Posts Tagged ‘Muscle car’

By Thomas Zizzo

Carmakers have figured out that bringing back retro styling to their designs is good for business, too bad they don’t feel that way about the pricing.

Once Ford started doing well with its retro-styled Mustang in 2005, Dodge quickly got on board by bringing back the Challenger, looking much like it did back in 1970, then Chevy with the new Camaro, and for 2012, the VW Beetle finally got a new look, bringing back a little bit of that old vintage Bug style, but what made some of these cars such huge hits back in the day was that they were somewhat affordable. Not so much now it seems:

  •                                        Inflation adjusted/new car price             Original price
  • 1965 Ford Mustang                        $16,938                                     $2,372                        six cylinder model
  • 2012 Ford Mustang                        $22,310                                                                      six cylinder model
  • 1969 Mustang Boss 302                  $21,991                                    $3,588
  • 2012 Mustang Boss 302                  $43,000
  • 1963 Corvette Convertible                $31,256                                   $4,252
  • 2012 Corvette Convertible               $55,000
  • 1970 Dodge Challenger RT              $18,178                                    $3,273
  • 2012 Dodge Challenger RT              $30,000                                                                         5.7L Hemi V8
  • 1967 Volkswagen Beetle                  $12,108                                    $1,798
  • 2012 Volkswagen Beetle                  $19,795
  • 1969 Chevy Camaro                        $16,714                                    $2,727                         base V-8(307 CI)
  • 2012 Chevy Camaro                        $23,280                                                                       base V-6 model

*inflation adjusted prices were calculated using the US Bureau of Labor Statistics CPI Inflation Calculator illustrating today’s buying power of decades old prices

In an obvious attempt to lure aging Baby Boomers who owned iconic muscle cars in the late 60’s when they were teenagers, carmakers have successfully brought back the right styling and performance, but at a hefty price. If you look at the original price of Ford’s ultra cool Boss 302 Mustang introduced in 1969 and adjust for inflation, you’ll see that it was far cheaper than the brand new one being re-introduced this year. True, you get a lot more car for your money than you did 43 years ago(a 1969 Boss 302 had about 290 horsepower, compared to the new one that has well over 400 horsepower)but is it worth double the original price? Look at the price of an old Corvette, it was far cheaper back then compared to what new ones cost today, but given how much cars have changed with technology and performance, is it fair to say they are now overpriced? I would argue yes, they’re overpriced.

Back in 2000, a brand new IBM Thinkpad laptop, with 64mb of RAM and a whopping 12 Gig hard drive-weighing in at less than 8 pounds, would have cost you in the neighborhood of $3,500, and that’s NOT an inflation adjusted price. Even a 17” MacBook Pro, with a 750 Gig hard drive and 4 Gigs of RAM will only cost you $2,500 today. A high-def TV purchased 6 years ago was almost triple the cost of one today, so why has the auto industry reversed this trend? It’s a fair question, I think, because cars made 40 years ago also contained a lot less plastic and other cheaply made components used today. If it’s a question of better technology, doesn’t that usually get cheaper as a market matures, much like it has for things like TVs and computers? Maybe it’s a labor cost, but minimum wage in 1969 was $1.60 an hour, or roughly $9.80 when adjusted for inflation. That means that workers most likely got paid more 40 years ago, coupled with the fact that a good part of the auto manufacturing process isn’t even done by humans today.

Auto manufacturers 40 years ago understood the value of a good deal, how else can you explain the fact that Ford sold more than a million Mustangs, yes, a million, by the second year of the popular car’s initial production run. Then there’s the fact that during the late 60’s, popular muscle cars started to appear with many options deleted, such as radios, power windows, AC, etc. Cheap performance was all that mattered, and as odd as it seams, those old cars with deleted options are now more valuable because of it. Even Pontiac’s iconic 1964 GTO, widely regarded as the first true muscle car, was marketed under the idea that you didn’t have to spend a ton of money to get great performance and styling. Even it’s name, GTO (Gran Turismo Omologato), was considered a flip of the middle finger to Ferrari, which incidentally would have cost as much as a new home in 1964. I know I’ve said it before, but there’s a reason the most produced cars in history were so successful; they were affordable.

It (Model-T) will be constructed of the best materials, by the best men to be hired, after the simplest designs that modern engineering can devise. But it will be so low in price that no man making a good salary will be unable to own one.” Henry Ford.


-Thomas Zizzo

Being a car enthusiast, you might say there are plenty of cars I would consider my ‘dream’ car. Of course, a 1970 Boss 429 Mustang will run me close to a quarter of a million dollars, but just because my dream car seems a little out of reach doesn’t mean other potential dream cars are that impossible to own.

Silver Shadow Rolls Royce

Built between 1965 and 1980, the Rolls Royce Silver Shadow has the classic look that just screams the highest level of quality and design that the British luxury car-maker is known for. You just can’t get a more luxurious car than a Rolls Royce, except for maybe a Bently, which is made by the same company. It’s safe to say any true auto enthusiast would dream of owning a Rolls, but many might not know it isn’t really that crazy to own one. Ok, so a new one will cost you as much-if not more-than my own personal dream car, but you can easily pick up an early 70’s model Silver Shadow for around $15K or less. That’s not bad considering the level of quality in which a Rolls Royce is produced. They are literally hand made. If you see wood on the dash, it’s REAL wood that the factory cut and varnished themselves. In an age of mass production with ultra-cheap labor, you can’t get anything better for an automobile at that price. Of course, a tune-up and/or replacement parts may cost you an arm and a leg.

1970's Silver Shadow Rolls Royce


Magnum PI Ferrari 308

If you grew up in the 1980’s like I did watching the rogue private investigator played by Tom Selleck cruising the backroads of Hawaii, you’ll remember one thing for sure-the red 308 Ferrari he drove. That iconic ride is so distinctly Ferrari and was once considered a dream car that only the well-off could own. Now, for between $25K to $40K, and a retro Detroit Tigers baseball hat, you too can look like Magnum PI cruising down the street. It’s arguably still not a cheap car, but it sure will get you noticed, and given the price for just about any other Ferrari, it would be considered an ‘entry-level’ car of its kind, and wouldn’t be a bad investment.


Ferrari 308


Porsche 944

Nothing says performance and style like a Porsche, but even old Porsches, except for maybe the 914, ok, and the 924, aren’t exactly cheap. Then there’s the 944, which if you remember from the iconic John Hughes film Sixteen Candles, the coolest guy in the movie (Jake Ryan) drove a red 944. For a long time I dreamed of picking up a date in a cool red Porsche like the one he drove in the movie, and now, that dream car will cost a whopping $5K or less. I couldn’t even get a classic Mustang for that-at least one that doesn’t need a total overhaul.

1986 Porsche 944


Lexus LS400

A 1995 Lexus LS400 was probably the most luxurious (LS stands for luxury sedan) Japanese car you could ever buy. With premium options, an LS400 could have had a sticker price of more than $40K, and why shouldn’t it, for that kind of money you got the reliability of a Toyota, but the luxury of a Cadillac. It was such a cool car that even Bill Gates drove one, making the Lexus the car to have if you wanted to be like Bill. But that was then and now, for less than $5K, you can own one of these comfortable and luxurious cars. I would say that out of all the cars I’m putting on this list, it would arguably be the best buy for the money. Back in the late 90’s, it was rumored that this very car was a status symbol for Microsoft employees, not just because Bill Gates drove one, but because it was also a really nice car.

Lexus LS400


Pontiac GTO 2005-06

The Pontiac GTO introduced in 1964 is widely regarding as being the first true muscle car. It’s aggressive styling and brute horsepower started a trend among American carmakers that would define an unforgettable era in automotive history.

Fast forward to 2004 with the reintroduction of the GTO. By now, American carmakers were long criticized for putting out cars that lacked the sleek styling of their European counterparts. The new GTO not only looked like a European sports car, but boasted big performance as well. The 2005/06 models got even better when GM replaced the LS1 motor with the more popular LS2 engine used in Corvettes, giving the GTO more than 400 horsepower and a 0 to 60 time of less than 5 seconds. The cool styling and strong performance made the car a big hit, but at a hefty price of well over $30K, ok, arguably that’s cheaper than a Corvette, but we are still talking about a two door sports car. Keeping in mind a 2006 Pontiac GTO is only 5 years old, you can easily pick one up for about $15K, not bad considering the LS2 engine by itself costs about that much.


2006 Pontiac GTO