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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Gentlemen, I am at a loss...

I had in mind posting a listing of popular cars from the 1970's and 1980s. I was going to demonstrate how few of these cars we still see driven on the roads, stored away or at car shows. And I was going to contrast how we still see so many magnificent auto icons from the 60s being driven on the roads and thousands more fully restored and displayed at car shows.

My intent was to discuss the how and the why of our love for those 60s icons and why they have been kept or repurchased by loyal owners.

Of course we know that the 60's cars had unique styling and good performance for their day. You can still see numous old Mustangs, Camaros, Corvettes, El Caminos, Cuda's, Chevelles, El Dorados, etc. from the 1960s and early 1970s. These were cars with excellent appeal in their day and many were snatched up in resale to be saved, driven, restored, appreciated and savored.

While we still see some of their 70s and 80s descendents on the road, I HAD intended to contrast this with very popular cars of the 70s and 80s that you never see examples of anymore, that seem to have just been discarded and never kept or restored.

Now here is the rub. I have been having a dickens of a time thinking of anything that was even considered popular at the time. Sure, we recall Camaro's and Corvettes. But I can barely think of anything else.

Now I'm not talking about bad cars like Pintos, Vegas, X-cars and Gremlins. I'm talking about the ones you really wanted to own because there was such a dearth of anything affordable worth a damn that the depressing state of cars overall made you want these few worthless examples.


I am talking about cars like the 1978 Chevy Monza 350 Spyder? Sure it had lousy performance, but compared to all the crap out there on the road, it had a V8 motor (people used to drag race them for heavens sake!) and didn't look like a boxy POS.

How about the 1984 Eagle Talon. I actually wanted one of those once upon a time. It kind of looked like an ugly Porsche 924. Believe it or not, everything else looked uglier.

How about the 1984 Toyota Celica Supra. I liked the wedgy, boxy look. Even though it only had a straight 6 cylinder and didn't handle all that great, it was sporty, had great bucket seats and looked carved of a piece. I remember gambling $50 on a slot machine at a Lake Tahoe Casino with that brilliant shiny red Supra hoisted there majestically above the slot machines. "WIN THIS CAR!"

How about the 1988 Honda Prelude. The one with rear wheel steering for faster handling. The magazines all praised that car as a performance car.

My original point of this topic was to ask, "where are these cars". I never see these cars - cars I once desired.

Those gorgeous high-performance cars of the 1960s were so distinctive, so desirable and so fun to drive, some people just had to buy them and keep them on the road or restore them. While the cars I mentioned above, the Monza, Talon, Supra and Prelude were so forgettable, so pathetic that even though they were great "for their time", they were not really vehicles that stood up to the test of time.

Now that brings me back to why I am sitting here, head in hand, dumbfounded and completely at a loss. Considering only domestic and Japanese cars from the 1970s and 1980s, I can't even think of any desireable cars at all, beyond the ones I mentioned above.

I am at a complete loss. Were the 70s and 80s that pathetic for us car owners that I can't even name 10 cars from 12 auto makers over a 20 year period of production that I would even take for free????

Looking at the period from 1974 to 1990, what is there?

AMC? Nothing. Absolutely, freaking nothing. I wouldn't own one.

FMC (Ford and Lincoln/Mercury) Beyond the Mustang, what was there. And for half that time period the Mustang was crap. I mean, the Lincoln Mark VI was a mildy attractive car but heavy, underpowered and boaty. Ford made an ugly, crappy 2 seater I can't even think of the name of. It was all Monarchs and crap like that. OK, I thought of another one. The 1982? T-bird that first began considering aerodyamics was another desireable car in its time that have all been consigned to the junk heap since. The 1st gen. Taurus also was extremely popular. Also all gone.

Chrysler - they reintroduced the convertible in the late 70's with the boxy LeBaron convertible. It was a lousy, ugly K-car they cut the top off and the magazines just loved it after that. It was a POS. Nothing since then that I have to have. Anybody do a frame-off restoration of their Intrepid lately? Jeeps are the only old Chryslers I ever see anymore.

GM - get beyond the Corvette, Camaro and Trans Am and I cannot think of a single solitary stinking individual stupid automobile I would even take for free. How many distinctive, sporty cars has the General build from 1975 to 1990. I bet I am stepping on some toes but geez, all those boring, ugly, copy-cat body styles are just running together in my mind. I can't think of a thing.

Mazda - Miata, RX-7 and nothing. So when were they even introduced? I don't remember. We're talking '74 to '90 here.

Toyata - Supra and nothing. Oh! The 1st Gen MR2 was highly praised and highly popular and again nobody is keeping these on the road I know of. All snatched up by auto-xers?

Nissan - 240 z, awesome! And every Z since then less so, too much or too much money. Besides the Z cars, nothing. Good, reliable, forgettable nothing.

And of all the MILLIONS of Accords and Camrys that have every been built, they are as disposable as the plastic food bags we tote our groceries home in.

So, Am I just nuts here? :crazy

Or did an entire generation of children grow up and never see barely a single distinctive, good looking, sporty car on the road for a 20 year span? Good grief! :banghead

I guess it has just occured to me that the introduction of the Solstice and Sky may be more than simply one company offering one new automobile. This is something of a historic occassion. This is the introduction of an entire new entity in automotive history and, like with the Viper, its happening on our watch, only we can actually afford one unlike the Viper.

Don't take me too seriously here. :D

I'm aware that the new Kappas are just cars and not earth-shattering by any means. I think I am just in shock over the sudden recollection that the 1970s and 1980s was such a horrible era for those of us who love cars and love to drive them. I'm stunned. :eek

How did we ever survive it? I mean I was euphoric upon receiving my brand new 1986 Acura Integra. Looking back on it, it was just a boring Honda Civic with low gearing and a bumpy suspension. Yuch! No wonder a mere year later I went out and bought a 1978 Trans Am just to have something exciting to drive.

The Trans Am was slow, heavy, it rattled and had a plethora of non-drive-train related repairs to it. Yet I always found myself wanting to be in that Trans Am instead of the uninspiring Integra. The Integra was zippy and handled very well but it was just... boring. The Trans Am was old but it was fun, had character and made me feel great cruising down the road. How I wish I had had one new in 1978!

Well, I'm depressed thinking about it. And I am doubly grateful and yes, even euphoric knowing that this time next year I'll be putting around in my brand new 2006 Pontiac Solstice. (Or Sky ;) )

Life is good. The 70s and 80s weren't.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
The Fiero is definitely one hot GM car I missed. And one worth keeping. Good catch!

And sorry you had to read such a gawdawfullong post. Whew! :leaving
 

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You're right. It was a pretty dry era. Two that come to mind however were the Lambo Countach (an outrageous replacement for the Muira) and the 1973 Porsche 911 Carrera (a race version for street worth big money today if it's an original and not a cloned version).

Edit: Add the Detomaso Pantera to the list. Made in Italy with Ford power sold by Mercury. .
 

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Yep, if you exclude Europe, I have to agree with you. Pretty much a ho-hum era.

Sadly I'm a member of that generation. I, too owned a '78 T/A. I bought it used (of course) and it was fairly well modified when I picked it up for $1,800 from a guy who lived in a trailer park (imagine that!). It was a 400/4-speed with T-tops. I didn't even realize it at the time, but looking at the pics I have left of it, I'm pretty sure it was a Y-88, "gold special eagle" edition. The mods included a mild cam, .030 overbore, and a Holley 750 double-pumper carb. It was way too much car for a high school kid, and I loved every minute of driving it! I never got the cajones to take it over to the drag strip and see what kind of numbers it would turn. My father told me that our insurance company would drop us if they found out I was racing, and that he would make me sell the car and never forgive me. I'm pretty sure it would've been in the low 13's. I sold the car a year after I got it for $2,300. That's the only car I've ever owned that I sold for more than I paid. Maybe the guy that bought it realized it was a Y-88... or maybe I just got lucky.

Back on topic... GM made some good quick cars here and there, but none that I can think of (other than the ones already mentioned) that could handle very well. But let's not forget about the Buick Grand National, and GNX (along with the Regal T-type, Olds 442, and Chevy Monte Carlo SS). OK, maybe the rest of them were pretty much cookie-cutter rebadged clones... sort of.
 

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That was not a good era for car enthusiasts.

My first car was a 1976 Mercury Capri II. It was handed down to me when I turned 16 from my dad who raced it in SCCA's SSS class (changed to SSA, SSB or SSC when they broke up the class - I don't remember which).

It was a pretty cool car for a 16 year old. All black with gold pinstripes. Gold pinstripes were considered sporty then.

All in all a fun car to drive but not something to lust after.
 

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The boxy Ford two-seater POS from the 80's was the EXP. A buddy of mine had one, and it really was a POS. Basically an Escort with the rear end chopped off and the seats thrown out.

But you are right about many things concerning the cars of the 70's and 80's. I remember liking the Chrysler Conquest TSI. Aggresive and sporty for its day, but short lived. But I don't long for one now.

About the only car from that era I would be interested in would be the Grand National or Buick GNX
 

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You're right. The mid and later seventies was a bad time in the automotive world. Great cars of the eighties were rare but I did come up with a few you didn't mention:

1. Late 80's Buick Grand National. Turbo V6 with mid 14 sec 1/4 mile stock. With just a chip and no cat, high to mid 13's . Still look good today!
2. Strange as it may seem, I still think the 79 and later Chevy Caprice was a good looking car for what it was. Still popular in the low rider crowd.
3. Dodge Stealth Twin Turbo (an imported Mustang/Camaro when domestics were just posers)
4. 80's Jeep Wrangler with a V8 (way too much HP for leaf springs front and rear and just 2300 pounds) They soon dropped the V8 option and only offered a straight 6.
5. Honda CRX (feather weight rocket)
6. I had a 75 1/2 280Z. Nissan's first fuel injected car (Bosch Jetronic bought from Mecedes) . Had more HP from 2.8L than Corvette got out of a 5.7L.

Think that may be the key. EPA and carburetors were a deadly (to the car lover) combination!
 

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Opel GT, the mini corvette. My friend had one in high school and I always thought it was cool. BTW his sister drove a Datsun 2000 also a rare one.

I always wanted a 1985 RX7 GLS and I did own a 1987 MR2 an loved it. The problem with lesser known or small production car is that there is not a supply of parts to keep them running. Cars like Mustang, Corvette etc have big aftermarket and restoration industries producing the parts to keep them on the road. On a vist to Ca last summer I saw a pinto on the road. I haven't seen one of those cars for atleast 10 years back east. Even the VW's are getting fewer and fewer on the road.
 

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I think I slept through that era :smile . Except for the seventies I think I was in a self induced coma :lol :party
 

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WOW, I guess some people slept through the 80's. Or will still on training wheels back then :cryin No, seriously the 80's were a little sparse for mainstream American Iron.. The family cars left a lot to be desired while the personal cars grew to excess. The 'downsizing' of GM vehicles that took place about 1978-1983 changed forever what we viewed as family transportation. The replacement of the station wagon by the minivan also didn't help. Nonetheless here is a partial list of my favorites from throughout my time on earth.

1955-56 Chrysler 300 and 300B
1960 Chrysler (best of the finned cars IMHO)
55-57 Tbird
all vettes
First gen Mustang, especially Shelby and Hertz (rent-a-racer :thumbs )
Shelby Cobra (even replicas and kits)(tons more knockoffs built than originals)
57-59 Lincoln
63 Grand Prix
409, 8 hole wheels
63 Impala SS 427
GTO through 69
'Cuda 340, Charger(all, and what red-blooded american male or female doesn't want a turn behind the wheel of the General Lee, yeeehah), Challenger, Roadrunner(Superbird), SuperBee, Little Red Truck and even Coronet 440 and Polara/Monaco 880 from 64-67 (talk about indestructible: in my youth I drove the family Dodge 880 with 383 and auto like it was a manual and forgetting that I was already in 2nd popped that puppy into 'neutral' at about 65mph, much to my surprise I'm in reverse, tires smokin, etc. NO damage at all. Actually don't think I've been as fast at speed in any car as I was in that car at age 18(120)
Camaro/Firebird 1st and 2nd generation.
Pontiac Can-Am (localized)
Boattail Buick Riviera
Pontiac 6000STE(first American sedan with european sounding exhaust to me), bonneville SSEi, 97 and up Grand Prix GTP/GXP etc.
You know I even wanted a Chrysler Cordoba with that rich Corinthian leather!!
Fiero, of course
Corvair Monza Turbo Spyder (John Fitch was a hero of mine, look him up, kiddies)
Meyers Manx Dune Buggy on a shortened VW frame
Sunbeam Tiger with Ford 260 and 289 v8
Simca
BMW 2002 (exposed by too much glass, maybe)
BMW 507 (graceful)
Subaru awd that raises up a couple inches when in 4wd
Lancia from late 70's early 80's as well as Fiat X/19
Chrysler Turbine Car
Avanti
Eagle(instead of Concorde)

There's a lot more on my list and before I die I'll list them all, wish I could even sit in them all, let alone drive 'em) And this didn't include the MG's, Jag's, Triumph's (except Stag) Austin-Healy and on and on and on...

Favorite of all time? Because of when I was growing up, the '63 Aston Martin of James Bond fame with the guns and oil slick and ejecter seat...hmm maybe that's why nobody is allowed to touch that certain panel in the Solstice...hmm. where is Q when you need him?


How could I forget the Opel GT? Because I was busy typing, that's why. I went with my grandparents when they purchased a brand-new 66 Buick LeSabre and sitting right beside it was...IT...and I kept thinking that they would just KNOW at age 14 I NEEDED that car and would make a two car deal, but alas, my dreams were dashed.
 

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I remember lusting after a Cosworth Vega. And those V-6 Capri II's were rumored to be fast, never rode in one though. The 240Z and RX-7 were the rides that everyone wanted, as far as I remember.
 

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Most of the cars that aren't around anymore are because they all rusted out, at least here in the rust belt.
 

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The 80's were great years for the RX-7 & 300ZX. I currently own a 85 RX-7 with 37K mint cond & 89 300ZX with 90K mint cond and I still can't wait to dive them. The cars of today have no feel when driving them - too quit and smooth. There is no feedback from the road. I am hoping the Solstice & the Sky will bring back some of the sports car excitement. :D
 

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Your absolutely right! The 1970’s and 1980’s were pretty lean for enthusiasts cars. Tightening emissions regulations robbed big engines of their performance, and the fuel crisis put an emphasis on small, underpowered high mileage cars. Combined it created a lot of forgettable iron too.

However, I would caution not to judge how many restored examples of cars are running around yet. The 1960’s iron had a renaissance in the mid 1990’s through the present day as the baby boomers who grew up admiring those cars began reaching their peak earning years and their children began leaving home, giving them extra money to restore the car’s they loved. The later year cars, mid 70’s and especially 80’s iron really have not reached that stage yet. Heck, anything after 1985 isn’t even 20 at this point. So the jury is still out on which of those cars may ultimately be saved.

There were some fun cars during that time that could end up resurrected.

The Fiero is certainly one of them, and there are a lot of stored, well kept, and highly modified examples running around along with a huge following. Some 400 Fieros showed up two years ago at the 20th anniversary get together in Pontiac MI. (Actually, the Fiero and the Sol share in the excitement and new direction they represented for GM and Pontiac, the introduction of an affordable sports car).

Other potential cars… The Dodge Omni GLHS turbo. Just a hatch to look at it, but it was a fun car to drive. The 1989 Ford Probe (I know, late in the decade) was also a popular hit when it was introduced, and again, the turbo version was hot. It was looked down on a little because it was supposed to be a Mustang replacement and was not RWD, but it certainly was a fun to drive sport coupe. The 2 seater you are thinking of from Ford was the Escort EXP. The Honda CRX was also a fun little ride.

From the imports, you had the Toyota MR2. Those mid engine sports cars have a strong following like the Fiero.

The bread and butter cars were forgettable too. You mention Taurus, Camry, Accord, Civic, etc. However, those cars are mostly just as forgettable today. Who’s going to remember a 2005 Camry, or Taurus in 15 years?

Finally, I’d be careful comparing these cars to current cars. At the time, many were a lot of fun and the best performance out there. They don’t all stack up to some of the sports car iron available today, but we are also in a horsepower renaissance these days which certainly has increased the amount of fun at dealerships.
 

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Yeah a little thin on truly good cars. There is a few that I consider good platforms to build off of though.

'74 Celica GT is one of my favs




'74 Corolla



AE86



And I know this wasn't popular, but it was light, for me the steering was ideal and with the 302 it was alot of fun.

 

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The Porsche 944 and 944 Turbo cars from the 80's are still driven a lot today by enthusiasts. You can get really nice used ones for under $10,000 easily for the Turbo models, and well under $5,000 for the non-turbo. They're great cars that have held up well, and still perform greatly. If you can get your hands on the S2 model 944 was generating over 210HP from an i-4 engine. The 1989 Turbo S generated 250 HP from it's i-4 engine. Most car companies are just now making 200 HP i-4 NA engines as options on their cars too. Porsche eventually hit 235 HP with the 968's i-4 engine (it was a 3.0L i-4 though). Only problem was these cars cost a small fortune back when they came out. The 944 Turbo cost more 20 years ago then a Boxster S costs new now (and makes 50 HP more too).
 

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Just a couple thoughts.
When I was a kid, I fantasized of a Pantera Detomaso. The Opel GT was cool also.
Not a car but Jeep made the Grand Wagoneer (totally loaded woodie with YUPPIE written all over it.) Nice ride, still quite a few around. Lots of parts availabe for those.

Cars got cheaper around that time. Not less expensive, but cheaper. Recently though I think they have gotten better. With added safety features, and better materials. Maybe some will last.

When did cars loose body on frame construction for body as stuctural member (monococh?) construction? That has to make a big difference when rebuilding a rusted out car. They become usafe to use rather than in need of a new panel or two.
 

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On rust, the newer cars seem to resist it better, especially as you get into the 1980's. A lot of those body on frame cars seem to develop bad rust where the body and frame meet, and the rust inflicted both body and frame. With the unit-body cars, there are less of these spots to be afflicted by rust, and the widespread use of better factory rustproofing and double sided galvanized steel as helped also. The unit-body cars also still have a frame structure running through the car to keep structural integrity and crash worthiness. Unless the rust is very extensive, I am not sure it would be a major safety concern.
 

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In the mid-70's, I can still remember being driven around in my bosses baby blue 4-cylinder Mustang II.

My wife had a 1978 Buick Century. It was a full-sized car with a lame downsized V-6. The car couldn't get out of its own way.

What Ford did to the T-Bird in the late 70s and 80s bordered on criminal.

Then there was the rebirth of the Chevy Nova in the mid 80s, which was just a rebadged Toyota. Ughh.

The early 80s may have been the lowpoint for GM. They only had about 4 actual car models. Everything else was just a rebadge. Chevy Citation - need I say more?
 
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