Our favorite muscle cars won’t be getting cheaper anytime soon, and regardless of the current economic situation, street machines are still commanding big money. If you’re like most enthusiasts, a lot of us still dream of owning a first-gen Camaro, or early Chevelles and Novas for that matter.
It’s not to say that you still can’t score a project car for a decent price, but let’s be real—you better be at the right place at the right time. For others, they’ve done an excellent job of holding onto their pride and joy and gradually transforming them into the incredible street machines we like to feature.
Nevertheless, we’re still fortunate enough to have a wide selection of cool cars to choose from, including the four-door variants and wagons. Lest we forget, there are also the later-model Novas, G-bodies like the Monte Carlo and Malibu, and El Caminos. Taking it one step newer are the third- and fourth-gen Camaros and C4 Corvettes—all of which are great platforms for performance modifications.
We’re living in an era where the aftermarket offers just about every bolt-on you can imagine, making it easy to turn any mundane cruiser into a serious performer. The hardest part is deciding which car is right for you. Check it out and we’re sure you’ll agree, plenty of cars are still roaming around that are just craving to get your attention. —Henry D
The two-door, “big-body” Chevelle (A-body) is legendary. As its design progressed through the years, its claimed horsepower and torque ascended into muscle car history with superstar status. However, by the ’73 model year, the Chevelle had lost a lot of its power due to government and environmental restrictions. Although power was on the decline, its suspension remained throughout and front discs were now standard. Its frame was also sturdier than previous models and came with the larger, 8.5-inch rearend and wider, 6-inch wheel rim width. Rear suspension is also a four-link design and makes upgrading to stronger, adjustable arms a no-brainer for performance applications.
The Chevelle was supposed to be GM’s midsize family hauler, however, many owners and gearheads alike quickly turned them into stripped-down models for racing. The good news, Chevelle parts are plentiful and suspension components are not only abundant but probably the aftermarkets most favorite to supply. These models serve as the perfect LS-engine swap, too, with complete swap kits available. Even though the coupes of these years are fetching higher bids, the four-door and wagon models remain low. Again, suspension and drivetrain remained the same and could haul more since wagons came in six- and even nine-passenger models.
||two-door coupe, four-door, and wagon
|Expect to pay
The earlier-model year Novas sporting fewer doors are undeniably, the most sought after platforms. Commonly referred to as, “Chevy IIs” and “Box Novas,” their simplistic shape, minor parts, featherweight construction, and ability to swallow almost any engine size has made them well liked. Finding a rust-free, two-door roller in “decent shape” is another story. Unless you’re in the right place at the right time, finding one at a bargain is almost unheard of.
That’s where the previously unwanted ’62-65 four-door sedan gains its strength. Typically not as desirable as its earlier two-door sibling, the aftermarket is rich in suspension and OEM replacement parts since most are universal. Early Novas relied on a semi-unibody construction and consisted of a bolt-on front and rear section. For later Novas (’68-74) the front and rear was changed to a complete subframe structure assembly and was shared with the Camaro, introduced later that year.