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The Hemi

Paul Duchene September 13, 2022 All Feature Vehicles

The second or third most powerful handgun in the world

It’s comforting to see that average muscle cars are affordable again. They were originally aimed at working folks back in 1964, when the Pontiac GTO crammed the biggest engine into the smallest body in which it would fit.

Speculators jumped on board in 2005-2007 and pushed Hemis into seven figures, but it meant little to Joe Public, polishing his 327 ‘67 Camaro on Saturday. He hoped the rising tide would lift all boats, and it wasn’t until October 2008 that it became clear that low tide would strand everything just as readily.

Joe still had his Camaro, and if he didn’t lose his job, he waited for the rebound. He didn’t have $30,000 for a restoration, and he was too busy to do it himself. However, as evidenced by Scottsdale auctions result in January, a number of dealers and speculators did have disposable income in those years. This year they cut their losses, and some excellent second-tier cars sold for reasonable prices.

Barrett-Jackson remains the forum for American Muscle and many of their 1,599 lots sold fell into that category, either as genuine Hemi, COPO or Yenko models, upgraded Tributes (original 318 cars that are now 440 wannabes). Meanwhile Resto-mods on 22-inch dubs looked like 140-pound High School Seniors wearing size 13 Air Jordans, and brought some outlandish sums.

These might not be the best of the best, but the time was right to move them along at the Scottsdale auctions this year. The time is now for great deals on affordable second-tier cars.

I came late to Barrett-Jackson from Bonhams, RM, Gooding and Silver. The first three seldom have muscle cars. Checking the full B-J results after watching a series of Mopar muscle cars cross the block, it was clear that many cars sold for less than the cost of restoration.

For example:

  • 1974 Dodge Charger 360 4-speed Magnum, condition 1, $28,600.
  • 1971 Dodge Challenger R/T 383 auto, condition 2+, $33,000.
  • 1968 Plymouth Road Runner, 383 4-speed, condition 2, $29,700
  • 1970 Dodge Super Bee, 383 auto, condition 2, $33,000
  • 1968 Plymouth GTX, 440 auto, condition 2, $34,100
  • 1972 Plymouth GTX, 440 4-speed, condition 1, one of 219, $46,200

I found these results generally applicable across GM and Ford lots too, apart from the top flight Yenkos, COPOs, Mach Nines, Boss 302s and so on.

Not even the One Percent cars are what they used to be. A matching-numbers 1970 Chevelle SS LS6 454 4-speed convertible in 1- condition sold for $225,500 at RM. By my count, that’s about a third of what it would have brought in the glory days. Perhaps it’s time to go shopping?


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