Saturday, February 4, 2012

Highlights of the 1970's

Ah, yes, the 1970's. Nestled between 1960's muscle cars and 1980's sports cars are the cars of the '70's. There was plenty of variety in this decade, and a couple of real gems stood out against the rest. My personal list of great 1970's cars is quite lengthy, so this is a somewhat shortened version. If I missed something that you think needs mentioning, let me know. I'm open to suggestions. Now, without any further delay, here's my list of 1970's hits.

This is one of my favorite cars from any generation, the 1970 Dodge Challenger. This particular model is a convertible, with a 392 Hemi V8. Muscle cars declined in the early '70's, and 1971 is really the last year before they started to go extinct. The Challenger was aimed at the Mustang and Camaro, and it did very well, too. The array of models and options meant that there was something for everybody.

Plymouth's equivalent to the Challenger was the 'Cuda. Initially a small muscle car, the 'Cuda grew up for 1970. The most coveted 'Cuda is usually the Hemi 'Cuda, which became a serious contender in the muscle car wars. Drag racing became a great venue for this car, as evidenced by the success of the Sox & Martin 'Cuda drag car.

Representing the start of the supercar era is this, the 1971 DeTomaso Pantera GTS. The gorgeous Italian body turned heads, but the main event was under the hood. The Pantera utilized a 351 cubic inch Ford V8. This marriage of Italian style and American performance was a successful combination, and the Pantera did well overall.

For 1971, Plymouth gave the Roadrunner a complete visual overhaul. The car above is a 1971 model with a 440 V8. The car was slightly smaller than the original, and its redesigned bodywork was similar to that of the also-redesigned 1971 Dodge Charger. The dramatic new styling was generally well-received, but by 1972 horsepower would start to decline.

Lamborghini's first real supercar, the Miura, was a speed demon despite the automotive restrictions of the 1970's. This 1972 Miura is a SV model, which stands for "Super Veloce" or "Super Fast" in Italian. The Miura was the first of many Lamborghini supercars, leading up to the modern era with the Aventador.

Ferrari also fared well in the 1970's. Cars like this Dino 246 GTS demonstrated exceptional performance in a gorgeous package. Named after Enzo Ferrari's son, the Dino line of Ferraris were characterized by having a mid-engine, rear wheel drive setup.

After a starring role in Smokey and the Bandit, the 1977 Pontiac Trans Am became an icon of the decade. Features like T-Tops, snowflake wheels and a flaming eagle hood decal made this car stand out almost anywhere. A decent muscle car, the Trans Am wasn't as horsepower-heavy as it's 1960's ancestors, but it was still a competitive automobile.

Last but not least is the Chevrolet Corvette. From it's birth in 1953 the Corvette has been in continuous production without faltering. It's ability to change with the times kept this car looking sharp in the 1970's. This one is especially nice, thanks to a two-tone paint job.

In retrospect, the 1970's weren't all that bad for the automotive world. There were plenty of hits and misses, but they were all unique and different. How many new cars can you buy today with T-Tops? Sadly, not that many.

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