1973 Monte Carlo
For much less than half the price of the rusted-out roller Camaro on the trailer behind it, you can have this luxurious 1973 Monte with a 350 V-8. The interior looked almost new, the paint was great, and the car was in good running condition (the seller claimed). The owner was asking $8,500, but we think you could walk away with it for under $5K.
Why It's Cool: Built at the peak of the luxury coupe movement, nothing was more refined on the road—and you can't beat those swivel seats!
1971 Pontiac Ventura
Around the PHR digs, the Ventura is better known as the car the boss won't let us have. ("Too far off the beaten path.") This nice-running car still sported its original Burnt Orange paint showing only light surface rust. Listen up: This is absolutely the best kind of car to buy because new paint hides damage, rust, and bad repairs. Survivor paint like this is the holy grail because there aren't any hidden surprises. You can scuff and shoot it, or seal it with matte clear to preserve the patina—either way you're golden. This one still had its factory 307ci small-block Chevy and just 21K original miles for an asking price of $8,500.
Why It's Cool: It's like a Nova, only better because it's far more rare, and nicer looking with its pointed "mail slot" grille. Except for the few Pontiac-only cosmetic pieces, virtually all Nova and first-gen Camaro parts bolt right on.
1972 Ford Gran Torino
The one-year-only jet fighter grille of the 1972 Torino make it a timeless classic, and the fastback roofline of this model make it even more seductive. While the 400ci-equipped small-block coupe was not running, it did have original bronze paint covering unmolested sheetmetal with only the lightest parking-lot rash. You could tell the dry New Mexico air had been good to this thing. Mechanicals aside, the paint would be a quick scuff and shoot. With a $4,500 asking price (these cars go for way more in restored condition), it's a steal for the diehard Ford fan.
Why It's Cool: The 1972 Ford Gran Torino was arguably the best-looking mid-size Ford ever made. Clint Eastwood only made it cooler.
1967 Chevy Bel Air
A fullsized classic like the Chevy Bel Air cannot be counted out, especially when it's in as nice a condition as this one. The dog dish hubcaps, steel wheels, 15-inch tires, original 283ci small-block, and two-door post roof tell the story here: This was a family hauler from the get-go, and it stayed that way for many years with no abuse heaped on it. Its 44K original miles, a competently done older repaint, and $7,800 asking price make it a steal.
Why It's Cool: Large and in charge! Get into a great-looking, nice-running classic with lots of potential and almost no down side. Plenty of room for a big-block and overdrive.
1962 Ford Falcon
Flat black paint or black primer is always a caution sign because it sometimes signals a down-and-dirty (mostly dirty) flip with questionable sheetmetal work hidden beneath. This one, however, checked out. It's actually a nice little hot rod with a late-model 302/AOD combo, a restored interior, new wiring, disc brake upgrade from a 1976 Comet, and some other nice touches. Whoever built this put some effort and care into this one. The seller was asking $10,500, but it would almost surely go for under $10K.
Why It's Cool: The 1962 Falcon Futura had a way cool sport roof design, making it the slickest looking of the breed. Falcons were Mustangs before Mustangs were Mustangs. These things are super lightweight and can be made to flat-out haul.
1966 Dodge Dart
If you exercise enough imagination, early Mopar A-Bodies can be made into some bitchin hot rods, and this 1966 Dart is no exception. While not the über-desirable 1967-69 body style, this gleaming survivor car was literally mobbed the entire time we were there; its straight body, well cared-for original paint, great interior, and rock-steady Slant Six engine had the catfish biting at the $4,000 OBO price. Maybe not the screaming deal our '68 Valiant was at $2,800, but this Dart is actually in nicer condition.
Why It's Cool: This lightweight Dodge compact can be turned into a nasty little street machine with very little effort. Or just let the gas-sipping Slant Six do its job—they're nearly indestructible.
1961 Pontiac Wagon
It's a fact that the 1961 Pontiacs were years ahead of the pack in the styling and engineering department, and the two-door bubbletop coupe usually gets all the praise and commands the money. The wagon, however, was beautiful and glorious—this one sporting two-tone white and red paint, a not-stock 455ci Pontiac engine, and rare eight-lug wheels. We thought the heavy rust along the rocker panels was highly unusual for an Arizona car, but then spotted the Pennsylvania area code on the phone number. Mystery solved. At $5,800, it highlights how high 1961 Pontiacs have gone, but if you want something stylish, comfy, and unique, it will put you in a class of one. This one would probably be worth slugging through the rust repair, but only at the right price.
Why It's Cool: Drive a 1961 Pontiac—especially a wagon—and you will never see another one on the road as long as you live.
1964 Dodge 440
This unfinished Super Stock clone project is just far enough along that it could probably be made into a passable driver without much effort. A 3.92 Sure-Grip posi, 413ci Wedge big-block, dual 3-inch exhaust, A727 automatic, and A-100 bucket seats tell you where this was headed. With the exception of a few spot primer areas, it sports its original red paint, and the dry Arizona air has been good to all the metal. The seller took out the interior during the project, which is good because all the rust-free floors are exposed for all to see. He's asking just $4,000.
Why It's Cool: Early Mopar B-Bodies have a storied past in drag racing and stock car racing, and they remain a solid value today with depressed prices.
1972 Monte Carlo
This car actually stretches our self-imposed $10K budget with an asking price of $12,500, but it's close enough that we think you'd have a better than 50 percent chance of hooking it for $10K. A fat wad of cash always talks. It's completely restored with perfect show car paint, 350 small-block with Holley carb, dual-plane intake, ceramic headers, lots of show-quality billet underhood, and a new interior. Some nice Torq-Thrust wheels and new tires set it off. It needs nothing. If you want to get in the driver seat quick and easy, this will do the trick.
Why It's Cool: The early Monte Carlos in the 1970-72 range still possess the proper muscle car bona fides, and this one is a better-than-turnkey example at a scandalous price.
1975 Nova SS
If you found this car anywhere else in America, you'd probably need a tetanus shot after touching it. The dry Phoenix air, however, has been more than kind to this disco-era Nova, and from looking at the stance it's apparently scared of the water too. Like the Comet, this is another rope-a-dope car. Good thing, because this cream puff is ready to be sliced and diced into a real hot rod. Some bumper surgery, a few coils cut off the front springs, de-arched leafs in the rear, and some 17-inch Torq-Thrusts with Nittos or Mickey Thompsons will have this thing turning heads. The crack pipe price of $9,500 is about $3,000 too high for this vintage, but that's probably because the seller dumped a bunch into the engine and driveline already. Other than the stance, wheels, and tires, it's already a rust-free, turnkey hot rod.
Why It's Cool: Make your own clone of Car Craft's Disco Nova, but unlike them, enjoy being seen in it!