By on January 10, 2014
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Trent was a poser. He was the kind of guy who wore a fake Rolex, an imitation Italian suit and “alligator” shoes that were actually made out of vinyl. His $100 hair style cost $8 at Supercuts and his midwinter suntan, the one made him look like he had just returned from a lengthy South American stay, came from a spray can. Determined to climb from the bottom rung of society, he was forever trying to get over on people by manipulating his image and the truth is I really could have cared less. What really tore it for me, however, was the day he decided to put SS emblems on his tatty old Malibu.

Although the car magazines and collector sites would have us think that, once upon a time, top drawer muscle cars were in every American’s driveway the truth is somewhat different. Back in the day, most people purchased modest cars with sensible powertrains and surprisingly few luxury options. It took someone special to walk into a dealership and order something more exotic. It turns out that a lot of these special people were young men, and despite their best intentions, the sad truth is that young men are rough on fast cars.

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

The result is that a great many of the fastest cars didn’t live to see old age and by the early 1990s the ones that were left were beginning to cost serious money. For a guy like Trent, a social climber who wanted the look of an expensive car without the associated costs, the obvious answer was to buy up some old parts and graft them on to his old dime-a-dozen daily driver. The result was, as he called it, “a clone.” I was incredulous at the concept. Trent was a phony.

Looking back over the years, I can say that my opinion of Trent has changed. Age and experience has taught me that the world really isn’t black and white and that if a young guy like Trent, a small town kid who wants to break out of his shell and appear more worldly than he really is, needs a knock-off Armani suit and plastic alligator shoes to feel better about himself then I’m OK with that. My feelings on what he tried to do to his car, however, remain split and that’s what I’d like to have a discussion on.

Original cars can be worth big money these days. Unless you are a millionaire with plenty of money burning a hole in your pocket, you are never going to own a real exotic. Original Yenko prepared cars, for example, are well into the six figure range and if a mortal man (or woman) is going to own anything like one, chances are they are going to end up with what is now being euphemistically called a “tribute.” Some tribute builds are quite authentic, and the people who build them provide rigorous documentation on the original “donor” car and how it was modified to match the collector car it is trying to emulate. So long as that car is sold as a tribute and never ends up being offered for sale as an original then I see nothing wrong.

photograph taken by Michael Chiolero Courtesy of Wikipedia

photograph taken by Michael Chiolero
Courtesy of Wikipedia

What I have a real issue with, however, are the down market, quick conversions of daily drivers into cheap knock-off SS cars which are then foisted off on unsuspecting buyers. Sure, there is a certain element of caveat emptor in every car purchase, but I don’t feel like someone should have to become an expert in decoding VIN numbers prior to purchasing a car on the used car market. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen cars on Craigslist that look like real SS cars that are obvious fakes. Here’s a hint kids, if you want to build a 73 or 74 SS Nova clone, start with a hatchback. The last thing I want to do is go out to your house and crawl around in the mud getting serial numbers from your old car because “You don’t know for sure if it’s an SS but the guy you bought it from said it was.”

That’s my take, anyhow, and now I’d like to hear your thoughts. Is this as big a deal as I think? Should it really fall to the buyer to check every piece of paper relating to an old car prior to making the transaction? Are clones or tributes something you would even want to own? It seems to me that if I owned a tribute car that I would get tired of forever telling people that it’s a knock-off, but that’s just me. Where do you stand?

Disclaimer: I just want to put on the record that all of the photos used to illustrate this article came from the internet and I have no way of knowing whether any of the vehicles are clones or original. By using the photos, I am not claiming that any of them are anything but what they appear to be, beautiful cars.

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99 Comments on “The Clones: Send Them In Or Send Them Out?...”


  • avatar
    Steven Lang

    I equate it to buying an old house.

    If you’re going to be buying an old house it’s up to you, the buyer, to hire an inspector to make sure it is right.

    We have folks who mislabel vehicles at the auctions all the time with the intent of getting more money for them. If you buy a vehicle that’s misrepresented, it’s fraud.

    However, it is up to you to not be a flippin’ cheapskate and hire an expert to inspect and apprsise it.

    • 0 avatar
      gmichaelj

      Could you please explain the last point on the appraiser? Are you saying that it is the buyer’s responsibility to make sure the article is genuine, or the seller’s responsibility to be truthful?

    • 0 avatar
      ClutchCarGo

      Exactly. I once bought a house that the seller claimed was a Sears kit house (yes, Sears sold entire houses as kits that were shipped to the nearest railhead). Once we started working on the much-needed rehab it became clear that there was no way it was assembled from a kit. It turned out that the Sears house was the one next door that his family also had owned. In fact, I came to believe that that had used packing material from the Sears house when building the one I bought. It didn’t really matter in the end but it was disappointing to be misled.

      • 0 avatar
        mikey

        Does anybody remember the “Three Stooges” episode where they built the house from a kit?

        I’ll bet that house is worth some cash.

      • 0 avatar
        fvfvsix

        That sucks. A Sears Kit house would’ve been cool to own. We have one here in AZ that is now operating as a restaurant – pushing 85 years old. They really don’t even “kit” build ‘em like they used to…

        • 0 avatar
          Hillman

          As someone who owns a 100 + year old house I say thank goodness. Try having nothing being standard, lead paint, possible asbestosis, layouts that don’t fit today’s needs, and I can go on and on. Renovations can get very expensive very quickly if you find a nice surprise. I would buy the house again in a heart beat but there are some challenges that you don’t think of before. Also, I was told by a contractor be careful what you find out because you never know what you will find.

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            Amen, Brother!

            The original parts of my shack date to about 1820, with additions around 1900, 1950, and 1985. I think the ’50s might be the golden age of house building. Old enough to have some quality, new enough to not have QUITE so many interesting dilemmas…

          • 0 avatar
            golden2husky

            And that is part of what makes owning a old house so grand. Opening walls and finding mortise connections, replete with pegs and matching roman numerals on each end. The discovery is a never-ending treasure hunt. Hidden knob and tube, a covered over fixture with an Edison bulb in it…I could go on and on. I grew up in an old estate house, and when I bought my first house, the orignal portion was from 1876. I told the realtor that if the house you want to show me can be described as “light, white,bright, open, and airy”, don’t waste my time. Plaster, radiators, built-ins, now were talking. Lead and asbestos can be dealt with.

            Clones: considering the cost of buying a numbers matching car a Barret Jackson, I see no problem with a clone as long as the owner is upfront about it.

          • 0 avatar
            Xeranar

            As a lover of architecture and a semi-expert on practical housing I can confirm that goldenhusky is way out there on a limb. The best houses have historically been built from brick and stone. The heydays of both were the end of the 19th century. By the 1950’s pre-fab was the dominant choice in most new suburban neighborhoods and they’re not aging nearly as well as their inner-city rivals made of brick.

            If we want to talk about quality pre-fab housing that rose moreso in the late 1980s and 1990s with steel framing and heavy use of non-molding thinsulate boards and sheetrock. The extensive use of cinderblock as well is also a boon as it won’t breakdown like the wooden houses of the 1930s-1970s.

            As for clones, I have to agree that it is always buyer beware in these situations.

        • 0 avatar
          redmondjp

          No, sorry, those Sears Kit houses were made worse than most low-end modern wood garden sheds – nothing cool about them other than the concept.

          My brother started out in a house that we are pretty sure used to be one (before getting added onto in three different directions and then having a basement put underneath it).

          • 0 avatar
            Japanese Buick

            Can you really generalize either way? Since they were assembled by the buyers it seems you’d expect a wide variation in build quality.

          • 0 avatar
            redmondjp

            Um, when the studs are barely 2×2, yes, you can generalize.

          • 0 avatar
            TwoTone Loser

            Sears sold a few different grades of kit houses. The best of them were good quality homes. The “economy” grade kits were literally built with 50% less framing wood than the good grade ones. I lived in one growing up, and it was a truly awful little house.

      • 0 avatar

        Sounds like you were likely misinformed, not misled. It wouldn’t surprise me if the owner got confused. If the information wasn’t intentionally incorrect, that’s misinformation, not being misleading. The latter requires intention.

  • avatar
    el scotto

    This may be blasphemy to some. So you went to an auction and bought a certified, correct serial numbers muscle car of your dreams? So? They were frickking made in Detroit; not expensive high end vehicles from Germany, Italy, or England. Think Ferry, Enzo, Sir David. These cars are 40-50 years old. Most who never drove them will not care about them. Sorry, in 20 years they’ll be in much demand as Model T’s. It gets worse because I grew up in Indiana. There are yahoos running around proclaiming the Indianapolis 500 Pace Car they have parked in a storage space will be worth “big money” someday. Have Cooter and Jim Bob build you a clone. You can actually drive it, not worry, and take it cruising. Mug-n-Bun drive-in on 10th street in Indy, anyone? Take the money you saved and set up 529k’s for your grand kids. Donning flamesuit.

    • 0 avatar
      raph

      >>shurgs<< only fat old drunks at Barrett Jackson spend money on them anyways. Besides if your dropping six figures on an old Detroit muscle car I don't think you grand kids have much to worry about.

    • 0 avatar
      Bill Wade

      El scotto, you’re so right. I have a 1967 Hemi 4 speed GTX my mom bought new. I’m 61 and my kids could care less what happens to the car.

      I rarely drive it because frankly it’s miserable to drive and likely a new Camry V6 will out accelerate, stop and out handle it while getting 30 mpg with the air on.

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        “my kids could care less what happens to the car.” … “it’s miserable to drive”

        I’ll take it off your hands if you want.

        • 0 avatar
          Bill Wade

          It’s still fun to do massive burnouts in. :)

        • 0 avatar
          Dave M.

          Funny you should say that. I love Mustangs, and when the time came for my mid-life crisis, I started looking for a ’66-’70 Mustang convertible that I could buy and drive.

          After many test drives of some really nice cars and and some total crap, I decided I wanted to leave the memories at a distance and buy a modern, safe, great handling car.

          But I do love to go to auctions and car shows to admire everone else’s stuff…

    • 0 avatar
      golden2husky

      elscotto gets the ignorant comment award for the day. For the record, not every snot brand that you hold in such high regard is a pleasure to drive. Lets not even get into reliability. Enjoy what you like and let other do the same. Those “frikking” Detroit cars sell for what they do because that is what the public is willing to pay for them. Sheesh.

    • 0 avatar
      Madroc

      I’m with you to a point, but I’m still not a fan of “tribute” cars. I’d much rather see the original car restored as whatever volume-leader it actually is, or restomodded and to hell with authenticity. I agree that cars are meant to be enjoyed, not stored, but knockoffs (of anything) are a little tacky in my always-humble opinion.

      I also live in Indianapolis, I should check out that drive-in sometime.

  • avatar
    danio3834

    If you’re the kind of person who cares whether the vehicle is “numbers matching”, you’re going to take the time to decode it or demand proof no matter what. For the rest of us, a clone is fine as they’ll deliver the same driving experience without the collector premium.

    • 0 avatar
      Short Bus

      Yeah, personally I’d prefer a “driver”, but don’t specifically label the car as authentic unless it really is authentic.

    • 0 avatar

      I guess what I am thinking about are the people at the bottom of the market. I see “SS” cars advertised all the time, or at the very least cars that may not say “SS” in the title of the ad but then give you a close-up photo of a grill with an SS emblem.

      It seems like a sucker’s bet to me, they aren’t going to fool the serious collector who has the resources to search a car’s history, but they might fool some dumb kid (aka your’s truly not too long ago) who thinks he’s getting a great deal on a collector car.

      I’m not sure that there is anything that can be done legally, of course, people love to switch out the badges on their cars, I just wonder about the morality of it. Beyond that I agree, if I wanted something to drive and have fun with, a clone would be the way to go, but honestly I think an original Nova “Custom” with a small block, bench seat and a four speed would actually be cooler than any fake SS.

      • 0 avatar
        Lie2me

        How does the saying go? “One born every minute and two to take it away from him” You kind of have to have common sense about such things. If the history is vague or it’s a “steal of the century” run away. If you’re that naive about old cars, perhaps you should take up boating, no one every gets screwed on a boat

        *roll eyes*

        BTW one of the best watches I ever had was a fake Rolex, it kept perfect time for years. I didn’t get screwed, I knew it was fake because it was only $10 and I bought it in Tijuana

        • 0 avatar
          WaftableTorque

          I also have an awesome fake Rolex Datejust that I picked up for $60 at a flea market in Ho Chi Minh City. I wear it when I’m travelling, where I’m not concerned about losing it.

          It’s just a couple of grades below “genuine counterfeit”, with hand-windable automatic movement and sapphire crystal. You can’t even buy a real Timex or Fossil watch for that price that’s close in quality.

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        Sure, passing off a non Super Sport car as a real SS is fraud. But unless you can get some kind of guarantee in writing, there’s no recourse. It’s definitely caveat emptor when looking at old cars. If you don’t know for sure, assume it isn’t, is my rule.

      • 0 avatar
        Skink

        I could care less about this issue, but not a lot less.
        Caveat emptor.

        • 0 avatar
          kmoney

          The things is, at least around here, is that the bottom of the market for a nice turn key driver Chevelle, Camaro, Tempest, Cutlass etc… is say $12-18,000 on the low end. So if you are going to put out even that much money for a classic car you would think you would do your due diligence regardless. Though not Barret Jackson money, it’s still enough to hit forums and Google to find if it is indeed numbers matching and original.

          Though I guess I’m a bit biased, as I built a 455 powered GS400 clone out of my 67 Skylark. Not with the intention of fooling anyone, but because it’s my own car and I think the GS400 looked way better than the pedestrian Skylark.

    • 0 avatar
      tooloud10

      Agreed. If the numbers matching is the only thing that makes it a special car, that’s not a big deal to many buyers. The old SS models seemed to be little more than a swapped drivetrain and a paint/tape job on the exterior–maybe some fancier seats. Pretty easy to clone.

      It seems like modern “special” cars have all kinds of little changes that weren’t done on the base model–like how a new M3 is much more than a tarted-up 328i with a different engine.

  • avatar
    Acubra

    I have no problem with existence of clones per se. As long as the end result fells/drives/constructed as the original – it is as good as an original.
    What creates problem is the cold-hearted fellas with “$” signs in their lifeless eyes and with pockets filled with easy money, who flock in the classic car scene, turning it into “investment”. They drive prices into insanity, forcing out most true enthusiasts.
    And the big money invites big and serious fraud.

    • 0 avatar
      Syke

      My problem with clones is the reverse of most people’s thinking: To build that clone, a perfectly good, probably rare (due to nobody thinking they were special), 6-cylinder, automatic, ordinary car is trashed. It’s already getting to the point that a 6 cylinder Mustang, Camaro, Chevelle, etc. is something extraordinary because most of the remaining ones are being converted into ‘clone’, er, ‘fake’ cars.

      And an important part of automotive history is getting plowed under.

      • 0 avatar
        -Nate

        You’re right .

        And , apart from straight line drag racing , those old I6 powered cars are much better drivers .

        Unlike most ”
        Enthusiasts ” I actuall walk the walk and own and drive the wheels off of , a variety of old I6 powered American cars & light trucks .

        I do modify them a bit but I don’t baby them .

        Oops ! gotta run , my ride is here .

        -Nate

  • avatar
    Compaq Deskpro

    In my opinion, clones are alright as long as it is clearly documented as such. If possible, make it reasonable, taking a 6 cylinder Chevelle and calling it an SS454 is kind of ridiculous. Taking a 6 cylinder Chevelle and dropping a comparable crate motor in it is fine with me.

  • avatar
    bikegoesbaa

    I don’t think “authenticity” really matters much outside of pristine and well-documented high value cars or a specific chassis with a unique history behind it.

    I also don’t like people faking a trim level or package, though.

    I draw the line at badging. For example, if you really like the look and feel of a certain era Mustang Cobra but can’t/won’t pay the premium for one then by all means get a more pedestrian Mustang and upgrade the mechanicals and paint/trim to Cobra specs. Just don’t badge it as a Cobra.

    That way you wind up with something that looks and feels like a Cobra without the baggage of being a fake.

  • avatar
    jeffzekas

    Clones are cool. Selling a clone as authentic is fraud. Just like selling a fake Monet as if it were real is considered fraud.

  • avatar
    Prado

    I don’t have a problem with tribute muscle cars in the same way that I don’t have a problem with someone having a Picasso recreation or print. The originals are too valueable and rare for public consumtion. These tributes lets us all enjoy something we may never see or experience otherwise. Now trying to pass off your new M-Sport 3 series base v6 as a M3 (true story) is poserville all the way.

    • 0 avatar
      bunkie

      Those Bavarian V6s are pretty rare in their own right.

    • 0 avatar
      golden2husky

      The BMW brats of the 80s and early 90s were the worst of all with this stuff. How many Reagan era 3 series had an “M” slapped on the trunk? Saw it all the time…usually no other M gear, and no attempt to remove the 325i either….pathetic…maybe they covet owing an Enzo today.

      • 0 avatar
        tooloud10

        Ha, and what percentage of those M badges were applied in the wrong place or slightly crooked?

      • 0 avatar
        Lorenzo

        That’s the very fake Armani, vinyl alligator shoes type TK is talking about. As you and tooloud10 above point out, there are tell-tale signs of skulduggery that can make you pity those people.

        OTOH, there’s the gentle ridicule of one guy who put a BMW grille (and a lot more) on his Datsun 510, or a girl I know who wanted a BMW so her dad (!) put a BMW grille on her hand-me-down Horizon. I think he was trying to teach her something, but I’m not sure it was a moral lesson.

  • avatar
    Loser

    I don’t have a problem with clone/tribute cars as long as the owner doesn’t try to pass it off as the real deal when selling it. Personally I would not put the effort into making a fake but I understand why others do. As with any car it’s buyer beware, some clones can even fool the experts.

    While I love old muscle cars I am done with them. No matter how much work you put into them something is always breaking. Every time I picked up an old muscle car I’d tell myself this one will be a driver and no restoring it but that never seemed to work out. I’d slowly start fixing little things, then find myself having it painted and it would go out of control from there. Then the car would be too nice to drive unless it was a perfect day and then I’d still worry the whole time about rock chips, other drivers, hitting a deer…. It was just too much worry for me. Now I just stick with the new muscle cars.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      All the older cars I’ve had and restored, I never really had a problem driving, unless I just didn’t like the car that much. Once I discovered the reason I wasn’t driving the car was that I didn’t really like it, rather than worrying about ruining it, I sold it.

      One that I have right now, a ’63 Thunderbird that I’ve done quite a bit of work to, I drive all the time because it’s a joy. I’ve driven it in the rain, in the snow, in the heat, interstate, doesn’t matter. If it breaks, I’ll fix it. If it rusts, I’ll do the body work. it’s not an M-code tri power roadster, so doing anything to it won’t decrease it’s value. It’s a driver.

      • 0 avatar
        Loser

        danio, I honestly envy people like you that can drive an old car without worry. Old cars should be used and enjoyed but I’m just too anal to own a nice old car.

    • 0 avatar
      mikey

      As an owner of a 2011 2SS Camaro I have to agree with “Loser”. I would have loved to have had a late 60’s Chevelle SS clone. A well done clone from that era, is about the same amount of money, as the Camaro.

      A well done clone can be a great daily driver. As “Loser” points out, it still comes with all the problems, that late 60’s cars were born with. I don’t need the aggravation.

      What I am liking, is this “resto/mod” trend. A pro done 57 Chevy, or whatever, with a modern drive train. An LS3 set up, with a modern suspension, brakes, etc. Keeping the general look, and stance, of the original? Perfect! However, were still talking 6 figure money.

      To quote Robert Farago “whatever floats your boat”. For me,and my financial position? The modern Camaro/Mustang/ Challenger, does the job quite nicely.

      I see nothing wrong with the whole “clone” thing.

      Buyer beware.

      • 0 avatar
        Loser

        I’m with you on the resto mod trend. Best of both worlds but as you pointed out it takes a lot of money.

      • 0 avatar
        geozinger

        Let me “ditto” in agreement with you, Mikey. Restomods are really cool, maybe even cooler than an original car in some respects. But I also agree that a modern Camaro/Stang/Chally is the way to go.

        There’s a lot to be said for the newer construction and materials. I can’t speak for anyone else, but I personally am thrilled you don’t need to change the points or adjust the brakes or any of the other maintenance crap we used to have to do just to keep the car running *fairly* well.

        New cars are about as close to “set it and forget it” as we’ll ever get. Now that my kids are grown, the choices may be coming down to getting that Camaro SS or Challenger, although a thoroughly thought-out restomod would be a good alternative.

        • 0 avatar
          NoGoYo

          Restomods are what I want. 6.4 Hemi ’71 Roadrunner, LS7 C3 Corvette, all those sorts of thing. I’m addicted to the idea of classic looks with modern performance, but I just can’t fully accept Pro Touring cars because of their huge wheels.

      • 0 avatar
        sgeffe

        Are there authorized bodies-in-white available for the Tri-Year Chevvies and the like, in order to create your own copy if you can get the parts (interior, crate LS-whatever)? I thought there was a manufacturer of ’65-’67 Stangs whose bodies fit together better than the originals!

  • avatar
    OneAlpha

    Probably because it always struck me as pretentious, I’ve always had nothing but contempt for the attitude that says that for a hot car to be authentic, some factory has to have built it. If you built it yourself, it’s just a clone, unworthy and conceptually shoddy.

    Sort of like how a meal tastes better if someone else cooks it for you, even though you could literally make the exact same dish for yourself.

    But it’s all perception – in your head.

    I figure that a Hemicuda’s a Hemicuda, whether I made it or Plymouth did. I have a vicious iconoclast streak and love the idea of pulling a Cousin Eddie on the concours guys at the West Douche Canoe Yacht and Country Club.

    “Merry Christmas! The shitter’s full!”

    No, the numbers don’t match.

    No, I don’t have the build sheet.

    Yes, it’s still a Charger RT.

  • avatar
    69firebird

    I have nothing against it,unless it’s misrepresented for sale.You shouldn’t go to buy without knowing what the particular codes are and knowing where to find them.I’ve usually dealt with an unrestored car anyway,so stripes and emblems won’t get them a sale.

  • avatar
    slow kills

    This is no different than knock-off designer handbags. They exist for those who value the logo, the badge. People who care about the actual quality or collectability or something are not affected.

  • avatar

    There are many much worse ways that unsophisticated people get taken.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    1. Don’t sell a clone as “authentic”

    2. Don’t paint Yenko stripes on a 6 cyl car.

    3. If you want to spend silly money on building an engine with 4 figure HP # that’s your business.

    4. Don’t expect to make money on cars like they’re a freaking investment. Very few people can do that successfully.

    • 0 avatar
      Lie2me

      …and don’t ever, ever, name a car without a V8 “Roadrunner”

      Meep!

    • 0 avatar
      TheAnswerIsPolara

      Plymouth was the worst about cloning their own cars back in the day. They cloned the Duster 340 and dubbed it “Twister”. It had all the trim bits of the Duster 340 except for the motor and 340 decals.

      The “real” cars are out of the realm of people that will actually drive them. They’ve become museum pieces whose values will drop like rocks once this current generation passes on. I’d rather own a well-built Superbird clone than a real one; at least I can find one with a 440 + A/C!

  • avatar
    Domestic Hearse

    If one kid sells another kid a 65 Mustang Shelby GT that happens to be a notchback, fine by me. If they want to mutually stroke each other and believe it, more power to them.

    But if I’m searching for an original 67 Yenko Camaro, you can bet I’m going to verify any such claims to a vehicle’s provenance – as will anyone else who is willing to spend that kind of money for a piece of American motoring history.

    I guess the deal is this: As long as there are cars with ascending trim levels per each model, there will be fraudsters changing badging, equipment, wheels, etc to make the more basic trim model appear premium. And there will be fakesters like Trent in Thomas’ story more than willing to buy ‘em.

    But for true collectors, aficionados, half the fun of the collector car process is doing the research and then, the search itself. Wading through obscure build sheets and serial numbers and codes, tracking down previous owners, or the original selling dealer, or even a shipping manifest, all to verify a rare car’s authenticity.

    So, yeah, Trent can plaster stickers or emblems on his car, or buy one with these things already affixed. Don’t care. Because he’s only lying to himself and those willing to be lied to. He will never, ever, fool the serious collector looking for the real deal.

  • avatar
    mnm4ever

    If it is so obvious that its fake, then why would you crawl around in the dirty to check the serial numbers?? And if you are the kind of person that is going to spend more money on a car because its “authentic” then shouldn’t it be worth your time to find out if that is true rather than just trust the seller?

    As one who has been shopping for a classic car I can say that I hate anything labelled “numbers matching” or “real SS” or “all original”. That just means the seller is trying to get top dollar for the car no matter how crappy it is. I want to resto-mod my car and I don’t want to ruin the value of a true classic car.

  • avatar
    dabossinne

    As long as a “clone/tribute/replica/whatever” is represented clearly as such, no issues. Not my cup o’ tea, but to each his/her own. Free country, right…?

    That said, it’s buyer beware. We can say we shouldn’t have to have a PhD in VIN decoding, but the fact is you have to do your homework like it or not, and even then, you may get screwed. We’re all adults, and shit happens. Even to the ostensibly sophisticated buyer…

    A recent Sunday Morning show had a segment about rampant fraud in the rare vintage wine market. One of the billionaire Koch brothers, who is considered a renowned expert on uber-rare vintage wines, got taken for several hundred K on wines including several bottles that supposedly came from Thomas Jefferson’s estate. He even admitted on the segment that he should have known better. The perp was eventually caught, convicted and imprisoned, but not after selling or brokering several million $ worth of fake rare wines to rich, sophisticated buyers around the world, like Mr. Koch.

    Caveat emptor!

  • avatar
    redmondjp

    It doesn’t bother me at all – in fact, it’s a source of good lunchtime amusement when browsing CL.

  • avatar
    -Nate

    THANK YOU for the first video clip ~ I turned it up loud and enjoyed it .

    I’m with Danio , everything I own , valuable , rare or not , is to be driven as hard as I want , daily .

    Clones are O.K. I guess as I often modify my rigs to suit me ~ I don’t sell often and I never claim anything .

    Steve’s careful tap – dance makes me wonder…..

    I hate flippers , curbstoners and other dishonest folks ~ I’m getting a two handed jerkhoff from one right now , after I made him a nice generous deal .

    -Nate

  • avatar
    87 Morgan

    Most of the SS cars on CL are clones, what have you. I think today their are more SS Chevelles for sale than GM actually sold.
    As an owner of an original SS 454 but without the resources to have two, or the will power to not drive it I figured the smart play was a crate zz502, updated trans and off we go. When it is time for the car to go, original numbers matching motor and trans go back in and voila the next owner can have a garage queen. Meanwhile I am going to mile it up.

    Save the crate BB for the next one…so on and so forth. It seems to me with the technology available you can make an old muscle car quite reliable and comfortable with a reasonable amount of expense. I get your Camry is quieter and more efficient, but cruising an old muscle car to work or wherever is just plain fun.

    • 0 avatar
      mnm4ever

      I understand your theory but your car won’t be a garage queen. You will have the original low mileage motor but a well used car to put it in, complete with high miles. And to what end? You may as well drive your car with the original motor and just rebuild it if you blow it up. It isn’t worth any less if its rebuilt, as long as its numbers matching original.

      • 0 avatar
        87 Morgan

        More concerned about a rod through the block. I figured it was cheaper to transpose the drivetrain to the next. The car only has 26k miles on it, gonna take me a long time to hit high mileage status. But I get your point, in the end we have fun with it and I have not become delusional and think that I have some sort of investment in the garage. I don’t. It costs money and when I sell if I can maybe break even great for me but unlikely.

  • avatar
    luvmyv8

    I don’t mind clones either.

    Let’s be real here, try finding a legit Fathom Blue with white stripes ’70 Chevelle SS454 with a LS6 and 4 speed….. yeah probably not going to happen… at least reasonably.

    So instead you find a ’70 Malibu with a tired 305 and build it into said SS454 with the correct stuff and build it into a true tribute. You can do burnouts with it, cruise it and take it to the drag strip without worry. Best of all, you save a god old car and give it new life instead of letting it go to waste or it getting getting junked. Nobody gives a damn about a ’68 Plymouth Satellite with a slant 6, but build it into a proper Road Runner clone; now we talkin’.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      “Nobody gives a damn about a ’68 Plymouth Satellite with a slant 6…”

      See, I disagree here. If a car from 1968 made it all the way to 2014 then someone cared about it during its existence.

      I personally don’t like turning an original and running “pedestrian” version of an old vehicle into a clone/tribute.

    • 0 avatar
      mnm4ever

      So this is what I don’t get about clones. Why create a “tribute” of the SS454? Why not just modify the Malibu with whatever engine/trans/etc floats your boat and enjoy it the same way? I don’t get the enjoyment in making people think I own (and hoon) a $50-70k valuable classic. If anything, when they see you out there abusing it they are just gonna assume it isn’t real anyways.

      And @ajla — someone may have cared about it but it still isn’t worth much money which is why its a good platform to resto-mod. I’d start with an old 6-banger too if I can find one in nice shape.

      • 0 avatar
        Madroc

        My thoughts exactly. Do whatever you want to your Malibu, but change the badging and all you’re doing is trying to convince others that your car is something it’s not.

    • 0 avatar
      TMA1

      I would happily drive a ’68 Satellite without trying to turn it into a Road Runner clone. A ’68 Road Runner has no business with the 440 I’d stick in it anyway.

  • avatar
    AMC_CJ

    I would more then likely do the clone thing too. But then again, I care more about the car itself, then the image. If I was going to get another “muslce car” I’d go for a 66′ Tempest two door. I don’t even though I would put GTO anything on it.

    In high school a friend and his father restored a 70′ Nova. They did it up with all the SS trim, the car looked nice, but they kept the original Inline-6 and 2spd. Later the car received a 350 and 3spd, but for the first few years…..

    The older I get though, I find my taste drastically changing. A 64′ Imperial is the next old car I’m planning to buy, and maybe a Corvair convertible for her.

  • avatar
    pacificpom2

    Yeah, like putting Pontiac GTO badges on a Monaro or Chevy badges on a Commodore and Ford badges on a Nissan.

  • avatar
    mfgreen40

    In 1967 I bought a new SS 396 El Camino. Drove the snot out of it for about 4 years and it never gave me a bit of trouble . I loved that car at the time but I have no desire to buy it back and restore it. It is still in town but hasnt been on the road for many years and of course the owner knows what it is worth.

  • avatar
    George B

    People going to a car show probably assume most cars from the 60s and early 70s came with V8 engines and 2 doors. I don’t have a problem with building a tribute to a classic muscle car, but I’d probably install a more recent engine with electronic fuel injection and a transmission with an overdrive ratio if I was doing a drivetrain swap. I owned a 71 Chevelle Malibu and don’t have nostalgia for carburetors or iron engines.

  • avatar
    Ron B.

    Most clones are better than the originals with more power , better paint etc etc . Why spend huge money in a bubble to buy a car designed in a hurry to act as sales tool ?.

  • avatar
    Monty

    I’d prefer to keep the donor car all original – as I’ve aged I’ve become far more interested in the pedestrian 6cyl manual transmission car than the muscle car version.

    I’m looking seriously at a 69 strippo Dart 2-door post with a slant 6 and three on the tree that came out of northern California. It’s beautiful in it’s simplicity. Personally I find it far more interesting than a 69 Dart GT.

    As to clones, well as many have posted, caveat emptor. If it sounds to good to be true, it is.

    • 0 avatar

      This is what my own perspective has evolved into. I’m a Nova guy and I would love to own what I had in highschool, a plain Jane, 250 CID straight six, three on the tree car without power steering or power brakes.

      If that Dart is clean, you need to jump on that opportunity, they are few and far between these days.

    • 0 avatar
      Syke

      Likewise here. The truly rare cars anymore are the 6-cylinder, three-on-the-tree, rubber floor mats, no arm rest model. They’re as much automotive history as a muscle car, and are getting increasingly rare at shows.

    • 0 avatar
      Monty

      The biggest hurdle to the purchase of any old car is convincing Mrs. Monty first.

      I’m still searching for an Aspen SE coupe, a Pacer DL (with the 258 I6 and manual), any 60’s vintage Dart/Valiant strippo 2 door post, Falcon/Comet strippo 2 door post, ANY 50’s vintage strippo 2 door post, basically anything I had as a youth that appeals to me. I had a 67 Chevelle 396SS, and I couldn’t care less to have it again, but there’s something intrinsically appealing to me about the unloved strippo cars from the 50’s and 60’s.

      I came this >< close to a Studebaker pick-up out of Minnesota last summer, but lost the auction. It was strippo perfection, and a truly beautiful survivor. Mrs. Monty approved of that purchase, but has been decidedly apathetic to all the others so far. She was somewhat less apathetic about a 67 Ford Custom 2-door post, but the asking price exceeded my comfort zone.

      Eventually, I suppose.

  • avatar
    old5.0

    The reality is that the hobby of collecting vintage musclecars has become so diluted that it’s practically a farce. There is a certain “expert” in the world of Mopars on whose word tens of millions of dollars have changed hands through the years. Many have been under the impression that this gentleman is in possession of some secret trove of Chrysler records, when the reality is that he was in possession of nothing more than his own records, based on 30 years of observation. Fine, but far from foolproof. Several people have gotten burned on his word over the past few years, and now the expert in question seems to have ceased offering his services to the general public.

    Ford guys with their Marti Reports and Pontiac folks with PHS seem to feel that they’re immune from the general cutthroat nature of the hobby. They don’t seem to realize that these documentation services say nothing other than “VIN ‘W’ was equipped with options ‘X,Y and Z’ and was sold from dealership ‘A’.” A quick search reveals multiple individuals offering recreated trim tags, expertly aged paperwork and even VIN tags, for a considerable sum. As blatantly illegal as this is, it’s done right out in the open. Building an entire car around a VIN is a relatively simple procedure.

    I spent the better part of my twenties hunting down, buying and selling 60’s musclecars; the number of high-end cars I’ve found missing their VIN’s is shocking. The last I recall was a 68 Dodge Hemi Super Bee, or what was left of it. I bought the shell missing not only the fender tag and dash VIN, but all the body stamping #’s , which had been cut out with a torch. With no VIN to report to the police, I parted out what was salable and crushed the remains. Somewhere, somebody has a car in their garage wearing that VIN, and they are blissfully unaware that the car they probably paid six figures for is a fake.

    The moral of the story is, buy a car because you like that particular car and keep in mind that no matter how thoroughly you think you’ve investigated it, it may turn out later to not be what you thought it was. Investing in musclecars is a terrible idea, so buy for the fun factor and enjoy it.

    • 0 avatar

      Great post!

    • 0 avatar
      Carl Kolchak

      Kinda shocked to her about that “certain expert”. I remember years ago seeing ads for old Mopars having the vehicles “HH (one letter off)” certified.
      Here on the Twin cities Craigslist, there are 2 or 3 Yenko “tribute” Novas. Obviously clones but not bad for the money asked for.

      • 0 avatar
        old5.0

        I heard stories of a supposed Yenko 427 Nova here in Kansas for years. When I finally tracked the car down, it was as fake as a three-dollar bill. Or was it? The Yenko registry has what is believed to be a complete list of VIN’s, but there are questions surrounding even the original Yenko paperwork. Questions regarding whether or not the VIN lists are complete, or whether there may be other VIN lists that are currently unknown.

        That’s what makes it all such a crapshoot. Even experts can be fooled and considering the money involved, not even buying an untouched car from an original owner is a guarantee of anything. As the cars age, separating the wheat from the chaff is only going to become more difficult. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your outlook), I can easily see a time coming when every car will be viewed with suspicion and priced accordingly.

        This sort of thing isn’t limited to just the most valuable collector cars, either. Not far from where I’m typing this, there’s an 89 Saleen SSC Mustang sitting in a field on it’s floorpans, missing it’s original engine, trans, and all identifying numbers. I’ve even seen a couple of poorly faked 93 Cobras over the past couple of years. It seems as though this behavior has been become so ingrained in the collector car hobby that no car, or buyer, is safe.

    • 0 avatar
      Johnny Canada

      Old 5.0,
      Are you talking about self proclaimed Mopar “expert” Galen Govier?

  • avatar
    jacob_coulter

    I usually don’t have an issue with it, as long as the seller is honest about everything when it comes time to sell. The real cars are simply too valuable to really enjoy anymore. I do think though it’s absurd when someone makes a clone and thinks the value should be near that of the original.

    One thing that does bug me though is when people play the game with late model cars. I saw a “newish” Mercedes that someone had put AMG badges on, but it clearly wasn’t an AMG model. That’s incredibly douchey.

  • avatar
    stingray65

    Most muscle cars of the 1960s were terrible to drive in any manner except the drag strip. Heavy non-power steering and brakes on most, except those few with no-feel power steering and brakes. A/C wasn’t even available on the fastest versions, so you really stick to those nasty vinyl seats on hot summer cruise nights. Please don’t try to stop or turn as they really weren’t designed for that as most had crude ox-cart suspensions and tiny drum brakes that would be barely adequate for the 6 cylinder versions. They also don’t make good highway cruisers with the drag-strip gearing that have them screaming at 3,000+ RPM at 60 mph, while sucking down premium fuel at 10 mpg. The only thing many have going for them is lots of straight line power and good looks. Thus anyone making a true clone is doing so only to fool some sucker into paying more for what was a pedestrian version originally. Resto-mods make much more sense – keep the good looks but take the pain out of actually owning and driving them, and not fooling anyone that it is the real deal.

  • avatar
    fincar1

    Long, long time ago I watched a guy buy a car at an auction that was billed as a 1968 GTX but had the VIN of a Satellite, and a 318-powered Satellite at that. The seller didn’t even go to the trouble of putting a phony VIN tag on the dash. If the seller had marketed the car as a clone I’d have been okay with that, but he claimed it was a GTX.

    So when I decided I wanted a second-generation Firebird or Camaro I looked into both makes and found out that Z-28 Camaros didn’t have distinct VIN’s but that Firebird VIN’s were different for plain, Esprit, Formula, and Trans-Am cars, so I ended up with a Formula, because that was the car that fit my wants at the time. Although it was pretty clear from looking at the car that all the Formula trim was original it was nice to have the confirmation of the correct VIN.

  • avatar
    azmtbkr81

    A lot of guys did this when I was in high school and college only it was VTEC or various “JDM” badges on base model Civics and 240sxes. In one extreme case a guy turned his Miata into a somewhat convincing replica of a BMW Z3.

    While these badge jobs not the worst crime in the world I think it displays a lack of creativity. If I had sunk many thousands of dollars and hours into modifying a car I would not want people to think was a garden variety factory performance edition.

  • avatar
    pb35

    I have no issues with clones as long as they are identified as such as others have said. However, it has to be realistic, meaning I don’t want to see a 73 Charger converted to a Super Bee as the Super Bee package was no longer offered in 73.

    Otherwise, I would probably prefer a clone so I could drive and enjoy it without worrying about it.

  • avatar
    Lightspeed

    I’m OK with clones as long as the owner is upfront. I think it’s dishonest to build one to fool a prospective buyer. Having said that that, I built a clone that never existed. I had a 1978 Malibu coupe that had V8, 4-speed, full gauge package, bucket seats, console, heavy-duty suspension, all the usual sporty model stuff. I was working in a GM store at the time and ordered all the SS badges, NOS hood pins and cables, etc. I even found SS badges that fit perfectly in the center-caps of my American Racing 200S wheels. It looked exactly as as 1978 SS would have looked, had they made one. It looked great, but the funny part was when I couldn’t convince someone it wasn’t a ‘real’ 1978 SS!

  • avatar
    Johnny Canada

    Yup, it’s 1 of 500 of 300 built. Who knows how many clones are being passed off as the real thing. It’s turned me off ever playing in the collectable muscle car market. Dynacorn bodies and replacement body panels make you wonder how much of any old car is really original. It’s a fools game. However, sometimes justice is served:

    http://blog.hemmings.com/index.php/2012/04/12/ohio-man-busted-for-trying-to-sell-cloned-chevelle-z16-as-the-real-thing/

  • avatar
    Power6

    I just watched the video now, is that a peg-leg diff, one wheel peel on the take off so the clutches are blown if it isn’t. All that power is already undertired, no LSD makes that car virtually useless.

    That is a worse crime than the cloning!


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