5 muscle cars to watch at Arizona Auction Week

by Brandan Gillogly
7 January 2022 4 min read
1970 Plymouth Hemi Superbird front three-quarter

While plenty of the action at Arizona Auction Week includes European exotics with sewing-machine-like inline-sixes and intricate V-12s, there are hundreds of rowdy muscle cars up for grabs with snorting V-8 engines. Whether your taste favors Ford, GM, or Mopar muscle, there’s likely a big-block on the menu that should suit you. Of course, we’ll be there watching as many of them cross the stage, but here are five that piqued our interest as we skimmed the listings.

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1970 Chevrolet Yenko Deuce

1970 Yenko Deuce Nova front three-quarter
Bonhams

Bonhams

Hagerty Price Guide #2 (Excellent) condition value: $119,600

While Chevrolet had seen fit to give the 1970 Nova SS a 300hp 350 small-block and a pair of 396 big-blocks, the solid-lifter LT-1 350 was noticeably absent. The potent, 360-hp LT-1 was a successor to the high-revving 302 and was available in Camaro and Corvette, where it produced an additional 10 horsepower, but Chevrolet snubbed the compact Nova. To remedy this, Yenko Chevrolet used the same method of Central Office Production Order that famously got 427 big-blocks installed in Camaros to match the meanest small-block of 1970 with Chevrolet’s lightweight Nova to create a fantastic muscle car combination. Yenko only built 175 Novas for 1970, making the Yenko Deuce one of the rarest Chevy muscle cars of the era.

1970 Yenko Deuce Nova engine
Bonhams

This example offered up by Bonhams is the recent recipient of a full restoration and comes equipped with a four-speed and Hurst shifter.

1970 Plymouth Superbird

1970 Plymouth Hemi Superbird rear three-quarter
Barrett-Jackson

Barrett-Jackson, Lot 1400

HPG #2 value: $415,800

The Mopar wing cars took NASCAR by storm and brought radical, wind tunnel–sculpted bodywork into showrooms. While they may have looked odd, the pointed noses and tall wings helped both the Dodge Charger Daytona and Plymouth Superbird slice through the air and remain stable at speeds exceeding 200 mph on NASCAR’s biggest tracks.

This well-preserved Superbird wears a refreshed coat of Tor Red (Plymouth’s take on Dodge’s Hemi Orange) but the interior and engine bay are all original, owing their fantastic condition to the car’s low-mileage condition—it has just over 6000 miles on the odometer. Its 426 Hemi V-8 is just as it was when this beast rolled off the assembly line.

1965 Buick Riviera Gran Sport

1965 Buick Riviera GS Nailhead Super Wildcat front three-quarter
Bonhams

Bonhams

HPG #2 value: $81,400

If you prefer your muscle car to be a bit on the understated and luxurious side, may we suggest a Buick Riviera Gran Sport? The first-generation Riviera hit the showroom looking like a concept car with its hidden headlights and sleek, tailored lines. When fitted with the Super Wildcat 425 V-8 and its dual four-barrel carbs, the elegant Riviera was very much a muscle car, churning out 360 hp along with the Nailhead V-8’s notorious torque.

1965 Buick Riviera GS Nailhead Super Wildcat engine
Bonhams

Under the hood, a massive air cleaner shrouds the carburetors and keeps up the charade that this is just a luxury cruiser. This well-preserved Gran Sport received a repaint, although it was never fully restored. The car’s second owner, who maintained the car for nearly 50 years, seems to have babied it, although we have to imagine the Gran Sport surprised a lot of unsuspecting drivers in its day.

1987 Buick Grand National

1987 Buick Grand National front three-quarter
Barrett-Jackson

Barrett-Jackson, Lot 1347

HPG #2 value: $52,500

You could argue that Buick’s turbocharged V-6 bruiser didn’t follow the traditional recipe of a muscle car, but the result was the same. After a decade of underperforming V-8s, enthusiasts were excited to see that fuel injection and boost could offer the performance that automakers could no longer deliver using carburetors and large-displacement V-8s. After a bumpy start, the turbocharged, intercooled Grand National that emerged was a serious performance machine for its era and gave hot rodders a fantastic starting point to create dragstrip machines capable of holding their own against storied muscle-car nameplates that packed twice the displacement.

1987 Buick Grand National interior
Barrett-Jackson

This Grand National is special as it was the last off the assembly line, spelling the end for not only the Grand National, but for GM’s beloved G-body architecture. Assembly line workers signed the car as they built it, and the turbocharger shroud, intake, and alternator all bear signatures and dates in marker. With just 33 miles on the odometer, it’s likely one of the best-preserved Grand Nationals in existence, which is saying something as a shocking number of these seem to have been scooped up by collectors with preservation in mind.


1969 Ford Mustang Drag Car

1969 Ford Mustang Drag Car front three-quarter
Barrett-Jackson

Barrett-Jackson, Lot 1299

HPG #2 value: N/A

If you’re a fan of today’s NHRA Pro Stock racing, in which high-revving big-blocks vie for quarter-mile glory, then you’ve no doubt heard of one of the pioneers in the field, Sam Auxier, Jr. He had a long career in NHRA Pro Stock in a series of Ford entries, often with a 427 SOHC V-8. Prior to that, however, Auxier campaigned this 1969 Mustang Sports Roof powered by a 427 tunnel-port in the AHRA’s Ultra Stock class. Contrary to its name, this class wasn’t closer to factory stock than the later Pro Stock class were; rather, it allowed for even more modifications. Auxier would launch this Mustang with the wheels up and grab gears en route to 10-second time slips. His successful events in this car include a win over the also-legendary Grumpy Jenkins at the 1968 CARS Magazine meet.

1969 Ford Mustang Drag Car engine
Barrett-Jackson

The car was restored to reflect how it looked when it raced in 1969, down to the Mercury script valve covers that were left over from Auxier’s days behind the wheel of a Comet. The red-white-and-blue livery follows the Mustang’s lines perfectly and the well-executed restoration is the next best thing to a true time capsule of one of Ford’s most famous drag racers.

Comments

  • eighthtry says:

    No question that Riviera GS is the car to beat in any drag race. It will win 100% of its first run against all competition, blown, alcohol, nitro, or whatever.

    That thing had two air horns under the hood. One pull of that rope will scare the crap out of anyone in the opposite lane, likely causing missed shifts and loss of accelerator control.

    Regardless, I lust after that car.

    • Michelle N. says:

      My husband and his buddy drove one throughout high school, going everywhere “doing 120 mph”. He also lusts after another one.

    • Dan says:

      “It will win 100% of its first run against all competition, blown, alcohol, nitro, or whatever”. I think you might be going wayyyyyyyy out on a limb with that statement. Fast for a big car but not that fast. 0-60 in 8.1 seconds is pretty slow these days. A fast Honda will do that 🙂

  • MAXTHEAX says:

    1965 was a year that GM produced some the most desirable body styles ever. The Riviera was certainly one of them. Let us not confuse this with being quick. June 1965 Car&Driver road test. 1/4 15.5 sec @95mph top speed 118.5mph. Admittedly only a single Carter AFB, but the second would only shed a few tenths. Compared to what we a use to today 23.7mph per 1000rpm isn’t impressive either and 12-18mpg on premium , well that’s not bad. Strange how much quicker these are in memory. That might be because they wouldn’t stop, 12″ drums all round. The car is 55 years old and looks better than all the wide mouth bass out there at this time and, if I had the room I’d love one. Truly THE luxury coupe of all time.

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