Credit: Original article published by Classic Cars Journal.
The Vintage Certification program at the Muscle Car and Corvette Nationals (MCACN) differs from other survivor-type judging because all marques are included. As such, experts schooled on specific vehicles are recruited for the judging team. For those of you who have encountered judging even at a local show, you can imagine the difficulty in assembling a team, especially for an event that has a specific assortment of cars slated to attend. Judges generally spend three hours per vehicle. Upon completion, each owner is provided with a six-page detailed report, a personalized certificate, plaque and poster.
There are five preservation levels of Vintage Certification to cater to the different levels of originality:
- Vintage Time Capsule: 95+% unrestored in all areas
- Vintage Legend: 85+% unrestored in all areas
- Vintage Heritage: 85+% unrestored in four areas
- Vintage Legacy: 85+% unrestored in three areas
- Vintage Reference: unrestored in at least one vintage reference area
The goal is to give the owner an objective evaluation of an unrestored vehicle, as well as an informative experience. Of course, the goal is also to show us spectators some magnificent muscle cars — below you’ll find a nice variety of originals.
This 1969 Corvette sports the small-block 350, which was new for the Corvette that year. Standard was 300 horsepower, but a Corvette exclusive was the new L46 350-horse 350 that was only available with a four-speed — in some ways, it was like a hydraulic-lifter LT-1 a year before the solid-lifter LT-1 debuted. Notice the 1970 Chevelle SS and L88 Corvette in the background.
If you have trouble keeping track of all the variations of trim with the 1969 Camaro, you’re not alone. This Garnet Red COPO Camaro comes off as one of the prettier ones out there, and the D96 striping is but one reason. The striping was available as a stand-alone option, but it also was included in the Rally Sport package and the “Z21” Style Trim Group. Aside of the stripes, the latter included bright wheel opening moldings and drip moldings, rear fender louvers, black body sills, and taillight and headlight bezel accents.
The first aggressive move in the aero wars was Dodge’s with the 1969 Charger 500. When it was first introduced, the R/T-based 500 was only available with the 426 Hemi, but the 440 Magnum became available when production started. If you read books that mention these cars, they often state that 392 were built in total, (well below the 500 required by NASCAR), but the numbers have been updated over the years and it is believed 580 were built.
The 1969 Shelby GT350 was redesigned in 1969, just like the Mustang, but its racy styling was more distinct than ever and seems to have influenced the 1971 Mustang’s. Also new was a 351 Windsor rated at 290 horsepower, a nice improvement over the 302 used in the previous year’s model. Only 139 GT350 convertibles were built in 1969, plus an additional 57 of the nearly identical 1970s.
The Mustang was given a noticeable facelift in 1970, with the Mach I adding unique grille lamps plus lower body trim in place of the stripes. Standard motivation continued to be a 351 two-barrel, but the new 351 Cleveland in four-barrel form made things more interesting with 300 horsepower — a ten-horse improvement over the Windsor. This Mach I features the R-code 428 Cobra Jet with the Drag Pack, making it a Super Cobra Jet, but it’s also a special-order paint car in Medium Ivy Green, a color not ordinarily available on Mustangs and quite possibly the only one painted this color.
It was still a Trans Am world in 1981, but Chevrolet continued to produce a hot Camaro Z28 … or maybe not, as the standard Z28 engine was a 165-horsepower 305 four-barrel, with the 175-horse 350 four-barrel as an option as long as you were fine with an automatic transmission. However, in Canada, they didn’t have that pesky EPA to ruin the fun, so a four-speed was available for Chevy enthusiasts. From what I can gather, 3,025 built, but how many have 194 kilometers like this one?
Here’s a Matador Red 1969 Pontiac GTO that was bought new in June 1970 after sitting for a year at Mikesell-Croskey Motors in the small farming town of Cadiz, Ohio. The first owner sold it in 2005 with 44,000 miles and, since then, it has been driven fewer than 1,000 miles. It’s equipped with the 366-horsepower Ram Air 400 engine backed by a M20 wide-ratio four-speed with 3.55 gears, so it’s like a Judge without the Judge regalia. Trivia: notice the black-painted grilles? It’s often said the black grilles are a Judge feature, but the truth is that all Ram Air GTOs received these grilles.
Next is a pair of Chevrolet SS 427s, a 1967 painted in Tahoe Turquoise (owned by Keith Adelsberg) and a 1968 painted in Butternut Yellow (the lead photo, owned by Donald Bock, Jr.). Both Impalas were built in Sainte-Thérèse, Quebec, though the turquoise one was sold in the U.S. when new. Both have 17,000 miles and feature the 385-horsepower 427, though the yellow car lacks the air pump normally seen on four-speed cars because it was sold new in Canada.
This Forest Green 1970 Camaro Z/28 features the 360-horsepower LT-1 350 that also was available for Corvettes (though rated at 370 horses). It also was the first Z/28 to have an automatic available. Though some lamented the disappearance of the high-winding 302, the LT-1 was a solid-lifter small-block that gave the Z/28 new flexibility while checking all the right boxes for the would-be road-racers.