Decision time for a classic



My question is automotive, philosophical, ethical, and environmental.

I have owned a 1970 Pontiac Catalina convertible for 20 years. Fair body, new top, 400 c.i., 4bbl, automatic, 12 MPG etc. Fun when it runs! Occassional probelms were fixed to keep it running - until recently. It no longer goes backwards. Tranny problems, clearly. Tranny replacement is $1000 or more. (My 16-year old new-driver son wants just one chance to drive “The Imperial Star Destroyer”.)

The question is: do I put the money into the new tranny, and by doing so put a large-but-beautiful gas guzzler back on the road? Or do I sell it for what I can get, and save my piece of the ozone layer?



How much do you (or you son) like this car? Personally, I would probably fix the transmission and the body and drive it for another 20 years. If you don’t want to play with it anymore, find someone who’s looking for a new hobby. I don’t know the value of this car, you may want to check some vintage GM forums.


There is NO WAY that the trans should cost $1000 on that car. You probably have a Turbo 400 3-speed automatic, and those are a cheap trans to R&R… A rebuild should be less then $1000

That being said, no matter what you do with it the car will be fixed by some one eather the new owner or yourself. So dont use the “save the planet” line on this one. I say keep it and enjoy if it is in other wise good shape.


Cool car, and a convertible to boot. I say fix it and keep it. Nothing is more fun than an evening cruise with the top down and the low mileage is not going to affect the planet any more than someone driving around for years in a '99 model car with a Check Engine Light that has been illuminated since 2001.

Check eBay, trade papers, and salvage yards. This car uses TH400 and these can be readily found for a lot less than that.
The last good TH400 I bought from a salvage was 30 bucks if I pulled it and 75 if they did.
They’re also very simple to change out and if you go with a used unit be sure to replace the torque converter seal before installation. It’s cheap and you do not want to install the trans and then have the seal leak.


If you don’t put it on the road, someone else will when they buy it from you. Enjoy it while you still can. 12 MPG isn’t gonna hurt you unless you decide to use it for a daily driver. I get 13 mpg out of my 283ci 2bbl Chevelle with a powerglide tranny, but it’s not like I’m driving it everyday, so it isn’t hurting my wallet much.


I’d fix it and enjoy it for sevral more years. You clearly like the car, and how can you replace it with anything decent for $1000?


Sounds like a stuck valve body. Might not need a rebuild, just a fluid change and a tranny additive to free the stuck reverse valve. Try that first. By putting a new tranny in it, you will increase the value by more than the repair cost, so if necessary, FIX IT!


Here are some figures. Smog test ones. Your car running well can put out over 400 PPM of HC. Newer ones with a catalytic converter should put out less than 100 and less than 50 if running right. NOX will be high too if there is no EGR valve. I have to leave the decision up to you. The gasoline for your car is also gone. There isnt much 96 octane anymore. Don’t let the car be driven with only one person in it, blah, blah. I would go outside and hug a tree, but it might be dirty…


I wonder how my Chevelle would run using 101 octane then… 93 seems to do alright. :stuck_out_tongue:


Who cares about the emissions? It’s a great cruiser car. I’ll buy it right now, as-is for $1000. I’ll probably only put 1000 miles a year on it. A lot less emissions per year than any daily-driver on the road right now.

And, there’s a gas station in Knoxville, TN that sells 101 octane racing fuel at the pump. Gotta love those saturday night racers. This is in an area with a few dirt tracks and one asphalt track.


I’m for fixing the tranny . . . go to a tranny shop, they might diagnose it for less than a rebuild. You’ll never get a classic muscle car for this kind of $$ and you may regret selling it. If you do decide to sell it, you’ll have no trouble getting rid of it. These cars are getting harder to find. Anybody else here regret selling a muscle car years ago? I remember a 'Cuda I had in 1980 . . . and the story gets worse from there. I really wish I had it now. And there was the Torino, the Mustang, the Triumph, and on and on. Good luck! Rocketman


I wish it were that easy to sell my Chevelle, but no one wants it(besides me that is)


There’s a station in Marion, OH that sells it too, guy said he was the only one in Ohio that sold it. We do have a race track in LaRue Ohio that gets pretty busy sometimes, and it’s not far from Marion.


They don’t make them anymore. If its in good condition, why not keep it going?