Road and Track puts five of the most desirable high-end open sports cars to the test.
“The Jaguar’s reliability record, as everyone must know by now, is not enviable.”
Sorry, I just have to admire a lovely bit of writing there. Not good news for Jag at that time, obviously, but the word choices themselves are fantastic-elegant and understated, just like the subject car.
I also have to marvel at the R&T crew’s ability to craft a reason to basically drive the same high-end cars they drove only a year or two before. And why not?
Of the lot, I’d love to hear the noise the Jag V12 made! Hard for me to imagine why someone would want the top that takes two people to remove, though. I mean, you want to go out for a sporting drive on a nice day, but your spouse is off doing something else and you’re the only one home. Kinda ruins it if you can’t take the top off, it seems. Maybe it’s just the way it was, but I can’t imagine being smitten enough by the convertible concept to go through the hassle.
Which is why you had a hoist and pulley setup in your garage centered over your car. One person operation to remove, reinstallation can be done by one, although two is easier. I remember ads for these kind of setups back then.
I didn’t think the Corvette made that much horsepower in 1975, I always thought it was 200bhp instead of the 250bhp that they’ve tested.
The Corvette was a 74 model, which was rated at 250 HP. The 75 model was less.
Exactly! Not sure about the others but the Corvette is a ’74 not a ’75. The 1975 Corvette L82 motor was only 205 net horsepower not 250.
0-60 in 7.4 s is pretty good for the ‘malaise era’.
As already mentioned, the 1975 Vette with an L82 had 205 hp. The base L48 only had 165 hp,making 1975 a low point for horsepower in a Vette. 1975 was a low point for horsepower from GM and Ford in general, much of it due to the restrictive catalytic converters that were introduced that year.
FWIW, C/D tested a 1975 Vette with an L82. It ran 0-60 in 7.7 seconds and through the 1/4 mile 16.1 sec @ 87.4 mph. Top speed was observed at 129 mph
So the SL was slightly more expensive than the 246…didn’t expect that.
Stupid inflation, $64,012 just barely gets you in a new Corvette alone now!
I wonder if you could still get an open-top Corvette, Porsche, Mercedes, Ferrari, and Jaguar for $640, 120 today.
An interesting question – I can supply the answer in the case of the MB. I bought a 1977 450SL early in 2017, and it is very, very similar to the 1975 tested here.Most of what the reviewers said rings true today, though of course the car seems primitive in a world 43 years on.
In June of 2017 I bought a 2017 Mercedes SL550 roadster, a lineal descendant of the 450SL and it occupies the same market niche, though the argument could be made that it is more sporty.
I am not sure what the cost of this would have been in the US, but in Canada where I live, it was roughly $135,000 with an MSRP of $153k- against an inflation adjusted $17,000 1975 dollars figure of $77,500 in the US. I would guess the car in the US would have been $115-$125K so quite a bit above the inflation adjusted cost of the ’75. Now, compare the content, capability and performance of the two cars and you see where some of that price difference lies.
My late father remarried in 1979, a year after being widowed, and within 6 months had purchased for the new wife a new 1980 450SL, which was (with leather and alloys, like the car tested here) $37K. Such a vast increase – more than doubling in 5-6 years – was presumably attributable to more than just inflation and exchange rate fluctuation.
Concerning inflation and the generally undesirable impacts it has, care to consider what incomes were like in 1975? Incomes tend to inflate as well.
Fascinating- love those reprints. I couldn’t help but notice, though, that the Corvette was the fastest in the 0-60 and 1/4 mile, 2nd in the slalom, cost 2/3rds the price of the closest competitor, and still got panned for being crude and unsophisticated. Some things haven’t changed in the past 40 years (grins).
I do have to add that the loss of the chrome bumpers took away a lot of the charm those sharks had.
The ’74 Vette tested here was crude, with a chassis dating back to 1963, but I agree it did perform well under test conditions on smooth roads. That said, I’d argue a modern Vette is not crude anymore. Ever since the revolutionary C5 Vette, it has been getting progressively better and no longer crude like Vette’s of the past. The current Vette is world class and just an amazing performance machine period. It does everything well and without any major compromise.
Nice to read a comparo that has nuance and real-world driving considerations. Today’s R&T and C/D are about little more than lap times and complaining that other cars are not Porsches (or in C/D’s case, Nurburgring Camaros).
And how about the value change over time! Of course the Ferrari wins, followed by the Porsche, but the Merc looks like the biggest-dollar loser. I suspect that a groovy guy like our test pilot still has the Vette.
“Today’s R&T and C/D are about little more than lap times and complaining that other cars are not Porsches (or in C/D’s case, Nurburgring Camaros)”
You have a good point here. I would go even further to add that car magazines (at least those that I have access to) are way disconnected to most people’s tastes and expectations about cars. How many testers have complained that cheap small economy cars have “hard plastic panels” and other smart conclusions like that?. What one can expect from a vehicle like that? Connolly leather? And why should I care about road tests on every new special ultra limited edition of every sports car in the market ? Maybe they are targeting 14 years old kids and totally gave up adult readers.
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