THE BOT­TOM END

Muscle Car Review - - Contents -

When I was a kid buy­ing my first car book, Con­sumer Guide’s Cars of the 60s, there was a sec­tion in the back that showed pro­duc­tion num­bers by year and model. I tended to grav­i­tate to rare cars like the 1963 Ford Thun­der­bird Sports Road­ster. If a cer­tain car was cool, a rarer one would be cooler, right?

With adult­hood, I have learned that rar­ity is not every­thing, yet en­thu­si­asts en­joy learn­ing how many ve­hi­cles were built like theirs. Where does the data come from?

When many of these books were writ­ten in the 1980s, the level of in­for­ma­tion was lim­ited be­cause mus­cle cars had just be­gun to come into their own. There were sta­tis­tics pub­lished in magazine ar­ti­cles, such as the “fact” that 18 LS6 Chev­elle rag­tops were made in 1970, which have never been sub­stan­ti­ated; never mind more than 18 doc­u­mented ex­am­ples ex­ist. Other times, the factory pro­moted in­cor­rect in­for­ma­tion, like the 1977 let­ter I’ve seen from Chrysler His­tor­i­cal that shows 108 Hemi GTX hard­tops built in 1967 (the true num­ber is more than 700, but more on that be­low). Many books con­tain the same in­for­ma­tion for over 35 years with few changes.

With all the folks at car shows, on fo­rums, on eBay, and else­where tout­ing rar­ity, how does a hob­by­ist know what is true? Here are some re­sources.

AMC

SS/AMX ex­pert Tom Ben­vie has put sev­eral doc­u­ments on TheAMCFo­rum.com that show pro­duc­tion num­bers by year/model/ bodystyle/en­gine for 1968-1974. Other in­for­ma­tion seems to be scat­tered, with ru­mors of pro­duc­tion doc­u­ments be­ing hoarded by col­lec­tors.

Buick

The Sloan Mu­seum (sloan­long­way.org/ au­to­mo­tive-re­search) will pro­vide pro­duc(galen­govier.com) tion sta­tis­tics for a fee. It should have all the neat stuff, like how many 1969 GS 400 con­vert­ibles were built in Bur­nished Brown (100). But given the man­ner in which Buick kept records, it’s also pos­si­ble to dis­cover cer­tain com­bi­na­tions, like how many rag­tops were built with the Stage 1/four-speed/ AC combo (7).

Chevrolet

The GM Her­itage Cen­ter (gmher­itage­cen­ter.com/gm-her­itage-ar­chive/ ref­er­ence-col­lec­tion) has pages upon pages of Chevrolet pro­duc­tion in­for­ma­tion, but it’s all gen­er­al­ized. For in­stance, it lists the to­tal of 1968 L72 427/425 full­size ve­hi­cles re­gard­less of model, body style, or trans­mis­sion (568). Ad­di­tion­ally, thanks to Ton­awanda en­gine pro­duc­tion re­ports, we know the trans­mis­sion split of many mus­cle Bow Ties, in­clud­ing the 1970 LS6 SS 454s (as pub­lished in Dale McIntosh’s Chev­elle Data and ID Guide). Plus, the Na­tional Corvette Re­stor­ers So­ci­ety (chevy­mus­cle­docs.com/in­dex) of­fers the Month Car Shipped Re­port that gives lim­ited in­for­ma­tion for 1965-1972 Ca­maro, Chev­elle, and Nova ve­hi­cles.

FoMoCo

You can buy a By the Num­bers book from Marti Auto Works for 1967-1973 Mus­tangs and Cougars. Or, if you wish to learn more about those or other 1967-2012 ve­hi­cles from Dear­born, you can or­der a Deluxe or Elite Marti Re­port (mar­ti­auto.com/mar­tire­ports.cfm) for the ac­tual in­voice, plus more de­tailed pro­duc­tion info. (The Deluxe will show color, color/in­te­rior, en­gine/trans­mis­sion, and a ran­dom in­di­vid­ual op­tion, such as 11 1971 Torino Brougham two-door hard­tops built with the op­tional Shaker.) As li­censed by Ford, Marti has the most elab­o­rate pro­duc­tion records go­ing, so for a fee you can dis­cover how many red 1969 Mach 1 428 CJs were built with Drag Pack, 4.30 gears, four-speed, con­sole, and AM/FM stereo ra­dio.

Mopar

Chrysler His­tor­i­cal Ser­vices has build records up to 1967 but usu­ally doesn’t dis­trib­ute pro­duc­tion sta­tis­tics. (Fax or mail re­quests only to His­tor­i­cal Ser­vices, 12501 Chrysler Free­way, CIMS: 410-11-21, Detroit, MI 48288; fax 313/252-2928). Galen Govier is the guru for that, but his stats are gen­er­ally for U.S.-spec cars, which doesn’t re­flect to­tal pro­duc­tion (mean­ing Cana­dian and ex­port ship­ments are not in­cluded). Sta­tis­tics and op­tions are avail­able, so it is pos­si­ble to find out how many Amer­i­can-mar­ket ’Cu­das came with Hemis or were painted Moulin Rouge, but to know the com­bi­na­tion is im­pos­si­ble— peo­ple com­bin­ing sta­tis­tics are just mak­ing up num­bers. Sono­ramic, Max Wedge, and 1964-1965 Hemi in­for­ma­tion is avail­able through Dar­rell Davis’ se­ries of books (race­hemi.maxwedge.com/dld).

Oldsmo­bile

The GM Her­itage Cen­ter has no in­voice records for mus­cle-era Oldsmo­biles, but scat­tered pro­duc­tion records can be found for 1964, 1967, and 1970-1973 for a fee. Some carry in­com­plete in­for­ma­tion, while oth­ers are de­tailed: for ex­am­ple, how many 4-4-2s were or­dered with the W-27 alu­minum rear? Pro­duc­tion sta­tis­tics only ex­ist through June 1970 be­cause the July doc­u­ment is miss­ing, so to­tal pro­duc­tion can’t be known.

Pon­tiac

Give Jim Mat­ti­son’s PHS Au­to­mo­tive Ser­vices (phs-on­line.com) the VIN of your Pon­tiac and pay a fee, and you’ll re­ceive the factory in­voice or billing his­tory that tells you every­thing about how your car was equipped new. Few brands are af­forded this lux­ury, al­though if you want pro­duc­tion num­bers, reach out to the GM Her­itage Cen­ter. For­mer Pon­tiac hon­cho Fred Sim­monds de­serves credit for com­pil­ing plenty of pro­duc­tion in­for­ma­tion in 1989, but a lot re­mains undis­cov­ered. Also help­ful is the Pon­tiac-Oak­land Mu­seum (pon­ti­a­coak­land­mu­seum.org), as new sta­tis­tics are com­ing to light thanks to Mike Noun’s re­search.

“The factory pro­moted in­cor­rect in­for­ma­tion”

The GM Her­itage Cen­ter can tell you how many Judges came with the Ram Air III and M20 four-speed, but it can’t tell you how many were Gold­en­rod Yel­low.

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