By on March 10, 2014

magnum2

One of the constants in the world of old iron is the amount of scorn heaped on vehicles from the Me Decade, aka the Seventies. I still retain a boatload of scorn for the music from the back nine of that decade (disco sucked then, now and forever for me), but I liked the 70s vehicles, and that makes me somewhat of an outcast in car circles.

The early part of the 70s was a no-brainer for most guys because muscle cars still had plenty of horses corralled under the hood. The usual big block suspects were still street monsters during that time frame, so names like SS 454, Hemi ‘Cuda and Ford Cobra Jet had plenty of menace left in their game during the early 70s. Even Buick got in the muscle game with their 1970 GS Stage 1 model and its free-breathing 455 cubic inches of hell fire under the hood.

Few people could argue about the early 70s when it came to horsepower under the hood or music on the radio, but things changed dramatically in 1973 when the oil taps were turned off in the Middle East and North America saw a big spike in gas prices at the pump.

Cheap oil was no longer a way of life and the situation got even more complicated in the US when fuel supply shortages became a big problem. In fact it was a big enough problem for people to be shot when they attempted to cut in front of angry drivers at the massive gas station lineups during the oil supply crisis.

The knee jerk reaction was to castrate the big V-8 engines and take away their testosterone. Big blocks were de-stroked and the minimal horsepower left was strangled in a complicated exhaust emission system that ensured horrible performance and little else.

The other issue in 1973 was the 5 mph bumpers legislated onto North American vehicles. The bumpers were not pretty and made the cars look like a buck-toothed kid with old school braces on his teeth. Eventually the bumpers were aligned with the lines of the car as the decade moved on, but the bumpers on most 1973 models looked like they were added on by bad automotive legislation instead of good automotive direction. Indeed they were, for all intents and purposes.

But the overall style of the 70s cars from Detroit defined the decade’s automotive look and I believe there were a lot of home runs in the style department during the 70s. In fact, when I look at cars from an era that brought us short decks and long front ends like the 70s car style, I still like the look.
Sure the cars were underachievers in the horsepower department- and who can forget their first whiff of catalytic convertor exhaust effluents in ‘73 -but the cars looked cool to me then and now. The advent of T-top roofs was an even hipper part of the automotive culture of the 70s.

The wild decal packages on cars like the Pontiac Trans Am gave them massive curb appeal then and now in my opinion, along with hood scoops on some of the sportier cars built in the 70s. The factory horsepower ratings were low, but the cars still looked like they meant business.
Some of the cars did mean business after they underwent an emission system removal and a few engine changes by the right mechanical surgeon. The process to regain the lost muscle under the hood was rarely advertised by practitioners, but the best of them were gods to car guys in the 70s looking for more power.

I will always be a staunch defender of the unloved cars from the 70s. These rides may be the favorite whipping boy for other car guys but, unlike disco music, I have always been on the 70s cars’ side- then, now and forever.

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140 Comments on “Cars Of The Seventies Can’t Get No Respect...”


  • avatar

    Look up Buick LeSabre on Wikipedia. The ’4th generation’ header photo is my car. No, its my actual car. That shows you where my loyalty lies decade-wise.

    Any wayward ’70s-’80s domestic can always find safe harbor in my driveway.

    • 0 avatar
      Tomifobia

      Is that a Massachusetts inspection sticker, meaning: you drove that big brown yacht far enough to see palm trees?

      • 0 avatar

        Vice-versa. Friend of mine from Cheerandgears.com (I was the admin there back in the day) sold it to me. He drove it down to Berwyn, PA. I drove it back. Went with my friend with a brief layover in Chevy Chase at his aunt’s house to sleep. Straight shot down I-95 from there with only stops for food and gas…so like eight-seven stops. Oh, and it was July with no A/C, so that was fun.

        I bought it for $350 and spent $450 driving it home – at that was @ $2.25/gal! Averaged about 8MPG I think. Rebuilt the carb and other stuff since and I now average 13-15MPG.

        So, in short, like everything else about 40-50 years old from the Northeast, it ended up in Florida.

    • 0 avatar
      Detroit-Iron

      So you are part of the Brown Car Mafia?

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    The problem with cars from this era is that several of the manufacturers really thought they could change the world.

    And by “change”, I mean “ignore”.

    So they went with the belief that, if they had to do something, they could do it poorly and people would eventually reject things like, oh, economic reality and just keep motoring on like it was 1957.

    You saw this attitude right up to the end of the last decade, where senior management at the likes of General Motors were so disinterested in making small and/or fuel-efficient cars that they practically went out of their way to make bad ones so as to prove that “people don’t really want them”.

    Granted, this kind of arrogance was going on for a long, long time, but the 1970s were the moment when it caught up everyone in spades.

    I don’t think you can blame legislation; that’s a canard used by people who are both too arrogant to admit they’re wrong, and too lazy or cheap to fix it.

    • 0 avatar
      Short Bus

      Except that when companies embraced the world they were in you got cars that are still seemingly hated by everybody. Take the Mustang II for example, it was a Mustang that was more faithful to the original 1964.5 model than the big block monsters of ’69-’71. On the pony-car spectrum it leaned more heavily towards small, lightweight sports-car and far away from the big-engine muscle car side…. just like the original 1964.5

      It sold like crazy and it was perfect for the times. But to this day people think of it as a miserable car.

      • 0 avatar
        geo

        Agree . . . the Mustang II does not deserve its lousy place in history.

        • 0 avatar
          Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

          My mom had a brown Mustang II with a stick, not sure of the year but I did get to drive it once so I know we had it until at least 1988. It had a hole in the floor under the gas pedal that she called the “garbage hole”, and she’d discard gum wrappers and other assorted trash while driving.

          My friend picked up a 67 notchback w/V8 a few years later, but to this day when I hear Mustang I think of that shitty jalopy I grew up with.

          Incidentally, when I think of American cars from this period up through the mid-90s, “shitty jalopy” is the phrase that springs to mind.

          • 0 avatar
            Short Bus

            Yeah, and we had a 1984 Toyota Celica fastback that was rust in the wind by 1990.

            You can’t judge the Mustang II by the standards we use for quality automobiles today. That you had one that lasted until 1988 with frequent use was probably as good as you can expect of any car designed during that era.

    • 0 avatar
      Sigivald

      I can blame legislation for 5mph bumpers, though.

      There’s a reason ROW cars and US cars for e.g. BMW looked so different – and it was purely legislation.

      • 0 avatar
        psarhjinian

        Yes, but you didn’t _have_ to have siege-engine-style bumpers to meet the 5mph standard.

        It was just easier and cheaper to slap on one and blame the government than it would have been to do the work and spend the money. And it’s not like this was a shock: there were years between the standard’s introduction and it’s eventual enforcement.

        • 0 avatar
          Zykotec

          This. The manufacturers really did their best to make it look like it was a last minute order from the Government, on every car except a for a very few lucky ones (Especially Dodge and Pontiac seem to have gotten a heads-up-notice somehow)

    • 0 avatar
      05lgt

      This has been my thought on the ’70′s domestics for a long time. They honestly beieved that thier malicious compliance would overturn the legislation as long as all 3 of them played along. I try to teach my daughter not to beat the kid in the next lane but to put down the fastest time she can. It’s the competitor you’re not looking at that will clean your clock while you’re wasting time psyching out the oponent you’re looking at. It’s even more true in the real world than in a pool. This is my answer to why the Japanese imports were so succesful.

    • 0 avatar
      dastanley

      Insightful post. Also, I think the Big 3 saw small cars as a way to game their CAFE numbers and thus be able to manufacture and sell larger vehicles for more profit. As you stated, they didn’t view small cars as a legitimate product but as an abstract transportation unit and as a necessary evil to get customers into larger cars/trucks. Small cars were just numbers on paper to enable the Big 3 to build larger vehicles.

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      I can’t agree. GM made earnest efforts with the Vega, Citation and the like. The problem is that their efforts weren’t good enough.

      What happened in the 1970s is that Americans began to have access to superior imports, which could be compared directly to Detroit vehicles. Once there was genuine direct competition, the veneer began to disappear.

      In previous decades, people accepted iffy reliability as par for the course, and just dealt with it. But the Japanese raised the bar, and reliability became a priority.

      • 0 avatar
        JimC2

        They made earnest efforts but some really dumb mistakes went into those efforts. The ring/bore life problems on the original engines in the Vega could have and should have easily been caught and fixed before the cars were turned loose on the mass market. The Citations were infamous for the brakes being overly biased to the rear of the car (proportioning valves worked on a lot of other cars), but again, the General simply didn’t bother to get it right.

        Both of those could have been really great cars, if not for the corners cut in development, and what a shame that’s how it went.

  • avatar
    86er

    As in every decade, there were cars that rose above and others that sank into the mire.

    Some embraced their times, others stood as proud holdouts.

    Cars like the Gremlin were very much a product of their time. On the other end of the scale, cars like the Continental hung on until the last model year, keeping some of that 50s glamour and unencumbered 60s spirit with them.

  • avatar
    raresleeper

    I find the lovely headlight haze matches the quarter cream top quite nicely.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    Up there is a Dodge/Plymouth what? I feel the Dodge cars of the seventies were kinda generic. They didn’t really have their own “thing” going for them like Ford and GM.

    I know Dodge used those flip cover frosted headlamp things on the exceedingly rare Dodge St. Regis twin to the New Yorker and Gran Fury. In real life I’ve seen a New Yorker of that age, never a St. Regis or a Gran Fury.

    • 0 avatar
      86er

      I believe the cover photo is a Dodge Magnum.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        I saw the website path said Magnum on it, but I didn’t think that was a particular model back then. Of course nowadays we only see the word Magnum on badly maintained wagons which are never parked properly.

        • 0 avatar
          Tomifobia

          The Magnum replacd the Charger for the ’78 model year, then itself was replaced by the Mirada for 1980. It looked pretty nice (IMO) in GT trim with its slotted gray rims.

          http://static.cargurus.com/images/site/2011/06/05/19/48/pic-4015122859061294530.jpeg

          • 0 avatar
            sgeffe

            The Chrysler equivalent was, of course, made famous by the late Ricardo Montalbán (Khan in the Star Trek “Wrath Of Khan” movie): the Cordoba (which Montalbán always pronounced “corrrrrrr-DOOOHHHHHHHHH-ba”), with its “rich Corrrr-eeeeeennnnnn-thian lea-therrrrr!

        • 0 avatar
          cargogh

          My parents almost bought a St. Regis once. Nice looking car. My old highschool girlfriend had a Magnum her parents bought her used in 1981. Large. Red velour. I never rode in it, but that was probably because she was such a terrible driver.

  • avatar
    raph

    I dig a few mid to late 70′s cars, the GM h-body Monza and its derivatives, the Mustang Cobra II, Chevelle Laguna, 4th gen Malibu and early Fox Mustangs if you want to include them.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    The Big Three had a cheap and cheerful approach to engineering all the way from the post-WWII period through the ’70s. That was fine when gas was 15 cents a gallon, no one cared about safety, and smog was seen as a sign of Progress. But then the world got more complicated. Cheap and cheerful engineering, it turned out, just wasn’t enough to handle exacting emissions standards, tightening safety regulations, and a world where fuel economy mattered. (Not to mention precisely made foreign competition.)

    It took the Big Three until the late ’70s to come to grips with this at all. Before they did, they produced awful cars like the one you see above. Build quality and longevity were in the toilet, and crudely-thrown-together smog “equipment” resulted in giant V8 engines that made 120 hp while getting single-digit MPG. The only innovations or improvements in these cars compared with the cars of 15 years earlier were new features and decoration in the interior, but even those were undone by horrendous build and assembly quality.

    Their first efforts to deal with the issue honestly (1977 B-body, Fox platform, X-bodies, K-cars, and A-bodies) were a very mixed bag, but they at least paved the way for the real improvement to come.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      I agree with your points but I would like to add detail to the “giant V8 engines that made 120 hp while getting single-digit MPG” part.

      I was not aware of this until now, but evidently vehicle emissions controls started with the National Emissions Standards Act of 1965.

      “Congress sought to establish national automobile pollution standards, led by the efforts of Senator Edmund Muskie, a Democrat from Maine, who was the chair of the Senate Subcommittee on Air and Water Pollution. A catalyst behind air quality legislation in the 1960s and 1970s, Muskie was nicknamed ‘Mr. Clean’”

      If we read down in the article:

      “California had previously established emissions standards for automobiles, and the Secretary ultimately applied those standards nationwide for automobiles in model year 1968.”

      So it looks like the first time any national standard was ever applied was 1967/8, but based on the next section it seemed to be somewhat flexible or perhaps somewhat voluntary when first enacted.

      “The 1970 CAA Amendments represent a congressional shift in auto pollution law from flexibility to stringency. Senator Muskie opened the debate stating, “Detroit has told the nation that Americans cannot live without the automobile. This legislation would tell Detroit that if this is the case, they can make an automobile with which Americans can live” (quoted in Congressional Quarterly Almanac, 1970). Although the automobile industry lobbied hard against the bill, Congress enacted stringent new emissions standards.”

      “Whereas previous laws had considered cost and feasibility, the 1970 act removed cost considerations from the administrator’s decisionmaking process. Now the question would be whether or not the standards could feasibly be met regardless of cost.”

      So it seems Detroit was caught with its pants down in 1970 and was forced to begin modifying engine families to comply with standards they were never developed to handle, whatever the cost.

      Then in 1973 two tumultuous events occurred, one being the 1973 Oil Embargo and the other:

      “Catalytic converters were further developed by a series of engineers including John J. Mooney and Carl D. Keith at the Engelhard Corporation,[10] creating the first production catalytic converter in 1973″

      The non-Wikipedia article is not clear on the required use of catalytic converters, but since we know they were on cars at least by 1975 I’d say Detroit was dealt three punches it’s 50 year formula could not recover from, thus the malaise era.

      http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G2-3407400213.html

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catalytic_converter

      • 0 avatar
        dastanley

        I don’t think catcons were required, per se, just as long as the exhaust emissions were within EPA specs. Some manufacturers were able to get by (barely) without them until 1978 or so, but for the most part, the catcon was the only way to comply with EPA regs starting in 1975. I think Dodge and Honda were able to get by without catcons for some models until ’78 or so.

  • avatar
    bomberpete

    Great article, but the first year for the catalytic converter was 1975, not ’73.

  • avatar
    CJinSD

    ’70s styling cliches had no legs because they were all completely false. Fake wire hubcaps, fake convertible tops, fake radiator shells, fake landau bars, and fake long hoods that covered V configuration engines of no more than 8 cylinders but rivaled the lengths of those that covered straight 8s and V16s in the ’30s are a source of embarrassment to people that appreciate authenticity in design. Even if regulations hadn’t plagued ’70s cars with poor performance, poor fuel economy, awful drive-ability, badly integrated bumpers, and limited lighting freedom; had the UAW not put these things together with unbridled contempt for the customers; chances are that they’d still be as popular as an O***a initiative that people have come to understand the realities of.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      Shoddy engineering, not regulations, resulted in those problems with ’70s cars. Except for the bumper regulations, the regulatory scheme governing today’s cars is much stricter, and yet the makers do much better handling it, because now they approach engineering far more seriously.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        That’s part of it, but the pace of regulation was ahead of affordable technologies for addressing them and some regulations were enacted faster than lead times could allow some new rules to be incorporated into the design process. Manufacturers have tools available to them today that they didn’t have in 1974, and that’s a big reason why they can meet tougher regulatory standards. Even if you look at companies that were using early versions of technologies that would succeed in the ’80s, like BMW’s fuel injected 3.0 liter engines of the mid-’70s, their emissions controls still caused problems for owners and manufacturers alike for a generation of products. Honda had a technology in CVCC that could meet the new standards, but CVCC didn’t have the legs to meet the next standards and another solution had to be found. Would CVCC still have met the then-new standards if it were scaled up to power the larger cars that made up the volume sellers of the market anyway? Mercedes retreated to making diesels for their volume models and gas guzzling revisions of their existing V8 for their premium models. Nobody, no matter their commitment to engineering, seamlessly rolled out a version of the engine management systems that would evolve into today’s solutions during the mid-’70s. Blaming the automakers alone is ignoring the gestation period of modern engine management systems.

        • 0 avatar
          Joe McKinney

          This was the problem. When safety and emissions regulations were first enacted, the auto manufacurers simply retrofitted their existing designs with available first-generation technology. It wasn’t until the end of the 1970′s that they began to produce new, clean sheet designs with more effective safety and emissions control equipment designed in from the outset.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            I agree with you but if you review my post above you’ll see these regulations were suddenly given teeth in 1970. Since it takes years to develop a motor even then, they had not choice but to attempt to retrofit existing designs until the new designs came online in the mid to late 70s. One could make the argument it would have payed to be proactive in the mid-60s about it, but hindsight is always 20-20.

          • 0 avatar
            Joe McKinney

            The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago.

        • 0 avatar
          bumpy ii

          “Would CVCC still have met the then-new standards if it were scaled up to power the larger cars that made up the volume sellers of the market anyway?”

          Yes.

          http://blog.hemmings.com/index.php/2013/03/14/fuel-economy-emissions-and-a-cvcc-equipped-chevrolet-impala/

          • 0 avatar
            CJinSD

            Interesting. When they say it diminished fuel economy, do they mean compared to the standard non-compliant Chevrolet, or compared to one that would meet the standards GM was claiming they couldn’t? There is little question that efficiency was hurt by the emissions controls everyone else was using too. I suspect that if you tossed all of today’s emissions controls but retained the latest in engine management, you’d have an engine that used fuel so efficiently that its emissions would be incidental to the sane.

        • 0 avatar
          golden2husky

          ….That’s part of it, but the pace of regulation was ahead of affordable technologies for addressing them and some regulations were enacted faster than lead times could allow some new rules to be incorporated into the design process…..

          I agree with that statement. But in fairness to the other side, the auto industry at that time continually put so much effort into fighting regulation that little time and resources were left to address them. Because of this, most have no trust in the industry when the whining continued. Sometimes they could not see what could be gained by moving forward instead of fighting. Compare the rat’s nest of tubing under the hoods of most 1974 models and then compare that to a 1975 model where the effectiveness of the cat enabled a lot of that crap to go away – even if just for a few years as the tightening rules made more add-ons come back to the engine compartment. It took Detroit until the early 80s to man up and start looking at combustion chamber design, feedback carbs and EFI to deal with the issues at the source instead of trying to clean up designs that were never meant to be clean in the first place. But the end result today is clean, safe, relatively efficient vehicles – something that would have never, ever, ever, happened if left to the will of industry.

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        I have to agree with CJ on this one, the substantial volume of regulations and the pace in which they were introduced, both emissions and fuel economy, were a huge hit to the reliability of cars of that generation. So much design work had to be done in such a short period of time.

        Sure, it’s ultimately the automakers fault for the end result, but these were not challenges that automakers were used to tackling in any real way. So the regulations definitely did have a direct effect quality and some of the blame can be put on the politicians for helping to turn the market on it’s head further than what the fuel crisis already had.

        • 0 avatar

          I agree with your endorsement , specially of CJ here. No industry making complex things like cars, would find it easy to adjust to the new demands. I think the kinks were only really worked out by the mid 90s when better electronics afforded better control. Then reliability took off.

          Now a question for you guys. I think the sudden change in regulatory demands stemmed from 2 things. A sense of urgency in the culture, that things needed change due to external factors (oil crisis, changes in mentality regarding pollution). The second one is highly speculative, but I think there could be a kernel of truth there. The sudden growing of teeth of the regulations would have been brought on by government regulators sensing that makers were dragging their feet?

          • 0 avatar
            golden2husky

            Without question the changes made would never have been made, especially by Detroit if left to the manufactures themselves. The standards forced actions, even if the technology was not ready for prime time. Just look at how Detroit designed cars in the sixties and much of the 70s. The same old designs were reused for many years with new bodywork on old mechanicals.

      • 0 avatar
        Sigivald

        Today we’re not *forced* to use sealed-beam headlights, though.

        “Strict” is not the same as “bad”.

    • 0 avatar
      ect

      I’ll agree with you about Detroit’s styling excesses of the era, but the significant market shift of the 70′s in North America was the rise of the Japanese, at the expense of the D3. Which was not the result of government regulation,

      Datsuns and Toyotas of the late 60′s and throughout the 70′s had driving characteristics and overall styling similar to US cars (unlike European makes) of the time. Only smaller, and more reliable (in part, because they were less complicated by bells & whistles). The Datsun 510 and Toyota Corona being excellent examples.

      When the oil shock hit, Toyota and Datsun were perfectly positioned to serve a public looking for cars that looked and felt familiar, but with better gas mileage. With such paragons of crud as the Pinto and Vega, Detroit offered no competition. They continued to push the larger, higher-margin cars they wanted people to buy.

      My first new car was a ’76 Dodge Colt (Mitsubishi Galant). A great car. A neighbour who worked as a process server had a ’75 Plymouth Cricket (same car, different badge), put over 100,000 miles on it in a little over 2 years, without incident. It took me 5 years to do the same mileage on mine, but it was also without any major repair.

      The first Accord, introduced around 1976(?)completed the sweep.

      Everybody had to deal with the same regulations. The Japanese did a better job of making compact and subcompact cars that people wanted to drive. And met all of the applicable regulations while doing it.

  • avatar
    Rod Panhard

    Sorry Mr. K. I’m old enough to have driven cars of this vintage when they where new. The seats weren’t comfortable, even the bucket style…the de-smogged engines were still inefficient and anemic, steering wheels were offset, the cars were unreliable, they rusted quickly, and the handling was non-existent.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      Yup, I have to agree! I owned a fair number of seventies (and eighties) cars, bought both new and used, and they weren’t good; they were trouble prone and required a lot of preventive maintenance, like points and plugs, carburetor cleaning and adjustment, and lubing the chokeplate.

      If they had drum brakes, they had to be inspected and adjusted about every 10K miles. And body rust was prevalent no matter where you lived, even in the desert.

      • 0 avatar
        golden2husky

        Early 70s cars often fared better that the horrid reliability of the later years. My 72 Fury did not rust much until the late 80s. It was reliable, the trans went 160K, the engine was rebuilt at 180K and the car was used until 260K on the clock. Of course it had issues that all cars of the era (and the previous era I might add) had. Euros and Japanese were no exception. Maintenance requirements like having points to deal with, radiators that only lasted 7 years, chokes that needed attention, etc. Now, if we talk some late 70s cars, well things pretty well sucked….No old car can compare to the reliability of even the cars of the 90s let alone the cars of today.

        • 0 avatar
          highdesertcat

          Now we refer to those clunkers as “classics” and baby them, show them off and talk about the “good ole days.”

          But when they were new and we drove them as daily drivers, we didn’t know better. All the work we had to do on them was just par for the course.

          Those of us fortunate enough to have been exposed to other continents and, in my case, German and Swedish cars, found that there was a huge difference in philosophy built into German and Swedish cars — they were built to last!

          English cars, what can I say? They were built to make the dealerships and service shops rich, along with the Italian cars.

          American cars were somewhere between those wide extremes, not the best and not the worse.

          Instead, what American cars offered was simplicity itself so that any red-blooded American farm boy could work them and keep them running.

          Just like in the spirit of the WWII equipment we sent overseas to support our troops during the war.

          And that worked well for about four decades after WWII ended, but then the buying public was offered better by the foreigners, and the crash-dive of US auto was on, culminating in the death of GM and Chrysler.

    • 0 avatar
      Wheeljack

      Trucks were still relatively decent in the 70′s, at least until they raised the heavy duty emissions standard from 6000 lbs. GVW to 8500 lbs. GVW in the late 70′s.

      My 1976 F-150 was over the 6000 pound limit and was classified as “heavy duty”. As such it had no catalytic converter, no fuel inlet restrictor (it could run regular gas and was advertised as such), no evaporative emissions equipment or Air Injection Reaction pump. The only piece of emissions equipment it had was an EGR valve.

      Thanks to the lack of underhood plumbing, that truck ran quite well. I had access to a 4-gas analyzer while I owned it, so I kept it tuned tightly and it could easily pass passenger car standards up into the 1980′s.

      I really wish I still had that truck (and someplace to keep it!)

  • avatar
    OneAlpha

    There should definitely be a sort of Nuremburg Trial in which the Decade of the 1970s is held to account for its many crimes against fashion, culture, music and especially hairstyles, but the cars of that time were mostly victims of the insanity that gripped the period.

    A lot of them had great character and damn, do they make great projects!

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      +1000

      • 0 avatar
        NoGoYo

        At least the 70s had good prog and hard rock to listen to…

        Any decade that gave us The Dark Side of the Moon can’t be the worst decade ever.

        • 0 avatar
          FormerFF

          Amen, Brother (or sister, as the case may be). Disco didn’t appear until mid decade, didn’t stay long, and was never the majority of the music on the radio.

          • 0 avatar
            NoGoYo

            There’s no need for disco when you have Yes, Pink Floyd, Jethro Tull, Styx, Foreigner, Ted Nugent, Lynyrd Skynyrd, etc etc.

      • 0 avatar
        OneAlpha

        Seriously.

        There’s nothing quite so existentially absurd and horrifying as the lurid, grotesquely overexposed look of a videotaped Norman Lear sitcom, capturing for posterity the image of a man decked out in acres of powder-blue polyester and shiny white shoes and sporting a Brylcreem shag helmet.

        Someone needs to hang for that.

    • 0 avatar
      Tomifobia

      Take that back! I love disco, and I hear it’s making a comeback.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        Me too – I have very fond memories of doing The Bump and The Hustle with my Mom as a kid. Still listen to it regularly. I would KILL for my Stepdad’s Motown 45′s collection though.

        I was born a decade or two too late.

  • avatar
    DC Bruce

    Having lived through it all, I believe the Me decade was the 1980s. Unlike in the 1970s, some people in the 1980s started making real money and the leading edge of the Baby Boomers (that would include me) were out of the “apprenticeship” stage of their careers.

    I have to disagree about the cars. The pre-smog, pre-oil embargo Detroit cars were indeed powerful but they were dangerously incompetent at stopping or steering, mostly because of cheap-ass brakes and bias-ply tires that would melt. I’d rather an early generation 911, thank you, which would still swap ends if you did something stupid in a curve, like lift or brake. Post-embargo cars used even more fuel, ran poorly and often were impossible to start in odd situations (like when the engine was warmed up). In addition, they still had terrible brakes and ponderous handling.

    It was this era that made cars like the BMW 2002 look good, and even the Mazda rotary — which sucked fuel like a Detroit engine, but at least ran well and performed. Not too much, the poor man’s BMW — the Datsun 510, which had an independent rear suspension and almost as much power, although the booming exhaust would drive you nuts on a road trip at 60 mph.

    And we won’t even talk about assembly quality of the Detroit stuff.

    The one interesting car I can recall was the 1970 Pontiac Firebird with the overhead cam six . . . an interesting departure for Detroit. I thought the early generation Firebird was a nice looking car . . . before it had an array of scoops and pictures of chickens on the hood. The OHC 6 was a real oddball, a large displacement inline 6 with cross-flow heads (every other Detroit 6 lacked this design feature), a single overhead cam and a two-stage 4-bbl. carburetor. This engine would run and had a lot of top end . . . unlike most Detroit iron.

    AFAIC Detroit cars of the 1970s can join disco in the waste can. . . good riddance!

    • 0 avatar
      Sigivald

      My ’76 Mercedes W115 was in most ways identical to a 1968 Mercedes W115.

      And those had four-wheel disc brakes and handling that isn’t too shoddy by *today’s* standards (given the lack of ABS or ESC as neither existed, and accounting for a level of body roll in turns that is no longer tolerated).

      And while it was underpowered as hell, it started easily and idled fine in any normal condidtion*.

      (* Starting might take two tries in mid-winter, but it DID always start. And idle by the time I got it at almost 25 years old was a little iffy on a 100 degree day with a hot engine… unless you turned the adjuster up a little. Compared to the worst of the malaise era, from what I hear, that’s *glowing praise*.)

      By which I mean, I agree with you; Detroit was lagging at least in some areas, and deserved what it got.

      (To be fair, I’m sure the lack of discs up front also saved some money, and that’s a real thing to a car buyer. But…)

      • 0 avatar
        Zykotec

        I’m from Norway, where we have a broader selection of European cars than what was available in the US (not many US cars though). And from personal experience, even a mid 70′s Valiant with a slant six,(or a 318 with a horrible rod knock and ruined lifters) could keep up with any early 80′s daily driver, including 1st gen Golf Gti’s. We don’t have any Autobahns arond here, but plenty of turns and twisties. I’m not sure the malaise era cars were designed and engineered as badly as they were assembled and trimmed.

        • 0 avatar
          golden2husky

          Valiants were rust buckets but they handled well for the era, were reliable as an anvil, and performed quite well. Despite what you read here, not all Detroit cars sucked. Much like there were differences between a Benz and a Rover, there were dramatic differences between a host of domestic cars.

          • 0 avatar
            Zykotec

            And it’s the same here. I think the ‘myth’ of well handling European cars comes from the fact that most didn’t have enough power to break traction, and couldn’t work up enough speed to understeer. Add to the fact that they weighed as much as a shopping cart, so their brakes were always sufficient.
            And yeah, the Valiants that were still running here in the mid 90′s were Taxis in the 70′s, so their reliability were truly remarkable, only matched by Volvos of the same era. (but larger, more comfortable and faster, lets just not talk fuel economy…)

    • 0 avatar
      raph

      The OHC six showed up in earlier incarnations of the Firebird as well. I think it was called the Firebird Sprint. Fairly rare as I also recall.

      Speaking of the second generation F-cars, they were pretty decent machines. GM did a good job with them at least when it came to styling and handling. Granted they were large and could be heavy (loaded big block cars could approach 4,000 pounds) but a solid foundation if you were the type willing to wrench on them.

      The guy’s name escapes me but he was one of GM’s suspension gurus in the 60′s and 70′s and was responsible for the torque arm rear suspension that showed up in the 70′s H-body and the 3rd and 4th gen F-body which as far as solid axle rear suspensions goes is one of the best, topped perhaps only by the 3 link rear suspension in the current Mustang but he was responsible for the suspension on the 2nd gen F-cars.

      Which is the maddening part about GM in particular, they had the talent and resources to design some truly world class cars but the company placed profit over engineering and stifled the talent.

  • avatar
    BigOlds

    My first car was a 76 Monte Carlo. It was a dog with the 350 2bbl but I thought (and still think) it was a great looking car. Of course, by the time I got it it was a rusted mess, back in the days when seeing daylight through the trunk pan, quarters, and floorboards was not considered a problem. I did everything a $5 budget could to spiff it up.

    Ah the memories of the high school misdemeanors committed in that car.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      A friend of mine had a ’72 Olds Cutlass Cruiser stationwagon with the 350 2bbl that he brought to Germany with him.

      He and I worked and upgraded it in the auto hobby shop one weekend by cutting the exhaust crossover pipe and installing a second muffler and exhaust pipe. The cars didn’t have a catalytic converter back then, just a crossover pipe and one muffler/exhaust pipe.

      Then we put a brand new Carter 4bbl in place of the 2bbl and added a Tiger Capacitive Discharge Ignition system along with Bosch Platinum spark plugs.

      What had been a 160hp Olds 350 sure came alive after that treatment. He kept that station wagon well into the nineties, like more than twenty years.

      It lived its final days before the crusher as a demolition derby car somewhere in West TX where the owner settled after retirement from the USAF.

  • avatar
    Geekcarlover

    To draw an analogy between the music and cars of the 70s. I occasionally catch the replay of the older American Top 40 from the late Sixties or Seventies. It usually has a couple of good songs, and a lot that are best forgotten. The Seventies (and carryover early Eighties) produced a few great autos, make/model will vary with personal tastes, and a lot of iron that would have been better left in the ground.

    • 0 avatar
      rudiger

      One could at least listen to Bob Seger, Pink Floyd, and the Doobie Brothers as they limped along in their wheezing four-cylinder Mustang II Cobra II.

      • 0 avatar
        NoGoYo

        It’s amazing how well the good stuff from back then still holds up. Heard Bob Seger’s “Still the Same” last night at work for some reason (the work radio mostly plays modern Top 40 stuff) and it’s still a great song.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        That’s what a fool believes!

        • 0 avatar
          NoGoYo

          I’m takin’ it (my love of 70s cars) to the streets!

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            I had to “Get Out of Denver”, so I was visiting friends when I stepped out back to have a smoke. It was one of those typical “Hollywood Nights” warm and breezy. As always the “Night Moves” me to think of “Old Time Rock ‘n Roll” and far away places like that “No Man’s Land”, “Katmandu” where I met “The Real Love” of my life “Back in’72″. Her name was “Rosalie”, but I called her “Jody Girl”. What a “Beautiful Loser” she was getting mixed up with a guy like me. She was the kind of girl who could really get “The Fire Down Below” ignited, I wonder if she’s “Still the Same”? Doesn’t matter, but I can’t seem to “Turn the Page” on that romance, but I’ve got to stop “Living Inside My Heart”. If she were here right now all I would say is “I’m Tryin’ to Live My Life Without You” and she would say what she always said, “Can’t settle down with a “Ramblin’ Gamblin’ Travlin’ Man”

            Suddenly a voice from the house yelled, “Are You” going take the garbage out?” “I’m Taking to the Streets” right now”, I replied, “Should I put it on the “Mainstreet” side of the house?” I guess I wore out my welcome, so it’s time for this “Lucifer” to get in his pick-up and “Roll Me Away”, because the “Fire Inside” tells me I’ve got to try and get some sweet thing to “Come to Pappa” and do “The Horizontal Bop”. Off I went with “Heavy Music” blasting away…

            I love my Chevy- “Like a Rock”

          • 0 avatar
            sgeffe

            @Lie2Me: You, sir, are my pun-string hero! Mad props!

            (Just as being a Honda fanboi, to me, is just doing my Civic duty of my own Accord, but it just gives everyone Fits; otherwise, I’m just out of my Element! ;-) )

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            @ sgeffe

            Well you’re in good company with Honda. Did you know that Jesus drove a Honda? Yeah, it’s referenced in the Book of Acts “Jesus and His disciples were in one Accord”… must have been a little tight. God, was old school, he drove a Plymouth, mentions it right away in Genesis, “God, in his Fury, drove Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden”

          • 0 avatar
            ect

            Lie2me,

            Great one, LMAO!

            I never thought I’d get religious instruction on TTAC.

          • 0 avatar
            sgeffe

            I was going to look that up online or in my E-Mail from heaven-knows-how-long ago; I couldn’t remember the Biblical citations.

            I had come up with a couple more on the religious theme: one where the Israelites were standing on a Ridgeline watching the Egyptians getting a little soaked; also the writer of the hymn “Jesus Savior, Pilot Me” must have been a Honda person! :-)

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        Four words: Van Halen debut album.

        Hands down, the best album ever made for cruizin’ and boozin’. Ever.

      • 0 avatar
        Geekcarlover

        Good examples, but they kind of prove my point. Remember this was the era of Michael Jackson’s “Ben”, The Streak, 8 singles from Peaches & Herb, the Osmand, Tony Orlando & Dawn, The Hues Corporation, “Disco Duck”,and hundreds more.
        1978 Indianapolis 500 pace car was a Corvette. It only had 220HP.

        • 0 avatar
          rudiger

          Yeah, and let’s not forget that the seventies gave us The Eagles.

          I hate the freakin’ Eagles.

          • 0 avatar
            Kenmore

            You too? Hard to articulate but there always was a faint taint to everything they did that made me think they were engineered by Disney.

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            Yeah, instead of the Enchanted Castle there sits the Hotel California

          • 0 avatar
            NoGoYo

            I’ve always found the Eagles to be rather…boring. Not bad, not grossly untalented, just…boring.

          • 0 avatar
            sgeffe

            Still like the unplugged version of “Hotel,” which, you might agree, sounds better without some of the effects of the normal radio mix.

            Whatever..to each their own. :-)

  • avatar
    Lie2me

    I had a ’76 Grand Prix with the 455ci V8 and although it only produced a whopping 200HP. it was a great car and relatively fast. Good looking, loaded with every option, I drove that car well into the ’80s before it was totaled

  • avatar
    danio3834

    You aren’t alone, Jim. I like a lot of cars from the 70′s. In fact, some of my favorites are from that decade. The anemic performance is easily remedied with a few mods to the engines that without being choked down, can make great power. I have a 1976 Charger that I actually resto-modded. Yeah, I’m sick too.

    • 0 avatar
      davefromcalgary

      Thats no sickness.

      Take a much maligned car that you personally like, and equip it to go stop and turn….safely, whats wrong with that?

      A full modernization would be key to me owning something from the 70′s.

      I really want a 70′s round headlight C10…bodied modern vehicle.

      • 0 avatar
        87 Morgan

        There is a guy in my town, retired etc. Bought a C10 for $500. 8 months later he has a new LS3 with the coil packs on the heads, AC, fresh paint and interior. When I spoke with him, he said a new truck would cost 50k, he admitted he was about 23k +- into his. Truck runs superb, looks superb, and oozes cool with all the modern amenities. He is my hero.

    • 0 avatar
      Zykotec

      A good friends dad had a ’76 Charger in the early 80′s. With a ’70 440 Magnum engine. Mostly stock apart from the engine, and it topped out at 115 mph, but it didn’t take long to get there. At the time most cars here in Norway had less than 100 hp…how could I possibly grow up ‘normal’ after seeing something like that :P

    • 0 avatar
      Athos Nobile

      I like the 70 Camaro and the 77 T/A (screaming chicken and all), the C3 Corvette.

      The 73 2 door Chevelle and the whale Caprice hardtop from that era looked good too, kinda. The ride in the picture also looks fine.

      You’re not sick danio, you’re just different

  • avatar

    Edit: Wrong article, sorry

    Wow this one is quite the looker. Don’t get me wrong, I like very much some American car design and design motifs, but this one is all wrong! Looks the front and back portions came from 2 very different cars. I know this is common même when discussing car design, the divorce of front and back ends, but this takes the cake.

  • avatar
    NoGoYo

    I like 70s design…sometimes.

    My 70s tastes seem to trend towards GM A-body cars, 77-79 Continentals/Mark Vs, and fuselage Mopars, with exceptions like the 74-78 Matador coupe.

    Granted, I’d have to get a much better job to afford putting gas in the damn things.

    • 0 avatar
      sgeffe

      I would love a ’70-’72 Cutlass like my Mom had — Matador Red (I think) “S” Coupe, black vinyl top and interior, 2bbl Rocket 350, three-speed THM automatic, A/C, Rallye (mag) wheels, electric rear-window defogger (lots of these were fan-forced in the day), driver’s side remote mirror, four-speaker AM radio.

      Started to become a POS at the end of ownership, but damned if I wouldn’t want it today (with a tight engine and decent, rust-free body). Sadly, those things are stratospheric in value, even on more pedestrian variants.

      However, if I could have done a complete frame-off of my first car, a 1978 Cutlass Salon Coupe (the “aeroback” which Jack has lionized in this space), just for the “wow” factor, I would. Actually, my dream one day is to find a near-mint final-year Cutlass Broug-ham Sedan, with the 5.0 V8, 4-speed overdrive automatic and every option checked. Keep it as nice as my OCDed Accord, store it in the winter, drive to an occasional car show, and hang out, working on my tan while helping myself to an adult beverage in an adjacent cooler.

      • 0 avatar
        NoGoYo

        I found a beautiful ’76 Cutlass Supreme Brougham at a local car lot for the rather nice price of $2700…I hope whoever got that car is taking good care of it, because a car that nice doesn’t deserve to be donked or suffer any other kind of indignity.

        When it comes to Colonnades, make mine Buick or Oldsmobile, though I’d settle for a LeMans.

  • avatar
    bullnuke

    I stayed with Volkswagens in the ’70s. New: ’72 Type 2, ’75 Scirroco, ’78 Dasher; Used: ’73 regular Beetle and ’73 Type 2 for second cars. Good, reliable vehicles for the thousands of miles I drove them. The only issues I had were the catalytic convertors overheating (Scirroco, Dasher)- the only dealer visits were for convertor issues. Never really considered another brand of vehicle; my buddies and their problem-prone Detroit iron or rapidly rusting Japanese vehicles convinced me then (and now) of the wisdom of my choices. Of course ’70s are being relived now by the Volkswagens of today with all the current quality / reliability issues and associated costly dealer visits (similar to the Detroit crap of the ’70s).

  • avatar
    udman

    I am going to steal a comment from one on our editors over at Hooniverse (Where I write both the Classic Captions posting and the Obscure Muscle Car Postings) when I highlighted an image of a 1978 Mustang II Ghia with the 1/2 padded vinyl roof, and the gold laced alloy wheels (of which I really liked, by the way).

    He had a friend who stated (and I’m paraphrasing here) that he didn’t have any real time to wrench on his motorcycles because the 70′s was the time frame in which it was between the introduction of the birth control pill, and the introduction of aids… Now throw in some experimental pharmaceuticals, and it was a wonder that anything got done…

    I remember it very well, since I graduated High School in 1974, and basically took the 7 year plan through college…

  • avatar

    Cars of the seventies were awful. They dropped the compression, added emissions controls which further drained engine efficiency, added cat convertors, air pumps, the bumpers, etc. etc. I started selling cars in 1970 in a Chrysler store. The sales staff mostly drove used cars from the 1960s because the new cars were so awful. There were some 1973s that weren’t bad but finally, the lean burn Cordobas became a car to drive that performed decently. The worst new car I ever drove was a 1974 Grand Fury Brougham Coupe in Moonstone, with a 400 cid 4 bbl. 8 mpg and no performance. During that era the Olds Cutlass became the country’s best selling car and Olds was GM’s most profitable division.

    • 0 avatar
      bomberpete

      I agree. Chrysler cars were the worst of a bad lot in the second half of the Seventies. I imagine that trying to sell them during the Jimmy Carter era before the bailout and the K-car must have been depressing. You must have developed a good sense of gallows humor.

      I had a ’74 Duster that was absolutely awful compared to the ’73 Valiant my dad had owned a few years earlier or any of the family GM cars we usually had. A girlfriend had a ’74 Fury that her grandfather had willed her. It was godawful, far worse than any of the GM or Ford boats of that time.

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        I know a guy who as a District Sales Manager for a zone of Chrysler dealers in the late 70′s and he said that all the staff who got company cars had to take a New Yorker or Newport. He said they were moving so slowly at one point, he personally had 3 of them just so they could get them into service. One for him, one for his wife and the other he left on the back lot.

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          I remember in Iacocca’s bank he talked about the “sales bank.” Sounds like that to me.

        • 0 avatar
          sgeffe

          Even still, I thought that the combination of the 318 and TorqueFlite is as reliable as sunrise (particularly if you got around the LeanBurn carb).

          I thought that the only necessity was to carry a couple extra ballast resistors in the spare tire well, just in case.

        • 0 avatar
          NoGoYo

          I don’t know how Chrysler managed to keep selling the big ’74 Imperial right up to 1978, but they did…now that’s a great looking car.

          • 0 avatar
            bomberpete

            Technically, the Imperial brand was discontinued at the end of the 1975 model year. The top-of-line Chrysler New Yorker Brougham was essentially the same car and that’s what was continued through 1978.

            Iacocca revived Imperial as a luxury coupe for 1981-83, complete with an FS blue edition for his buddy Frank Sinatra, aka “old blue eyes.” Burt Reynolds even had a stretch limo version used in some of his bad Eighties movies.

            One could argue that Imperial stopped competing with Cadillac and Lincoln as a stand-alone luxury car after the 1969 “fuselage” redesign, even though it was still considered a Chrysler division. Chrysler did another restyling for 1974 that included an Imperial, right on the eve of the oil embargo but very few of those were sold.

          • 0 avatar
            NoGoYo

            I just call it the Imperial because the New Yorker Brougham was literally a decontented ’75 Imperial…it did sell for quite a bit less than the Imperial did, so maybe that’s how Chrysler was able to keep moving the same car for 3 more years.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Yes, the ’70s had their share of awful cars, but there were some gems too:
    1) The second-gen Firebird and Camaro
    2) Lincoln Mark IV and V
    3) 1976 Cadillac Eldorado convertible
    4) 1975 Cadillac Seville

    It was also the decade that saw the beginning of Panther love, the Ford Fox platform, and smaller but decent full size GM cars.

    I also have a soft spot for the 1980 Chrysler Cordoba, and the 1977 Ford Thunderbird.

    And yes, low-tech emissions controls were the spawn of Satan, but there was a low-tech solution too: a c-note to your friendly mechanic was all it took to rid yourself of them. By the ’80s, you couldn’t really undo the smog controls without ruining the car.

    We had a ’75 Olds Custom Cruiser at the time, with the monster 455, and my dad had the emission controls removed, right in time for me to get my license. I have to say it was a pretty decent Q-ship. And with no Positraction, it was a BEAST on lawn job night.

    Of course, all this happened at the same time as the Iranian oil embargo, so my 10-mpg horsepower habit had to be financed with part-time fast food salary. Ah well…I’d still take that car back.

  • avatar
    bomberpete

    Want to see contempt for Seventies Federal regulations? I like the “Kojak” episode “Cop in a Cage” where Stavros was chasing a limo with a bomb in it. A car slams into the ’74 Buick Century 455, tearing off its front 5mph bumper.

    From the back seat, Kojak yells, “are you gonna wait to exchange licenses?” so Stavros gives chase, dragging that monster bumper under the car at 50 mph.

  • avatar
    Zykotec

    I’m possibly affected too, as I love the quirky awkward looks of way too many 70′s cars. I grew up with 70′s cars used as cannon fodder and background movie props in all the american movies and shows on TV, and there were a lot of ‘Classic’ car movies made in the 70′s that did their best to rid the world of 70′s cars. Even if I know they are innefficient useless, non-handling pieces of *rap that tbh aren’t really good at anything except being movie props, I really want one. and I don’t care if it’s the Buesmobile, Eleanor, the Bandits Trans-Am or one of Karl Maldens LTD’s. I prefer mid 70′s big blocked 4dr ht’s (or wagons), but I know my gf will probably kill me (as in actually end my life) if I buy one…

    • 0 avatar
      sgeffe

      When I was in Scandinavia back in 2005 (Sweden, Finland, Norway, Denmark), I saw all KINDS of ’70s American iron, GM B-bodies in particular! (Sorry, Ford fans, none! I took bunches of car pictures, since I never get to see most of the EU offerings here!)

      The best one was in Oslo, IIRC: a pristine 1978 Olds Delta 88 Holiday Coupe sitting on the street; blended in with the rest of the cars sitting around, except for the “Touch This Car And I’ll F— Your Dog!” bumper sticker displayed prominently in the windshield!

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    Not all cars from the 70s were bad. I had a 4 door 73 Chevelle Deluxe with a 350 2 barrel V-8 that was one of the best running cars I ever had. Now my 77 Monte Carlo with a 305 did not run as well but is was a nice ride with swivel bucket seats and power everything. One of the nicest looking cars I ever owned with buckskin paint and a tan landau top with tan interior.

  • avatar
    Christian Gulliksen

    There are always exceptions to rules. My mid-90s daily driver was a one-previous-owner 1976 Dodge Aspen coupe, fully optioned with a sunroof and a 360. It was quick, completely reliable and got fairly decent mileage on the freeway.

    • 0 avatar
      sgeffe

      The Aspen/Volaré, from what I’ve read from the B&B over the years, seems to be feast or famine: POS, or almost as good as the Dart/Valiant which preceded them!

      My Dad had a ’77 Volaré wagon with the slant-six as a company car, and aside from the rusty fenders (don’t recall if he had those fixed under the..uhhhh..RECALL for those) and a ballast resistor or two, was OK.

      (Yes, these were the most-recalled cars ever, at least until the X-cars came along, but correct me if I’m wrong, there is some semblance of respect for these cars which has germinated over the years.)

  • avatar
    johnny ringo

    I have to respectfully disagree-most cars from the 70′s putting it politely sucked-we got low compression engines that delivered poor fuel economy and performance, quality control issues that got worse as the era dragged on, 5 mph bumpers that looked like add-ons, poor driveability-I could go on but it was really a terrible era for automobiles. The sales of Japanese imports really took off in the 70′s to a large extent because of much better quality-they were not perfect-but compare say a 1976 Honda Accord to a 1976 Chevrolet Vega. Anybody who would choose the Vega over the Accord was obviously suffering from a bad case of aberrant patriotism. Most cars of the 70′s deserve to be forgotten.

    • 0 avatar
      Superdessucke

      If you’re talking about 100% stock cars, yes, they’re pathetic. But most still had V-8 engines that once made real power so it isn’t hard to modify them for solid performance. Put on a dual exhaust with high flow cats, a good cam, and a decent aluminum dual plane intake manifold and carburetor on, say, a ’75 Chevy 350 2-bbl and you add like 90 horsepower for about 700 bucks or so. Who cares about total numbers matching with these?

      As to the bumpers, some were hideous, but some automakers did a good job with them. I thought Chrysler blended them into their designs the best. Ford probably the worst. GM somewhere in the middle. The colonnades had huge bumpers but they somehow worked.

  • avatar
    el scotto

    In no particular order I’d like me a: black Trans Am with the puking chicken on the hood, a black Monte Carlo with a red velour interior, and a baby-blue Granville convertible. Oh Yeah.

  • avatar
    Mandalorian

    I actually don’t mind the 5mph bumpers. Yeah, they look bad. Whatever, styling is subjective. At least one could actually BUMP into stuff and not cause thousands of dollars in damage like a modern car.

  • avatar
    Kenmore

    The giddy stupidity of ’70s music, especially disco, is increasingly attractive to me as we approach our cultural and I my personal end time.

    But… there MUST be a wacka-wacka wah-wah rhythm guitar track in it.

    And full-size cars of the ’70s were splendiferous cush-mobiles for those of us who never drive fast. Overall, ’70-’73 ChryCo for me, please.

  • avatar
    cargogh

    My dad’s favorite car of all time was a 1972 LTD. He said the smoothest riding was the ’58 Squarebird, and the most beautiful was the ’59 Bonneville. But the best all around was the LTD. They kept it until I got my license because I ditched it and mom wanted a new ’80 Cordoba. It was fairly quick, and got 19 mpg on the road. My brother said the 400 was a Cleveland instead of a Windsor, but I thought those just 351s. We always did our own maintenance and the only thing that went out was a few starter bendixes sp? and a universal joint at 115xxx. Very reliable, and missed the 5 bumpers by a year. If you squinted, you could see a little Aston Martin Lagonda in the hood.

  • avatar
    Superdessucke

    Actually, cars from the ’70s aren’t as unloved as they once were. 1975-79 Trans Ams, once cheap, are now quite pricey. A nice ’76 T/A would easily clear 20k.

    Nice low mileage “colonnade” GM coupes from 1973-77 are bringing quite a bit of interest on ebay, as are the Cordoba/Chargers from the same era. They won’t be at Barrett-Jackson in large numbers anytime soon but they’re going in the 8-10k range, which is enough to make them attractive to buy and enough incentive to keep them nice.

  • avatar
    JimC2

    Remember too that in 1977, a few premium Euro brands offered oxygen sensor feedback fuel injection together with three-way catalytic converters- 1977. Improved emissions and halfway decent driveability… for a price.

    At the same time, U.S. domestic brands were still mucking around trying to meet emissions standards using kludge/Rube Goldberg fixes such as electrically heated thermostatic springs for automatic chokes (seriously, who the F invented this?!?), accelerator pumps (just dump a bunch of fuel in there, that’ll cure stumbling), vacuum secondaries or mechanical secondaries (the debate goes on which is better), air pumps (because hey, diluting the stinky exhaust reduces the CO concentration just like watering down strong coffee and voila- it passes the test!), and other dumb ideas. If they had just made up their minds to move out of the sixties instead of dragging their feet, would we even be talking about the malaise era?

    • 0 avatar
      -Nate

      ” , air pumps (because hey, diluting the stinky exhaust reduces the CO concentration just like watering down strong coffee and voila- it passes the test!), and other dumb ideas. ”

      This indicates you have no idea how A.I.R. pumps actually worked : what they did was inject fresh air into the exhaust ports to create additional combustion of the unburned exhaust *inside* the exhaust manifolds.

      It worked really well at burning up the unburned hydrocarbons but , adding additional combustion outside the combustion chamber is silly so they cracked exhaust manifolds like crazy from the increased heat , warped the exhaust valves from blowing cold outside air on the back side of a 2,000 degree hot valve and raised the entire underhood temperatures cooking everything plastic or rubber as well as helping boil the carbys dry on heat soak….

      I remember guys sleeping through the SMOG License classes then complaining later when they couldn’t make the cars run well .

      _DUH_ .

      -Nate

      • 0 avatar
        sgeffe

        Good Gawd, I can maybe change my own oil and change a flat tire, yet I can see that having something go “boom” where it really shouldn’t is going to cause problems!

        So these pumps were almost a “designed-in” engine knock!

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      Electric chokes actually work pretty well and are fairly easy to set and adjust. I’m not sure what you’re going on about.

  • avatar
    Panther Platform

    I spent my adolescence and early adult years in the 70s. I know objectively most of the cars of this era are garbage, but the long hood, short deck, and huge engine look stirs my passion. A Lincoln Mark V will be one of my first purchases after I retire.

  • avatar
    Conslaw

    The 5-MPH Bumper regulation wasn’t so much a safety regulation as an economic regulation. The public actually demanded it. (Well, the insurance companies had something to do with it. . .) Prior to the 5-MPH bumper regulations, tiny bumps were causing very expensive damage as the carmakers were prioritizing styling over practicality.

  • avatar
    -Nate

    I was working as a Journeyman Mechanic in the early 1970′s so I got the opportunity to learn how to peak and tweak those maligned news cars , they were fairly easy to make run great , double the fuel economy and still breeze through the stringent California SMOG tests , not so much the visual parts but the actual emissions were not so hard to achieve as long as you understood how things worked , so few ‘ mechanics ‘ did nor even cared at the time .

    I had a heavy duty (snicker) 1976 GMC long bed 3/4 ton pickup no cat etc. with the 292 I6 and with everything connected it passed the 2012 emissions testing handily , the testing guy told me new cars often didn’t run as clean .

    I’m of mixed mind to the visuals , now that I’m old I too like the long hood , short rear deck appearance , not quite enough to _buy_ one tho’ .

    -Nate

  • avatar
    danio3834

    Look what you’ve done. I’m looking at late 70′s Continental Town Cars again.

  • avatar
    Cubista

    The 1973 Dodge Charger…if it’s good enough for Michael Westen, it’s good enough for me.

    And the opera windows that started showing up around 1974 or so…those were pretty cool, especially on the 1976 Charger (looked like shark’s gills) and the 1976 Torino Elite (looked like Captain’s bars). And the oval on the Mk. IV Continental…cooler than the other side of Miles Davis’ pillow.

    And believe it or not those old crocks actually looked pretty good in NASCAR racing trim. Richard Petty’s STP Dodge, David Pearson’s Purolator Mercury, Donnie Allison’s Hawaiian Tropic Chevy Malibu (borrowed for the original “Cannonball Run”)…Darrell Waltrip’s Gatorade Malibu, while you’re at it…those are some all-time classic racecars.

    • 0 avatar
      sgeffe

      That upsweep in the C-pillar of the Torino Coupes/Elites always struck me as almost as ugly as the C-pillar of the AMC Gremlin!

      And it’s amazing that the not-quite-a-Hoffmeister-kink of the rear doors on the Volvo-based Explorers bears a little resemblance, at least to my eyes, to the C-pillars of the Torino/LTD II wagons of yore. (Mercury equivalents: Montego/Villager, Cougar, if memory serves.)

  • avatar
    FormerFF

    There are two 70′s Detroit cars that I liked, the second generation GM F bodies, mostly from watching too many episodes of “The Rockford Files”, and for some inexplicable reason, the notchback version of the Monza, the “Towne Coupe” version. Looking at pictures of that car now, I can’t figure out what I was thinking.

    One of my classmates had a mid 70′s Camaro. If I recall correctly it was a six and had three on the tree. Good Times. (not)

  • avatar
    bomberpete

    ….the second generation GM F bodies, mostly from watching too many episodes of “The Rockford Files”….

    Amen to that, brother. I’m certain James Garner was responsible for a lot more Firebird sales than Burt Reynolds.


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