Seventies in the Spotlight: The Decade's Greatest Classics
The 1970s proved to be a pretty tough decade for cars. It started well, with the introduction of the Dodge Challenger and Lamborghini Miura, both solid performers, but then the oil crisis hit in 1973, and the automotive landscape crumbled. Manufacturers' aims changed dramatically. Almost overnight the focus shifted from performance to economy, so that the models which began to roll off the production line were stunted mimicries of the glorious lines and curves of those which had come before. They were smaller, almost withered, like the Ford Mustang II, or barebones econoboxes like the AMC Pacer. And yet somehow… somehow… some glorious, revolutionary vehicles still managed to slip through the cracks. Here are the very best cars from one of the bleakest periods in automotive history…
1970 Dodge Challenger R/T
Its starring role in the 1971 film ‘Vanishing Point’ put the Challenger in the global spotlight. If Chevy had the Camaro and Ford had the Mustang, then Dodge had the Challenger, a car which shared the E-body platform with the Plymouth Barracuda. It emerged slap-bang in the middle of the muscle car party, and the 1970 version is a premier example of the car at its performance zenith, Hemi engine and all. Its eight-cylinder 426cid put out an impressive 425hp. Its 1970 appearance is so beloved that the model acted at the inspiration for the current Challenger, which made a comeback in 2008 after being out of production since 1983. This breath-taking muscle car now retails for more than $400,000.
1971 Lamborghini Miura SV
When the Lamborghini Miura launched in 1971, it was the fastest sports car in production in the world. SV stood for ‘Spinto Veloce’, which roughly translates to ‘pushed fast’. With its radical angular design it was a truly exotic animal, incomparable to any other car on the market at the time. Its unveiling at the beginning of the 70s spawned twenty years of boxy, angular sports car madness. The car was built to special order, so there are very few of them around today. It was Lamborghini’s first foray into the land of the supercar, a dangerous journey away from the comfortable, familiar territory of their Gran Tourismo range – it proved to be a voyage of domination and ultimate victory as the new, supreme rulers of this conquered land.
1974 Lamborghini Countach LP 400
This car’s iconic scissor doors made it instantly recognisable. Its radical design was so wide, so flat, so angular, that normal doors were simply impossible to fit, and so it spawned a revolution. The Countach was a true ground breaker. It was a car that no other designers would ever have thought of, with an outrageous design which was slicing, blocky, bold and sleek all at the same time. The car had a roar that made jaws drop and hearts pound. Its audacious design and trapezoid styling still influence supercar design today, but though many have tried to imitate one of the greatest supercars ever built, no other has ever compared.
1976 Porsche 911 Turbo
The 1976 model was the true beginning of one of the most enduring, effortlessly beautiful auto design legacies in the world. The Turbo model was the very first factory-turbocharged Porsche, and its aggressive lines were undoubtedly a revolutionary leap in the model’s long-term evolution. Known for its exhilarating acceleration and challenging handling, the 1976 model features large rear tears, wide fenders and a rear spoiler known as a ‘whale tail’. With a 3.0 litre turbo boxer-6 engine rated at 260 horsepower, the model was a terror both on and off the track.
1977 Aston Martin V8 Vantage
The V8 Vantage is widely lauded as Britain’s first supercar. Although it had the same V8 engine as the Lagonda, it also featured revised camshafts, an air-box, larger inlet valves and carburettors, new inlet manifolds and different plugs. This revised design allowed it to shoot from 0-60 mph in just 5.2 seconds, and lent it an impressive top speed of 170 mph.
1978 BMW M1
Last but not least is the BMW M1, unveiled at the Paris Motor Show of 1978. Just 465 of these performance cars were assembled between 1978 and 1981. With 3.5L inline 6-cylinder engines, these monsters were race cars in pedestrian clothing. Current rumours suggest that BMW intend to release a successor to this mighty motor in the near future. Could this be a classic of the future?
Eighties in the Spotlight