he world of muscle cars is a complicated one. With so many factors, from horsepower to transmission type to whether or not the car has been modified, it never ceases to amaze me just how much more there is to know about a car than just its model year and manufacturer.
Knowing these facts beforehand will help you save time and money when investing in a used or new muscle car, so be sure to read on!
1. Know Your Options
I know you want a car to get in and go, but don’t spend a fortune on a car that doesn’t have all the features you want. When buying a car, I recommend going with what you know, or at least what you’re used to if you’re not sure what kind of your ideal muscle car is.
To start off with, knowing the options will help narrow down your search for specific features that aren’t listed or aren’t listed at all. Make sure to double-check that the options are available on the vehicle before sending an email asking about them!
2. Know Your Budget
I know it’s tempting, but don’t settle for a muscle car with no options when you can have all the options for less! Be sure to go over the cost of the vehicle when looking at buying used or new, especially if you plan on keeping it long-term. Be sure to take into account how much things like oil changes and tire replacement will cost since these are things that won’t get cheaper if your car lasts forever.
3. Know Your Skill Level
This is something I struggle with myself, but also something that comes up in circles of people who buy muscle cars regularly. People often ask me about buying or rebuilding an old muscle car because they heard it was basically impossible. You can do this, but it does take some skill.
Along with knowing the market prices for parts, you’ll need to understand how to replace certain parts of your vehicle. This varies greatly depending on the car, so you’ll need to do some research before diving in. For example, if you’re looking at a ’68 Mustang Fastback, there are plenty of sites that will explain how to replace parts like an alternator or heater core. Do your research first!
4. Know Your History
This is crucial to make sure you’re getting a car that’s been well-maintained for all of its life. Knowing the history is important whether you intend to use it on the street or on a race track. Check on things like previous accidents and repairs before buying, and bring the car in to be inspected by a third party if possible.
Make sure to check for things like rust, especially if you plan on racing the muscle cars. Rust-free cars are much more valuable in general, and knowing whether your potential purchase has rust will help determine whether or not it’s a good purchase.
5. Know Your Engine
I’m sure it comes as no surprise that engine size is important for any muscle car, whether it’s a new or used one. Smaller engines usually don’t have the same amount of horsepower, and this means you’re losing power in your car. It can provide some extra torque and performance for certain models, but these types of engines put more stress on your engine.
Knowing what kind of engine you’ll be getting is important since they often sell better than larger engines and often cost more to repair/replace when needed. If you’re looking at buying a small-block Chevy (or other Chevy), know that it will probably be harder to find parts for when your engine goes down in the future.
6. Know What You Want
You may be ready to invest in a classic muscle car like a ’69 or ’70 Mustang, but make sure you understand what you want the car for before buying! The market is full of people who don’t want to pay for maintenance, and there are tons of great cars out there that need maintenance. Not everyone has the time or money for this, so be sure to consider all factors.
7. Understand Your Budget
This is a problem that keeps cropping up in my advice sections over and over again. You’ve probably heard that muscle cars are expensive to maintain, and there’s an abundance of evidence supporting this fact. Be sure to take this into account when you decide your budget! The market prices for everything can change over time, but maintenance will always be the same.
8. Understand that they’re Cars
I know it sounds like an obvious tip, but you’d be surprised how many people forget this fact when buying a car. Muscle cars are just cars, and they need to be treated like any other car if you want them to last long enough to pay for themselves.
They break down just like every other vehicle on the road, and that means that if something breaks while you’re driving, you should pull over immediately. If you’re driving a muscle car, there’s no driving to get somewhere, so that means that the car is your responsibility. It’s not just a “classic car” or “old car” that can just get repaired and driven afterward.
9. Know that they’re Collectibles
Finally! One of the most common questions I get is: “What should I do with my old muscle car?” This is a tough question; once you start looking for your favorite cars, you’ll immediately see thousands of people who want them too! Don’t be like them, and make sure to research classic muscle cars before starting your search.
If you’re looking for a collector’s item, make sure to know what they go for in the market. I’d also recommend getting a nice car cover or garage to secure your investment when not in use.
10. Know that they’re everything Else
Even if you only care about how much your vehicle will be worth if you decide to sell it, it’s important to remember that muscle cars are everything but typical. They’ll bring drama and excitement to your life, and if you decide to go racing with them, you’ll be part of something special! Take the time to enjoy this hobby before (and after) buying your first muscle car.
11. Get a Test Drive
You’ve done your research, and you’ve decided to put money down on your car. Please do your research, and make sure it’s right for you! You may need to modify or customize that vehicle to make it more efficient for yourself. This is a great time to do some training before you take on a modern muscle car, as different vehicles will have different types of performance characteristics.
Test-driving an old muscle car doesn’t mean that you’re absolutely going to buy it. You can still go test-drive any model of car and see how it handles, but if you find something you like right away, I’d recommend going home and saving up for a few months before buying.
12. Get a Pro Opinion
If you’re planning to modify or customize your vehicle, you’ll want to get an opinion from someone with experience. If you’re just looking at buying one for the collection, I’d recommend investing in some books on the topic and doing some research on your own.
You can still get some great advice when you’re looking for a car that’s already been modified, and don’t forget about this option if you’re looking for a new car.
13. Get a Good Car Cover
One of the biggest secrets to keeping the condition of your car great is to keep things clean and dry. This might sound basic, but it pays off all the time for older vehicles. If you don’t drive your car in the rain or snow very often, then a cover might be the best investment that you can make!
14. Be Prepared For Repairs
It’s best to be prepared for anything that comes up. You never know when your car might need a tune-up or some new fluids. It’s important to keep up with your car, even if it costs more than you want to spend!
As long as you’re careful and take the necessary precautions, you’ll end up having a great time both on the road and off of it!