The 1970s was a wild era. Hippie chic transformed into disco glitz, the TV news was frequently shocking, and wow, were the cars great. The 70s was the heart of the muscle cars when you didn't have to worry about emissions standards and catalytic converters but could just barrel down the street with immense amounts of power under the hood. Well, at least until the oil crisis hit. Whether you were alive at the time or just love watching Smokey and the Bandit on late night TV, these cars have all the style you need, plus all the power and fun. Sure, things could get excessive and even garish at times, but turning the heads when you rolled through town made it worth it.
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You may remember the chunky silhouette of these famous cabs from old movies, or even from your 1970s visit to New York City. But did you know that the car was also available for ordinary people to drive? Not many did, though, and the Checker cab and its civilian counterparts faded away in the early 80s, now only making an appearance in those period movies.
All car lovers are definitely familiar with the Cobra — but before Shelby packed his 428 Cobra Jet motor into the car named after it, there was the Frua. This gorgeous car had all the power you could want, but when the Cobra came out, it shoved the Frua into the shadows, and it was discontinued in 1973. Later Maserati picked up the brand's name to carry on the tradition.
The Chevelle was half a muscle car, half a practical car with a few luxurious touches. While the overall design had those 1970s angles, it still was a kick to drive, especially by the time the Mustang had become an economy car instead of the muscle car it was born to be. Driving the big block V8 of the Chevelle may be a thing of the past, but wow, it was satisfying during its time.
This big block beauty added more luxury to the already pretty cushy Chevelle. First introduced in 1970, the Monte Carlo was big and bold, with a 454 V8 powering it to speeds you'd never expect from something this lusciously comfortable. You wouldn't be surprised, back in the day, to see a Monte Carlo leaving a Camaro or even a Corvette in the dust. No wonder it was such a popular car, even if folks today have forgotten how much power and oomph it had.
There are a lot of Porsches to admire out there, and not many of them have been forgotten in any way. But the 914 somehow gets lost in a sea of 911s, Boxters, and 918s. The 914 wasn't a mighty power car, with a V6 getting just over 100 HP. But hey, it was hard to compete with all those American muscle cars in the 70s, and the 914 brought a distinct European charm to the road.
You may have a vague memory of the Karmann Ghia 14, a bare-bones sports car from Volkswagen that exuded a cool vibe in the late 60s and early 70s. And yes, it was lightweight enough that a few guys could lift it out of its parking space and move to someplace a little more inconvenient — say, the top of an outdoor stairway. But Karmann Ghia had some slightly more luxurious and heavy models as well. Sure, you could buy two VW bugs for the same price — but who would want to?
Technically, the Opel Kadett was supposed to be a German car — the Opel factory recently celebrated its 150th birthday. But this model, introduced in 1973, was sold as both a Chevy Chevette 80 and a Buick Opel. Elsewhere around the world, it was sold as a Vauxhall Gemini (in Britain) and as a Daewoo Maepsy (in South Korea). It was sold with a small engine, so it never achieved great popularity in the age of the muscle car. This world car ended up disappearing pretty much without a trace all around the world.
This muscle car was introduced in the 60s and lived on well into the 70s. The GTO was the muscle car of choice for those who needed to show off their automotive power on a budget, and its 5.7-liter V8 made sure it was fast off the line every time. With decent gas mileage for the era and the size of the car, and impressive performance, the GTO provided an object lesson in muscle cars.
The Ford Falcon was a sweet, practical car for most of its life span. But for a year or so, it competed with the Mustang as the muscle car of choice. Not surprising, perhaps, since the Mustang originally used the Falcon chassis. Long forgotten is the Falcon 429 CJ, which came with disc brakes, a Hurst shifter, and all the power of the Mustang, thanks to the 370 HP that the engine cranked out. Check the logo carefully, because that particular model is easy to mix up with a Torino. But it's unlikely you'll see one anyway since this high-flying Falcon was only produced for less than a year.
Okay, admittedly, anyone with an old VHS copy of Burt Reynolds' Smokey and the Bandit hasn't forgotten the Bandit, as the 78 Pontiac Firebird was called. Without that enduring legacy, the Firebird — though sexy as all get out — is just another 1970s muscle car. It had everything you'd want under the hood, but we all know it was the sharp, bold style that makes heads turn when you tooled down the street. Hey — who wouldn't love a car with an honest-to-God firebird painted on the hood.
If you drove this badass sports car off the assembly line today, it would still look utterly futuristic. It's ultra-sharp angles, and scissor doors still turn heads today, just as they did when the car was introduced in 1974. As for its odd name — "Countach" is actually an expression in the Piedmontese dialect of Italian that means something like "Wow!" Good choice, right? The rear mid V12 engine of this beauty cranked out an astonishing 370 HP. Not surprisingly, Sports Car International named it as the #3 sports car of the 70s.
Maybe you haven't even heard of the Lancia Stratos. But if you were following sports car design in the 70s, you couldn't miss it. The Stratos was one of the first sports cars to use the 70s wedge design, also seen in that Lambo Countach. It was one of the top rally cars of the decade — not surprising since it was designed specifically for that purpose, winning several championships in the mid-70s. Even if they haven't heard of the Stratos, or don't remember it, Transformers fans are likely to recognize it, since it's the car that Autobot Wheeljack transforms into.
For the price of a Mustang, in the late 70s, you could instead pick up a Fiat X1. This fun little car only put out 67HP. But while that doesn't seem like much, its handling was so sharp, and it was so lightweight at only 2,000 pounds, that it was an absolute dream to drive.
You only stand a chance of remembering this car if you were in Great Britain in the 70s, where it was a standing butt of jokes throughout the country. Why? Well, the tendency of this three-wheeled car to tip over might have something to do with it. A hard yank on the steering wheel could get it to tip — which actually sounds sort of fun when you think of it. This fiberglass vehicle was unsurprisingly lightweight and ultra-affordable. As an added bonus, you didn't even need a driver's license to drive it from the 1970s all the way into the 1990s — Just a motorcycle license would do.
No, that 2002 isn't the year. It's the model number of the first major turbo-charged car to hit the marketplace. Yes, even before the Porsche 911 turbo; and it was part of BMW's New Class line. So if you've ever used the word "turbo-charged" to refer to something rather awesome, know that it all started here. All the car critics raved about the 2002's performance, handling, and ride — Because of course, they did. It was a Beamer, after all.