The 1970’s were a pretty dismal time for the American auto industry. Insurance premiums were up and horsepower ratings were down. We also had the fuel crises, Jimmy Carter and disco, which should give you a pretty good idea as to the general state of things. For enthusiasts who were into performance cars the 1970’s were essentially considered the dark ages. In the early 1970’s you could still go out and purchase such road hammers as the much coveted 1971 Hemi Cuda or a 454 Chevelle SS, but by 1975 performance was all but lost. Manufacturers began to rely heavily on marketing and flash, more than power and performance numbers to move cars off dealer lots. Paint schemes, decal kits and celebrity endorsements were huge back then as was outside the box thinking. Below is a list of 10 awesome cars from the 1970s that straddle the line between pavement pounding dash and loud and wild flash.
• 1971 Plymouth HEMI Cuda’
Considered by some to be the holy grail of the muscle cars, the 1971 Hemi Cuda’ truly came to fame about 5 years ago when they were going for more than $1 million at auction. Thankfully though people came to their senses when they finally realized that these cars were made by Plymouth, and not Bugatti.
• 1977 Pontiac Can Am
This is a one year only car that was produced by Pontiac as a 4-seat alternative to the Trans Am. With its shaker hood, white paint and duck tail spoiler, the Can Am was actually a pretty good looking automobile. To bad though that its 400 cubic inch mill only produced 200 hp.
• 1970 AMC Rebel: “The Machine”
It was called “The Machine” and had, in my opinion, one of the best names ever bestowed upon an automobile. Not only did it look good with its fastback lines but it was powered by a 6.4-liter 390 cu in AMC mill that produced 340 hp. Combine that with the red, white and blue paint and bulged hood and you’ve got one of the most undervalued cars of the muscle car era.
• 1970 Chevrolet Chevelle 454 SS
It had 450 hp and 500 lb-ft of torque. It boasted a 4-speed transmission called “The Rockcrusher” and got to 60 mph in under 6 seconds. This was the big dog ladies and gentlemen and a car that made all others tremble upon its arrival to a stop light.
• 1978 Dodge Little Red Express Truck
Believe it or not, but in 1978 the Little Red Express Truck was the fastest American made vehicle (car or truck) from 0-100 mph in the United States. With its dual stacks, flared bed with wood inserts and 360 cu inch V8, this little truck was capable of putting the hurt on just about anything that roamed the streets. Not bad for a little red wagon eh…
• 1970 Pontiac GTO: “The Judge”
With ads that said, “This Judge Can Be Bought” and “All Rise”, the Pontiac GTO “Judge” was one of the most memorable cars of the early 1970’s. This was 1970’s marketing at its finest and made little kids and grown men alike yearn for these cars. When ordered with Pontiac’s 455 HO engine, “The Judge” was also a fierce street competitor with its 360 hp and 500 lb-ft of torque.
• 1977 Pontiac “Bandit” Trans Am
If you’re a car enthusiast and you haven’t seen Smokey and the Bandit then you haven’t lived. The movie was basically a two hour commercial for the Pontiac Trans Am and starred Burt Reynolds, Sally Field and Jackie Gleason. Watch this movie and then tell me you don’t want to run right out and buy one of these cars.
• 1971 Ford Ranchero 429
It had 375 hp, a fully blacked out grill and was a pick-up truck, that’s all you need to know…
• 1970 Lincoln Continental
If this car visited your house in Brooklyn in the early 1970’s, you can be pretty certain that you did something wrong. With its sinister looks the 1970 Lincoln Continental was the quintessential mob mobile.
• 1979 Dodge “Macho” Power Wagon
Yep, it was really called the “Macho” Power Wagon. This was the ultimate in hairy chested macho-ness in the late 1970s. If you had a Trans Am, then it was very possible that you also had one of these parked right next to it.