13 March 2015

Big Blocks On a Budget

The big-block engine is legendary in the muscle car world, and there aren’t many things more awe-inspiring than popping the hood of some classic American iron and marveling at the feat of simply fitting that massive V-8 between the fenders. If that sight doesn’t stimulate the senses enough, then the deep tone of one of these plants running is sure to send tingles down your spine. The problem with big-block cars is that they’re too expensive for the average enthusiast, right? Wrong! In this article we will explore five vehicles from the muscle car era that can be found for approximately $25,000 or less.

1967 Chevrolet Impala Sport Coupe 396/325
Hagerty Price Guide: $16,900-$22,800

Sure, the Impala was quite a large car at this stage but it has fantastic styling. Compared to the previous year, the 1967 Impala used more styling cues from the smaller Chevelle and a swooping “fastback”-style roofline. These cars had the sporty looks to match their performance. Although the 427 was an option for the Impala (and the 427 SS package was probably one of the toughest-looking Impalas up to that point) the less expensive 396 “Turbo-Jet” was a popular engine. With a classic Mark IV Chevy big-block under the hood, aggressive exhaust tone and enough torque to roast the tires off, what more could you ask for? If 325 hp isn’t enough, then you can take the money you saved, swap the cam and really awaken the potential of this engine.

1969 Ford Torino GT SportsRoof 390/320
Hagerty Price Guide: $17,100-$25,500

The all new Torino made its debut in 1968. With a radical “fastback” roof that extended down nearly the entire back half of the car, these cars were quite popular during the NASCAR “Aero Wars” because of their very slippery aerodynamics. In 1969 you could get a Torino with anything from a 302 small-block to a 390 in the GT trim level. The 390 comes from the legendary “FE” platform that produced some of Ford’s greatest engines from the era, such as the 427 and the 428. The 390 was one of the most commonly selected Ford big-blocks of the time and there was higher demand for rarer, more powerful options, making this car a good value.

1968 Dodge Dart GTS Hardtop Coupe 383/330
Hagerty Price Guide: $15,700-$22,600

When you take a small car that weighs around 3,000 pounds and then shoehorn a 383 big block under the hood what you get is an absolute rocket ship that can be had affordably. That’s a better power-to-weight ratio than a Charger equipped with a 440 and Six Pack! Granted, the Dart was for the budget-minded buyer, so if you’re looking for a car with plenty of interior room and creature comforts, this one may not be for you. If you’re a Mopar fan and you want something quick without having to spend Charger or Challenger money, this makes a reasonable alternative.

1972 Chevrolet Monte Carlo 454/270
Hagerty Price Guide: $18,300-$26,000

We went a little over budget on the Monte Carlo, but when you look at the value it presents, it all makes sense. The Monte Carlo was introduced in 1970 based on the new G-body platform and shared several structural and mechanical components with the Chevelle, but came standard with more creature comforts. In 1972, you could go out and buy a Monte Carlo with the same LS5 454 as the Corvette and the Chevelle SS 454. However, the Monte Carlo can be had for approximately 50 percent of the market value of the Chevelle with the same equipment! Granted, a 454-equipped Monte Carlo will take some effort to find, so if you’re looking to get a big-block Monte Carlo right away, 402-equipped cars are easier to come by.

1970 Chevrolet C10 ½ Ton Pickup 400/310
Hagerty Price Guide: $9,000-$19,800

With the growing popularity of trucks, it is hard to ignore Chevy ½ ton Pickups equipped with the CST (Custom Sport Truck) package. These trucks featured car-like comforts and could be had with the 400 big-block (a 402 with different badging). The upside to owning a sporty pickup is the fact that they can haul a lot more than just lumber, if you catch my drift. The great thing about these trucks is that these 70-72 high power pickups are not uncommon to find, are simple to restore and work on, and look great! It is no wonder that this is perhaps one of the most popular generations of Chevy pickups.

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