Tag: Brandan Gillogly

6 Full-Size Alternatives to Muscle Cars – Brandan Gillogly @Hagerty

6 Full-Size Alternatives to Muscle Cars – Brandan Gillogly @Hagerty


Plenty of cars from the ’60s and ’70s offer beautiful designs and gutsy power plants but don’t neatly fall into the muscle car category. In the past, we’ve offered up some more affordable, midsize alternatives to the typical muscle car. This time, let’s delve into some of my favorite full-size cars from the era. Sure, they were bigger and heavier than their drag strip–hero counterparts, but they brought some big V-8 power to bear.

These cars were often the premier models in their showrooms. They featured a plusher interior and often prioritized a smoother ride. While their rowdier muscle car brethren featured some of the same power plants in smaller, lighter packages and dominated the drag strip, these cars were built for the highway and are still perfectly suited for weekend cruising or road-trip duty.

Whether totally stock, lightly resto-modded, or fully customized, here are six full-size hardtops that are overdue for some adulation. Translation: When you can find them, these fantastic cars are often a bargain.

1970 Ford Thunderbird

How have these cars flown under the radar for so long? From the front three-quarter view they look long and low, with a jutting grille that resembles the mid-size Mercury Cyclone. However, its rear three-quarter view is among the best of any car built during the decade. The roof is so low it looks chopped, and the taillights frame the car perfectly.

Barrett-Jackson sold a customized 1970 Thunderbird at its 2019 Las Vegas sale—the purple car you see above—that had the front of a 1967 Thunderbird seamlessly grafted on. The hidden headlights were a fantastic addition, but even in stock form they look amazing. The custom version, absolutely regal in metallic purple, went for $55,000. A well-preserved model will cost much less.

Power came from a 360-hp 429-cubic-inch V-8, and while a Boss 429 would be killer, the Thunderbird’s engine bay should be a bit more accommodating of the massive engine than the Mustang’s.

1969–70 Buick Wildcat

We’ve sung the praises of the Buick Wildcat before, but here’s the chorus one more time: The Wildcat offers up a lot of the performance of the Impala SS, without the premium price that comes with the collectibility of the “SS” badge. It brings fantastic looks, solid big-block power plants, and smooth cruising. The only problem is that they don’t come up for sale as often as their more popular B-body platform mates.

That said, because Wildcats have the benefit of riding on GM’s long-lived B-body chassis, OEM brake and suspension upgrades are simple and affordable. Spindles and calipers for big disc brakes can be found on junkyard ’90s Caprice cop cars or Impalas. Rear axle brake upgrades are just as simple.

The 1969 models with Buick’s 360-hp, 430-cubic-inch V-8, or 1970 models with the 370-hp 455, are still affordable and look every bit as good as their Chevrolet counterparts.

1969 Pontiac Bonneville

The Pontiac Bonneville could be ordered with a more formal roofline, like the one found on the Grand Prix, but with the more traditional lines of the LeMans. The result is an upscale car without the polarizing nose of the Grand Prix. (That look would come to the Bonneville the following year.) I also love the rear view of the Bonneville, with taillights that almost drape over the rear of the car, as they would a year later with the Thunderbird.

Pretty much everything I mentioned about the Wildcat applies to the Bonneville, as it also rides on GM’s B-body chassis. The difference is that the Bonneville got Pontiac’s potent 390-hp 428-cubic-inch V-8. What’s not to love about this pavement-pounding full-size?

1970 Mercury Marauder

Mercury’s take on the personal luxury coupe for 1970 seemed a bit more forward-thinking than its Ford Thunderbird counterpart. Its squared-off leading edge was more formal and anticipated the look of future American cars, yet it boasted a sporty fastback roofline. The overall package is a perfect amalgam of luxury and sportiness. Bonus points for hidden headlights.

Under the hood was Ford’s familiar 429, again in 360-hp trim. That’s modest power by today’s metrics, but even full-size cars of that era weren’t terribly heavy. Bump the displacement to 460 cubes or more, add a roller cam, massage the cylinder heads a bit, and you’d have all the makings of a sleeper.

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7 classic trucks and SUVs under $20K -Brandan Gillogly @Hagerty


The collector-vehicle market’s pandemic boom may be over, but the classic truck and SUV market is still very competitive, with plenty of ’60s and ’70s models commanding high values. But what about those of us who want a vintage truck or SUV—and have a tight budget?

Short answer: There are still many collectible trucks and SUVs that remain affordable.

We combed through our latest valuation data looking for classic trucks that could serve as weekend workhorses or, on week-day evenings, project vehicles. Each needed to have an average value—across all engine options in a given generation—under $20,000, for an example in #3 (Good, or daily-driver) condition*. We also focused on the ’70s and ’80s, rather than the ’60s, hoping to include a few more creature comforts.

Here are seven vintage trucks and SUVs that fit the bill.

1972–80 Dodge D100

Average #3 (Good) value: $14,129

Nobody could have foreseen the wild special-edition models that Dodge would come up with its all-new pickup that launched in 1972. The Lil’ Red Express, Warlock, and Macho Power Wagon were just some of them.

Despite these ’70s Mopar pickups’ vast potential as muscle trucks or simply as weekend project machines, they remain affordable. A Magnum small-block, plentiful at just about any wrecking yard, would make a fantastic swap that would add power and, depending on your camshaft choice, even fuel economy. Even the later ’80s models, including 4×4 versions, fit the our sub-$20K budget.

1974–80 Dodge Ramcharger

Average #3 (Good) value: $17,198

Dodge was a little bit late to the full-size SUV market, coming in years after Jeep and Chevrolet had already joined. Dodge took the same approach Chevrolet did with the Blazer and built a four-seater with a removable top.

The second-gen Ramcharger looked much the same but gained a non-removable steel top, making the earlier ones more desirable thanks to the convertible crowd. Besides the shorter wheelbase and the removable top, everything else about the D100 applies to the Ramcharger, making it an excellent project vehicle.

1987–9 Ford F-150

Average #3 (Good) value: $11,429

The eighth-generation F-Series that debuted for 1987 was a mild refresh and its styling has aged very well, in our opinion. This was the generation before the first F-150 Lightning, which arrived in 1993, but more workaday F-Series of the late ’80s were still available with 302- or 351-cubic-inch V-8 engine options that used an instantly recognizable EFI intake similar to that on the iconic 5.0-liter found in the contemporary Mustang.

Extra power is just a cylinder head and cam swap away. With tough underpinnings, clean body lines, and durable, powerful Windsor V-8 engine options, these F-150s have everything a truck buyer could ask for. As a bonus, companies like National Parts Depot and Classic Industries offer an array of restoration parts to make your F-Series look as good as new.

1973–87 Chevrolet C10

Average #3 (Good) value: $11,640

Chevy’s long-lived “square-body” was available with at least a dozen different front-end and grille designs, and that’s not counting its GMC counterpart. Under the hood, you could find an array of powerplants, ranging from inline-sixes to diesel V-8s and small- and big-block gas V-8s.

The last of the square-body pickup run, in 1987 when the generation was actually dubbed R10, added throttle-body injection. If you can’t find the square-body with the look you are after, the aftermarket can help you build it; those fenders, hoods, and grilles are all interchangeable.

We’ve seen a mild resurgence in the popularity of this generation of Chevy and GMC pickups among truck enthusiasts as ’70s and ’80s nostalgia has fueled plenty of beautiful C10 customs.

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Jeep trucks are bucking a common 4×4 price trend – Brandan Gillogly @Hagerty


You’d have to be living under a sandstone outcropping in Moab to not notice that two-door 4×4 SUVs are among the hottest collectibles of the last decade or so. Led by the Ford Bronco, the classic two-door 4×4 SUV market has seemed to spur along the values of classic trucks as well.

As we explained in a story earlier this year in which we compared the values of wagon to their sedan counterparts, a longer roof is sometimes worth quite a bit more. We thought we might see the same when it came to pickups and their SUV relatives, so we asked James Hewitt, Hagerty Valuation Specialist, to run some numbers for us. The numbers mostly reflected our expectations, but there was one interesting surprise we saved for last.

1966–77 Ford Bronco

Whether it’s an uncut, all-original survivor or an orange-mocha-Frappuccino-seeking restomod, first-generation Ford Broncos are the king of the segment, with prices to match. In May of 2012, median #2 (Excellent) values for a first-gen Bronco and its contemporary F-100 pickup were separated by just four percent. By 2018, Bronco values had doubled while F-100 had barely moved.

Today, the median #2 (Excellent) Bronco is valued at $77,850—nearly five times its value from just ten years prior. Meanwhile, a 1967–1972 F-Series truck carries a #2 (Excellent) value of just less than half that, at $35,800. That’s a bit of an apples-to-oranges comparison, as the Bronco was not based on the same full-size platform as the F-Series, but that generation of Ford full-size trucks has some off-road racing history of its own. The F-Series is establishing itself as a collectible in its own right thanks to its good looks and utility, as are plenty of other trucks from that era.

1969–72 Chevrolet C/K Blazer (K5)

The SUV premium looks just a bit lower when comparing a first-generation K5 Blazer to the same-year K10 pickup. Seeking to cash in on the growing SUV trend kicked off by International Harvester and Jeep, Chevy was working its own entrant before the Bronco was even on the market. After considering a smaller model to compete head-to-head with the Scout, Chevrolet decided to go full-size and base the Blazer on its existing pickup line. Those 1969–1972 K5s are rivaling the Bronco when it comes to value, as #2 (Excellent) versions of 1969 K5s are currently valued at $78,200 on average, when equipped with a 350 V-8. A similarly equipped K10 is valued at 45 percent less.

1974–80 Dodge Ramcharger

Mopar’s entry into the full-size SUV segment, Ramcharger, arrived in 1974, and, like GM’s K5 Chevy Blazer and GMC Jimmy, it featured a full-length removable hardtop. The Dodge doesn’t have quite the following of the K5, making it one of the best bargains in the full-size two-door SUV market—especially if open-air driving is a priority. Median #2 (Excellent) examples of 1974–1980 Ramchargers are valued at $32,950, which is double what they were just four years ago. Meanwhile, Dodge D/W Series pickups have also doubled but remain even more affordable, with a median #2 (Excellent) value of $24,000.

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Are you Bandit enough to hit the road in this visionary sixth-gen Trans Am? – Brandan Gillogly @Hagerty


Just about every Pontiac lover still mourns the loss of one of America’s coolest car brands. Pontiac built some of the brawniest muscle cars of the ’60s and ’70s and paired them with lurid graphics that were, quite frankly, over the top. If you think the high-contrast graphics on the Judge were too much, or look at the garish, screaming hood bird on the Trans Am and clutch your pearls, perhaps a nice, understated Buick is more your speed—but to each their own. True Pontiac fans embrace the bold muscle cars, and a few even manage to bring some back.

A die-hard muscle-car fanatic, Rick Dieters of Trans Am Specialties of Florida worked with the team at Trans Am Worldwide to make the model rise from the ashes like a phoenix. Dieters has been involved in getting new Trans Ams back in showrooms since 2013 when, using the fifth-generation Camaro as a foundation, his company began to build and sell new, legitimate Trans Ams. Designer Kevin Morgan worked with SCCA to obtain legal use of the name; even back in the ’60s, the SCCA licensed Pontiac to use the name of their race series on each model sold. While Pontiac was gone, Trans Ams returned.

The sixth-generation Camaro debuted as a 2016 model, but it took more than a year to develop the look and the parts required to make the sixth-generation Trans Am come to life. Automotive designer Bo Zolland, known for his gorgeous renderings and restylings of classic cars, was tasked with interpreting the spirit of the second-gen Trans Am using the Alpha-platform Camaro as a base. Zolland, along with engineer and designer Tom Sawyer, worked to infuse as much Pontiac DNA into the new car as possible.

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8 trucks that deserve another shot – Brandan Gillogly @Hagerty


A year ago, we looked at some vehicles that had ambitious goals and yet fell short in one way or another. We argued that those four vehicles deserved another chance. Now, let’s focus on pickups that also meet those criteria. Here are eight pickups that offered up cargo hauling with some blend of comfort, fuel economy, or off-road prowess, but which nevertheless fell by the wayside as the tried-and-true crew-cab pickup swallowed the market. Is there room in today’s market for any of these to stage a comeback?

Chevrolet Avalanche (2001–13)

When the Avalanche debuted, it offered a novel solution for those who needed both passenger- and cargo-carrying capacity. Chevrolet’s solution was the Mid-Gate, which enabled the partition between the cab and bed to fold down and the backlite to stow, allowing for the rear seats to give way to an 8-foot cargo bed. Admittedly it had its drawbacks; dropping the Mid-Gate opened the passenger cabin to the elements unless the multi-piece tonneau was left in place. On the other hand, with the tonneau off, it was the closest we’ve come to duplicating the K5 Blazer’s removable top.

The Avalanche also offered another benefit. Because it was built on the Suburban’s chassis, every Avalanche came with a coil-spring rear suspension. The Avalanche beat the Ram 1500 to the punch by about eight years and was the first full-size 4×4 pickup on the market to offer such a suspension setup. It was also the first 2WD pickup with coil springs from GM since they left production in Chevy and GMC pickups in 1972.

A new Avalanche, again built on the Suburban chassis, would benefit from an independent rear suspension and the low bed floor that would come with it. We’d wager that most drivers would sacrifice the payload capacity that can come with leaf springs for the improved ride quality of a multi-link suspension, just like they did before.

Avalanche critics have lambasted the unique truck-utility-vehicle as being essentially a Suburban with extra rattles. True, the lack of a rear roof section and the open midgate would both remove rigidity from the body and add a source of noise, but we think that GM’s pickups and utility vehicles have firmed up a lot since the second-generation Avalanche debuted in 2007.

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9 nameplates used across multiple marques – Brandan Gillogly @Hagerty


Even back in the good ol’ days when a car’s alphanumeric badging actually told your what was going on under the hood, we preferred when cars had actual names like Eldorado and Falcon. Style and soul are important, and a name is part of that identity. Our favorite monikers evoke a feeling that matches the car, so once a brand has staked its claim to a good one, it resonates with the public and has equity. Here are nine examples of names that were good enough that at least two brands made use of them.

This is the second time we’ve broached this topic, which we first explored two years ago. There are bound to be more. If we’ve forgotten your favorite, chime in with a comment


While GM’s other brands got companion brands to widen their appeal starting in 1929, (Cadillac-Lasalle, Buick-Marquette, Oakland-Pontiac, and Oldsmobile-Viking) Chevrolet instead created new models to cover more ground. In 1933 the car formerly known as Confederate became Eagle, the premiere Chevrolet model, above the slightly shorter and more affordable Chevrolet Mercury. By 1934, both names were replaced with Master and Standard.

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3 handy electronic tools to keep in your modern classic – Brandan Gillogly @Hagerty


Not everyone wants or needs to carry a tool kit in each vehicle they drive. Your late-model daily-driver that’s proved totally reliable shouldn’t need more than a spare tire and a jack, if that. Each tool kit should be balanced for the vehicle and its intended purpose. Even if you could carry a Snap-On truck’s worth of tools, many mechanical issues aren’t practical to fix on the side of the road. For labor-intensive problems, it’s best to have your phone with you to call roadside assistance for a tow—whether to your own garage or to a trusted repair shop. In the spirit of this list, perhaps a phone is truly the #1 piece of electronics that can rescue you from a spot of bother.

However, if you venture off-road in your Jeep or pickup, or if you find yourself in more remote locations searching for fun backroads, you likely want to be much more self-sufficient. You’ll want to carry a well-stocked tool bag, plus spares for the parts most likely to leave you crippled in the event of failure.

Last year, our own Kyle Smith gave some tips on how to properly select the tools to bring with you in your vehicle. His advice led me to practice some of my most probable road-side repairs. In the process, I realized that 2 additional feet of extensions made a disabling sensor failure a 10-minute fix rather than an obscenity-laced knuckle-buster.

For my Jeep Cherokee, I keep a basic socket set—in standard and in metric, because Jeep hadn’t yet made up its mind in 1998—with lots of extensions, wrenches, pliers, and screwdrivers (including Torx drivers). There are some spare nuts and bolts, fuses and relays, and wiring terminals in there as well. I also keep some spare fluids (ATF and engine oil at least, along with a funnel) and the most common parts that could fail and leave the 4.0-liter stranded: the MAP sensor, the crankshaft position sensor, and the coil.

Following the lessons from Smith’s previous article, I decided to add three electronic doodads to my on-board tool kit.

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Peek inside FDR’s flathead V-12-powered, armored 1942 Lincoln – Brandan Gillogly @Hagerty


In its latest video celebrating million-dollar cars, the Petersen Automotive Museum takes an in-depth look at President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s armored 1942 Lincoln, just in time for Presidents’ Day

Petersen’s chief historian Leslie Kendall gives this tour from the museum’s Vault, where this Lincoln can usually be found surrounded by other cars that were used by various international heads of state.

This armored limousine is significant because it’s the first presidential car delivered to the White House with armoring from the factory. Commissioned from Ford, the hulking V-12 sedan arrived with a number of safety measures installed, including steel plating on the floorboards, roof, and transmission tunnel. Even the flathead V-12 under the hood got an extra layer of protection. The glass—which, strangely, occupants could still roll down—is nine sheets thick

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How to spot a Ford pushrod V-8, from flathead to 460 – Brandan Gillogly @Hagerty


How to spot a Ford pushrod V-8, from flathead to 460

Let’s say it’s your lucky day, and you’ve found an engine laying around in the back of a garage with an unknown history. Or maybe you’re trying to discern which engine was swapped into a car, and all of the aftermarket parts between the fenders are muddying the waters. In any case, the first step is always to identify the engine

Determining precisely which engine you’re looking at under the hood can be difficult. Heck, sometimes a brand produced more engine families in the same decade than you can count on both hands. If you’re pretty sure you’re looking at a Ford V-8, the following guide will help you make the proper ID of your engine so that you can dive deeper into the ID.

This article, focusing on Ford passenger car V-8s, isn’t a full history on engine tech or applications. It’s intended as a primer to help you narrow things down and, in turn, enrich your gearhead knowledge. We’ll focus on the biggest visual keys to look for when you come face-to-valve-cover with eight cylinders of Detroit metal.

Ford flathead V-8: 1932–53

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Rescued from rust, this Torino Talladega hits the salt with NASCAR power – Brandan Gillogly @Hagerty


A former road and oval-track racer, Larry Wilson decided to move to a racing discipline with less wheel-to-wheel contact. Land speed racing seemed appealing and, as a fan of ’60s muscle, he decided to search for a classic car that could scratch his racing itch and get his family involved as well. Having grown up owning Falcons, Mustangs, and Corvettes, Wilson was quite familiar with compact performance cars. Although he admired Ford’s larger performance and muscle cars, he’d never owned one. For this venture, though, they seemed like the perfect cars.

Wilson is old enough to remember Ford’s NASCAR homologation cars and Mopar’s winged response. The pointed noses and tall wings of the Superbird and Charger Daytona may have brought superspeedway success, but they didn’t win over the hearts and minds of new car buyers. That’s where Wilson thinks Ford got it right.

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