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Muscling In: What To Look Out For When Shopping For Imported American Muscle Cars

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Choosing an imported car can be a great way to get hold of a distinctive, exotic ride not commonly seen in Australia, and few types of import vehicle are as impressive as a quintessential American muscle car. The savage looks and incredible straight-line speed of these vehicles makes them surprisingly well suited to Australia's long and relatively straight interstate roads, and many drivers who import American muscles cars find them just as useful for daily driving as they do for track racing and the occasional midnight burn.

However, no two American muscle cars are ever exactly alike, and you will have a number of difficult choices to make before you settle on the best muscle machine for your needs. Keep in mind the following questions when shopping around for American muscle to ensure you pick the most suitable model:

Will you use my muscle car as your primary vehicle?

One of the great advantages of American muscle cars is the comfort and space they provide compared to other performance vehicles, and many can easily be used as daily driving vehicles for work commutes, shopping etc. However, if you intend to drive your muscle car every day,  you should decide what capacity of engine you require

Higher capacity means more power and speed, but also higher fuel consumption. Given that American muscle cars are intended to run on inexpensive, low-octane American fuels, trying to keep one running on more high-quality Australian fuel can become prohibitively expensive. If fuel economy is a concern for you, consider choosing a model with a V6 engine: these are less powerful and desirable than the classic muscle car V8, but are much more economical (not to mention cheaper to buy) while still providing exciting power.

What kinds of mod cons do you want in your muscle car?

Depending on the model of muscle car you buy, it may be a spartan, stripped down vehicle intended for massive straight line speed, or a more comfortable and well-appointed vehicle more suitable for long journeys. You should choose the trim level of your new muscle car very carefully, as all those extra luxuries increase the car's weight and subsequently dull its performance.

You should pay particular attention to the air conditioning system of your muscle car -- an option luxury in many parts of America, but a practical necessity when dealing with Australian summer heat. Since air conditioning draws considerable energy away from the vehicles main powertrain, some muscle car aircon systems tend to be pretty weak and feeble -- ask to test the aircon of any muscle car you're thinking of buying before you drive it away.

Should you choose a hardtop or convertible muscle car?

There are few things more desirable to the gearhead than blasting down an open road on a summer evening with the top down, and a range of convertible American muscle cars are sold by import dealers. However, while these models are very desirable for summer driving, convertible muscle cars also have a number of drawbacks -- they are slower than hardtop models, more difficult to repair, and tend to be considerably more rare and expensive that similar models with hard tops.

Choosing a roof type is particularly important if you intend to opt for a classic muscle car that you intend to restore, as restoring a neglected convertible can be considerable more difficult and expensive than hardtop restoration. However, if you can find a classic convertible muscle car that is not prohibitively expensive to make roadworthy, you can find yourself in ownership of a valuable ad appreciating investment.