Million-Dollar Muscle Cars
My new book Million-Dollar Muscle Cars has just been released. It is a behind the scenes look at the high end muscle car world few ever get to see. The following is an excerpt of an interview between me and a representive of Motorbooks International.
MBI: What did you discover in researching this book that readers will be excited to learn?
CC: The stories these cars tell is fascinating. Although I have followed some of these cars for years, tracking down previous owners and hearing first hand how these cars were like family to them is something else. In some cases, these cars have lived more than nine lives, often staring out fast and furious, only to be left for dead in some cases for decades, then being rescued and thrust back into the limelight as some of the most valuable cars in existence. Just think of how many of these cars we passed sitting in a junk yard or farm field!
MBI: What differentiates this book from any other book on this subject?
CC:It is the first book to break out of general market analysis and profile actual cars. This isnít your standard coffee table book that tries to cover every muscle car ever made. I made a list of some of the most significant cars out there and really dug into their stories. Many books can use auction sales results and generalities, I wanted something different. As most of these cars trade privately, this is a rare glimpse into the world of high dollar collector car sales that fly under the radar.
MBI: What is the most unique story in the book?
CC: They are all unique. That is why they are in there!
MBI: Tell me about the photography in the book.
CC: David Newhardt is hands down the best muscle car photographer out there. He is an artist, but the best aspect of Davidís work is that he is a true muscle car enthusiast. I mean, the guy is from Detroit, who better to capture these cars than somebody who grew up watching them on Woodward Avenue doing what they do best? We didnít shoot these cars in a studio or with sanitized backgrounds. Quite the opposite-muscle cars are a rough and tumble bunch and we shot them in great locations that play into that. In other words, we shot these cars in their natural environment.
MBI: What makes these muscle cars so priceless?
CC: The cars in this book are unique, they are some of the rarest muscle cars built. When you are talking about cars where only one was ever built, or even cars where under a hundred were built, that is a really special piece. Keep in mind that rare does not always equal desirable. The cars I used are not only ultra rare, but also the best of their breed. The lowest production cars combined with the biggest and best engines and equipment. Moving away from the nuts and bolts of it, you also have to add in the fact that the whole muscle car era was a perfect storm that will never come again. It was such a brief period in time where for less than a decade manufacturers found a formula that worked, and every year every one of them kept trying to get a leg up on the competition. It was the best Detroit had to offer made at a time they ruled the world and had the power and resources to do whatever they wanted. I contend muscle cars are the last great collectible cars to ever come from Detroit. We may have cars that perform better, last longer, or get better mileage, but we will never have cars that have the same heart and soul and will get people this passionate ever again.
MBI: What started the push towards the million dollar price tag?
CC: It really is something that had been happening for years. In the 1980ís guys starting paying attention to these ďeliteĒ muscle cars. You had really well-heeled collectors like Otis Chandler paying attention and quietly buying up great muscle cars somewhat under the radar. With only a small number of these very important cars to go around, the more that disappeared into private collections the more the prices went up on the cars that were left. Simple supply and demand economics. Although million dollar sale had occurred privately, when Milton Robson advertised his 1971 Hemi ĎCuda convertible for $1,000,000 in Hemmings Motor News it really woke people up. Plain and simple, the ultra rare muscle cars just came of age.
MBI: Where do you see the prices and desire for these cars in five years?
CC: Like any market, there are highs and lows. Clearly we have seen unprecedented growth in the market over the last ten years. Usually collector cars have a five year cycle, nobody could have predicted this kind of run for muscle car values. However, with so few elite cars to go around, there are far more buyers than there are cars. Add to that the fact that many owners love these cars and will not sell unless it is a huge number, if at all, and you have a strong market for these very special cars. I certainly donít see the desire of serious collectors to buy these cars subsiding in the next five years. Compare the muscle car market and its fan base if you will to any other collectible. If you go to the book store and look at the magazine rack, compare the number of muscle car related periodicals to those of any other collector car genre. You donít see any magazines on Dusenbergs, in spite of the fact they are top-tier collectibles. Iíd say the passion and dedication of muscle car enthusiasts and collectors is unequalled. Prices go up and prices go down, but I truly believe that this select group of cars will be insulated from market fluctuations to some degree. The cream always rises to the top, and with hundreds of buyers vying for dozens of cars I think the next five years will be as exciting as the last five years. We may not see the same appreciation, but we will see these cars trading hands at established price points.
MBI: What is your personal involvement with the subject?
CC: You mean, besides having a large collection of muscle cars and being involved with them seven days a week? <Laughs>
MBI: What is your favorite part of the book?
CC: I enjoyed writing the chapter on alternatives to million dollar muscle. I think it is important to show people that there are cars out there that have all of the qualities and rarity of the big dollar cars, but for a lot less money. In a similar vein, I also really liked writing the buyerís guide, as it gives practical advice that can be applied to just about any old car purchase. If it saves one guy from getting ripped off then I have done my job.
MBI: Is there anything else you would like to add about the subject or the book?
CC: Donít let the title fool you into thinking this is just a book for guys with millions to spend on muscle cars. This is a book that anybody who even remotely likes cars will find very enjoyable. It isnít as much about the cars as it is about their stories. Not to mention the incredible photography. Crack the cover and youíll see cars that youíll likely never see anywhere else.
MBI: What is in your garage at home?
CC: In my garage at home is a 6 wheel drive amphibious atv and an old push mower with a nasty rod knock and a bent blade. However, at my ďofficeĒ which is a 70 year old factory I converted into a showroom, I have my collection of muscle cars. Iím a big Shelby guy and have some of those, and have always had a thing for Pontiac GTOís, so I have about 15 of those. I have very eclectic tastes, so everything from AMCs to Sunbeam Tigers are here. A few of my personal cars are in the book, so people will get a glimpse of just how weird my taste in cars really is. What can I say, I love this stuff and couldnít live without it.
MBI: Thanks for taking the time to answer our questions. We are sure people will love the book and feel your passion for these incredible cars when they read it!