Buy/Drive/Burn: Mid-seventies Captive Imports
Today’s Seventies captive imports trio comes to us via suggestion by commenter MRF 95 T-Bird. He wants to see which of the Manta, Capri, and Arrow warrants a malaise era Buy. We’ll straddle two model years today, 1975 and 1976.
The Capri is in its fifth model year in the North American market, after Ford began imports of its German-made European market coupe in 1970. For 1976 the Capri II arrives, with new hatchback styling and more refinement over its predecessor. Available engines this year include the 2.3-liter OHC inline-four and 2.8-liter Cologne V6, paired either to a four-speed manual or three-speed auto. Today’s selection is a 2.8 V6 (105 horsepower) with a four-speed manual. Rumor has it the Capri isn’t long for the North American market, as its sales continue to fall.
General Motors has distributed select German Opel models via its Buick dealerships since 1956. Since 1971 the Manta and Ascona A have been available, the latter of which wears a 1900 badge domestically. Manta is the coupe of the two, and all examples use a 1.9-liter inline-four that produces 105 horsepower. Two transmissions are available, a four-speed manual (today’s choice) or three-speed auto. New for 1975 is a Bosch L-Jetronic fuel injection system on all examples. 1975 is the last year for the Manta in North America, as rising exchange rates force GM to import the Isuzu Gemini and call it Opel by Isuzu.
1976 is the debut year of the Plymouth Arrow in North America. Dodge imports the hatchback as another entry into its captive Colt lineup, and aficionados know it’s actually a Mitsubishi Lancer. Engines on offer are two, a 1.6-liter inline-four or optional larger 2.0-liter I4. Transmissions have four or five speeds if manual, three if automatic. The 2.0-liter is our engine selection today and sends 100 horsepower through the five-speed manual.
Three fun to drive and economical two doors, which one goes home to your bi-level’s garage?
Have any suggestions for future editions of Buy/Drive/Burn? Leave them in the comments!
[Images: GM, Ford, Dodge]
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