Challenger and Barracuda, 1970-1974 (top); Corvette, 1968-1982. Click image to enlarge
Corvette 1968-1982 & Challenger & Barracuda 1970-1974
By Russell Purcell
Two new releases directed at the muscle car restorer hit the shelves in March. Minneapolis based Motorbooks continues on its corporate quest to provide the automotive enthusiast with titles designed to grow the car hobby as well as make participation in this growing sector more enjoyable.
The Chevrolet Corvette is a true staple of the North American automotive scene as it has been prowling our streets and roadways for almost six decades. The third generation Corvette holds a unique position in the model’s long lineage as the C3 was produced for nearly 15 model years. The good news is that due to the length of this production run there are lots of these cars out there, and often, at bargain prices. A wealth of inventory means that the supply of parts is abundant as well, making the restoration process less tedious.
While the Corvette is decidedly American, the two men behind this book are not. Few can match Author Tom Falconer’s breadth of knowledge when it comes to America’s sports car, and I must admit that I was impressed with how much information he squeezed into 12 dozen pages of text. In reality, this shouldn’t have come as a surprise, as Falconer has penned two similar guides dedicated to earlier Corvette models (C1 and C2). Celebrated lens-man James Mann provides this glossy book with the eye candy to help bring these cars to life and his careful composition and ability to focus on the most important details is why he is regarded as one of the best shooters in the business.
Although the original Dodge Challenger and its Plymouth cousin, the third generation Barracuda, arrived relatively late to the party that was the Muscle Car Era, these two Mopar missiles were among the best of the species.
Author Jim Schild is a stickler when it comes to the details: apart from being both a word whiz and equally talented with a camera (his photography is featured throughout the book), he is also a member of a long list of collector car organizations as well as The Society of Automotive Historians. This means that he understands the importance of preserving cars like the Challenger and Barracuda for generations to come, and preferably, in the most accurate state possible.
Due to intense levels of competition on the track, drag-strip, and of course, in the showroom, muscle car models evolved at a furious pace. This was especially true in the Mopar camp, where buyers seemed to have an endless selection of engines to choose from (there were no less than 10 options available for the engine bay in 1970) ranging from peppy slant-sixes to fire-breathing V8s. The variety of colours, trim, and graphic packages was also unparalleled during this period.
Both books will prove to be invaluable should you be on the look-out for one of these automobiles. After a quick look at what information a prospective buyer can glean from the Various identification numbers scattered throughout the car (e.g. Vehicle Identification Number (VIN), body code plate (fender tag), as well as the associated trail of documentation tied to a car (e.g. production broadcast sheet, manufacturer’s retail price label, sales catalogues and dealer publications), both authors dig deep into the process of decoding a car. Knowing where to look and what to look for could save you from throwing good money down on an inferior car or component.
Subsequent chapters dissect and examine each model year’s production run, pointing out differences and similarities in equipment and specifications as we progress along.
Another nice feature of both titles is the comprehensiveness of the index. It’s obvious that the two authors were careful to organize it in such a way that it permits the reader to quickly navigate through the pages with a level of accuracy usually reserved for much larger reference works.
The arrival of high-quality publications like these two books is a benefit to everyone as they impart valuable knowledge, tips, and information to an audience increasingly dedicated to preserving those cars deemed special enough to avoid the scrap yard.
Collector’s Originality Guide: Corvette 1968-1982
Collector’s Originality Guide: Challenger & Barracuda 1970-1974