Courtesy of Collector Car Productions

All-original car with 8,600 actual miles. Ash Gold with black top and interior. 307 V8, power steering, Rally wheels, AM Radio, Bumperettes. Factory pinstripe. Runs and drives like the brand-new car it almost is.

When you have the opportunity to buy a low-mileage car like this, it makes you doubly proud of the ownership, and the car is bound to keep appreciating in value. Remember, they are only original once!

SCM Analysis


Vehicle:1968 Chevrolet Chevelle Malibu
Years Produced:1968–69
Number Produced:266,400 (1968 Malibu)
Original List Price:$2,918
SCM Valuation:$14,000–$26,000
Tune Up Cost:$200
Distributor Caps:$11
Chassis Number Location:On tag at base of windshield, driver’s side
Engine Number Location:On block pad on passenger’s front of engine, in front of cylinder head
Club Info:Team Chevelle Forum
Alternatives:1968 AMC Javelin SST, 1968 Buick Skylark GS 400, 1968 Ford Torino GT
Investment Grade:C

This car, Lot SP121, sold for $22,555, including buyer’s premium, at Collector Car Productions’ Toronto Spring Classic Car Auction in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, on April 5, 2014.

The most daunting challenge I face as an auction analyst is managing my own immunity to the numbers. Watching $100 million change hands over the course of a week will do that to you.

In truth, I can’t afford most of the cars I report on. I observe from the cheap seats and subjectively objectify using the tools at my disposal — previous sales data, the ACC Price Guide, and my knowledge of current market trends. Using an ever-fluid sliding scale, I am constantly working to articulate the subtle nuances that differentiate a $100,000 car from one that brings double that amount, actively denying myself the foregone conclusion that it is simply wanted twice as badly by someone willing to pay twice as much.

In my reality, $25,000 is a lot of cash. It’s also a very significant number that resonates with those of us who spend our lunch hours scouring the local classifieds over leftovers. I have scrutinized, harshly and with intense focus, a lot of cars at the $25k mark. Unfortunately, I’m rarely impressed. The segment tends to be dominated by 10-footers, emotional baggage, and whatever was featured on the last episode of “Overhaulin’.”

However, every so often a gem emerges, and this particular Malibu may just be the most car I’ve seen trade hands at that price point in a very long time.

Not first or best

This car has the perfect combination of lineage, originality, terrible color and puny drivetrain to maximize value and minimize expense.

That first point, lineage, is a critical one. Chevelles are, and probably always will be, among the most desirable muscle cars on the market, but this particular car is floating lazily just outside the mainstream.

Sure, it’s a Chevelle, but it’s a 1968 Chevelle. Outside of Chevelle-ophiles like myself, you’d be hard pressed to find a casual enthusiast who even knows that it is a Chevelle, much less who can tell you the year. It’s the middle child who lacks the advantage of either having been the first or the best.

I have a giant soft spot for the sharky snout of this car because I have a ’69 parked in my garage that has shaped my life in innumerable ways. But the ’68, with its vent windows, unfortunate lower body trim and giant marker lights, simply doesn’t present as cleanly as some other models.

The average value of ’68s is nestled right down at the bottom of the trough between the more classically styled ‘66/’67s and the iconic ’70, and it will likely remain there forever. However, the ’68 is inarguably still a Chevelle, and it will always reap the benefits of that popular emblem.

Parts present and untouched

The second point I mentioned — originality — goes a long way to add significant value to a car that may otherwise go unnoticed. That may seem like a painfully obvious point to make, but it can’t be overstated. When looking to wring every last ounce of value from every dollar spent, taking the time to find an original, unmolested car will save you thousands of dollars, hundreds of hours, and bucketloads of heartache.

Taking on a basket-case Chevelle for a quarter of the price paid here may be enticing considering that the A-body cars are some of the best-supported vehicles in all of the automotive aftermarket, but piecing a car together from catalogs can be a soul-strangling endeavor. If you’ve ever tried to perfect the fit of sheet metal or stainless trim that was delivered in a box with the word “REPRODUCTION” on the side, then you know the pain.

This car looks complete, top to bottom, and the mileage is absolutely perfect. There are just enough tics on the odometer to move it out of the realm of total conservancy, but so few as to be truly exceptional. It is essentially a brand-new car that I think is begging desperately to be saved from a senselessly mundane existence.

What do you do with it?

A car this solid and complete is a fantastic candidate for a fairly painless repaint, but I think deviating from the wretched beauty of the Ash Gold Poly would be an unforgivable mistake. Although this car is dipped in what has to be one of the worst colors GM ever mixed, it is a fantastic departure from the hordes of red, black, and silver Chevelles that line the rows of cruise-ins nationwide.

So what’s next for this car? Originality is a commodity these days, and leaving the car as-is would be a smart choice. But would it be any fun to use like that? A complete tear-down and rebuild as an SS hasn’t been priced out of the world of reason, either, but that’s been the standard procedure for so long that cars like this basic example are getting hard to find. If it were mine, I’d leave the fundamentals alone and embrace the beauty of bolt-ons rather than waste good money to blend in.

Oddball colors like this one can be terrific conversation starters, and they often have the effect of crawling under the skin of the spit-and-polish crowd by drawing more than their fair share of attention. And let this be a friendly reminder that the straightest path to automotive purgatory runs straight through the local paint shop.

I wouldn’t hesitate to pitch the 307 into the corner of the garage and toss a fogged LS, a lopey big-block, or a carefully disguised stroker in its place. What’s wrong with getting crazy with giant wheels, tubular control arms, disc brakes, and a 6-speed transmission? Put all the original parts in a box if you must, and save them for the day you never put it all back to stock. At least then you can always sell the parts along with the car so that the next guy can have an opportunity to never use them too.

This is a car that needs to be driven. Hard. It is very original, and I salute the previous owners for their efforts, but this isn’t a rare and beautiful butterfly. This is a Plain-Jane Chevelle that has somehow miraculously avoided decades of misuse. I just hope the new owner is ready to make up for lost time.

(Introductory description courtesy of Collector Car Productions.

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