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The Best 70's Car Ever

So my son is 18, 6’4" with side-burns…yes he’s a 70’s freak. He’s an artist, and could walk right onto the set of Starsky and Hutch as their hip artist buddy. We need to buy him a car, so if it matches his persona and vocation all the better…

A lime green FIAT would do the trick

I would suggest a 1970 VW beetle with a Beetle Board on it, or maybe a VW camper bus with lots of flowers painted on it.

Although these may not qualify as the “best” cars from the 1970’s, I can imagine him in the following:

  1. A red Ford Torino with wide white stripes down the side
  2. A black Trans Am like Burt Reynolds drove in Smokey and the Bandit
  3. A Mustang II (Cobra II) similar to the car in the TV show Charlie’s Angels

AMC Pacer, like the one in the movie “Oh God”.

Him being a new driver I wouldn’t get anything too small or flimsy or overpowered. Keep in mind the level of safety equipment in '70s era cars.

I’d recommend a '70-76 Dodge Dart coupe or sedan with the “slant 6” engine.

I wouldn’t worry too much about finding a 70’s car that’s overpowered. Most anything past 1972 is going to be saddled with emissions equipment and low compression engines. Most big block V8’s of that era barely produced over 200 HP. It was rare to see a 6 cylinder engine with more than a 120 HP or small V8 with more than 140 HP. plus the cars were heavy due to new safety standards. If you look at road tests or the mid to late C3 corvettes, you will see 0-60 runs of over 8 seconds and 16 second quarter mile times. Most 4 cylinder family sedans can equal or best that today.

200 HP might be too much for a car with skimpy brakes and a pillow soft suspension. Plus the kid wants some $$ left over for art supplies.

The greatest 70’s Car would be…


So what kind of car does HE like?

I should point out that while I applaud your your dedication to your son, cars from the '70s are sadly lacking lots of critical safety technology available in all modern cars. And handling and braking of 1970s vehicles, also pretty crutial to safety, was generally pretty poor by today’s standards.

Then there’s that whole learning curve that the manufacturers went through before they could make reliable lower-emission vehicles that didn’t diesel or smell like a fart bomb (pardon my english).

So, what’s your priority, safety and reliability or his persona? Sorry, but being a dad myself I have to pose the question.

1971 Hemi Cuda Convertible. Only made 11 cars and the last one sold at auction for $2,200,000.


I recently read, again, that the Insurance companies,The EPA, and the gas crisis was the cause of sub 200hp Corvettes. I used to believe this “blame game”. Today I believe it lazyness on the part of the auto manufactures. And a change in market demand.

In the late 70’s early 80’s I ran a Indy VW independant in Northern CA (the real Northern CA,at the border with Oregon). My customers loved those diesel VW Rabbits, no one could truly could break ties with the Bay area and Southern CA. Many people made that run down I 5 twice a month and loved the mpg they gave

That car looks like it’s giving a “harumph” face

“Today I believe it lazyness on the part of the auto manufactures.”

I don’t think they were lazy. They did not have small computers as are now used to continuously vary engine timing to provide more power evenly. And they did not understand how to overcome the smog equipment drag on power.

Plenty of room in the then reliable by their standards, boxy Volvos…I regretfully opt for a SAAB 99 over a BMW 2002 model, another great choice.

Wasn’t there a offer from the Japanese in the 70’s to show Detroit how to build reliable cars that met the new EPA standards,Detroit said it could not be done so the Japanese bought a GM car worked it over and offered to sell GM the technology to make their iron work and meet emissions and get good mileage,with GM declining?

You could get a new Mustang, Camaro, or Challenger based on the ones from 1969 (not 70s, but close enough, right?)

GSN makes a good point. There are a number of retro styled vehicles out there that come with modern safety equipment. I truely would not want my son driving a vehicle with no air bag, no door beams, limited crush zone technology, and four wheel drum brakes.

That was Honda and their CVCC system. They designed a CVCC head for the small block Chevy. The Accord didn’t need a catalytic converter until 1981.