Haven't done a ton of research, but think I know what I like, just not sure if my wants will match reality...
Looking for a "daily driver" (but only 1-3 days per week, nice days, etc.) that is in good shape - runs good, sound body, looks good, etc. Don't care about making it into a show car. Don't care if numbers match. Willing to do some work to make it look better, but would like it to look good (and run good) to start with and then make improvements from there.
Prefer red or black exterior, but flexible with the right car. Prefer white or black interior, but again somewhat flexible. Preference would be 400, but not hard-over on this, as I'm sure it drives up the price. Would probably consider a clone if the price/condition is right.
Would like to stay in the $8-12k price range, but I'm wondering if my wants match reality. Just came back from Carlisle Spring show and was disappointed - saw only one convertible there and it didn't match what I was looking for.
8-12k is on the pretty low end for a driver. Project cars are in that range. 12 might start to get you near a driver that needs work. Plan on 16-20 for something closer to what you described.
Check this site for sellers, craigslist, Epay, Hemmings, etc.
I used to be indecisive. Now I'm not sure. I feel like I am diagonally parked in a parallel universe. 1968 400 convertible (Scarlet) 1976 T/A - 455 SE (No Burt) 1968 400 coupe - R/A clone (Blue Pearl) (for sale) 1968 350 - 4 speed 'vert - 400 clone (the Beast!) 1968 350 convertible - Wife's car now- 400 clone (Aleutian Blue) (Blue Angel) 2008 Durango - DD 2008 GXP - New one from NH is AWESOME! 2017 Durango Citadel - Modern is nice! HEMI is amazing! 1998 Silverado Z71 - Father-daughter project 1967 326 convertible - Sold 1980 T/A SE Bandit - Sold
This was my first year going to Carlisle, so I don't have any reference to judge it by. However, parts were everywhere. I expected to see more cars for sale and fewer parts, but it was the opposite. Like I said, very few Firebirds - only two that I saw, on Saturday, and only one was a convertbile. There were a bunch of Cameros and Vette's. I hate to say it, but for a fun summer convertible car, I can get a heck of a lot more of a car, and in much nicer shape, with much easier parts supply, if I went the early 70's vette route. $10k bought a lot of car. I'm just not a 'vette guy, however.
I would agree with the recommendation to watch Craigslist (and other sites--Kijiji.ca here in Canada is one), and I also agree that $8-12K is probably low for what you're seeking, based on your comments about 'solid' and 'good driver'.
I found my 69 convertible on Craigslist (Philadelphia) and got it for less than $12K, but it needed rear quarter repairs/replacement, seat covers/carpet/door panels, a paint job, exhaust system and tires. It was driveable, but had throttle cable issues with the aftermarket Edelbrock manifold/carb, which have now been fixed.
The good points: absolutely solid floors/trunk floor, working power top system with reasonable top material and rear window, good front end sheet metal, doors, hood, etc and windshield frame/windshield. Engine runs very well and doesn't burn oil and the Turbohydramatic transmission shifts smoothly.
I don't think you'll find a 'turn-key' driver or clone for $12K or less. My sense is $15-20K is more likely what you'll have to pay, but you never know...
As a Corvette owner too, I would add that early 70s Corvettes (with chrome bumpers at either end) make reasonably good projects and 'invetsments' in terms of getting your money back, not making a profit. They also have the advantage of full frames and fibreglas bodies instead to unibody/front sub-frame which brings floor pan and trunk rust issues. There are a lot of parts available for the early 70s Vettes, both NOS and reproductions, generally at much better prices than those for FGFs. Corvettes at Carlisle in August is a good place to look at cars for sale and parts.
I think you can get a "driver" for 8-12k, at least here in the south... ( it also has to do with how you describe a 'driver'!)I paid $8k for mine, and it was a 69 350 w a 72 400 in it ,it was a HS driver for a kid...it ran , it needed quite a bit, but certainly ran....I drove it back from Dallas to Houston 250 miles on a hot August day...it ran 230F most of the way....I later fixed that...now have about $25k in it total....made a 'running resto', never was out of the car more than 14 days, even as I had it painted...I painted it in two trips, "repair", first front half of car , a mo later the other half...about $1250 ea time. lots cheaper to 'repair' a car than to do a 're paint' of the entire car!
You would be on the 12K end for what you described. If the guy needed the money bad or engine, trans or rear (1 or more) wasn't original to the chassis, that would roughly be the market.
If originality and resale value isn't your issue, I suggest finding a vert with non original drivetrain, or the body you are looking for as a roller and buying a complete period correct engine. I would also suggest finding a solid, rust free body that needs a paint job over a vert with a perfectly running motor needing panel replacement.
My ideal idea would be a vert that has paint stripped (couldn't finish project) needing paint with a non running, correct (unseized engine) for $6-8k range.
Figure $5k high end for paint done correctly and your color and another 1k to get engine running or at most, 3k for a complete rebuild.
So for 14-16k, you have a fresh engine and paintjob and you KNOW for certain it's done and done right versus a 16K vert with a marginal paint job with unknown driveline issues.
Your car is out there...You really have to scour many boards, Google, PY, Classical Pontiac, Ebay, Craigslist, Auto Trader online... Just don't buy the first thing that looks good at sellers asking price...it's a buyers market. It took me 6 years to find the last Bird I bought...and always looking to pull the trigger on something better...just takes time and persistance.
Si Vis Pacem Parabellum
1967 Starlight black PMD Engineering 400 Auto 1968 Alpine Blue 400 4 speed 1968 Verdoro Green 400 HO 4 speed 2013 1LE 2SS/RS Inferno Orange Camaro.