By on October 30, 2011

Over the last few weeks we have visited PanamaColombiaChina and Indonesia. But really, I know the post you liked most was when I went back in time to explore America in 1986. Come on, you know it’s true.

Which is why I have more time travel for you this week: let’s go back to 1975, a time when the average house cost $39,000, the average new car $4,250, both inflation and unemployment rates hit 9.2% and a gallon of gas cost an outrageous 44 cents…but most importantly it was the year Jaws was released.

If the idea of going back to these depressing times is not what you need today, that’s ok. I have prepared 160 countries for you to visit in my blog, and I can tell you it is worth the browse, so click away!

“It’s a good feeling to have an Olds around you” the ad said, and a lot of Americans agreed…

The 1975 US ranking I have for you this week is the best-selling American Passenger Cars, so before you ask, no there are no imports – Toyota led the way then apparently but I don’t have any official figures – and there are no trucks – the Ford F-Series only took the lead in 1977 so the best-selling truck would probably have been a Chevrolet then.

America’s favorite car in 1975 was the Oldsmobile Cutlass. Yes, it’s hard to believe that a brand that doesn’t exist anymore today could produce the best-selling model in the entire country then…but it was 36 years ago after all.

The Cutlass is up 8 spots and 20% on 1974 to grab the pole position with 324,610 sales. The Cutlass would be a regular fixture atop the US ranking up until the early eighties.

In second place we find the Ford Granada, a huge success for its first full year of sales in the country at 291,140 units.

The Chevrolet Chevelle is 3rd with 276,206 sales, it has been on the podium for a few years…

…ahead of the Ford Pinto at 271,880 units. This is much lower than the last couple of years, possibly showing that America’s oil crisis-forced love story with the small car is about to end…

The Chevrolet Monte Carlo is 5th with 267,803 sales…

…followed by the Chevrolet Nova is #6 with 256,438 sales…

…and the Plymouth Valiant dropping from 2nd place in 1974 to 7th in 1975.

The other 2 American cars to sell over 200,000 units in 1975 are the Chevrolet Vega and Ford LT D.

Further down the ranking, notice the Dodge Dart in 13th position…

…the Chevrolet Monza up 64 spots to #19

and the Ford Elite up 33 spots to #21.

And now for the golden nugget: the best-selling newcomer in 1975 is the very original/controversial AMC Pacer landing directly in 28th position with 88,641 units sold for its very first year…

Top 30 best-selling American Passenger Cars in 1975

Pos Model Sales 1975
1 Oldsmobile Cutlass 324,610
2 Ford Granada 291,140
3 Chevrolet Chevelle 276,206
4 Ford Pinto 271,880
5 Chevrolet Monte Carlo 267,803
6 Chevrolet Nova 256,438
7 Plymouth Valiant 225,379
8 Chevrolet Vega 212,876
9 Ford LT D 201,180
10 Ford Mustang II 193,273
11 Chevrolet Impala 189,067
12 Buick Century 183,666
13 Dodge Dart 163,639
14 Cadillac DeVille 161,179
15 Ford Maverick 140,645
16 Chrysler Cordoba 140,573
17 Chevrolet Camaro 138,679
18 Chevrolet Caprice 115,812
19 Chevrolet Monza 113,946
20 Plymouth Fury 103,500
21 Ford Elite 96,848
22 AMC Hornet 94,522
23 Pontiac Grand Prix 94,363
24 Buick LeSabre 94,206
25 Buick Electra 225 92,427
26 Mercury Monarch 90,429
27 Pontiac Le Mans 90,418
28 AMC Pacer 88,641
29 Pontiac Firebird 77,607
30 Oldsmobile 98 76,616

If you want more, the 1975 Top 80 best-selling American Passenger Cars Ranking is here.

If you are interested in monthly updates about the best-selling models in the USA see here.

Source of the 1975 average costs is

Source of the 1975 sales figures is German Auto Katalog

Matt Gasnier, based in Sydney, Australia, runs a blog named Best Selling Cars, dedicated to counting cars all over the world.

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56 Comments on “Best Selling Cars Around The Globe: When Oldsmobile Was Top Of The Class...”

  • avatar
    Athos Nobile

    GM was selling around 1M A-Bodies at the time?

    • 0 avatar
      Educator(of teachers)Dan

      My math gives me over a half-million but I’m not hitting the million mark. But yes they were dang popular cars in their time.

      • 0 avatar

        What’s really astonishing is how popular the Cutlass Supreme coupes got as the ’70s wore on. In 1979, Olds sold 459,047 Cutlass Supreme and Calais coupes. That’s just one single body style in the Cutlass range!

      • 0 avatar
        Athos Nobile

        I didn’t fire up the calculator, but Chevelle/Cutlass/Century/Gran Prix/Monte Carlo were all A-Bodies.

        You can argue the Monte/Grand Prix are G-body, but mechanically they’re the same.

      • 0 avatar
        Educator(of teachers)Dan

        @Athos Noble, you are correct, I forgot how fast the Grand Prix and Monte Carlo lost platform exclusivity.

      • 0 avatar

        Re tonyola’s comment “…one single body style in the Cutlass range!”? Perhaps, but in 1978 and ’79 there were two different two-door styles – fastback and formal notchback, with different grille treatments – as well as a fastback four-door and a wagon. I presume this statistic accounts for both two-door body styles. The two-door fastback was soon canceled, whereas the four-door was modified into a notchback (same for the equivalent Buick intermediates). The Olds four-door notchback was unbelievably popular in the 1980s.

      • 0 avatar


        You misread my comment, and I know that there were two different Cutlass coupes. The sales figures I used apply only to the notchback coupes – the fastback coupes aren’t included. That’s what I meant by “single body style”.

  • avatar

    Amazing what time will do to anything. I was an early teen back then and while it is easy to get all caught up with being nostalgic and all, many of these were simply not very good cars. Yes, there are exceptions, and yes, if you knew about cars you could make them run as well as pre-emission vehicles. But marginal fit, miles of vacuum lines, carbs that just couldn’t stay in tune, the list goes on. Some of the imports did better, certainly in the fit and finish department. But they also suffered from the same issue that the technology was behind the requirements of the day. Would it be cool to see a mint condition 75 Cutlass? Sure. But the 70s were the nadir of the automotive world. Remember how people talked about how much they disliked the style of the World Trade Center? Disliked during their lives, yet mourned/missed in their deaths. Kind of like cars from this era.

    • 0 avatar
      Joe McKinney

      In terms of industrial design, fashion and architecture the early to mid-1960’s really were a high water mark. What followed in the 1970’s pales in comparison. American cars from the 1970’s are the automotive equivalent of a leisure suit – flashy looking, but tasteless and cheaply made.

    • 0 avatar
      Volt 230

      Pinto, Vega, Granada, Mustang 2 on that list, WOW! we’ve come a long way baby! No wonder our doors were wide open for the Japanese cars to come here and kick butt, specially with gas going up. Notice no Beetle on the list, this is indeed all American list, notice no Caddy and no Olds 88, a very popular car as well.

      • 0 avatar

        I don’t understand the split on Olds Delta 88 vs. Olds Delta Royale numbers as reported. My title read “Oldsmobile Delta Eighty Eight Royale”. If those two are combined (based on the link to the list of 80) it would have put the Olds Delta at over 100,000 units, so around 21st on the list.

  • avatar

    Educator Dan:

    I just cannot believe you weren’t the first commenter here!

    For anyone who wasn’t born or too young at the time, it’s difficult to realize just how big of a splash the Olds Cutlass Supreme made. These were beautiful cars, fixed/opera windows aside, as the doors were s-o-o-o long, they contained sideglass almost as large as the pre-1973 versions.

    I’ve written this before, but one of our group at the time bought one of the 1977 models in light mist blue with a white interior. He traded in his Jeep CJ5, as he was engaged and he knew he couldn’t keep the Jeep (for some reason), but that was a gorgeous car, a car I couldn’t afford at the time. Me? I also was engaged in the spring of 1977, but kept my 3/4 ton Chevy truck until a couple of months after we were married. Three of us in that group got married that year.

    I think of all the large mid-sized coupes, the GM family were clearly the best and the Olds was at the top of the heap.

  • avatar

    agree to “Amazing what time will do to anything”!
    not a single import among the top 80.
    What were we thinking?

    • 0 avatar

      This list must have excluded imports. For example, the VW Rabbit sold nearly 100,000 units in 1975 in the US. I would think that even the Opel Manta would have made the top 80 in its last year in the US.

      • 0 avatar

        Yeah but you could see foreign influence start to creep into the designs. The Chevy Monza/Vega and the AMC Pacer were originally to be fitted with the Wankel rotary engine GM bought from Germany. Ford also brought the Capri and Pantera over during this time, both great cars.

  • avatar
    Dave M.

    This too was during my coming-of-age; I loved the Ford Elite and Buick Regal. Once I finished school and entered the world of work, I’ve bought nothing but imports.

    As much as I love nostalgia and frequent classic car auto auctions, these are the good old days regarding automobiles – power, safety, driveability.

  • avatar

    I remember these cars well. My Dad worked at the local Chev-Olds emporium and often had a Cutlass Supreme coupe as a company car/demo. They were very popular at the time, although I don’t know if they were the best seller here in Canada.
    What I remember most was that ’75 was the first year of catalytic converters. Explaining to customers that it was normal for your new $6000 car to smell like the outflow from the sewage treatment plant, along with a pamphlet that listed the gas stations where unleaded gas could be found were all part of the salesmen’s job that year.
    A quick look at the other cars on this list shows just how bleak the outlook for car enthusiasts was back then. 1975 was hard times for car guys.

    • 0 avatar

      Those first generation converters had high back pressure. No wonder so many owners took them off so the engine could actually breathe. Although, as we found out later, the catcon helped preserve the car’s exhaust system. Before then, it was not uncommon to replace the muffler and tailpipe every year from warmup condensation and exhaust acids. After catcons, the system ran hotter, so condensation buildup in the muffler was less common. That, along with cleaner exhaust meant that we could generally get several years from a muffler and tailpipe.

      • 0 avatar

        Yep, right after the warranty was up. The dealership shop wouldn’t do this kind of work but word got around quick on which muffler shops would. Then all you needed was a bit of carb tuning and distributer advance setup and you actually had a decent runner. I made a pretty good buck doing this sort of work nights and weekends for a few years.

      • 0 avatar

        It had more to do with the removal of leaded fuel than it did heat. That’s the reason spark plug and oil change cycles were lengthened.

  • avatar

    I was in 3rd and 4th grade in 1975 and just becoming aware of cars and IC engines. I remember being fascinated by Briggs and Stratton lawn mower engines about then and being the weird kid that loved to mow grass, if only so I could play with the engine. I also remember ’75 as the first year of catalytic converters – except CA which I think got them in ’73.

    My folks bought a new ’76 Vista Cruiser (Cutlass station wagon) in late ’75, the first year of the dual square headlights. It had an Olds 350, TH350 transmission, Quadrajet, and of course, single exhaust with a first gen catcon. It also had a rather tall rear end and I was so dissappointed that we couldn’t get rubber in it like we did in our ’69 Olds 442. My sister and I loved the rear facing third row seat where we could piss off drivers behind us by making faces or flipping the occasional bird when our parents weren’t watching. As embarrassing as that car might have seemed to me by the time I was in high school in the early 80s, it was quite a good looker for the mid to late 70s. My mom kept it after the divorce and finally got rid of it in the summer of ’86 when I was on one of my midshipmen cruises. She traded it for an ’86 Dodge Omni – OMG! But that’s another story…

  • avatar

    A couple of mistakes here.

    The Nova pictured is a ’74, the ’75 had redesigned bodies with updated looks.

    The Dodge Dart you show is the Dodge Demon and built from 1971-76, a badged engineered Plymouth Duster using a Dodge front end and never sold as many as Plymouth did of the Duster and both were based on the Valiant platform.

    The more common Dart was much like the Plymouth Valiant in that it came in a 4 door sedan and a 2 door hardtop (though both would have separate chassis/bodies and looked quite similar beginning in 1967 when the first major redesign since ’63 but both would become badged engineered beginning in ’74, making them essentially identical.

    • 0 avatar

      In the US at least, the Demon name only made it through 1972. For 1973, the Demon was renamed the Dart Sport, perhaps due to complaints from religious fundamentalists.

  • avatar
    Steven Lang

    A few takeaways from this time…

    17 out of the top 30 vehicles were GM models. Back then each GM brand had standalone dealerships (with GMC being an exception). As a consequence, GM models were already cannibalizing each other on a massive scale.

    Chrysler only had 3 out of the 30 vehicles by this time. The Valiant was already beginning it’s rapid decline, and the company was hitting a nasty time on multiple levels. If you read the history of this time, 1975 was kind of a watershed year for Plymouth’s eventual downward spiral. No more top 10 hits for the brand. A marketing focus that prioritized Dodge brands above all. With rare exception, Plymouth simply stopped receiving any attention when it came to product differentiation.

    I do wonder how the imports fared during this time. Back then they largely were nowhere near the radar on anything but subcompacts and small pickups. I’m not even sure if collectively there was a single import model that could have competed well with an American compact.

    Great article Matt. I absolutely loved it.

    • 0 avatar

      Those GM brands had separate engine shops and other separate development. Having been from a line of Oldsmobile buyers, with a grandfather who purchased a top-of-the-line 98 every year with the V8 from as soon as they were out after WWII, it was an Oldsmobile V8 that the Olds cult-of-performance wanted. It was when the 98 hood raised on a Chevy V8 that Oldsmobile died. It wasn’t cannibalism — it was market dominance.

      Perhaps they could have been smarter about sharing resources but maintaining differentiation. They just mocked their old customers who believed in the difference when they rolled out the identical cars in the 1980s.

      • 0 avatar
        Volt 230

        Those Olds 88’s rode real nice and plush, I remember when my father-in-law got his 85 Sedan De Ville, It was absolute crap compared to those great GM models from the 70’s.

      • 0 avatar

        So about 1990? Our ’84 Delta 88 had a gen-u-wine Olds 307 under the hood. If I recall it was the largest V8 you could get in 84 in either the 88 or the 98. Decent motor, crap TH-200 transmission, and a 2.14 rear end, you’d run out of speedometer before you ran out of 2nd gear. The B-body wagons (including Chevrolet) got the Olds 307 after 85 till the end of production in 90. It was that same Olds 307 that was the absolute last 4 barrel carbed engine a civilian could buy new in the US.

        Oldsmobile was left to wither on the vine around 1980ish. then around the late ’90s GM decided to give them fresh product instead of 3rd tier behind Buick and Pontiac.

  • avatar
    Jeff Waingrow

    In some areas of the country, the average house price is once again $39,000!

  • avatar

    I remember those times, I was in the 4th grade during the first half of ’74 and spent my 5th grade years in the second half of ’75 and the first half of ’76, getting to celebrate the country’s Bicentennial that spring at school.

    At the time, my parents still had, I think the ’71 Plymouth Fury III, the very old by then ’64 Dodge 330 station wagon they’d bought new, which by then, my sisters all drove and Dad went and bought a brand new Honda Accord in the spring of ’76. Good friends bought that same year, a brand new light blue metallic Chevy Monza 2+2 fastback.

    But yeah, I remember 1975 being the first year for unleaded gas and remember the excitement of those who drove the CVCC based Hondas how they didn’t have to use unleaded gas just yet, making the CVCC based Civic and Accord very popular. I think all imports using a conventional 2 valve motor had to go to unleaded right off the bat but then again, I seem to recall, but could be way off that imports had a couple of years to do so, making anything built in 1977 and later requiring unleaded gas, except for the CVCC motor, which went unleaded in 1980 in the redesign.

  • avatar

    Wonderful article!

    I’m about to restore a 1975 Century GS (1 of 1255, no less). I knew a guy with a Cutlass and it was called ‘the Gutless Cutlass’. Had a ‘car bar’ though.

  • avatar

    I like how there’s not only one but TWO AMCs in the top 30 from 1975. Until my dying breath i’ll have a soft spot for AMCs (when growing up, my parents had two Eagles). What I wouldn’t give to have been a car consumer back then. Sure, the cars now are immensely better built with comparatively astronomical fuel mileage and safety, but cars of this era had…well, character. And didn’t look like a dishwasher with wheels. :)

    • 0 avatar
      VA Terrapin

      Take it from someone who used to own a Ford Mustang II and whose father used to own a Ford LTD, looks are the only thing these cars possibly have over cars of today. American cars back then were slow, poor handling, unreliable gas guzzlers. The kind of character these cars had was the kind that would make your mechanic affluent.

      Nostalgia for these cars is misplaced. They’re too bloated compared to cars before, and they don’t have the excellence of cars after.

  • avatar
    Rod Panhard

    My Mom got a 1975 Cutlass, brand new. My brother still has it, parked in a garage. It’s had two transmissions, and there’s only 90,000 miles on it.

    It no longer runs. I sat in it last summer. The steering wheel began seeping some sort of goo in the early 1980s. It continues to do so to this day.

    The last time I drove it, which was around 1984, the car got about 14 mpg on the highway, and about 9 mpg around town. That was the 350 cubic inch engine for ‘ya.

    “Gutless” is correct. We had three other cars in the family concurrent to the Gutless at any time. These included a ’74 Celica, a ’74 VW Beetle, a ’78 LeSabre, a ’77 Chevy Van, a 1980 Mercedes-Benz 300D. The only car slower at a red light was the Mercedes, but it wasn’t that much slower.

    My brother and I once raced the Celica and the Gutless on a 91 mile stretch of highway. The Celica, often maligned for it’s 18RC engine with a block derived from industrial trucks and forklifts, had no problem leaving the Gutless behind.

    So yeah, it was the best selling car in it’s day. So was McDonald’s hamburger. You can make your own conclusions.

    • 0 avatar

      My ’77 Chevelle had that same problem, till I took it off and soaked it in dish soap. no more goo for 2 years.

      Mine has the 305, and about 150,000 miles on it, it gets substantially better milage than your Cutless at 14 and 19. I’ve spent a fair amount of time optimizing it though. When I got it 2 and half years ago, 9 and 12 was all itd do.

      It’s still slow, but surprisngly its fairly fast at speeds above 60, thanks to its pathetic 2.56 rear axle ratio. It’s no slower than my friends fully restored ’71 Chevelle convertible with its 350, and can pass several gas stations while that convertible gets 12mpg no matter how fast you drive it.

  • avatar
    Felis Concolor

    [stares at Pacer photograph] “Ugliest car ever made, hm?”

    [stares at cars driving by outside] “Hypocrites.”

  • avatar

    One positive thing you can say about that era of cars is that even the economy models felt substantial, like you were getting your money’s worth. I remember my grandmother had a Ford Granada (which was one of their cheapest models) but it felt solid like a tank. The modern equivalent would be something like a disposable Ford Escort that felt like you were riding in a tin can.

    No wonder American buyers flocked to SUVs that got even worse gas mileage once CAFE sunk it’s teeth into passenger cars.

  • avatar


    Personally I think the Fords of this era were more attractively designed [save Pinto] and I’m not a Ford person. Perhaps this was all fermented Ralph Nadar fallout, coupled with a mix of Watergate & the failing war in Vietnam?

    Add in the looming bicentennial – possibly many Americans sought refuge and regroup in the likes of an Olds…

  • avatar

    The main thing I recall about cars in 1975 is that I sold my 1965 MGB and bought a 1963 Jaguar XKE.

    I believe the Jag cost me $1,800.00. Very clean and road worthy except the steering wheel (the actual steering wheel, not the steering) was broken. That took an hour to fix.

    For this reason I didn’t really notice any of those other cars.

  • avatar

    According to Wards Auto, in 1975, Honda had less than 1% market share in the U.S.; VW, Toyota and Honda were all just under 3% each. GM had 43%. I’ve heard of one model of Chevrolet selling more than an entire import line up. Under those conditions, I doubt any of the imports would have made it into the Top 30.
    I would have been a ripe old age of 14 when these cars came out. I haunted the new car dealerships all the time and even wrote to the head offices of the Big Three every September for brochures. Chrysler was the most generous. GM was cheap, cheap, cheap. Citroen sent me a magnificent package for the SM, which I still have.
    Although the Cutlasses were decent looking for their time, as the ’70s progressed one could see the quality of the materials in heavy decline. A roommate of mine had a ’79 Cutlass Salon. Ugh. The craptastic plastics and a back door window that wouldn’t go down?
    My father, a die-hard Mopar fan went from a ’69 Chrysler 300 to a ’76 LTD. There, too, the plastics were gawdawful. At about 3 years old the entire passenger door trim (and, boy, was that 2-door door huge!) on the LTD cracked vertically down the middle.
    I know the lack of standard tinting on window glass and the infancy of the new plastics contributed to the absolute disaster the interiors became, but the consumer of the day will just simply blame Detroit.
    No doubt it affected GM the hardest because as the trail blazer and trend setter (plus having the deepest pockets) it was GM that set the standards. The ugly bumpers on the Fords (well, everyone had ugly hydraulic bumpers, but Ford seemed to be the worst) made them the ugliest of the ugly, but GM’s attempts at early plastic noses were a true disaster.
    Best to forget the entire era from about 1973 to 1990. Very few vehicles stand out, including the imports.

    • 0 avatar

      I clearly recall seeing the brochures for several of the new-for-’78 GM intermediates (although our family never bought one), in particular the sentence justifying the removal of the rear door window cranks in terms of added passenger room, as though that were the only possible reason to do such a thing and outweighed any other that might come to mind – say, “cheapness.” (Or cheepnis, if you prefer.)

      Exterior plastics also verged on the criminally cheap. Was it the ’73 GM colonnade intermediates that introduced that plastic bead border for fixed rear quarter windows that so quickly warped as to be laughable? Perhaps the ’71-’78 Eldorado coupe had it first, but I never saw one up close. It was such a hit – within GM, anyway – that it turned up on the full-size cars too, starting in 1974. About as durable as the ends of shoelaces.

  • avatar

    I love it! I’m a product of 1975, and my all time favorite car is an Olds Cutlass!!!

  • avatar

    Good Lord, that Ford Elite is magnificent.

  • avatar
    Dave M.

    Good Lord, that Ford Elite is magnificent.

    Amen – I always thought the Elite was a great looking car. It was Ford’s answer to the Monte Carlo….notice how in ’75 the Monte outsold the Elite 3:1, and the Cordoba beat it by 40k+.

    During this year Ford made 4 similar coupes – the Elite, the Gran Torino Brougham, the Mercury Montego, and the Mercury Cougar. That’s a lot of vinyl roofing!

  • avatar

    I thought the Torino, and all it’s variants, like pretty much anything Ford made from ’71 until about 6 years ago, was hideous. Not Pacer hideous, but really ungainly looking. Ford had totally lost it’s way for over 40 years, styling wise, IMHO anyway. The only bright spot was the Mustang, and it wasn’t a very bright spot at all. The closest thing to the Torino in looks was the ’71-74 Mopar B bodies, and they looked tremendously better. The Cordoba was ugly, but not nearly as ugly as the Cutlass or Torinos, so I can see why it outsold the Elite.

    We were an “Olds Family”, owning like 7 of them from ’65 until 1986.
    My first car was supposed to be my sister’s ’71 Cutlass, but I wrecked it, so I was given my mom’s ’72 Cutlass Supreme, bright red, with a white vinyl top, and thankfully, a black interior. My dad went and bought my sister a ’73 Cutlass, in an awful bronzish color, and my mom got a not a lot better colored one, in that “frosty” light blue. My mom’s car was great, zero problems in the 2 years she had it, and my sister’s car was a DOG, in performance, mileage, and reliability. She kept it until 1979, when she finally had enough, and got a car that was nearly as bad as the first one, a ’79 Cutlass, brown with a tan vinyl top. It turned out to be problem plauged as the first one was, with never ending engine and electrical issues. My sister was done with Olds at this point, and went into another hellish car, A Nissan of some kind, I never saw it, but it made the Cutlasses look good! Her last 3 cars have been Mazda’s, and is very happy with them.

  • avatar

    By the late 70’s these behemoths were truly reaching tuna-boat proportions. I remember my friend’s dad buying a ’79 metallic green Thuderbird that easily had a six-foot long hood, enough white pleather inside to wallpaper our living room, coupe doors so wide that it was nearly impossible for a child to open them, an air conditioner larger than my torso, and a trunk so big you could fit four golf club bags inside with room to spare.

  • avatar

    “America’s favourite car …”

    Wasn’t the Beetle still selling over 440K units in 1975? Though admittedly sales were falling off a cliff now, given that the 1974 sales were nearly 800K units.

  • avatar

    Interesting list, but there are some problems. The Chevrolet Impala and Caprice should be combined – they were the same basic car with different trim. That yields a total figure of 304,320 for the full-size Chevrolet, and places it in second place. Separating their sales figures is the same as separating the sales of the Honda Accord EX and LX.

    For the same reason, the Ford Torino and Gran Torino should also be combined for a figure of 143,399 and a 14th place finish. A fair number of two-door Torino sales were probably also stolen by the Gran Torino Elite, which debuted halfway through the 1974 model year.

  • avatar

    My first car was a 1976 Cutlass S — the base version with an incredibly underpowered 260 V8. It made all of 110 hp trying to move 4000 pounds of metal. Needless to say, it was no drag racer. It was a hand me down from my uncle in 1988. While it was a big yellow boat (dubbed “the Yellow Sub”), it had a charming, if bedraggled quality about it. This was a car that fit people in modest comfort and moved them around with minimal fuss.

    I agree with a number of the comments about how generally poor the engineering was back in the mid-70’s. But the level of expectation and technology was different. Family sedans weren’t expected to to do 0-60 in 8 seconds or less. Having a cassette player was considered high tech entertainment. Heck, I remember having a rear defroster being a big deal. We shouldn’t judge 70’s vehicles by 2011 standards. I know most folks know that, but, occasionally, the snarky comments about Malaise Era motoring misses the point. Modest expectations from that era led to relatively modest vehicles. How many of the current navigation and safety systems will look quaint in 2047?

    Maybe it’s because these are the cars of my childhood, but I will always have a soft spot for big 70’s American cars — and the Cutlass was top of the list for many of them.

  • avatar

    Mass delusion or hubris…..they literally felt they couldn’t fail.I suspect history will be final arbiter of their fall from grace.

  • avatar

    With all the comments here about the 1975 Cutlass being gutless, etc., you have to remember that most of the American seventies cars were about low emmissions,5 mph bumpers and rear axle ratios in 2:41 range to supposedly enhance mpg. The 1973 -77 Cutlass were heavy tanks with lower hp engines to meet the EPA standards of the time. I’ve owned many Cutlasses of the 1970’s and never had multiple transission problems or the pathetic 9 mpg gas mileage as one poster commented. One was a 1975 Cutlass Salon that was still running great with original engine /transmission at 170,00 miles in 1995. It was only retired that year because of a very worn front suspension and the body was getting rough from 20 winters of road salt. Even with those issues, I still have days that I regret giving up on that car so soon.

  • avatar
    bill mcgee

    What’s striking looking back is how few of these cars I ever drove in or even rode in back in the day , as I would have been 21 back then . Driven new , even fewer . I was in college and a roommmate had a new 1975 Rabbit in an awful chartreuse color ( a total POS ) and a GF who had a ’75 Mustang II Ghia in that peculiar yellow / olive color vinyl top and interior combo that only Ford was doing , with the stick and V-6 . The only other I remember driving was a cousin’s 1975 Le Mans coupe and a friend’s mom’s Maverick, a GF’s pale yellow / white v-top Elite and many many of the Cutlasses , driving or riding , worked with many woman in the shitty jobs I had in the early 80s still driving these . Back in 1975 , as a poor college student , it was a 5 year old VW for my own car or a bicycle , to for ease of parking at school and that expensive 50 cent a gallon or whatever it was back then and most of my friends were driving very used air-cooled VWs or parental castoffs , and yeah they had way more character than today’s cars but were not very good cars .

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  • Adam Tonge
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