he ended its life forever as a "survivor car," and its full appreciation potential. What's worse is, I think that was his business model.
MARK400
Detailer

Correct pedigree in high dollar restorations bring high value to the seller or owner and recognition to the restoration shop that did the work while less than stellar restorations still bring money to the seller by inexperienced buyers that need to know the specifics of the vehicle they are purchasing.
Islandtinman59
Pit Crew

I like that others have noticed the added decals on Pontiacs Air Cleaners it bothers me. Another problem is 1966 did not have Rally II wheels on Pontiac GTO they should have the Bud Rally or Caps
DeeJayNOLA_007
Pit Crew

One of the biggest arguments I used to get into folks who are car folks and say they know it all was when I had a late 60s Chevy Camaro Z28 302 in my 1953 IH Travelall most would argue that Ford was the ONLY company that had a 302. My response would generally be, "Yes. Ford's Boss 302 and up is the most well known 302 but not the ONLY 302 small block ever created. I'd even go as far as to pull up images of the late Camaro Z28s that had this package. In the end, I'd just shake my head and walk away. Because every car guy (over 70) is sure that there information is correct.
DUB6
Specialist

Wasn't the 302 originally developed to run in the Can Am Camaros?

DUB6
Specialist

Sorry, I meant Trans Am, not Can Am!

Swamibob
Technician

Yes, you are correct. Although a lot of guys were overboring the 283 blocks to 4 inch bores to create their own 302 engines in the early sixties. A lot of the 283 blocks had really thick walls to allow that large overbore. That may have been where Ford got the idea for over boring their 289 engine to the 302 size.
Buzz
Detailer

You’re (shockingly) correct about the blue A/C engines in 70 Road Runner and Super Bee. Note, this was still the N code 383 Super Commando/Magnum engine. And the blue 330 HP motors didn’t just go into those two cars. All 383 High Perf. cars with A/C got the blue 330 HP including Charger, Challenger and Barracuda. That also includes cars with SE, 500 and Gran Coupe trim.
Diego
Advanced Driver

You're talking about 1970. And, truth be told, the 335-horse 383 was not advertised for the Charger and Charger 500. If you bought a 383 stick, Chrysler slipped in the 335-horse engine but it was still advertised as 330.

It's a can of worms that needed its own story, if not more word count.
milo2021
Intermediate Driver

Thankfully I was never drawn into this originality contest although I respect anyone who does. I do what I like on my 69 Camaro although I like to use original stock parts whenever possible . But I have owned it since 1972 and it's not a Z/28. But I will not prohibit my desire to make it look like one just for me. When investment concerns enter the decision it loses my interest.
Rixot
New Driver

A common thing to see is on the early second generation Camaros, 70-73 is the swapping out of. the full front bumper and replacing it with the RS split bumper, leaving the banana parking lights there in all their glory. Much easier than replacing the full front clip, and still looks somewhat okay for non purists. I noticed on a episode of Counting Cars they took a quick look at a 70 Camaro that had the bumper swap but just called it an RS anyway.
Piper
Intermediate Driver

I have seen many Z/28 Camaro's ruined (in my eyes) with the incorrect application of stripes.
For some reason if the stripes are too far apart, too close, don't go over the rear spoiler, aren't rounded at the ends or run too far out on the nose it sticks out like a sore thumb.
TRUBOSS
New Driver

I've always wondered why when restoring a car many people go to big lengths to get original parts and if not replace them with reproductions with the correct part numbers, decals, paint etc..
But when it comes engine blocks, if not the original, you replace it with the correct one with part number and proper date codes for your cars build, Why is the stamping of your vin number on the block to match your car is such a taboo? Isn't that considered part of the restoration? Using NOS parts are not the original part either. Can someone explain to me why an original block is worth so much more than a correct replacement?
Snailish
Instructor

Well I can't think of a situation where a NOS block would have your VIN stamped on it. Lots of frames have the VIN or part VIN stamped on them too. Stamping a frame would be frowned upon by some for sure.

 

I would suggest the above is about representation: stamping a number on something could be construed as faking it to deceive. 

 

A NOS grill on the other hand likely has no stampings/labels different than the one your vehicle came with. The only clue you have swapped it might be if the vehicle is in rough worn shape aside from a really, really nice grill.

 

Original block adding value is really only a thing in the high end muscle cars and such where you can actually prove via factory paperwork that said numbered block really was the factory installed one. Pre 70s it is really hit and miss which vehicles you can actually 100% verify the engine was the correct one. If it isn't something you can prove with paperwork and absoluteness (rather than a date range) I wouldn't pay a dime extra for that story.

 

So people pay for that pedigree. The fallacy is the auction shows making the public believe # matching engines matter on a beat condition early 60s 4 door sedan  --or even my not-special-specifications 69 Mustang Coupe if we are being honest.*

 

*with allowance for the recent "survivor fad/hype" giving a value boost to original vehicles with provenance.

77GL
Detailer

After 50+ years and a category of vehicle that led extremely rough lives when new, you are better off spending the time finding a babied original than trying to restore a vehicle that has already seen multiple molestations.
DUB6
Specialist

After 50+ years, how many "babied originals" do you think there are out there, realistically?  I think SEVEN - and Wayne Carini and Jay Leno own four of those, so good luck finding and buying one of the remaining three!  😋

Prico53
Pit Crew

Boring article! Too specific, only useful (maybe) to 0.00001% of Hagerty’s readers. Thank you.
Diego
Advanced Driver

Can you show me the metrics that show the percentage?

Otherwise, look at the comments here. Has resonated with many. Sometimes it's simply better to turn the page if you're not interested.
FormerCav
Intermediate Driver

yep. 69 Charger had a 383-2v, 383-4v = 330 HP and finally the 383-4v Magnum. Only the magnum was painted orange.
Diego
Advanced Driver

There was no 383 Magnum for the Charger.

https://www.hamtramck-historical.com/images/dealerships/DealershipDataBook/1969/69_Charger0011.jpg

But order a 4-speed without AC, and Dodge would have installed the Magnum.
gbvette62
Pit Crew

It always amazes me how many first generation Z/28's, and 70-72 SS Chevelle's are out there with the hood and trunk stripes painted incorrectly. I've seen them too long, too short, too wide and too narrow. There's no excuse for it either, since there are templates available to paint them properly.
Hacksaw
Intermediate Driver

Just a note not on this subject. On my 64 Corvette I wanted to get an AC check up. Went to a local shop and the owner said, "we don't work on old cars". He recommended another shop so I went there. Same story, That owner said that they would not work on old cars. He stated, "I can plug my scanner in on newer cars and write $800 tickets all day long, with old cars I have to fiddle around trying to find whats wrong". I was pretty shocked. I am thinking some of our mechanics today no longer have the ability to troubleshoot without an electronic device to tell them what's wrong. Fortunately, I found a shop that prefers old cars.
DUB6
Specialist

@Hacksaw - IMHO, you misidentified those first two guys: you called them "mechanics".  🙄

Snailish
Instructor

I'm fortunate that there are a few mechanics in our area willing and capable of working on carb, points, etc. vehicles.

 

I'm a great believer in "marrying" my vehicles to a mechanic or at least a shop.

OnlyMe
Pit Crew

Me thinks the discussion on accurate restoration represents 2 segments of our hobby.

Those that prize originality & those that enjoy these cars as cars. Both are valid! I prefer(ed) cute blond surfer gals during my dating years while another guy preferred the exotic Italian, dark hair look...we both liked pretty girls.

I purchased a '65 Corvette, Top Flight trailer queen with 50 miles since the body-off restoration. Absolutely gorgeous, but a lousy driver since little money was spent on that. I spent thousands devaluing it by making it drive like the sports car it was.

I now drive a gorgeous looking (but very slightly non-oem appearing) FUN car.
Edwardsg
Intermediate Driver

Always interesting to see how easy it is to add imperfection to a restoration. Sometimes sticker location can be based on build plant.
Found out my Judge had never had the rear bumper off. Turns out some rubber pieces kind of tossed in were unique to where it was built.
I guess if you want to spend the money on a restoration to perfection, you better verify those doing it are as knowledgeable as those that would judge it.
Ebarnowl
New Driver

I’ve had GTOs for awhile, attended several national shows and decided to sit close as concours cars rolled up to be judged. Yes, they drove through judging! A beautiful 67 GTO pulled up, the judge was about 1/2 the age of the owner. One T3 headlight was incorrect, it was a 66, not a 67. But here’s where things started to get heated. The judge claimed the overspray was in incorrect on the fender under the hood. He explained that at the particular factory where this GTO was made, they made the mistake of over spraying in this particular area. I chuckled inside, as being a manufacturing engineer, I thought to myself, so you are saying that they made a mistake, but consistently made that mistake with precision. The owner asked the judge if he was present at the factory when his car was being being over-sprayed incorrectly. The gold concours GTOs sure show some fine workmanship, but if I build another, it’ll be my ‘Day two’ 67 recreated. It’ll have less rust and TriPower. Plus better brakes, because after few consecutive light to light, street races, stopping for the next red light didn’t work out well back then.
OnlyMe
Pit Crew

Yeah, because of silly things like that is why I don't show my cars. I can however see the attraction for a owner.

 

Think it boils down to how our brain reacts to things. Mine gets all tingly as I shift gears, listen to the sounds, smile & wave back to folks & try to drive very safely so my face stays away from that beautiful steering wheel & dash.

 

A person who does the show route might get turned on by researching the proper parts to use, making sure to apply the correct over-spray, etc. Smiling & talking to the people who admire his/her car.

 

Both types should be experiencing fun & joy out of the game. If not, they're doing something wrong.

 

I don't include those that do this for the money, thinking of the profit they might make. They don't get my respect.

 

 

tbm3fan
Pit Crew

Speaking of restoration gaffes there is more than one in the Pontiac decal on the air cleaner. How about the wrong air cleaner for a restoration topped off by the stupid clear plastic fuel filter up over the intake.