Jim’s Blog: The Newest Classic?

I used to think that all interesting cars stopped in 1972. The gas crunch and impact bumpers really did a number on American cars by the mid-1970s, and with the introduction of the 1973 Chevelle and the 1974 Mustang II, the death of interesting cars seemed, well, permanent. 

It’s funny how perceptions can change, though. Lately I’ve been looking at more cars from the later 1970s all the way up through the mid-1980s. For years I more or less ignored all this stuff — it was ubiquitous when I was young, and all of it had a reputation of being more or less untunable thanks to feedback carburetors, early electronic fuel injection, restrictive catalysts, or low compression ratios. What fun is that?

Two things have changed my mind. The first is the simple passage of time. Cars I once saw everywhere — such as Ford station wagons — are now gone. The second is the ease of modern parts swapping. I just finished building a 1979 Chevrolet C10 with a Holley-injected 6.0 LS, a T56 Super Magnum 6-speed manual from Summit Racing, RideTech air suspension, Baer Brakes, American Racing wheels, and more. The truck, which started out as a clumsy rig with a wheezy 350 and a granny gear, is now a modern Corvette with a pickup bed.

The way the ’79 C10 drives now that it’s been modernized has changed my mind on what to look for in a project vehicle, and that’s made me look at a whole generation of vehicles with a fresh eye.

What’s the newest old car you’d add to your collection?

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  1. Jim, I have a few since I tend to lean more of what is interesting. As mentioned before I believe my 1993 Pace Truck is my newest old project currently. However, I was deeply criticized when I brought my 1977 Trans Am (Y82), and those now think it is one of the coolest project. I can add that I went to Cars and Coffee this weekend and there was a huge crowd around a mint 91 Pontiac Grand Prix that had the same crowd if not more than the super cars. So, I think as the herds thin out there will be a desire for what is left. By the way great square body….

    1. That Trans Am was a smart buy for sure, and the OBS (C/K 1500) GM trucks are on their way up, too. Those Pace Trucks are rare!

      I’ve seen the same thing here re: cars from the ’80s and ’90s versus super cars. Watching engine compartments from the dark ages of performance draw crowds is pretty interesting.

      If a Tuned-Port 350 is cool enough to do that, what does that mean for the LT5 in the ZR-1? We covered those in the last issue of ACC — may be time to buy!