First: Where’s Elvis?
Before I get into answering more collector car questions this week, I’m already receiving input from readers about my lack of mentioning Elvis Presley’s auto racing movies in last week’s racing movies column. Elvis played a race driver in three of his many movies, including Speedway (with Nancy Sinatra), Spinout (with Shelly Fabares), and Viva Las Vegas (with Ann Margaret).
I promise I will revisit these and other movies from my reader input list of favorites and flops, so keep the letters coming. I’ll give you a sneak review as to why his movies didn’t make the list, as the Elvis race driver movies were neither great nor horrible in my opinion. Stay tuned.
Now, on to our other letters.
1968 Chevy Malibu Station Wagon
Q: Hi Greg. I recently purchased a 1968 Chevelle Malibu 4-door wagon and I’m going to rebuild the whole car and fix everything that needs fixing. It has the “L73” nomenclature 327 V8 with 250 horsepower and an automatic transmission. Although it needs a good paint job, it runs very strong and only has 86,000 miles.
How many Malibu wagons were built in ’68 and what is the current value and how many do you think are left? Thanks much, Bob from Lancaster, Pa.
A: Bob, you have two things going for you with your’68 Malibu Wagon. First, you don’t see many of them anymore and second, station wagons are popular with collectors nowadays. Additionally, the ’68 Malibu Wagon is a good-looking machine, and yours happens to be a 327 V8 instead of the much lesser valued 6-cylinder models.
Although your wagon will never be worth what a sibling Malibu SS 396 might bring at an auction, your 327 powered Malibu Wagons does have collector value over and above what some might think.
I’d go ahead with fixing what needs to be done and then apply a nice color. As for my personal choice of colors, if the engine, paint and transmission match in build code, I’d lean toward painting it the original color if you want a numbers matching original. However, if it’s not number matching, then use your imagination and you may end up with a machine worth more than a numbers matching wagon. If it were mine, I’d go for one of the new, brilliant, gold, orange or blue super metallic colors and add shiny chrome wheels. I guarantee you’ll get lots of looks on the highway and the car shows.
As for current May 2020 book values, Hagerty Insurance lists the ‘68 Malibu Wagon 327 V8 model in No. 3 good condition at $17,400 in and in fair, No. 4 condition at $13,400. Thank goodness your wagon has the 327 under the hood as the 6-cylinder models are about 50% less. A perfect condition 327 ’68 Malibu Wagon goes for $28,800 in No. 1 condition, followed by $22,800 for a No. 2 excellent condition Malibu Wagon. I’d say your car is between a 3 and 4 condition and worth an easy $14K or so.
Production finds only 14,788 Malibu V8 4-door wagons produced in 1968 from a total of 464,669 Chevelles built in America. There were other Chevelle Wagons, ranging from Nomad to Chevelle 300 to Concours, but these totaled less than 25,000 V8 models combined, so even with your 14,788 build number, the total V8 wagons are less than 40,000, which is why you don’t see many of them as very few are left today.
Bob, the choice is yours as to how you paint and rebuild your Malibu wagon. However, when it’s finished it will be a show car stunner and boulevard attention getter for sure.
1964 Buick LeSabre with aluminum heads
Q: Hi Greg, I enjoy your articles very much and look forward to each one. I was wondering if you might be able to give me an estimate of what my vehicle would sell for. It is a 1964 Buick LeSabre 4-door and I purchased it in 1967 with less than 20,000 miles on it. It has been garaged most of the time and I have maintained it regularly.
The interior is practically mint, as I added floor mats 40 years ago. There is a small ding on the bottom of the left fender and a couple small spots at the bottom of the rear door; it may be deteriorating a bit from the inside. Other than that the car looks mint and is a real eye catcher when I take it out.
It has an aluminum head and cast block V8 engine, and I was told the engine would cost $10,000 if it were replaced. I can’t be sure about this remark. Any information you can give me would be greatly appreciated. Jim, Florida.
A: Jim, in 1964 Buick produced 93,781 LeSabre 4-door models in hardtop and sedan form from a total Buick run (all models included) of 511,667 cars. Three V-8 engines were available, including the 300 cubic inch V8 in your car, along with a 401-inch 325-horse engine and a 425-inch 340-horse engine.
Your V8 puts out 210 to 250 horsepower depending on either a 2- or 4-barrel carburetor. Yours is indeed an aluminum head engine, and if it were to break down, it indeed would be costly to fix. However, you can still find these heads on eBay for about $200 to $500 or so every now and then, so you surely won’t need $10,000. The 300-inch block, by the way, is a cast iron version of the 215-inch all-aluminum V8, used by Olds, Pontiac and Buick; the latter introduced the engine in 1961. That 215 all-aluminum engine, by the way, was purchased by numerous other car manufacturers including Rover, MG, Jaguar and Triumph, and lived through 2006 in powering vehicles. Hot Rod enthusiasts loved this engine for many different applications, especially in Great Britain.
I checked Hagerty classic car values and your model is listed at $7,500 in good condition and up to$16,800 in perfect restored condition. Your LeSabre might fetch even more to a die-hard Buick lover because of the aluminum head engine and its excellent original shape. Excellent condition versions are listed at $11,000.
Good luck wit your Buick LeSabre and thanks for reading my column.
1964 Fairlane Ranch Wagon
Q: I have a 1964 Ford Fairlane Station Wagon. I am trying to keep it in good running condition and appearance and I would like to know how many of these cars were produced. I’ve only seen one other car like this in an area of 50,000 people. It has the 260 V8 engine and automatic transmission. Jim P. Rocky Mount, N.C.
A: You’ve got a pretty nice and rare piece there, Jim. Ford produced only 24,962 Fairlane 500 Station wagons in ’64, and since wagons are on the endangered species list, the longer you keep it, the better. Your Fairlane Ranch Wagon was 16.5-inches longer than the Falcon compact and 11.7-inches shorter than the full size Ford. It has a wheelbase of 115.5 and weighs 3,310 lbs. It is listed in Hagerty’s price guide as of May of 2022 is, in declining order from $18,900 (Perfect); $14,900 (Excellent); $10,900 (Good); and $4,700 (Fair).
Good luck, and take care of that ’64 as it does have value.
(Greg Zyla is a syndicated auto columnist who welcomes reader questions on collector cars, auto nostalgia and motorsports. Contact him at email@example.com).
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