Investment

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Going through all the mags and newsletters and sales instruments, it is confusing what the early Firebirds/TransAms are worth. I know the adages about things being worth what you can get, and that prices fluctuate
according to the condition and modifications, but if those of you who know the values had a chance to pick a Firebird/TA from a lineup of them in original condition, which would you pick? I guess I'm wondering which year and configuration would represent one of the best investments? I'm new to this breed having just gotten into my first Pontiac through a series of trades and adventures. Now, I'm studying, learning, and curious.
--
I owe much.
I have nothing.
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I ended up getting my '74 as a sort of investment. It's pretty plain except it's a 4-spd, and at some point it aquired t-tops. No a/c or power options. But then, I only paid $3000 for it, but I knew it wasn't a waste of the money I had to spend at the time. It was in good condition, but now I'm wanting to restore it with 115,000 on the clock. I've put about $2000 into it with a rebuild and an expendable tranny I put in since the original felt a little iffy (nice tight close-ratio M-21 that is worth what I paid for it the second I pull it out) and a clutch, but I still figure to come out ahead in the deal considering I've already rebuilt the engine and I will do most everything else myself, including rebuilding the original tranny and new paint (can strip it back down myself, if I discover I suck at paint). Will probably have a body shop check the unibody for true and patch the little rust and weld in SFCs first, but I'll do the clean up from there. In other words, I might have a $15,000 car in the end with $3000 up front, $2000 I've already put into it, about $4000 I know I'm going to put in, and who knows what else... Even if I spend more than the difference, it's a worth while investment for me as it's also a hobby I love and it doesn't have to be a liquid asset at all, and it's not like it just sits there and looks pretty. I've put 10,000+ miles on it since I bought it, and won't let it collect dust when I'm done. Just don't expect to buy a car and put a couple hundred into it and turn a profit is all I can say. Have fun and good luck. Let us know what you have, by the way...
--
I am not your rolling wheels
I am the highway
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Thank you for the response. It sounds as if you've got a plan laid out that will work for you. It's nice having a vehicle that appreciates instead of depreciates. What I have is a 1971 TransAm H.O. 455. It got an automatic, and everything is original. Even the seats are original upholstery and not a tear in any of them. The car has been hit in the right rear end from behind. It crunched up the right rear end, tweaked the trunk and ruined an otherwise great paint job. I don't know what procedure yet to follow in fixing it. I suspect, since it looks like a unibody, I will have to have it straightened back out with a ram of some type. Could be pricey, but that crunch in the rear is the only problem it's got. The engine hasn't been turned over in three or four years, and I guess it was running rough even then. I saw the car on the street about five years ago and I swear it made the pavement rumble. I'd like to get it back into that shape. The research I've done shows this could be a valuable automobile, and the reason for my question was that I cannot find more than one or two of them for sale in any of the online auctions and private sites. It seems that they just don't come up for sale very often, and that's why I'm having trouble figuring out what the value might be.
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You might try checking it on NADAguides.com Bill

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Depending on if its original # matching drivetrail it could easily be a $25,000 car when fully restored. Typically it seems non-original drivetrain devalues the 70-72 T/As around $5-$8,000 depending on the over condition of the car.
If your car is in good overall original condition with no large amounts of surface rust on the undercarriage and has the original drivetrain its probably a $7-$10,000 car as it sits. Fix the collision damage and do some detailing and it will easily be in the $14,000-18,000 range. Doing a total concours restore with everything exactly like the car came off the assembly line will definately put it over $25,000.
--
_________________________________________________________________
Dennis Smith
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says...

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The picture of your 71 looks just like this one. Minus the blue stripe, because it's been repainted. It's all white currently. Having taken Bill's advice, I looked up the NADA value. Gulp. I don't think there's any doubt I will be fixing this up. It came from a renter in a house I owned who stiffed me for fifteen hundred so I did a lien sale on the car. (He just split and left it, so I figured it might cover my loss.) He didn't bother to contest the sale, show up, give me a call, attend the sale or pay me back. The sale cost me $150. That's my entire investment to date. I think something may have finally fallen my way. I'm not known for having particularly good luck. It must be my turn. Now, can you, Dennis, or anyone else tell me if I should be looking for a back quarter panel, or if, being a uni-body, I need to find a shop that can stretch this one back out? (BTW, it's the original drivetrain. I've got the buildsheet on it, too.) Hope I can get it looking like yours.
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Congratulations! Sounds like opportunity knocked. Keep us posted on the progress of your new project. Bill
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Sweet.
Who said crack addicts were bad people...

It would definitely be worth it. BTW, don't touch the interior. As long as there is no significant wear, you're better off with the origional upholstery. If you're worried about it, find donor seats and re-upholster those (store the origionals, as is). You might want to do that in any case, just to keep these in the condition you got them if you plan on driving the car once the damage is repaired and you get it running right. If I remember right, it runs/ran rough and hasn't been started in years? I'm sure a few of us can help you get it running at least and can help you from there.
--
I am not your rolling wheels
I am the highway
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Interesting. Usually the ones equipped with the white interior were blue/white stripe cars. I'm sure there were some white exterior/white interior cars made but I've never seen one. You may want to pull a door panel or a sill plate and see if the car was originally blue. If it was you have an even more rare car as only about 25% of the 70-72 T/As were blue.
--
_________________________________________________________________
Dennis Smith
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I may have typed it incorrectly. What I meant to say was that mine is currently all white because it has been repainted. The build sheet shows that it originally was white with the blue stripe.
says...

panel
have an

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Considering your investment, I have two words. Fix it!
I'm not sure what the best way to repair would be, but I'm sure that a restoration quality repair would be well worth it. Probably something involving cutting the sheetmetal, at least, after it's straightened and replacing the panels. You might want to seek the advice of profesional restorers, considering what you have. What are your intentions concearning the car? Are you going to keep it, or are you considering selling it?
--
I am not your rolling wheels
I am the highway
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I love the comment about crack addicts. I am very grateful for the suggestions from both yourself and Bill Hall. The idea about the seats is one I would have not considered. I took a good look at them. In the entire car, all I see is a scrape on the driver's seat that is about the size of a quarter, and four inches of the part of the seat the driver slides over and looks like a small encased rope bordering the upholstery (I don' t know what that is called) is worn off. I couldn't find anything else amiss inside. I'm sure the radio isn't stock since it's a Craig with some good Pioneer 6 x 9s in the rear deck. The ignition switch is shot, but there was a new ignition switch in the glovebox. It has 235.60.15s in the front and 265.60.15s in the rear. The rear wheels are 10 inch and the fronts are 8 inch. The wheels are steel five-spoke things that are way not original. Doesn't matter; they're history. The brakes look like they were just done. It's got some big ol' hummers in the rear (drums), but I suspect that's what it needed. I think it is imperative that I treat the engine well, so I'm not even going to turn it over until it's rebuilt. The hood scoop looks functional. Does it open when the back barrels of the carb open or something? Looks that way, sort of. It really used to run like nothing I had ever heard. It deserves to run like that again. Under the hood, the air conditioning pump is missing, but that is all I can tell at first glance. All the glass is good. There is no cable for the hood release, but I don't see any damage. There isn't even a door nick on the sides anywhere. The paint job must have been fairly recent. I was thinking about taking some photos of it, especially the damage, and see what you guys thought. I don't know how to upload, however. Can I just paste them in an email like this one and post them that way?
I want to thank you guys for your generous natures. I'm all fired up on this. I sense some curiosity in your question about what I'm going to do with it, Vampire Muffin Man, and I'm not certain. But, I'll promise you this -- if your interest is more than casual, and if I decide I have to sell it, either now or later, I give you my word you'll be the first one I tell and if you want to consider it at that point, you'll have the first call on it.
I'm just finishing the paint on my 77 Vette, and as soon as I get wheels for it, I'm thinking about selling it and using the money for the repair of the TA. Better than spending it on frivolous things like debts or a house or something stupid like that, I think.
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The hood scoop on your car should open up when the secondaries kick in.
Looks that way, sort of. It really used to run like nothing I

Aside from the engine needing a rebuild and the body damage, sounds like you have a gem.
I was thinking about

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No, don't post your pictures on this newsgroup. People get quite upset as this isn't a binaries group. I see your internet provider is Charter. Do they give you space to set up a personal internet page? Might check with them. If so, that is where to post your pics, then post a link to your page in this newsgroup.

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That sounds very decent. But are you sure Vampy is worthy? <VBG>

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The only thing better to spend money on than cars is guns!
Bill
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No, now that you ask the question, I don't know if Vampy is worth the offer. I may have gotten carried away becaue of excitement at finding out the TA might (will) turn into something to be grateful to have. I think you might be hinting that he is a n'er-do-well who will steal my underwear if I'm not cautious, so warning well taken. I'll make him put a dollar deposit on any offer.
I agree with your last statement too, and in fact, to put some greater value on those purchases, I can think of few cars that need shooting. I'm checking with Charter, but I've been contemplating a website anyway, so I'll check with other providers, too. I'm a little new to that side of things, but it seems like the older I get, the more everything seems new to me. There is a certain excitement to entering the early stages of Ahlzeimer's. What were we talking about?
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Go for it! Get a website up. It's actually kind of fun once you figure out how to do it. We'll be watching.........
Bill
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Here's a '71 Trans Am on EBay. http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item $48634256&cat egoryd27
Nice cars.
Bill
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http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item $48634256&cat
Nice car. Nice price. The dash on that one is what I've got. That machined metal look. The interior is the same, except my seats are white. So is the headliner. I just watched a set of beautiful 1969 TA wheels sell on eBay. Three hundred bucks. Not bad. Say, Bill, can you tell me where to look for the number stamps or the tags that indicate the rear-end gear ratio. I never did find a number on it, just presumed it was original since everything else was. I've got to run outside and check the mileage on it, too. I keep forgetting. Been while since I felt like a kid at Xmas.
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sell
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All 70's Trans Ams have the machined dash. I think it was gold on some of the Gold Edition models. If I recall correctly, the number stamp on the rearend is stamped on the front of the axle housing on the passenger side about an inch from the pumpkin. I have a '74 Trans Am that I bought when it was 6 years old. I'm sure that is where the number was located. (3.08 gears, I believe) I would go check it now, but I would have to move a bunch of stuff from behind my car.... wait a minute............
OK, I went and checked anyway. I was right, except it was actually almost 3" from the diff. It was stamped a little over halfway up on the axle tube on the front side. I don't know the codes for a '71, but for a '74 they are as follows:
First 2 letters indicate standard or safe-t-track and ratio. GZ- 2.73 standard CA- 2.73 Safe-t-track
GX- 3.08 standard GY- 3.08 Safe-t-track
CL- 3.42 standard CM- 3.42 Safe-t-track
Third letter is one of 2 types of axle shafts. Non "C" lock being "B" or "O". "C" lock are code "C", "G", "K" or "P".
I think the remaining numbers/letter are manufacture date, but I can't find my info sheet. Of course, the numbers for a '71 could be different. Get yourself a factory service manual. I got mine off EBay under 'Automotive-Manuals' for about $25. It is original, used, and covers all 1974 Pontiacs. Axle codes for the gear ratio are in there.
Bill
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Check this site for your axle codes. http://www.wallaceracing.com/axledata2.htm
Bill
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Here's another good site: http://www.iwaynet.net/~gl&lisk/1971ta.html
According to the Firebird Red Book, the only engine availabe on the 1971 Trans Am is the 455 HO at 335hp. It came with the Ram Air IV's aluminum intake manifold and 4 bolt main. It would probably have a WC or YE engine code. It should be located on the flat machined area by the timing chain cover on the passenger side. Your engine number should be on the same machined flat area, but down low below the radiator hose. The last part of this number should match the end of your VIN. Hope this helps. Bill
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