I swear I’m not trying to turn this into an all-Pontiac, all-the-time blog, but just try finding a first-year Firebird for this kind of money that isn’t more iron oxide than steel at this point. I don’t care that it’s a 6-cylinder car, I don’t care that it has full-width hubcaps and whitewalls, and I don’t care that it’s green (although I love that late-60s shade of emerald green), if any one part of this ad – the condition, the mileage, the ownership history – is legit, the car is a steal at that price. Which means, of course, that it probably is a scam or a fake ad. But it can’t hurt to dream a little.
Author Archives: themagicboltbox
I mentioned in last week’s post that I was excluding the ’73-’77 Grand Prix (and Monte Carlo) from my wishlist, but prior to those years the Grand Prix went through an interesting up and down existence and produced some very cool and interesting cars. You could almost think of them as the GTO’s older brother.
The Grand Prix nameplate was introduced in 1962 as part of the seemingly continual reshuffling the Pontiac division did between the Ventura, Catalina, Bonneville, and other cars and trim lines. Built on GM’s full-size B-body chassis, the cars got progressively larger and less muscular through 1968 before a clean-sheet redesign on a smaller, modified A-body frame in 1969. There was a one-year-only convertible model in 1967 and of course higher-performance variants over the years with larger engines and manual transmissions. One constant through these years was a series of unique front end and grille treatments and one of the best dashboard designs of the decade. Check out the woodgrain and aviation-style gauges in this ’65:
For the classic car shopper looking at the ’62-’68 cars, the 1962s are typically leaps and bounds more expensive than everything after, except the 1967 convertibles or anything with a manual transmission. That means I’d probably be looking for a ’63-’66 car. The redesigned ’68-’72 cars seem to be valued about equally, with the exception of the high-performance versions.
As far as I’m concerned, I would divide them as follows: the ’62-’64 cars are probably the prettiest, with squared-off proportions and a lean, low look:
The ’65-’66 editions are a little chubby looking, with bulging (and corrosion generating) quarter panels, though it must be said they have a fantastic grille and the aforementioned wonderful dashboard design:
The ’67-’68 cars are my least favorite, as they really started looking overweight and bulbous; there’s a reason the car was totally redesigned after this series. That said, those hidden headlights are fantastic, and the 1967 cars had some of the best looking taillights of the era. I wouldn’t kick one out of the garage:
The ’69-’72 cars would be my second pick after the ’62-’64 models, although the single-headlight ’71-’72 front end is a little funky looking. They’re still big cars – some of the marketing materials of the day bragged that they had Pontiac’s longest hood ever – but they look great in dark colors:
So what does that mean for me? Well, I’ve added a ’62-’72 Grand Prix search to my usual Craigslist queries, and hoping to stumble across one of the early cars in my price range. That might be a tough ask, but the search is half the fun, right?
I’ve seen this Cougar a number of times in my various Craigslist searches, and I keep coming back to it. These cars are basically gussied-up Mustangs, with a cool electric-shaver front end and sequential taillights. This one is in a great color and looks solid enough for the money, and it’s even got the perfect “ran when parked” bullet point. I think you’d be best to leave the body as-is, jam in a thunderous, rumbling big-block, and drive the snot out of it, General Mayhem-style. Of course, such grand plans won’t be simple – I’ve looked at this ad several times, and every time I start to think “maybe,” I get to the interior picture and get all itchy. It’s not that bad, but something about the stained door panels and multi-colored carpeting gives me the heeby-jeebies. There is a Little Tree hanging from the mirror, so it’s got that going for it.
Way back in 2011 I wrote a post called My Next Old Car – Buick Grand National, and I created a separate category for those posts as I assumed I would make it a series. I never did, but I still have that mental list of old cars I’d like to own someday. Now that I’m actually thinking about my next project/classic/money pit, it’s time to revive the idea.
GM redesigned the mid-size A-body (Chevrolet Chevelle/Malibu, Pontiac LeMans, Olds Cutlass, and Buick Century/Regal) line for 1973, and that body style continued with minor updates through the 1977 model year. There were variations including wagons and 4-door sedans, and the Chevy Monte Carlo and Pontiac Grand Prix of this period were built on a similar chassis. I’m excluding them from this conversation, just because I don’t like them.
Like most of these things things seem to go, the earlier cars are generally better looking; as the 70s wore on, the cars got more “luxurious” and brougham’d out. Personally, I don’t care for the Oldsmobile versions, although they were the most popular during this period. I think they have the most overwrought styling and the dashboards are horrid, although the ’73 models aren’t too bad. The Chevelle, never the best looking of the bunch, got ugly in a hurry with the ’76 update. Buick was more restrained, and it seems you don’t see as many of them now. Of course, I’m partial to the Pontiac editions, though they are a little “beaky” in accordance with the division’s overall styling direction at the time. The GTO name was applied to the 1973 LeMans for one year only, and the shovel-nosed Grand Am was produced from ’73-’75, similar to the Chevelle Laguna S3 from the same period.
The styling is subjective to be sure, and I don’t think you can necessarily call them pretty. But they are handsome in a very 70s masculine way, like Burt Reynolds in a tuxedo with a ruffled shirt. The biggest problem is finding one in a decent color in good shape. The disco-era color palette includes far too much “Ken Doll Beige” and “I’m Drunk on Schlitz Green,” and the federally-mandated truck bumpers don’t help matters.
Anyway, back in high school I saw the 1974 Pontiac LeMans shown below in Car Craft magazine and fell in love. The wheels are dated now, but the rest of the details are still pretty spot-on. My dad had a mid-70s LeMans before I was born – I’m told with perfect period accessories like rear window louvers and air shocks – so perhaps it’s genetic.
That car has been bouncing around in my head ever since, along with a few others that I’ve seen over the years, like this silver ’73 GTO. Dig the dog-dishes:
And this similar white model (although I always think white makes these cars look like Casper the friendly ghost).
I know I said the Chevelle wasn’t the best looking, but they can look good if done right:
This ’73 Chevelle brochure photo has always looked perfect to me, and I’ll begrudgingly admit that they have the best taillight design. (courtesy http://www.oldcarmanualproject.com/)
Lastly, a local classic car dealership has this mint ’73 Buick for sale in a great color combo (and out of my price range, I might add):
So it goes without saying that I’m searching for a needle-in-a-haystack ’73-only GTO, ’73-’75 Grand Am, ’77-only Can Am, or (most likely) a ’73-’75 LeMans that isn’t rusty, runs, and has a complete interior in my price range. I don’t think I’ll add rear window louvers or air shocks to mine, and unfortunately the lovely and otherwise forgiving Mrs. Magicboltbox forbids me from growing a period-correct mustache.
One thing I’ve learned is that there isn’t necessarily a right way and a wrong way to sell a car, but there are certain things that make it easier. Two good examples would be including more than two photos and writing more than two sentences of description. Seems pretty straightforward, right? Sometimes I think people are worried that Craigslist charges by the letter, but then I remember that Craigslist is free. So I really can’t explain this ad, other than to say it looks like a really nice car in a great period color combination, has the desirable 8-lug wheels, is local to me, and is just far enough outside of my theoretical price range to be really frustrating. Of course, the fact that it probably wouldn’t fit in my garage is a far more minor concern.
So I know I said in June that I’d try to post more often, and obviously that hasn’t happened. No time like the present to fix that!
Since the last post about my 1967 Pontiac Tempest in <gulp> 2014, I installed a new exhaust system and repaired the turn signal switch, then decided I’d gone about as far as I wanted to with the car. I had my heart set on a Buick Grand National, so I sold the Tempest in 2016 and started searching in earnest. Funny thing though – in the few months it took me to sell the Tempest, the price of decent (read: not totally clapped out) GNs seemed to go up about 30%, pushing most of them out of my price range. After looking at a couple that I could afford but were either total hack jobs or needed more work than I was willing to do, I stumbled upon this 1986 Oldsmobile 442. I’d never seen one in this color combination before, and since I’d never owned that particular flavor of GM G-body, I bought it in January 2017.
It had some crazy ownership history supposedly involving a prison sentence and an unpaid storage bill, and it had been repainted by the guy selling it, who owned a body shop. It initially came from Texas, which explains the somewhat faded interior, but most importantly it is rust-free with clean floors and framerails – a rarity for a T-top car. I replaced the torque converter solenoid (giving myself yet another ATF bath in the process), and drove it quite a bit the first summer. Other than a battery and new cables, a radiator, hoses, thermostat, and a tune-up, I’ve not really done much else to it.
Which brings us to the present, and I have to say I’m a little bored. I had every intention of redoing the suspension and lowering the car, along with replacing the faded carpet and cleaning up the interior a bit, but I think it might be time to move on. I’ve (temporarily) scratched my 80’s itch, and I find myself spending more time trolling Craigslist lately. Where do I go next though?
The amount of Craigslist trolling that I do on a given day has diminished somewhat, but that doesn’t mean I’m not still looking at things I can’t afford and don’t have room for anyway. Case in point is this 1949 Oldsmobile. I’m generally not that into cars of this era, but this one drew me in. Maybe it’s the cool blue-gray color with contrasting red wheels, maybe it’s the hangdog expression conjured by those turn signal extensions below the headlights, or maybe it’s because I recently watched L.A. Confidential and want to drive this around while wearing a baggy suit and a fedora. Either way, it’s a looker, with those great pontoon fenders, fastback profile, and minimal chrome (for the era). It should also move nicely with the 303 V8 – I agree with the seller that it’s the first muscle car, not to mention the inspiration for arguably the first rock and roll song. I’d lose the sun visor, but other than that I’d have no problem cruising this one.