Muscle Car Clone

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Muscle car clone? Have you seen the term and wondered exactly what it meant? Say you’re looking at a 69 Camaro Z28 and the seller says it is a clone. Is that a good thing or a bad thing?

Have a look at these two awesome looking rides. Can you tell which one is the clone?

find-your-muscle-car: Clone '6Z289
find-your-muscle-car: Real '69 Z28

The one on the left is the clone. Does that matter to you?

Simply put, when a seller describes the car they are selling as a clone, it means the car was originally a base or entry level model modified to some degree to look like a more upgraded model.  How much is done to a base model to make it a clone varies greatly. Everything from simply adding exterior badging to a full on restoration better than original condition can be described as a clone.

Here are some examples of clones

  • A Plymouth Satellite restored/rebuilt as a Plymouth Road Runner
  • A Pontiac Tempest cloned to a Pontiac GTO Judge
  • A base level six cylinder Chevrolet Nova modified to a Yenko SC by adding a 427/450hp engine, painted steel wheels and Yenko badging and stripes

Historically, a clone has been an object of scorn to muscle car enthusiast purists. Unscrupulous dealers or sellers would pass off a car as a super rare model and sucker the buyer into spending a huge amount of money for a car that was essentially a fake. Even a regular Joe who wanted to hot rod his base Nova and turn it into a racy Nova SS, just for his own use, well to some folks that seemed like a lie on wheels.  

Forty years later, sheer demand for cars from the muscle car era and reduced availability of factory hot rod 'Cudas, Camaros and Mustangs led to a gradual change in acceptance of clones in the collector car market. The outrageous prices being asked for “real” muscle cars is also a factor in the changing view of a well-done clone.

Some sellers began using the term "tribute" or "replica" to describe a car that has been restored to something more than its original from-the-factory design. Not simply a clone, this type of build is more in honor of the past than an attempt at passing off a car as something it isn’t. Replicas of a Mr. Norm’s Mopar or a Hurst Olds are popular, as well as tribute factory lightweight drag strip ready cars.

Should You Buy A Muscle Car Clone?

Like everything else, it’s important to know what matters to you. When looking at a car that is touted as rare or one of a kind, original, be sure to protect yourself by having a professional appraisal or validation. The seller should have extensive documentation that can be verified. Even some of the most knowledgeable experts have been fooled.

A muscle car clone is a good buy for most buyers. Obviously the purchase cost is less than the real deal. Your collector car insurance won’t be outrageous. Best of all, you can drive it instead of maintaining it in a climate controlled facility.

find-your-muscle-car: our 1972 Dart Swinger 340

We love our racy little '72 Dodge Dart Swinger. The original 318 small block was replaced with a '69 340. It now has functional hood scoops, dual exhaust, mild shift kit and is awaiting the blackout hood and bumble bee stripe. We’re not ashamed!

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