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New muscle car stamps: How much to own the real cars?

By Phil Skinner, Collector Car Market Editor on February 27, 2013 1:59 PM
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New muscle car stamps: How much to own the real cars?New muscle car stamps: How much to own the real cars? 1New muscle car stamps: How much to own the real cars? 2New muscle car stamps: How much to own the real cars? 3New muscle car stamps: How much to own the real cars? 4

The United States Postal Service recently announced the upcoming release of a new series of stamps featuring some of the most popular muscle cars ever produced. To visit the local post office and buy a set of these stamps, offered in panes of 20, will cost you a cool $9.60. And if you should want to use them for actual postage, don't worry as these will be "Forever" stamps.

But if you want to own each of the cars shown on the stamps you should prepare to write a very big check. Here we take a look at the cars, as well as the prices.

First up is the 1970 Chevrolet Chevelle SS convertible shown in the popular color of Cranberry Red. The SS indicated the Super Sports package and implied one of a number of engine choices, all of them with substantial cubic inches and plenty of horsepower, could be found under the hood. The basic engine for the car was the 396 cubic inch, 325-horsepower "big-block" V8. In today's market you could expect to pay upwards of $60,000 for a version so equipped, but for those who want what some argue is the most powerful stock engine ever put into a Chevy, then they should seek the LS6 option.  With a displacement of 454 cubic inches and producing a claimed 450 horsepower, the engine drives the value of a Chevelle SS to something like $260,000.

The 1969 Dodge Daytona hardtop is a very-limited-production, one-year only edition that really stands out in a crowd. Hoping to gain a slipstream effect, racing engineers developed a spear-like nose and giant rear-deck wing, which combined to cut-down on drag while providing track-hugging down-force. To qualify for use in competition, it was mandated at least 500 had to be produced and offered to the public, thus was born a true NASCAR-inspired racecar for the street. Add to the dramatic bodywork a big 440 cubic inch V8 rated at 375 to 390 horsepower or the brutish 426 cubic inch, 425-horsepower Hemi V8, and the model was (and is) a force to be reckoned with. Just barely surpassing the minimum need with 503 units produced, the racing versions did manage to rack up 22 victories during their NASCAR run. These days, with the base 440 cubic inch engine one should expect to pay right about $125,000 for a pristine example, but one of the 70 built with the Hemi V8 command double that price plus a few more thousand dollars for good measure.

Another car featured from the Chrysler Corporation is the 1970 Plymouth "Hemi 'Cuda" coupe. Once again the 426 "Hemi" V8 engine is a key feature. 'Cuda was the high-performance version of the Plymouth's sport compact Barracuda first introduced in 1964. With its version of 425-horsepower V8, the 'Cuda was a small car with a very powerful engine.  On the new stamp the car featured is in the "High-Impact" color of Lime Light with the black "hockey stick" decals on the rear quarters denoting the surprise waiting under the hood. In today's active collector-car market, a sharp Hemi 'Cuda coupe should bring anywhere between $250,000 to just over the $300,000 mark, depending on other factors such as type of wheels, Magnum 500 or the Road-Rally styles and transmission.  (The transmission options were either the "727" automatic or a 4-speed manual with "pistol-grip" shifters.)  Other price differentiators: whether or not it was fitted with a basic push-button AM radio or deluxe AM-FM 8-track.

One of the sharpest looking muscle cars included in this set is 1966 Pontiac GTO. When first introduced, the GTO was a performance package for the stylish mid-size Le Mans, but for 1966 it became a model unto itself. It didn't hurt that Ronnie & the Daytonas produced a song extolling the capabilities of the model, and it became an AM radio hit. The brainchild of John Z. DeLorean, the hardtop example used by the Postal Service is lighting up the tires at sunset, powered by the big-block 389 cubic inch V8 putting out 335 horsepower with its basic 4-barrel carburetor or 360 horsepower if it was set up with the "three-deuces," a trio of two-barrel carburetors. Highly sought after today by collectors and performance fans from around the world, a 1966 GTO has a current Kelley Blue Book values between $51,500 and $64,000, again depending on equipment such as bucket seats, "Hurst" wheels or the all-important Posi-traction rear axle.

Rounding out the list is the Shelby GT500 fastback hardtop. Created as a collaboration between racing legend Carroll Shelby and Ford Motor Company, this car was based on the popular Mustang fastback. Delivered from the Ford factory directly to Shelby's shop in Southern California, this maestro of muscle included a bevy of high-performance touches like a Holley four-barrel carburetor that boosted the output to 345 horsepower. A tuned suspension aided handling; special alloy wheels provided the right look, and little touches like the Cobra finned air-cleaner and valve covers gave some under-hood eye-candy. While the exteriors could come in a virtual rainbow of colors, interiors were limited to a choice of parchment or basic black. With passing of Carroll Shelby in April 2012, the value of these Mustang-based Shelby's has been on a steady climb with current values of an excellent condition GT500 ranging between $150,000 to about $170,000, again depending on equipment.

So how much to bolster your collection with five of the finest All-American muscle cars ever produced? Somewhere between $650,000 and $1 million.

But if you can't make the next classic car auction, there's always the post office.

 

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