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Classic Car Watch
A&E Classic Cars, New Braunfels

NOTE: This column displays cars I have found on the Internet. I am not selling them. Please follow the links if you are interest in a car. Be mindful of the date this article was published. For an explanation why I do this read the original column here.

February 10, 2018
By Scott Lewis

On Saturday, Feb 10th, I visited A&E Classic Cars. This is a classic car dealership in New Braunfels, Texas. I pass this dealer on my way to work everyday.

There were 3 main goals to this trip:

  1. Look at a 1970 Monte Carlo they had for sale to compare with another Monte Carlo I test drove by a private seller.
  2. Make a note of the condition of several cars over a wide price range. I wanted to be able to come away knowing how well their web site represented their cars. This would tell me if I can considering cars from this dealership just from their web site.
  3. If I really liked something, open a dialog to consider buying something.

I really didn't expect to consider buying anything until I visited a couple of classic car dealers in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. And of course, there is Houston to consider. But I needed to start with the dealer closest to me.

Let's answer those three question right away.

  1. The 1970 Monte Carlo was already sold. Darn, I don't get to compare what a $20K car from this dealership with a similar car from a private seller.
  2. I was very impressed with the dealership and the quality of its cars. Every car I saw was as good if not better than it was represented on their web site. The showroom was very nice, and they had no problem with me crawling all over the cars (I brought a flashlight and kitchen magnet). Every car was rust free and very clean underneath. Cars were all well detailed, and looked like they would do well at a local car show. Certainly they would all look great at Cars & Coffee.
  3. I actually liked one of the car so much I did open a dialog with them. I told them I was planning to buy something by the end of march. I gave them my card, and asked them to let me know if anything was happening with one car, to give me a chance at buying it.

My only concern with A&E Classic Cars was with prices. As you will read below, some of their cars just don't seem to be worth the price they are asking. I am no expert, so this is only my opinion. After I visit the dealers in Dallas next weekend I may change my mind. I will also do my best to find cars from the dealers in Dallas that compare closely feature for feature to some cars below... just to see what I can learn.

Below are the cars I looked at in order of price. This was done on purpose to find the magic price point that the condition/price ratio produced cars I would be willing to buy.

All of the "notes" below were before going to the dealer. All of the "updates" where what I observed (or remember observing) about the cars during my visit.

Let's see what they had of interest (to me).


1970 Monte Carlo - $19,900 (link)

Description: White with White over Blue, 350, Auto on Column, Bench, A/C.

Notes: I would have the vinyl roof replaced with black. The ad mentioned a "date coded" engine. This typically means there is no visible VIN number on the engine, so they can't prove the engine is the original. However, they likely believe that it is.

I have seen this car on their web site for approximately a year. That is a long time to be holding out for a price.

Update: SOLD! I was not able to determine how good this car was for $20K. So the Green Monte Carlo I saw last week is still in the running.


1966 Mustang - $25,900 (link)

Description: Burgundy over Black, 289, 4 Speed.

Notes: This is a very clean looking Mustang Coupe. But there is nothing special here. I am disappointed with the gauge pod. It is dull, like very dull. Shouldn't it be some kind of chrome (electroplating)? Other than that I really like this Mustang. It just seems too high a price. Seeing it in person should help determine if it justifies its price.

Update: The pictures do not capture the gauge pod accurately. It looked pretty crappy in the photos on their web site. Seeing it in person it was not that bad. However, it was gray in color, like it was painted that way. Maybe this was an inexpensive version of the gagge cluster. I would MUCH prefer one with nice chrome (electroplating). So the gauge pod does not look bad, but it does look cheap. Other than that this was a very nice Mustang. I would love to drive it. However, it is a very low option car, and just seems overpriced to me.


1965 Mustang - $27,900 (link)

Description: Burgundy over Black, 289, 4 Speed.

Notes: The price goes up a notch here. The first thing I notice is the gauge pod. Here it is chrome (yea, fake chrome -- electroplating). It looks a lot nicer than the car immediately above. Unfortunately, I really, really like the 5 gauge cluster over the bar speedometer. So I would be looking to replace the gauge pod on either of these cars. This car's interior does look much nicer in the photos than the 66 above. This will be an excellent chance to see how well that translates into seeing the cars in person.

The cost here is really starting to bother me. $28K for a Mustang with nothing special about it. No Pony Interior, no GT equipment, nothing inspiring enough to justify the price unless this car is in super excellent condition. When I list all the Mustangs I am interested in it will become more clear why I think this car is overpriced. Stay tuned for that... it is only a few days away.

Update: This car has a really nice paint job. I shined a flashlight on it and it has a nice amount of metallic in the paint. Not something that would look gaudy. I think it would really pop in the sun. As for the interior, it is comparable to the car above. This means the car above could use slightly better interior photo. I liked this car, quite a bit. It does seem worth the extra $2K over the other Burgundy Mustang. Granted, both are low option cars and I think are each a few thousand too high. At least this one has disc brakes.


1968 Mustang - $28,900 (link)

Description: Frost Blue over Blue, 289, Auto.

Notes: Those wheels look amazing. I am seeing a slight color variation between teh fender and the door. I don't see it on the other side. This will require seeing it in person to see if part of this car was painted separately from the rest. Again, the price went up, but the car does not seem special. None of these Mustangs even have A/C. None are GTs, none seem to have any special options. Only the 65 has disc brakes. Maybe I am being too hard on them. We will just have to wait and see.

Update: This car surprised me. For starters, the pictures on their web site of the steering wheel had me thinking it would need to be replaced or restored pretty quickly after buying it. Not true. In person it was not perfect, but very acceptable and not an embarrassment. Once I got that out of the way this car continued to impress me. I really liked it. Even so, it is just a coupe, and very low optioned. It had drum brakes for heaven's sake. I am having a hard time justifying the price.


1972 Camaro RS - $29,900 (link)

Description: Yellow over Yellow/Black Houndstooth, 350, 4 Speed, A/C.

Notes: Now we are talking. For just another $1,000 this car is way more special than the 68 Mustang directly above. I have only one complaint about this car... the color. I really like the early 2nd Gen Camaro in RS trim, with the proper split bumper and the turn signals inboard of the headlights. Perfect. Add to that this car has a 4 speed and air conditioning. What more could you want in a really clean classic Camaro. Here is the weird part... I love the interior. Yellow Houndstooth! It is awesome. I just don't know if I could see myself driving around in a Canary Yellow car.

More Notes: The engine decal on air cleaner shows 245 horsepower. However, no 350 in 72 was rated at that. The Z/28 had 255. The SS came with a 350 rated at 200 horsepower (L-48). Other Camaros would get a 350 rated at 165 horsepower (L-65). Digging a little further, in 1971 (when GM used gross hp ratings) the base 350 - 2 Barrel engine was rated at 245 horsepower. Clearly, someone put the 1971 engine decal on this car.

Update: This car was my biggest problem going in. Yellow. And not just yellow... but eye searing Canary Yellow! Do I really want a car this bright. As it turn out... Yes I do. Why? Because this car is everything I want. It is in super nice condition. It has a 4 speed, front disc brakes, and air conditioning! It is a real split bumper RS car. I love it. They told me they were going to repaint the rear stripes due to some weird light spots on them. That's cool!

Overall I really liked this car. So what's wrong. Well, as best I can determine it is not a numbers matching car. I will do a little more research, but I did not see the last few digits of the VIN on the block. Granted, what I did see was some numbers and letters. I will have to do a little research on this. It is possible that since this is a base 350 - 2 barrel engine it does not get a VIN stamped into it. I don't know. In fact, I suspect it won't matter to me at all. If this has a stock 350 with a 2 barrel carb it doesn't stop me from getting some Edelbrock aluminum heads, four barrel intake manifold and Holley Sniper EFI. And while in there drop in a little more cam. I do need to test drive this car to see how much power it has. See the 73 Z/28 below for more.


1970 Camaro - $29,900 (link)

Description: Gold over White, 307, Auto on Column, No Console.

Notes: I normally don't like gold on older cars, but this one looks great. The interior is less inspiring, but I can live with it. I just can't get over that this car is priced this high with a 307 engine. Really? Let's make that a little worse... a column shift in a Camaro! What were they thinking. And this car doesn't even have A/C like the the 72 RS above. I really need to see this car next to the 72 to gauge condition, because that is the only reason this car should be priced this high. No granted, I know this dealer does consignments, so maybe this is on consignment and the price is being dictated by the owner. It seems like a chance to offer $25K straight up. That would leave some money to get a console, A/C and proper factory gauges in that lovely faux wood dash.

Update: I just don't get it. Yes, this car presents very well. It is really nice. The interior is a light tan - off white color that just does not impress. And it is a 307, and not even a numbers matching 307, just a period correct 307. And it is a Camaro with a column shift and no console. So why is this car $30K and not $22K. I just can't see spending this much on a car with so little going for it.


1973 Camaro Z/28 - $36,900 (link)

Description: Red over Black, 350 #'s Match, Auto, A/C.

Notes: Here is some trivia... 1973 was the first year you could get factory A/C on the Z/28. That is not the case here. The A/C is aftermarket. That is not a bad thing. I would do it to any car above that does not have it. Plus it doesn't have the big, ugly box on the firewall. I like it. I also really like this car. A red Camaro!!! It mentions aluminum heads. That is a plus. Remember, this is a number matching 350. DO they have the original heads to make the engine all original again? Not that I really care, but it would help with resale value.

I am totally digging this car. I need to drive it!! The only thing that would make this car better if the RS Split Bumper front end. Darn. We were that close. This is pretty close to the top of my budget. I was not going to spend over $35K unless it was an absolutely perfect car. Depending on how this car drives, maybe it is perfect.

Update: Wow! This car looked awesome! But at the very top of my budget. I would be putting everything I have into this car. Fortunately it does not need anything. I need a test drive. This has the numbers matching 350 engine with 245 NET horsepower. That's 80 more than the 72 Camaro RS above. I need to drive these two cars back to back to see how much a difference the power makes. Granted, adding power is easy, especially with a 350 small block Chevy. But since this car costs so much more than the 72 Split Bumper car, I need to know if it is worth it. If this car had the RS package with the split bumper that would make it special enough to go to the top of my budget. Also, for a Z/28 it does have an automatic. I can go either way, but when I have to compare apple to apples (73 Z/28 w/ Auto vs. 72 RS w/ Manual) the 4 speed is going to have a distinct advantage. I need to feel the power of these two cars.

Here is something. I saw another Camaro (way out of my price range) that had red Houndstooth seats. That immediately made me want to put that into this car. It would look awesome!!! If fact, a perfect merge would this car with the 72 RS above. How about a red RS-Z/28 with a manual and red Houndstooth seats? Yea, keep dreaming.

I could seriously consider this car. But I need to know that the quality of these cars is worth their prices. I need to visit those dealers in Dallas/Fort Worth.


1969 Camaro - $36,900 (link)

Description: Glacier Blue over Black, 350, Auto on Column.

Notes: A 69 Camaro!!! You know I really like these. My previous column was all about the 69 Camaro. So let's start taking this car apart. 1) the exhaust is weird. Those tailpipes have to go. That's easy. Column shift automatic. Really? Again? I am not a fan of the pinstripes. I would see if they could be removed. Finally... at the top of my budget and no A/C. So close!!!

They also mention "period correct" for the engine. That means that is likely not the original engine, or they can't prove it. Either way... that impacts resale value and at this price I was something special or at least the original engine.

Oh yea... some idiot cut holes in the door panels for speakers. I should look up the price of replacement door panels before going.

Update: There is absolutely nothing special about this car... in my opinion... that justifies this price. It has drum brakes in front. Come on?!? Oh yea... another Camaro with a column shift automatic and no console. Why isn't this car $30,000. It has nothing special about it except that it is super clean. Not a #'s matching engine, no console, no gauges, no A/C, no disc brakes. It is s super low optioned Camaro. I just can't imagine paying this much.


1972 Chevelle - $37,900 (link)

Description: Pumpkin Blood over Black, 454, Auto w/ Console.

Notes: Now we are getting into stuff I am unsure of... for myself. Do I want a Bad Ass car. This looks like a really nicely painted and built Chevelle. If so it is probably well worth the money. Why didn't they put in A/C. Oh well. I would have to do some soul searching on a car like this. But I want to see it and see if it looks worth what they are asking.

Update: Getting up close to this... it is not special enough. I had hopes it would have a show quality paint job (or near to it). Nope. Just a nice paint job in a slightly unusual color. And it has a 454. But it ends there. This car has stock disc/drum brakes behind those massive 18/20 inch wheels. No A/C. And the lens covers to the gauges are very hazy. This car is just a NOM Big Block and a Paint job. It's just not for me.


1966 Mustang GT - $38,900 (link)

1966 Ford Mustang GT – Wimbledon White / Red full

Description: Wimbledon White over Red, 289, 4 Speed, A/C.

Notes: Now we are talking. A real Mustang GT with a 4 speed and A/C. This is what we call special. And would you look at all that fake wood. I am in heaven. So why aren't we breaking the budget to buy this car. Well, that will be more apparent when I show you a list of Mustang. There are a couple of really nice Mustang GTs coming that are significantly lower in price than this one. Take a look at this Red Mustang GT for an example of what's to come! Or this Mustang GT with a bench seat for $11K less.

This car is going to have to really impress me to get me to think about spending $6K more than a red Mustang GT with more options.

Update: I did not get to see this car. It was in the service area. Darn. Just a tick over my budget, but again I need to know if its price is justified compared to some other Real Mustang GTs I am seeing on the Internet. Maybe I will look at it the next time I am at A&E Classic Cars.


Conclusion

I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to A&E. Way more than I thought I would. I get it, they are in the business of buying and selling cars. They need to make a profit. All of their cars are very well presented. I just need more experience with other dealers before I make up my mind that their prices are worth it.

Next week (Feb 17th) I am going to Dallas/Fort Worth. I will generate a similar list to the cars I look at up there and tell you about them and give you my opinion of those dealers. That should leave me armed with enough information to decide if I can just shop at A&E and wait until they have a car I want to buy.

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