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The early 1970s
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How was it in your corner of the world?

The 1970s in America was a time of decreasing performance and declining reliability. It was really that bad. Cars that were 10 years old disappeared -- they didn't last that long

In USA, 1970 came in with a bang. Cars were more powerful than ever. For example the most powerful Chevrolet was the 450HP 1970 Chevelle SS 454 7.4 liter with 500 ft. lb. of torque. This was the high point for the next 40 years

Then there were the economy cars. Toyotas and Datsuns in the USA were laughed at, but purchased as economy cars to save a little money and then thrown away later. VW had become the #1 import and so GM and Ford responded by developing their own "subcompact" cars -- the ill-fated Chevrolet Vega and Ford Pinto. Because they were American-built, "solid" (heavy), and shared styling with other American car they sold like hotcakes. Even though they got horrible gas mileage -- 25 mpg vs 30 for the Japanese cars -- they sold a tremendous number of units. Compared to "traditional" American cars with 12-16mpg, the Pinto 25mpg seemed good to many folk. Sales like 1971 350,000/year for Pinto vs Datsun 1200 30,000/year

Then in 1973 the OPEC cartel crisis struck. We were waiting in line to purchase petrol which was limited to certain days a week. Suddenly the Datsuns and Toyotas were hot items -- all because of fuel economy. These "value" cars started shooting up in price

But Americans in general valued other things than economy. So big, heavy, ponderous -- but stylish -- cars still were at the top of the heap. And a heap it was, as Americans gradually realized, when they noticed the Datsuns and Toyotas kept going while all the Vegas rusted away and the Pintos were discarded after constant niggling reliability issues. It took about 10 years until the general population noticed that Japan was #1 not just in economy but also in reliability

By then the 80s arrived. In the middle of the "Malaise Era" -- when performance was bad, awful, terrible. The 1982 Corvette had 200HP. Less than the 1958 version. 0-60 times (0-100kph) were 8 seconds, whereas in the 1960s they could go faster. And this was the fastest you could buy! 1972-1982 was the worst. Detroit responded with tape/stripe kits and appearance packages -- because they couldn't deliver real performance. Even the 1980 Turbo Trans Am and Turbo Monte Carlo were slow (210 HP pushing 4000 lbs in the case of the Trans Am). Then in 1982 there was one glimmer of hope: the 5.0 H.O. Mustang arrived. It was still slow and ugly but finally a step forward in performance

Posted on: 8/8 20:35
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Re: The early 1970s
Home away from home
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2003/3/21 0:15
From Tamworth, NSW
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Thanks for the trip back in time!
I wasn't about in the 70s but feel like the rural area i grew up in was populated by Commodores, Falcons with a few Kingswoods in the "Big car" segments (Almost no -one had V8's) but the most common cars were mid size Japaneses cars like Camry's and Manga's.
Dad was bucking the trend by having a Volvo 240 wagon. One teacher at school had a Jaguar XJ6 and we all lost it because the speedo went to 260kmph!

Posted on: 8/12 2:42
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