Few vehicles are more iconic than classic American muscle cars. Sure, classic cars don't offer the same level of refinement and performance as most contemporary sports cars, but that doesn't matter — there's something undeniably soulful about a high-displacement carbureted V8 engine roaring as you floor the throttle on an open road.
The problem is that classic muscle cars are several decades old, so they've seen more than their fair share of wear and tear. To avoid getting stuck with a lemon that's been cobbled together by previous owners, you have to go over the car with a fine-tooth comb before you make a purchase.
Go Over the Exterior from Bumper to Bumper
Start off by checking the condition of exterior body. Unlike contemporary cars that use a lot of plastic panels, muscle cars are made almost entirely of metal. While an all-metal body makes them sturdy, it also means that body panels are prone to rust.
Examine all of the body panels in a brightly-lit environment. Look for bubbles forming under the paint, which is a telltale sign of surface rust. Go around the car, tapping the exterior panels firmly with your fingers. You should hear a metallic thud every time you do so. If you instead hear a muted plasticky thud, that's a sign that rust damage has been repaired with body filler and painted over.
Thoroughly Check the Frame
Frame rust is even worse than body rust because it can compromise the structural integrity of the car. Bring a floor jack and jack stands with you so you can raise the muscle car and slide underneath. Use a flashlight to illuminate all the nooks and crannies of the frame and reveal any rusted sections.
Additionally, keep an eye out for welds. If a frame starts to rust through, it can sometimes be salvaged by cutting out the rusted portions and welding in new sections of metal. However, if the welds aren't performed properly, they can become structurally unsound over time. Check any welds you find throughout the frame for signs of cracking.
See What Kind of Engine Is Under the Hood
Most classic muscle cars you find today won't have the original drive train under the hood. After all, it's pretty uncommon for a high-performance V8 engine to last for several decades. Enthusiasts will often pull V8 engines from newer models and swap them into their muscle cars. Alternatively, brand new carbureted crate engines can still be purchased from manufacturers and retrofitted into muscle cars.
The problem with engine swaps is that it's almost impossible to tell what kind of engine you're getting by merely glancing at the engine's exterior. Luckily, you don't have to take the seller's word for it. Manufacturers stamp the sides of their engine blocks with a casting number to make them easily identifiable. Pop the hood and shine your flashlight up and down the engine block to locate the casting number. Look up the casting number online to find out exactly what kind of engine you're getting.
Get a VIN History Report
Before you commit to buying the car, thoroughly review its VIN history report through qualified sources, such as Instavin. Even if it looks and drives perfectly, there may be lingering problems hiding beneath the surface due to previous accidents. Furthermore, accidents reduce the resale value of vehicles, especially when it comes to collectable muscle cars. If the car was in an accident, the history report will tell you the details of the damage that occurred. Use extra care when scrutinizing the portions of the car that were damaged to ensure that the repairs were done properly.
In addition to being a helpful tool for buyers, classic car VIN history reports are interesting to read — they tell you where the car has been and who the previous owners were. You may find that your muscle car has journeyed all over the country over the course of several decades. If you decide to purchase it, your name and location will be added at the bottom of the list, further adding to its unique heritage.Share
27 June 2016
After I got a job at my uncle's car dealership, I realized that the majority of my job was going to be detailing car interiors. I was a little concerned about what would be entailed during the process, but I knew that I could learn. I started focusing on making things impeccably clean, and it was incredible to see how much cleaner the cars were that I worked on as opposed to some of my friends and family members who also worked there. This blog is a vast collection of tips and tricks that relate to cars, and some of my favorites focus on car cleanliness.