Ah, the Malaise era. That bit of time when there was very few, if any, good vehicles from American manufacturers. OPEC oil embargos and stringent fuel economy and emissions regulations meant that the average American car from 1975 to 1983 or thereabouts was not particularly good when it came to speed and handling, which were not priorities anymore. Isolation? Now that they could do.
Maybe it was the fact that America had realized its collective lifestyle was full of privilege and could easily be shattered if hit in the right place. Maybe it was the new wave of social responsibility that would only increase as years went by. Or maybe it was just the tastes of the era. But, exceptions like the Vega, the Mustang II and other economy and sporty cars aside, an American car was a place to isolate yourself from anyone or anything, a cocoon to keep you safe from the horrible world and its troubles. Never mind the repercussions of Vietnam, and the fact you can only buy a couple of gallons of gas at a time. You’re safe here in your world of comfy button-backed leather seats, column shifts and plastiwood. Hairpins? A spirited drive through the canyons? Nah, that’s far too racy and besides, you could get hurt. It really is the best to keep those roads straight and that cruise control on.
For all their shortcomings however, they were really good at that: Coupe DeVilles and Continental Marks that epitomize the personal luxury car, in designer editions for those that wanted their clothing and their cars to have matching labels. You could have a car in any color that would take your fancy and if that wasn’t enough, there was no shortage of people wanting to fit waterfall grilles and huge headlights to whichever car you bought.
I’m sure a lot of us appreciate the comfort and plushness of the cars of the Malaise era. In fact, one of my favorite cars is from the Malaise era. However, if I had the chance to own one I’d have to give it a lot of thought. Would I be able to put up with all its drawbacks and limitations? It’s not like they were all completely terrible–just mostly. But what about you? If that malaise sled of your dreams shows up with a nice price tag and some flash on its opera lights, would you take the plunge? Or would you conclude that those dreams were actually nightmares?
I do and I love it, flaws and all.
With a front plate saying 1981 in that styling, I feel I saw this car on Craigslist more than a year ago. And I remember a same model in same color showed up with a Ford LTD coupe too.
Seeing how I bought and put the 1981 plate on myself years ago, no, you didn’t see this car on craigslist. In fact, this is the only 1981 Chrysler New Yorker Fifth Avenue still out there on the road with aluminum road wheels and factory sunroof. Doubt you saw a 1981 R body on craigslist, probably the more common 1979.
Corey that car is awesome. Absolutely stunning. I love the lit back window, what an elegant touch and it still works! That body style was always classy. It’s a shame that it had such a bad reputation and sold poorly. I bet your car is rare with the factory moonroof, too.
As someone born in the malaise era, yes
Awesome car, Corey. Please post more photos!
Absolutely. I own a ’74 Thunderbird and it is loaded with style and comfort. Compare it to today’s shapeless hard-riding blobs and which would you want?
Actually, I’ll take my 09 Mazda6, thanks. Decent mileage, good acceleration, the engine actually runs right, more back-seat space and trunk space than my 75 Monarch. Yeah it’s a little harder riding, but at least it doesn’t bottom in back going over freeway undulations or railroad tracks.
A surprising rational analysis (IMO) of the Dodge Aspen, which is really representative of the Malaise Era as a whole, came from Regular Car Reviews, of all places (mind you, he might be a little off-color even if he doesn’t use any “obscene” terms):
Two cars I’d gladly own from this era: 1978-82 AMC Concord wagon, and 1979 Lincoln Versailles. Yep, my taste runs from practical to baroque, go figure.
And the Concord.
It took me a long time to get used to wagons that didn’t have real tailgates, but I’d take this Concord Wagon in a second.
I’ve always found the 1978 AMC Concord to be the best looking of the Concord production cars.
I see your Lincoln Versailles and raise you with two Mercury Monarchs plus one Ford Granada and a Continental kit trunk bump and vinyl half roof…
Your choice of the poor unloved Versailles is one of my fav.’s, too!
I’ve come close a few times to buying a Granada (strongly prefer the 2 door) but prefer the Monarch. I once owned a 76 Pinto and a 73 Capri…I would buy another Capri, a Pinto? No.
I’ve often thought I wanted a “Jim Rockford” Firebird, but memories of my 77 Nova temper my desire
To be honest, 70s may be “Malaise Era” for cars, but the 80s are worse.
Oh? I’ll take pretty much any of the Ford performance cars from the 80s (Mustang GT, T-bird Turbo, Merkur XR4-Ti, Taurus SHO) over pretty much anything from the 75-80 period.
Yes, for sure. I own a 79 T-Bird and I love it! There isn’t a decade of automotive history that I couldn’t find the definition of “malaise era” car or two…
That’s one sharp T-Bird – glad to see that it looks like it’s being well-taken care of.
Love the T-Bird. yeah, the malaise era just had it widespread amongst american manufacturers
Uhh, probably not. I had enough experience with malaise era cars during the actual malaise era.
I do appreciate seeing these cars at cruise nights though, even though it’s a little jarring to realize how old they are now, and by extension how old I am now.
Exactly the way I feel. As someone who came of age in that era, it’s great to go back and reminisce – I love seeing the old cars. But driving them? No thanks!
Well, ok maybe a Hornet hatchback or Capri II….
Agreed. Age certainly did not make malaise ear cars suddenly get better; quite the contrary.
yeah, I guess I would, I’m looking for a 77-85 GM B Body now, have an 88 but want a cleaner, tighter ride n drive, the 88 is an ex PD then Cab car, good parts though 🙂 I’m going to drop a 6.2L detroit in her n ride n style at hopefully high 20s to 30 mpg 🙂 my other sled is a 82 300SD 🙂 but I do like my GM iron, have idk how many 73-85 trucks
Heck yeah. I have one and it’s awesome, my favorite old car and I’ve had some nice ones. Malaise era cars are probably the most owned models on this site.
Unlike today’s cars that do everything well but nothing truly outstanding the American luxo-cruisers excelled at two important things — pampering and looking cool. Some of them like the 77+ Cadillacs were well built and reliable. Did you know that Cadillac’s single best sales year was 1977 and that the 77-92 Brougham is considered one of their best cars ever?
Some people lump the 80s in there too but I think peak Malaise was 72-76. 77-89 was the golden age of cars if you ask me. I think we are in a malaise era now with all of the boring, me-too cars, crossovers and Priuses. It’s why trucks keep getting more popular, they have the swagger American cars had back in the day.
This new Chevy Colorado ad says it all.
Yep, this commercial and the AC/DC one.
I’m not a fan of the Colorado, but I do like their commercials.
A lot depends on what is meant by malaise era. Beginning with the 1973 models, exhaust gas recirculation was introduced, which did not improve performance, and then the bumpers. I think that the 75-76 models with catalytic converters were better, but not much, for fuel consumption, but performance was degraded. Electronic fuel injection would make a difference, but this was slowly being added.
But this may have been the peak of the so called Brougham era, when interiors were exceedingly cushy. This was also the time that we got the 8-6-4 Cadillac V8 and then the ever popular 4100.
Maybe Peak Brougham would be more true to what we are talking about. Malaise era to me includes the imports and I think most people lump the 80s in there.
Peak Malaise would have to be when emission and bumper regs first hit hard and that was 72 and 73. By 77 things were changing quickly so I would call 76 the end. The VWs got fuel injection and suddenly became fast and smooth running. Compare the bumpers on a ’78 Fairmont to a ’75 Granada.
Around this same time the 4-door Accord took off and Toyota introduced that killer line-up. Volvo and Saab offered reliable, high volume Turbos. The domestics caught up briefly in ’86 with the Taurus.
That’s why I say 77-89 was such an interesting time, there was never more change in the industry than in those 12 years. 1943-55 doesn’t count because of the dark war years.
Put me down for a Peak Brougham car. I would love one!
A 1974 Fleetwood Talisman see here (link)
I really, really want to like the Talisman, but every time I look at the interior of one…I can’t shake the feeling that the Michelin Man crawled in, laid down on the seats and died.
“…the Michelin Man crawled in, laid down on the seats and died.”
Having looked at the interior pics, I understand exactly.
I agree that big changes started in the 70’s and continued through the 80’s and even into the 90’s. GM did get into overhead cams by the 90’s. Tuned port injection came in the mid 80’s. Digital fuel injection by 1980 (only Cadillac) but Buick’s 3.8 V6 got it for mid 80’s FWD.
But those who want to experience the big block V8 muscle cars probably get more from the 60’s. But the 1965 GTO (389 V8) would do about 100 at the end of a quarter mile in about 14.5 seconds. My 2014 CTS with V6 (not turbocharged) does the quarter in about 14.5 seconds and 95 MPH. It uses about half the fuel for normal driving.
No matter what Gerardo picked the perfect pics. Hard to imagine anything more malaise than a Granada and with Lee in the pic, wow. Design-wise my young eyes thought it looked more Mercedes than LTD now it’s the other way around. I’d love a Ghia, 302 with floor shift.
The 250 “6” is another story. One of the magazines tested one and it had to stop at a railroad crossing. When it was time to go the Granada didn’t have the power to pull over the train track, which stuck up about an inch. He had to back up and get a running start!
Though I prefer the Mark IV over the V there is nothing more peak brougham than a Mark V.
The GM B/C lines, including that lovely Coupe DeVille, were outliners for me. They were brougham style cars without the malaise issues. Until the early 80s.
the Malasie era didn’t start until 73 and reached its peak in 75-79. The begining of the end of the Malasie period was the introduction of the 1982 Mustang GT which marked the beginning of specific out put, ie horsepower increasing instead of decreasing.
I mostly agree. The “traditional” malaise did start in ’73, with the first “safety bumpers, seat belt warning lights and buzzers, then got worse in 1975, with the advent of catalytic converters, and unleaded gas, and then they just kept adding on more and more emissions crap. But it was mechanical and could be removed, just like the dreaded cat con. The bumpers looked worse on some car than others. The 1974 Corvette t-top was my favorite year of the C3 by a long ways. The ’77 was the last year Corvette I ever actually liked. The Camaro did good all the way through ’81 This “malaise” era did not end all at once for all American cars.
But, this is not what I consider the “malaise” era. This was the last of the “classics” era. By that I don’t mean they are worth a fortune, but prices are going up. To me the “real” malaise era started with egg shaped 4 door cars, FWD, computers, and EFI, has continued to get worse with more complex EFI, ABS, airbags, side impact door beams and crumple zones. As all these things came along, style went completely away for most cars. Combined, this meant the end of cars that appeal to most car enthusiasts. I have one car from “my” malaise” era. a 2001 Malibu. A cheap POS transportation mobile, not even deserving of being called a car. My “real” cars are my ’72 Pinto woodgrain wagon, with a manual shift and weber carb, my ’64 Fairlane 4 door, with a 265 V8 automatic (complete with a four barrel, headers, and a real dual exhaust) and my ’93 Chevy S10, which I had to turn into a non malaise truck with a V8 engine, absolutely no emissions crap, dual exhaust, four barrel, and NO electronics (it had a computer and a TBI V6, that went into the dumpster a long time ago. Trucks have never had safety bumpers, and I’ve never understood why, though it is a good thing. What group was powerful to win over DOT, NHTSA, and especially the evil IIHS?
I do not believe the current “malaise” era will ever end, only get worse. That’s why I believe so strongly in hanging onto ANY RWD non computer car.
I mostly agree with that too. When the malaise era started and whether imports are included is not important but fun to talk about so let me argue why it’s ’72. That was the first year for the low compression engines from Detroit. Drivability was very poor because the emission systems were new and complicated. It was the year dual exhaust went away on cars that previously had it. Wasn’t the ’72 Mark IV 100% single exhaust?
Things got better in ’75 with the cats (not worse) since they could be used as after-treatment and give the engines some breathing room. Dual exhaust slowly started coming back, even if some systems were fake dual exhaust. I believe the Mark IV got it in ’75.
When I put it all together — drivability/performance, fuel economy, reliability, bumpers and the US economy ’74-’76 have to be the peak years. Even the Porsche 911 and BMW 5-series were lousy back then (thermal reactors). Completely agree with Junkyard about the late 70s and 80s being great years especially if we include the imports (except maybe those from England).
As for the disco/Brougham imagery that isn’t malaise to me! But it was a little bit back then…
The ’90 on egg thing is right on too. It’s why guys are trucking themselves up. It’s why Millennials aren’t into cars as much as they should be. One very cool sedan that I’m glad is still around is the Dodge Charger. If only it was available in a diesel 🙁
not sure I agree with slagging side-impact beams, and besides, I may be dreaming, but I’m sure I saw them in a 50s cutaway ad. Just cant recall the make.
True… although, a RETURN to power did come in 1982 or so, it was STILL the Malaise Era… just a turnaround on the manufacturers part, for more power less restriction.
Now, the 1974 Pontiac Trans Am Super Duty was one of the most powerful muscle cars… I think available in 1974 and 1975. With it’s big block 455, that broke the mold of cars that had low compression engines from 1972 and on.
Do you not call that a Malaise Era car, because it HAD power?
Facts are, ANYTHING made from 1973- 1983 IS a Malaise Era car… American, European and Japanese.
If only they had offered a 455 SD stick shift in a Grand AM
now THAT would have been the ULTIMATE malaise era car.
Is that the truck that had technology and stuff in it?
Yes it has WIFI. They used it in the “disruption” ad to bring the Superbowl back to viewers. It’s a great marketing campaign and I like that AC/DC spot too Phil.
I just saw the condensed version of this commercial the other day… can’t believe it’s a commercial FOR a pickup truck and not a parody of one. I’d say I hate the shit out of it, but at least they’re being completely honest about why people buy these ridiculous things.
Yep, you’re more of a man if you drive a pickup. Pickups, the vehicles for guys with phallic insufficiency issues.
BREAKING NEWS: Herb Lamestreamer Takes Off Glasses, Takes Pic w/Manly Chevy Truck; Okcupid.com Hits Among Vapid Female Demographic Increase Tenfold:
He “trucked up” his profile, grew a beard and his online dating “views” went from 3 to 97 lol! Hadn’t seen that one.
Guys, all of these spots are HIGHLY tongue-in-cheek and freaking hilarious. Come on a focus group of “guys with beards”? In the AC/DC spot just because the guy drives a Civic he listens to the Carpenters? GM is having fun with stereotypes at everyone’s expense including their own. They make nerdy small cars too.
As for the phallic factor, just about any Brougham mentioned today with its big 8 footer (hood) puts the Colorado to shame. The sportier models even had bumps and bulges on their hoods.
Around 1990 three important things happened. Broughams died, jelly bean cars came in (and never left goddammit) and trucks took off.
Sure that truck popularity was mostly due to how boring cars had become but also, just maybe, because we missed something about our old Broughams.
Obviously tongue-in-cheek, but this only works as a piece of advertising and not a parody of it because they’re playing off of the way people actually do think. “Buy this truck cuz it makes you look like more of a fuckin’ MAN!” is the message regardless of how it’s delivered.
Can someone please wake me up when that idea seems just as embarrassing as buying a Ford Granada to make yourself look wealthier? If Chevy wants to prove me wrong, they can go “truck up” the Grindr.com profile of the twinkiest gay man alive and show America how many hott hunk hits the 2015 Colorado yields. I’m sure that would go over just wonderfully with most pickup truck buyers.
That’s just it Sean the Granada wasn’t embarrassing at all. They really did look European back then, even to a young car nut like me. The car was a huge seller and that doesn’t happen when you are embarrassed of your car. It was a smart purchase — European looks for $5,000.
Same thing for the Colorado. For the same price as a compact sedan you can look more handsome and resourceful. People will think you own a timber-wolf or rattlesnake.
If you buy some small foreign 4-door even an eight-year-old kid will think you own birds and sit home all day watching TV. That’s what the kid said you can’t blame Chevrolet.
Chevy is betting their target audience values affordable swagger and I think they do. The comedy is just to catch their attention.
Yeah but it’s embarrassing now. Pickup trucks-as-cars are a fashion statement and like all fads, they will one day go out of style. I anxiously await the day that we speak of them in the same tones reserved for opera lamps and pillow seats.
It’ll be really interesting to see how much people in the future judge the current press positively comparing the Fusion/Mondeo styling to Aston Martin. The Granada trumpeting in the 70s pretty much mirrors it.
Hey, not everyone speaks in “tones” about opera lamps or pillowed seats.
We’ve discussed pickups ad nauseam in here before. Believe it or not, it’s not about compensation or fashion. Pickups are still the real deal, some of the last vehicles on earth that are. Spacious, capable, stylish, comfortable, versatile, and available in a dizzying array of configurations.
If they don’t appeal to YOU, that’s fine. Discussing different tastes is what makes this site fun and interesting. Ironically the smug quips do a better job of stereotyping you than pickup drivers.
+1 there are malaise cars in every decade: examples: 90 -95 Grand Prix
+1 Cadillacs were well-built & reliable 77 -79 (all B-bodies, really)
I own the first generation Seville (a Malise Era car often unfairly maligned here); yet a friend who owns a ’67 T-Bird (a car that is pretty ‘well isolated’ for a non-Malaise’ car!) recently drove my Seville, he was surprised with it’s ‘handling’. Likewise those who attended the CC Heartland Gathering in 2014 were all impressed with the Seville that attended the event.
Ergo, not all cars from the Malaise Era are trash and likewise, there are cars in every decade that are worthy of a Malaise Trophy.
I’d submit the Grand Prix from 1990 -95 or the ’97 -2003 Chevy Malibu (and their respective GM stablemates) are excellent candidates for Malisedom.
The 76-79 Seville has always been one of my favorite cars and I am always on the “LIke” side when it comes up for discussion at CC. Yours is a beautiful example.
It’s not a bad looking car at all, just resembles a Caprice a little too closely, reminds me of a Cavalier/Cimarron, except bigger. Also, calling a ‘Gramada’ (as we used to call them) “European” styled is pushing it…never fooled me for a second, even at 8 years old.
I actually get the truck. But not that one. 4 doors and feels like a car? HUH, did I miss something? If you are going to turn a truck into a car, why not just get a car. The car probably gets twice the mileage, so you CAN actually go somewhere. Though they are so modern, fancied up, over refined, and over sanitized neither appeal to me at all
I would love to have a truck 1972 and back, though here it would have to be a ’66 and back to avoid emissions. I would want it stone stock (including a regular truck cab) In my current condition I would need A/C, and cruise control if I were going to travel in it. I wouldn’t mind a straight 6 at all. It’s a truck not a muscle car. But then, I wouldn’t mind having one of those either.
By the way, I wished they still made the Colorado, like it did when it first came out. Standard cab work truck model. I was still working for the fleet department when GM killed the S10 (REALLY stupid move) but the base Colorado wasn’t half bad. Then almost as soon as it came out, it was gone. Now they have put the name on this monstrosity. No thanks.
I would and do happily drive my 86 Pontiac Parisienne Base, it should count as it was designed in the malaise era. Its got a mild performance cam in its LG4 305 and some exhaust tweaks but its otherwise stock and i love driving it in the nice weather. And its nice that 80s cars are old enough for haggerty classic insurance now, i pay $196 per year for my full coverage on it. My Daily driver is 7 times more to insure.
Excellent choice. I drove a beautiful 86 Parisienne Brougham demonstrator equipped with the 305, most 86’s were equipped with the 307 🙁 (slightly audible engine compared to 305 and less power).
Count me in on the Ponty!
We had an ’86 Parisienne Brougham with the 307 in the family. Not a bad car, though it did have a few quirks. But overall it looked good, had *very* comfortable seats, and handled well enough for a car of its massive dimensions!
If it was a weekend cruiser, then yes, I’d take one in a heartbeat.
Tops on my list is the mid-70’s Ford Gran Torino with a 460. My neighbour had a brown one and despite there being prettier cars on the road at the time, to my Kindergarten eyes, it was a nice looking car.
Or a 1975 Electra 225 with the 455. Go big or go home.
I’d like another 75 Electra/Limited for certain, I’d still have mine and drive it had it not been rear ended.
For the all “style”, absolutely no performance segment:
Me wants the Corvette which no one wants – 1980 California Spec 305ci Corvette with the smaller tires/wheels too.
When listed by Time Magazine on their “50 Worst Cars of All Time” list, you know it is an unappreciated P.O.S. in the land of Corvette enthusiasts..
And as a consolation prize put me into an 1982 Camaro/Firebird with the 4 cylinder motor/automatic… also on Time’s list of the 50 Worst Cars of All Time.
Yeah, it’s sort of the ‘Edsel effect’, cars that are so unloved that you want one just for the pity factor. Maybe that’s the reason they’re worth seeking out at car shows. Considering how poorly they were built (and how hard it would be to keep an original one running, what with all the Rube Goldberg emission controls), I dare say they’re as rare as the much more popular cars from the halcyon days of the sixties.
And, man, are there lots of unloved Malaise choices, most notably might be AMC products such as the Matador coupe, Pacer, and Gremlin.
Maybe it’s just the socialist in me, but I rather fancy the ultra-strippo, barebones Chevette Scooter, the one with smooth carboard door panels and no armrests. It was like the American version of the East German Trabant.
There’s a bunch of mid 1970’s malaise I’d own in a heartbeat.
A short list:
1971-1977 Cougar XR-7s, (I know the 1978s and 1979s are similar but there were some details I’ve always found off-putting). The same era of Mercury Montego (only the MX) would work, too.
1975-1976 Chrysler Cordoba. Not really crazy about the stacked rectangular headlight ones, but I wouldn’t kick one out of the garage. Similar, the same years Dodge Charger or Plymouth Fury. Also, the Dodge Magnum, too!
1969-1977 Pontiac Grand Prix, especially the ones with Landau roofs and T tops. I took a 1976 to my high school prom, one of the most fun evenings of my life…
There are a lot more, especially if we get into the compacts and some of the bigger cars, but we don’t have enough pixels to cover all of that ground…
Ahem – if I am going to buy a ‘classic’ car – more than 25 years old- then I am going to buy a classic car from the 50’s or 60’s. The maliase era cars offer less power, less quality, and less beauty than their 60’s equivalents. I can understand that some here may have a fetish for a particular model because of some childhood experience in one (I don’t want too much information about that please!) but my memories of the maliase era are not so pleasant automotively. Mostly they involve needing to buy a car and only having ugly poor running stuff to choose from – at 16 – 18% interest rates if you had good credit, and with the option of buying used squeezed by the fact that people were keeping their old, better cars, rather than trading them in.
TL/DR: Hell No!
But most of the beautiful old classics are expensive and common. Any schmoe with the money can find a nice, run-of-the-mill, tri-five Chevy or first generation Mustang. Hell, there’s even a whole cottage industry devoted to reproducing damn near every part of those cars.
It’s much more of a challenge (but a lot cheaper) to keep a malaise-era car going. Plus, it’s going to be a lot more rare. For a car show ride, honestly, I can’t think of a better choice. It’s rare to see more than even one malaise era car at just about any generic car show.
I do , I’ve had it for four years now and I love it. I love excess hedonism and decadence and nothing exemplifies more than one of these lol. And since I live in a part of the country that never recovered from the malaise era, i , like my forebears also find solace in the complete isolation.
Sorry pic didn’t load.
Something like that would be one of the most looked-at cars at a local Cars & Coffee. Gorgeous!
Sweet Town Car
That is simply outstanding. Beautiful Lincoln!
No opera windows and dark blue–that’s a special edition of some sort, isn’t it?
Collector’s series, with fixed glass moon-roof. It’s a special model to commemorate the end of the line before the downsized 1980 models came in. Every option was standard and it has color keyed wheels, gold grille, thicker carpets both in the cabin and trunk and more sound deadening.
I put custom made duel stripe whitewalls from diamondback on mine like the car in this press photo. Mine has been sleeping in the garage since about November lol.
Beautiful car! Looks great without the opera window. One thing that I think would also look great on this car is suicide doors.
Oh baby, that’s nice!!! A buddy of mine’s father bought your car’s twin from a funeral home back in ’80, got to ride in it a couple of times. Made me a confirmed Continental fan for life!
“…bought from a funeral home…”
That’s it! This stray sentence fragment caused me to realize the one reason why I hated these cars the most– they looked like coffins!
Quick, I want you all to imagine three golden handles attached to each boxy flank of an LTD, and six superhuman pallbearers to carry the thing…. but that reminds me of a sedan chair, which is a different, equally disturbing image. That aside, the gilt trim and tufted upholstery of these broughams maintained the casket look for the interiors, too.
Funny that my little furrin’ cars were called “deathtraps” by drivers of these rolling mausoleums…
Now that bias real presence! I’d happily ride in that if I had a chauffeur, but I don’t think I’d want to park it myself.
1975-79 Trans Ams with 400 or 455
1982-83 Mustang GT
And many other cars
+1 on these cars.A Smokey and the Bandit Trans Am has been on my wish list for nearly 40 years.
A Volare Roadrunner or it’s Aspen R/T relative would be nice.
I was writing out my list and realized yours is the same, so +1 lol
The 82-3 Mustang GT is not Malaise, it was the watershed car that officially marks the beginning of the end of the Malaise era.
Those 82 GTs however were basically put together with parts, both mechanical and aesthetic, that were rooted in the malaise era. Many the engine’s ingredients to make it a H.O. for example were in production for marine applications for several years prior, and the exterior of the 82 was basically a mix and match of 79 Cobra and Pace Car parts. I’d say the true watershed moment came with the 85s where the horsepower jumped to a huge for the time 210.
But it is more than the sum of its parts for one thing. The big thing however is the fact that HP actually increased rather than going down like it had been for the preceding decade. No it wasn’t huge HP but it did mark the point where the tide turned.
1982 was significant for other reasons:
the return of the american factory convertible(K car)
the new camaro/firebird
the corvette ceased to exist
renault takes over AMC
The same could be said about the Trans ams in the heart of the era. They were rated at 180 horsepower in 1976, 200 horsepower in 1977 then jumped to 220 in 1978.
For many people the Malaise era began in America in 1973. It was hard to overlook those huge ugly safety bumpers. But everything is relative. ’70s era cars may have had those awful safety bumpers, some looked way better with them than others. Then came more safety stuff, and a ton of emissions crap. The Ford Pinto weighed almost twice as much in it’s final model year than it’s first. It got so heavy that Ford had to put as V6 engine in it just to be able to keep up with traffic. That made it even heavier. So while there was no doubt that some very undesirable things happened to ’70s model cars, in most cases poor styling was not one of them. To me the ’70s produced some of the most beautiful cars ever made, in spite of their bumpers, and in some cases, actually because of it. The urethane bumpered Corvette, Camaro, and Firebird actually looked better than the chrome bumpered ones. I owned both a ’77 Corvette and a ’79 Camaro, and thought they looked great with the urethane bumpers. My opinion is that GM ruined the Corvette design in 1978, but it was not due to malaise issues.
My favorite 1970s cars were the Vega, Pinto, Gremlin, Pacer, Camaro, Firebird, Corvette, Mustang II, Monte Carlo, Grand Prix, Cordoba, late ’70s Thunderbird, and though it is not American, the air cooled VW beetle.
I loved the looks of all these cars, bumpers and all. Yes they were a bit slow, but these days that can be easily fixed, even legally if you wanted. Drop a Turbo LS1 into a mid ’70s Corvette or Camaro, and I guarantee it will move.
But the original malaise era was just the beginning, As things progressed into the ’80s and ’90s, it really began to get bad. Styling has disappeared altogether. And it shows no signs of ever getting any better. 2 door vehicles have almost completely vanished. Today’s vehicles consist mainly of little egg shaped FWD 4 door sedans with EFI, ABS, airbags, onstar, navigation systems, smartphone connectivity, car based suvs and minivans with all the same crap, and crew cab trucks. The main enemy of cars today is the computer. It is what has made all the other crap possible. Oh, and not only that, but manufacturers have done all they can do (which is a lot) to complete the driver from the driving experience. I complained about the “floating on air” feel of ’60s and ’70s era Cadilllacs, Buicks, and Lincolns that would make you seasick. I had no idea how much worse it was going to get. And I can see no end in sight.
That is why I recommend to everybody who cares anything about cars to but a RWD car without any type of computer. If you have the money, then you can afford to buy what you want. If you don’t, there are still quite a few such cars out there, especially 4 doors, that can be had for cheap. If they are not already, fix them up so that they are roadworthy (basing that on the year of manufacture) My Fairlane has manual 4 wheel drum brakes and manual steering. But it works as it was designed. I would have no problem going to 4 wheel power discs, as long as there was no computer. Again, there is no real reason that it have style. It is going to feel and sound the same regardless of what it looks like. If you have a pre emissions car and the money, you can make it as fast as you want it, using old school real car parts.You can either restore it, partially restore it, or leave is as is, as a patina car. I personally love “sleeper” cars, cars that look like they barely run, with 1500 HP under the hood.
Please save all the RWD pre computer cars you can. There will never be anymore. And for those of you who don’t like rough rides, many of these cars, especially ’70s models, had very comfortable rides without totally insulating the driver.
During this era I did own a 1976 Riviera (after a 71), then a 1978 Oldsmobile diesel (98 Regency), and an 83 Skyhawk. The Skyhawk may have been the best of the three. I would not want any thing from this era, or for that matter anything from about 1973 through about 2003. I really think that my current 2014 CTS is about the best car ever that I have owned.
I did drive a 1950 Buick for a number of years, and then a 1963 Impala, but these were not my cars. Still, I have driven cars from the 50’s, the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s and 90’s. Been there, done that, don’t want to go back.
Sure, I would own a Malaise era car. In fact, I once owned a ’72 Ford Torino and ’80 Triumph TR7 (British, so I guess that one might not count). My wife once owned a ’82 Chevy Camaro. All were actually good cars for us. And I would own them again, if I found the right car at the right price at the right time. Others I would consider are the ’77 Pontiac Trans-Am , the ‘75-’77 Chrysler Cordoba, and a DeLorean DMC-12.
In the ’70s, even at the near bottom of mainstream market, we still had rwd Chevrolet Malibu, Ford Fairmont, and Plymouth Volare, but coming to the ’80s it became Chevrolet Citation, Ford Tempo, and Plymouth Reliant K ( there is always a “who let this K car in” feeling when a Chrysler K car showed up in classic car cruise ) and obviously ’70s was better in this way.
The maintaining cost of those three ( or cars such as B-Body after downsize, Ford Panther platform and so ) is rather low among older cars. Unlike a ’50s cars require parts book, those cars can get the common parts easily from NAPA and ebay, as we can borrow a lot parts from rwd G-Body Chevrolet Monte Carlo, all fox derivatives, and Dodge Diplomat/Chrysler Fifth Avenue.
And because of CAFE, certain cars with better MPG appeared, making everyday driving affordable ( but I don’t really want a stick with optional overdrive though ) like many 6-cylinder models. F-Body Volare with slant six can get 18-24 in daily driving and I am very satisfied with that for a car eligible to Hagerty Insurance.
And more people were finally getting AC and radio with many convenience options across the line( ps pb delay wiper ) makes it easier to drive ( compared to a ’71 Valiant, no pb and no AC. ) Many of them are a good blend of practicality and styling ( but have to choose wisely ) before getting too practical in the ’80s.
1973 Chevelle SS Station Wagon 454
Good luck finding one. I did find a 350 version in Richmond though:
While I’ve enjoyed my 85 Grand Marquis during the past several months, I want to sell it soon as I have a chance to buy a one-owner 77 Granada two door with a 302 V8, PS, PB, AM radio and what’s left of a quarter vinyl roof. Only 49,000 miles (we hadn’t changed to metric speedos yet). A little easier on the wallet as the Merc with its 351 is quite thirsty.
I have a soft spot for many cars of the Malaise era. I just something a little smaller.
Mmmm … in my experience the 302 is pretty thirsty too. I probably averaged around 10-12 mpg in around town driving, and 16 or so on freeways. A friend once got 18 on a straight flat freeway in South Dakota driving exactly 55. And the 302 had absolutely no power and no drivability (it felt like it was going to stall when you put your foot down from a complete stop).
Would a 302 from that era be exempt from smog checks? I know if I had an American malaise era car, first thing I’d do would be to chuck out all the stone-age smog gear and get it to run right. Good drivability is primary safety, no?
The “malaise era” differs so much from today’s “recall era”. In today’s “recall era” the Japanese imports paved the way for this remarkable period in time. Innovations such as cars that accelerate out of control on their own (total driver isolation) and cars that launch grenades out of the steering wheel will be remembered as highlights of this Japanese dominated era.
Yes I would. Caveat: I’d do some minor upgrades to the running gear to up the reliability, power, economy and performance. Gone with the tired old springs, on with new variable rate jobbies and nice new shocks. Upgraded brakes with materials that were only science-fiction in 1973. And maybe even the major upgrade, engine swap. Like a friend’s M-Body Dippy with a Magnum injected V8; same basic engine family with 20+ years of refinement.
Until then, I’ll just live with my beloved Panther and pretend it’s a proper malaise-mobile.
I agree- among the cars built in the last few years, a Panther is probably the closest you could get to malaise-era motoring. At least in my experience, there are fewer differences than you’d think between an upgraded ‘proper’ malaise-mobile and a Panther – after having owned one of each – a 78 Ranchero upgraded w/HD shocks and swaybar, and an 01 Crown Vic – they seemed more like different flavors of the same car than completely different vehicles.
The Ranchero had a bit more old-school Ford float and seemed like a nicer highway cruiser – maybe the big long hood helped? – but the Vic had much better braking and acceleration, not to mention better performance offroad because it didn’t have such a giant front overhang. There is no comparison between the stock 351 and 4.6 though in terms of economy and performance. I bet fuel-injecting that 351 would have really woken the Ranchero up.
In short, yes I would love to own a Malaise Era car.
Since I’m a Volvo man at heart, I would start by looking for a ’77 through ’82 240 and if possible, a 262C Bertone as well. Despite the reputation it received for having the infamous PRV V-6 engine I think those can be made to run well these days.
Also, has anyone here owned a Malaise Era Jeep CJ? I’m also a Jeep guy and would love to try to find a stock CJ-5 or CJ-7 (preferably ’78-up) because I’d like to see what all the fuss is about with those rigs, in terms of their bouncy ride and susceptibility to flipping over.
A friend’s Mom had a Volvo 240, and in the mid-80s he and I took it on a long road trip. I never had given Volvos a second look before, but I was really impressed with how roomy and solid it was. Really great handling for such a big car.
Based on my memory, it seems like they would feel much less out of date today than most cars of that era.
Now there’s a sign of the times – calling a Volvo 240 ‘big’. 😉
I confess to having ties like Lee’s (although with the stripes going the other, European, way), so I guess the answer is yes.
Yes, definitely, a Cordoba would do fine!
WHAT? Euro stripes go the other way?There’s some sort of international date line of tie patterns? Forget the cars, this is blowing my mind!
I do have one stylish number covered in upside-down fleurs de lis. Would that get me thrown out of some places in France?
Just stand on your head, you’ll be right!
An English gentleman’s tie has stripes running from top left to lower right.
Don’t ask me why though!
I’ve owned a ’75 Ford Elite and a ’74 LeSabre convertible. The Ford was an overstyled slow barge that handled and drove badly. The LeSabre even with just a 350 2bbl could chirp the tires and had a majestic land yachtness to it.The most troublesome thing about it was the finicky scissor top mechanism.
The interesting thing about the “Malaise Era” is that when we were living thru it, it didn’t seem like a horrible stagnant time at all. I was born in ’64 and remember the excitement of the years 1976-’83 when GM introduced the downsized full-sizers and caused a sensation; the introduction of Ford’s Fairmont/Zephr “cars of the 80s” and later the aero T-bird, GM’s second and third wave of downsizing, Chrysler’s K-cars and AMC’s new lease on life with it’s Renault tie-in. As a teenager living during this time, car mad and reading all the auto magazines, it seemed like an exciting time of massive change and opportunities. Did not seem like the stagnant period we now look back on with regret.
Perspective, I guess, and my particular late-boomer age group. Those of us born in the mid 60s have always been in a strange kind of time warp.
I was just the opposite. My dad thought I was nuts for wanting to buy something used from the sixties. His refrain was always, “Save your money and buy a new car”. But, even at that young age, I knew that every domestic car during the malaise era sucked. It wasn’t until 1980 that I bought my first new car, a Ford Fiesta, followed by an ’82 RX-7, then a Mustang GT.
After a few years, the truly awful malaise stuff was pretty much gone and, while I mostly bought foreign, I would still pick up an occasional domestic car.
I still have a soft-spot for the downsized 1978+ GM A bodies and the Fox body Ford sedans. For all of the virtues of front-wheel-drive, I feel like something’s missing from our automotive ecosystem when you can’t get an affordable, midsized, rear-wheel-drive car with a V8 (or smaller but similarly torquey boosted engine) under the hood.
If I had to choose one, it would be a ’78 or ’79 Grand Am with a four-barrel carb perched on top of a Pontiac 301 or Chevy 305. The Pontiacs were the least floaty of the A bodies, and the Grand Am had additional suspension upgrades compared to the Le Mans.
That said, I haven’t driven a malaise-era car since the malaise era. Maybe I’ve been spoiled by fuel injection, ABS, stability control and all the other advances of the last 40 years.
Like many of us, I am attracted to cars that are part of my history. As such, I would deeply enjoy owning a 1973 Chevy Impala four door post sedan. It would have to be dark green metalic, dark green interior (vinyl) and dog dish economy hubcaps. A 350/350 drivetrain too. This was the only “new” car my family ever purchased. I was 6 years old the evening we picked it up at Stewart Chevrolet in Colma, CA (suburban SF)—sitting next to my older brother in the back seat, I will never forget how rich..and lucky…I felt. I can still feel the vinyl seats……. It was pretty much like this:
Hmm. My Dad had a green ’74 4-door hardtop. I think I’d like one. Thanks for the reminder.
I have managed to get through life with but a single malaise-era car, a 77 Chrysler New Yorker Brougham. It was not the best experience. That car is the only one in the gap from model year 1971 to model year 1984 among cars I have owned.
I started driving during the malaise era, when there were lots of well-kept 60s cars available for the picking. So I picked, multiple times. By the 90s, I would either find one of the dwindling number of prime 60s cars or move up to 80s stuff with fuel injection, disc brakes and modern safety equipment.
Now, quality 60s stuff is rare and expensive, so the malaise era is finally looking a teeny bit attractive. There is really only one car I really want from that era – a 70s Town Car. Maybe a Mark V, but it is a definite second choice. That’s it. OK, maybe a 75-78 Marquis or another big Chrysler C body just for giggles.
Yes i certainly would! I have owned a ’71 Riviera, ’75 Honda Civic wagon, ’77 Coupe de Ville, 77 Datsun 280z, ’84 Mercury Cougar (bought new). Would like to own some more. ’71-73 Mustang, Lincoln Mark 4 or 5, 79-80 Cadillac Eldorado of Seville.
Yep. I have one that I’m planning to restore, or at least get back on the road, someday (’79 Chevy Malibu). And there are plenty of others I’d love to have in my driveway if the price were right…Volvo 242GT, Mercedes 300CD or TD, Lincoln Continental Town Coupe or Mark V, Imperial FS (with Lean Burn removed, naturally), Cutlass Salon aeroback (yes, I’m weird). Just to name a few.
Would I want any of these as a daily driver? Probably not. (A well-maintained 300CD with working A/C might be a strong contender.) But would I own one? Already do. Would I own more than one? Sure.
Turns out many cars of the malaise era were quite good.
I’ve been driving a 77 Olds 98 for 15 years or so. Rust is finally rendering it a winter only car but it’s been great.
Biggest issue has been the lousy after market parts. They never last.
But, they have chrome and I LOVE Chrome.
Chinese aftermarket parts fail? Say it ain’t so…..!
There are some vehicles from that era that I’d consider owning as a daily driver because I wouldn’t feel as bad about it eventually getting beat-up or consumed by road salt. My list would include C-body Mopars, Ramcharger, or a pristine example GM with the 350 diesel. There are VERY few Malaise-era or newer vehicles that I’d pamper as I do my earlier Chryslers though.
I’ve always felt that Ford and Chrysler had the better looking cars for this period , at least they were trying. GM’s offerings looked stale , even in their time. As to powertrains , …what a sad lot, regardless of manufacturer. I would think finding a “cherry” from this era would not be easy as build quality also seemed below par. Here in the Midwest Fords in particular would start to rust usually right about the time you paid off that 36 month loan with Ford Motor Credit.
The barge is from ’73 and so am I. For those who call it the “malaise era,” I offer another phrase that no one used back then: “Haters gonna hate.” 🙂
Love that Imperial! . . . and gotta admit, I never heard the term “Malaise Era” until I came here. These cars have always just been called land yachts, battle barges, or boats.
Credits to Murilee Martin
If I had the money, I would own a Malaise Era Chrysler vehicle, especially since the technology of today would allow me to turn it into a Pro-Touring/G-Machine vehicle. A Chrysler Cordoba comes to mind for such a project. 🙂
As an Attorney, and someone born in 1976, my answer is; HELL TO THE DEFINE THE MEANING OF ERA.
Our family didn’t buy new cars until the late ’80’s, when, exhausted by an endless series of malaise era junk that constantly broke, we bought new cars. I have terrible memories of ’74 Darts that didn’t start, a ’77 Century which fell apart quickly, an ’81 Spirit, a ’73 LeSabre with endless transmission woes, and everything that didn’t start when it was cold, didn’t start when it was wet, required warming up for 10 minutes, and smelled bad.
I HATE CARBURETORS. HATE, HATE, HATE, HATE THEM. I have no interest in learning how to use a timing light or a dwell meter and I do not care how easy it is to use. I do not want to do that. I think that the major reason that all the service stations flipped over to quik-e-marts was the demise of the carburetor meant that a car could go for months and years without expensive and irritating intervention.
So, clearly, I would NEVER drive a malaise era car? But, actually, I do? sort of? cos I have a 1991 Cadillac Brougham, which originated in the malaise era and has all the Broughamy features but NO CARBURETOR. Despite looking worse than the recently featured 1980 Brougham, it has gone over 4000 miles in the last month. These cars, with FUEL INJECTION, will basically run forever. It now has 268500 miles and shows no signs of flagging. I love it so much I bought a better looking one and am having it worked on.
So I would drive a Malaise era car, but not made in the malaise era itself.
Amen to that. Unless I am very hard up for money/a car, I will never have a carb car as a daily driver.
The car has to have at least fuel injection.
Now as an occasional driven car(aka garage kept) then yes I might own a car with a carb for that.
carbs are cheap and simple. They last 5-10 years and can be rebuilt for pennies. The really simple ones…single barrel, manual choke…last several decades.
I hate, loathe, and dispise anything with wheels being controlled by a computer, which means I obviously like carburetors. I have worked on them all my life, and could probably work on one blindfolded. I can also troubleshoot one with better than 95% accuracy. They are cheap to buy, cheap to work on, cheap to repair and tune. And they work perfectly when tuned properly. But don’t compare carburetors when they are using ethanol, and when they are using gasoline. Carburetors were never intended to be used with corn liquor.
Henry Ford would disagree. He intended the Model T to run on pure home made corn alcohol.
I love Malaise era cars! They have always been part of my life. Granted, they have had a lot of their kinks worked out, and I don’t mind their flaws. I wouldn’t trade my puke green, 6 mpg gas hog Dodge for anything else, save perhaps another clamshell Olds. While I now rely on a jelly bean Lexus ES300 as a commuter car, it is effectively a modern day, gently used Malaise era car: no frills, seems like an old people mobile, but very comfortable and reliable. I just wish it were about three feet longer : )
I drove an identical one in Driver’s Ed, same color same body style
That’s a sweet wagon – just don’t see many of these anymore. That 6mpg must have something to do with it!
I had a ’73 Polara wagon like that, except mine was Sheep Dip brown! Paid all of $30.00 for the car way back in ’80.
lol – Sheep dip brown. That is a true Malaise era color. The green on this one is part of what made me fall in love with it- my aunt and uncle had a green Buick Electra, and I learned to drive in a green Olds Ninety Eight. Years go by, this comes along, in the right shade of green, and I just couldn’t let it be parted out and then sent to the crusher, which is exactly where it was headed. Still have to laugh: the 1972 Dodge Wagons brochure claims that “Highly efficient V8 engines all run on regular or low-lead gas. . .” What a crock. At least the part about running on low lead gas is true. I wouldn’t call any 440 V8 remotely efficient. But, as the saying goes, there’s more to life than gas mileage.
I turned 19 in 1972, and could legally drink then (yep! there was a window there when the drinking age was lowered to 19!), for what it’s worth. In college I saw an endless procession of malaise-era cars go by, in all their bloated, wretched excess. I watched the weatherstripping and paint on GM cars disintegrate, and the adhesive ooze out from under the side rub strips. The first fuel crisis was in 1973, and I was glad I didn’t have to drive all the time. Full-sized cars were notable for truly awful fuel mileage, and mid-sized and compacts weren’t that much better. And all one heard about was the poor driveability of the smog-controlled engines. For myself, I drove a ’62 Valiant through college. With its 170-cubic inch six and Torqueflite, it gave crappy mileage–about 17-18 mpg, when it was in good tune.
My next car, a 1970 Torino Brougham, was actually an improvement. With its 302 V-8, it still got 14 mpg in the city, and it had pickup. My 1977 Accord wasn’t bad, either, even with only 65 horsepower. I could still keep it tuned myself. The thing that did it in was probably poor maintenance before I bought it; it turned into a smoker. Next was a 1984 Mazda 626. It was OK, but the fuel system was a bit temperamental (NOT fuel injection), and its 2-liter engine put out only 85 hp. The next two cars, a 1993 Sable and a 2003 Civic Hybrid, have their own stories of strong points and surprising weak points.
Nope. I don’t want to own any cars from the malaise era. They’re fun to look at in car shows, but not to own. I’ll take our Camry Hybrid, thank you. It just plain works, uncomplainingly, and it gets up and goes, quietly and smoothly.
Well since the Malaise era did run till 1983 then yes I would own a Malaise era car.
I would choose a 1982-1983 Pontiac Firebird. With a fresh look and attractiveness, it was the car to own then.
Heck it was even in my favorite TV show Knight Rider. As a kid I wanted one of those badly.(the Yuppies could keep their 60 hp 240D Benzes)
KITT, Bandit’s Trans Am, and Doc Brown’s DeLorean get automatic exemptions!
I sometimes wax nostalgic for the ’76 Buick Century Wagon my family had when I was in high school in the early ’80’s. We called it the war wagon as by then we had done home-brew rust repair and painted it outdoors on a sandy driveway! With the 350 4BBL it seemed to have some get-up-and-go too, given its size, although when the secondaries kicked in it did seem like you could see the gas gauge move, and I don have to admit my point of reference was our second car: an Austin Marina! I recall the Buick being OK on the reliability front too, at least for the 1st 10 years of its life, needing only an alternator and maybe 1 or 2 A/C compressors beyond basic wear items.
Would I own one again? Probably couldn’t afford the fuel, but it would be a vehicle you don’t see every day and the antithesis of the Alticamricord.
At least the Buick’s piano-proof.
I had an ’81 Dodge Omni, ’80 Toyota Corolla and a just-under-the-wire ’84 Mercury Topaz in their waning cheap-beater years.
-The Omni was the only car that ever left me stranded but set a standard for space efficiency I still haven’t managed to match.
-the Corolla was dead-reliable but rusted to nothing and survived a sidelong skid off the road into a snowbank at 50 mph (as did I) despite what must’ve been severely compromised structural integrity from all the rust.
-the Topaz had been babied by previous owners but descended into clunkerdom with astonishing speed in my not-gentle-but-not-particularly-rough hands, had those horrible Ford seats that forced you to slouch (driver’s backrest broke while I had it)
Of the three, only the RWD Corolla would be, in good condition, weekend-fun-car material and even then only if tastefully modded. I wouldn’t say no to the right Shelby Omni either but those were EFI and thus post-malaise, holdover styling notwithstanding.
I would and I do – a ’79 Monte Carlo. In my eyes, the last of the classic V8, RWD Chevy coupes. And If I had the time, space and funds, I’d also gladly own a Volvo 240, a Fairmont Futura, a Caddy DeVille and perhaps a Toyota Supra from that era. Oh, and a ’78 Pontiac Grand Prix in two-tone green with T-tops and snowflake wheels, please. And a Pacer, just for laughs. And maybe a couple more.
These days, a clean malaise-era survivor is far more rare and far more interesting than any of those over-priced, over-restored and over-done Mustangs, Tri-Five Chevies and 1960s muscle cars. At every car show I’ve ever gone to, there’s always rows of those, while mine is the ONLY ’79 Monte.
I have plenty of interest in older cars as well, but even then I’d be much happier with a nice clean Dart hardtop over yet another General Lee clone Charger, and would much prefer a Packard over a Tri-Five Chevy.
The most interesting cars are those that make you do a double-take, because they look exactly as you remember such cars from 30 or 40 years ago and if you squint, you can almost travel back in time. And those are almost always just “regular” cars from back in their day. The sports cars and muscle cars and exotics don’t have that effect, because they stood out in same way then as they still do today, only now you’ve had several decades to get bored with them already.
Absolutely, even with emissions strangulation and railroad tie bumpers 70s cars still at the very least looked better and more distinct than 2015. I’m going to avoid sporty models since those choices are pretty obvious(F-bodies, Fox Mustangs, C3 Vettes) so here’s a short list of what I can think up:
77-79 Cougar XR-7
80-81 Mirada/Cordoba LS
Colonnade Grand Prix
Pontiac Can Am
79-85 Buick Riviera
77 Turbo LeSabre
Forgot about the Can Am Matt.Nice to see another fan
Still own my first new car a 1978 Thundrebird . Paid cash $6020! Still drives great and get lots of thumbs up where ever it goes. Love it.
My brother had a ’79 Chevy Monte Carlo until his wife made him get rid of it, probably from 06-11 ish, an eternity if you ask me. He bought it from an elderly member of his church. DON’T BUY STUFF OLD PEOPLE ARE SELLING! Many old people grew up in the era where they saved tinfoil and old screws and pantyhose and jar lids and such so when they are getting rid of something, that means that it IS COMPLETELY WORN OUT.
This car up and died on the test drive, from being carbureted. It had to be pushed. Alex bought it anyway. You know how you see cars in the junkyards and you feel a little sorry that it is going to be crushed? not this car. It kept begging to be allowed to die somewhere quietly.
I named it the “dysmobile” as in Dysfunctional and Automobile. I have to say that by the time fuel injection came to these cars, or even the computer controlled carburetors, they were much better cars but this one never ran, and the few times it did stank and chugged along miserably.
Can and do!
I would, but with modifications- our emission regulations were much more relaxed, so I would imagine a few modifications to a 1976 Chrysler New Yorker would free up a few ponies and bring fuel consumption down…
Absolutely! I enjoyed it from the back seat when I grew up and I enjoy driving it 35 years later! Mid seventies at its best – even though its Rocket 455 had to go through the smog treatment at the time.
That has to be one of the best looking cars of all time. Right when I thought the Brougham thing had run its course out comes the ’76 Cutlass and changes everything.
That was Olds on top of the world! Lots of my fellow Guidos had the Cutlass, Regal and Monte Carlos all over college…
Can’t say I’d agree with it being the best looking cars of all time, but I do think the 76 Cutlass was one of the best restyles of all time, particularly in Supreme form. The 73-75s were really awkward looking.
Wow, sharp Olds. I agree that the square-lamp restyle dramatically changed what had been a slightly awkward design into something quite stylish!
This is the car Im building right now and I drive an 84 Delta 88 coupe daily so the answer is yes. Id also like to have a nice Volare wagon.
That will be one sharp car when you have it together. Always liked em with the pinstriping, half vinyl roof and color keyed mags 😀
thanks Coasty (Coasty here as well)
no vinyl top, which is probably what kept the body rust free, but it will be candy apple red with an OE-like pinstripe and color matched Pontiac Rallye IIs on tires big enough to handle the torque of that un-smogged 400.
The Pontiac 400’s were great engines. I had one in a Grand Safari, and even though that car was heavy, it seemed to have plenty of punch. I can only imagine what an un-smogged one would be like in a sporty Grand Prix! Much better than the ambling 301, that’s for sure.
Yes… and I do. Here’s a pic the day after I brought her home:
It wouldn’t be my first choice in a collector car, but if I had the money to amass a large collection of automobiles, than yes, certainly. Topping my list in no particular order are the Lincoln Mark V, Chrysler R-body New Yorker Fifth Avenue, J-body Imperial, 3rd-gen Oldsmobile Toronado, and Cadillac Fleetwood.
An upper trim, ’75-’77 Chrysler 4-door hardtop (one of those with the honking 440 CID engine as standard equipment) would be pretty groovy.
Yep! My buddy and I buy a car every 6 months or so and we fix em up together, so last summer he bought a 1978 Ranchero GT, probably the worst or any generation Rancho or Elco alike.
Its massive, its slow (with the 302), it handles like a parade float, and has possibly the smallest interior dimensions relative to its exterior dimensions of any car I know.
But its real easy to work on (I can stand next to the motor in the engine bay, and all of the aincent technology it uses can be repaired with a hammer) and its size is a novelty all on its own. It wouldnt be either of our daily drivers, but I like the car and he is very happy with the purchase.
And this summer we will be swapping in a 351w with hydraulic lifters. Itll be awesome.
Sure! I would to love to own a `75-78 Chrysler New Yorker coupe, an “electric razor” in all white, but I haven`t seen a decent one yet. Second choice would be a Cordoba of the same vintage,with Corinthian Leather,of course!.
I generally consider 1967 to 1972 as the high point for American cars in terms of styling and desirability. Things started to go downhill from the 1973 model year when the bumper regs kicked in and styling generally became more conservative. I was never really a huge fan of the square-edged ‘sheer look’ that seemed to dominate the later half of the decade. Then there was also the demise of glamorous body styles like the convertible and pillarless hardtop coupe. I still generally prefer cars of the 70’s over the 80’s and especially over the 90’s. There are plenty of malaise era cars I would love to own.
I’m a big fan of 70’s AMC. The Gremlin and Pacer are among my favourite cars of all time. I also love the Hornet sportswagon and all of the 4wd Eagle variants, especially the super rare Kammback version based on the Spirit.
Well, I guess thats my list then: AMC Pacer, Gremlin, and Eagle Kammback.
75-77 Grand Prix SJ
Trans AM or Formula, all years. New 82’s looked great when properly ordered. 83 Trans Am’s had the new H.O. 305 w/5-speed (only 600+ made)
Jim Rockford’s gold Firebird
82-83 Mustang GT
Chevrolet Shortbox K10 75-80
77 on up Cadillac DeVille Coupe
79-83 Datsun 280ZX
….and others. There were a few interesting cars during the “dark ages”
I’ll take a fullsize from any of the big 3 up to 1972/3 (except Pontiac).
Strictly malaise-era? 1977+ downsized Chevrolet wagon.
Proud former owner of a 1978 Ranchero GT. Other than the dog-slow 2bbl 351, it was a nice cruiser and handled surprisingly well. Its low bed made it a great work truck and the park bench front bumper provided comfortable seating for at least two.
I’ll take one of those as well.
Actually, the Malaise Era is from 1973-1983 NOT 1975-83. lol 😉
Pertaining to the question… I own quite a few Malaise Era cars, some include cars designed during the Malaise Era, that overlapped beyond that.
1981 Toyota Corolla 2 door sedan
1983 Toyota Corolla 2 door sedan
1981 Chevy Malibu Classic Sport coupe
1986 Chevy Monte Carlo SS(designed in 1983)
1985 Buick Regal coupe(designed in 1981)
1988 Ford Mustang LX 5.0 notchback Fox body(designed in 1979… with a refresh in 1987)
I love em all… cars back then, had more personality, because at least you could tell an import from a domestic, in those days.
Although, the power of cars during that time was “watered down” with all the fuel regulations, catalytic convertors and emission controls.
Not too big of a problem, that the aftermarket like JEGS or Summit Racing for the domestics, or the JDM aftermarket companies can’t solve.
I would put the malaise era as 74-82
No, the correct period of the Malaise Era is 1973-83.
As said by Murilee Martin… Who, according to himself, coined the phrase.
Don’t know if that is correct, but who knows.
73 kind of seems arbitrary, the only notable thing about that year were the 5mph front bumpers, which pales to 71 and 72s one two punch of unleaded gas compression drops and SAE rating system, and 74s front + rear 5 mph bumper requirement.
Personally I feel 1974 is the official start, with the three prior years ramping up to it. 74 was the year the Insurance, Safety, and Environmental lobby’s desires for cars fully came to fruition.
The fact that the SAE rating system was adhered do doesn’t really mean anything as the previous numbers used by most automakers were artificially inflated. Yes some cars did start losing compression and thus power in 71 or 72 but it wasn’t until 73 that it was across the board. You could still get a high compression Ford engine in 1972 though there were fewer choices than in 1971.
another way to define the malaise era would be to pin it to the national 55MPH speed limit.(75-87??)
Another way to define it would be the years that lacked a US factory convertible.(76ish to 82)
…or the years that lacked a potent corvette(75-84)
or the years of pathetic mustangs(74-80ish)
My two Corollas
My Buick Regal and Chevy Monte Carlo SS
Two years ago I thought I would buy my first American car ever after 25 years of European cars. I focused on a Gen 1 Seville and found an excellent example not far from home – a one-family car, passed on through three generations before me. With a performance exhaust it goes decently well and with Bilstein shocks it handles nicely. I’m happy I bought it.
My Chevy Malibu Classic Sport coupe and Buick Regal
not only are those AWESOME cars, the photograph is awesome with the background scenery which goes very well with those cars.
That pic was taken in back of the office where I rent… I didn’t even notice how cool it looked, till I uploaded the pic onto here.
Too bad BOTH cars, along with my 83 Corolla parked out front… are buried up to their roofs in snow. Sucks…
I don’t think they’ll be thawed out till NEXT spring. 🙁
First choice would be any of the ’78-’80 GM A-body coupes (except for the hideous Cutlass Salon/Century slantbacks) upgraded with a 350 4bbl and a THM350 transmission. I’d especially go for a Malibu for sentimental reasons (my first car) and the fact that the survivors that haven’t been turned into all out drag cars are now quite rare.
The ’77-’79 B- and C-bodies are among GM’s masterpieces. Big but not excessively so, decent handling for a big car, and by ’70s Detroit standards rather well made. My faves of the bunch were the Bonnevilles.
My Ford Mustang 5.0 notchback circa 1988… body designed in 1979, with a NEW facelift and tail lights for 1987-93
So, YES, it is a Malaise Era car. 🙂
Definitely not a Malaise era car. The 1982 Mustang GT is the official car of the end of the Malaise era. Horsepower and displacement increasing instead of decreasing and actual performance in a performance package rather than just stickers.
Yes, it is a Malaise DESIGNED car… bodywise, just like ALL of the Fox body lineup.
The 1982 Mustang GT, although, a return to power, was and still IS a Malaise designed car. Malaise doesn’t mean “an underpowering of cars, due to gas restrictions era”… it means an era between 1973-83, simple as that.
One of the most powerful muscle cars to date, was the 1974 Pontiac Trans Am Super Duty, with it’s high compression 455 big block V8… Pontiac released that car as a last hurrah to the Muscle Car Era. Produced in the Malaise Era. lol
Yes, my Fox Mustang is a Malaise Era bodied car… but the fuel injected 5.0, began in 1984/85, which is NOT a Malaise powerplant, along with it’s 1987 refined front fascia, tail lights and interior layout.
So I am right about, the body of my Mustang, is Malaise Era … and you are right about the refined, more powerful fuel injected powerplant, not being Malaise. 😉
I already did my time driving a Malaise Era car! (A ’79 Monarch.) Never again!
I had probably one of the first malaise era vehicles; ’74 Dodge B100 Tradesman van. It gets better; picked it up at the dealer on Saturday, October 6, 1973. First day of the Hebrews and Arabs going at it again. Official start of the malaise decade..Replaced it with a ’75 Rabbit, also had a ’74 Audi Fox, and an ’81 Toyota Pickup. Company car was a ’82 Skylark. So I had a real collection of malaise era stuff.
I’ll take a big ol’ barge. I couldn’t afford to drive it much, but for Post Office runs, it would be cool.
I’ll take this 1977 Newport, please!
I still have mine. It’s a ’79 Malibu coupe, V8 4 speed, F41 suspension, buckets, Rally Wheels, and sunroof . It is black with red interior. I ordered it new and it has 165K miles, but doesn’t get driven much anymore. The paint isn’t as good as it used to be and the interior plastic is starting to deteriorate some. I also had a pretty nicely optioned ’81 Regal coupe as a company car but the build quality wasn’t as good as the Malibu. It was more comfortable on a trip unless you were going through the mountains and then you knew you were driving a gutless V6.
All 3 of our kids grew up riding in the back of the Malibu on vacations and constantly tried to get me to buy a minivan. It is one of the best two cars I have owned, the other being an ’03 Mustang.
Back then, that’s all there was.
And now…at least here…many are past the age of intrusive regulation, so they can be fixed…to be what they could have been.
Maybe familiarity breeds contempt?. Growing up in the UK in the mid 70’s I recall looking at a Mercury Monarch Ghia in the local Ford showroom sitting next to the British Escorts with their vinyl seats rubber floor mats and large areas of painted metal inside-it was like looking into another world.There was a GM dealershiip here in Manchester too that sold Buicks and Cadillacs.To me these big brash fully equipped cars didnt look like a malaise.A bit decadent maybe but to see a real malaise we just went to the British Leyland Vauxhall or Rootes/Chrysler dealers.In 1975 you could choose from the following poorly built cars
the 1959 type Mini (still unchanged and fit just for shopping trips)
the Allegro (tragic)
the Marina (appalling)
Vauxhall Viva (ok but ageing)
Vauxhall Victor (unsaleable sad edition of what was once a popular car)
Hillman Imp (a disaster from 1963 but still on sale)
Hillman Hunter (good in 1966 but 10 years later really ageing)
lHow many of these would be on a want list now?
Probably the Mini. The idea of having to use it as a real car is rather grim, but as a toy, it’s at least fun.
I’d gladly take one of these:
and all that walking will do you good
I wouldn’t mind a Hunter or Victor but I agree with the rest of your choice.I saw one Monarch on the road when they were being sold.It was a very expensive car compared to a (European)Ford Granada.
The Manchester GM dealer Bauer – Milletts has just sadly closed after 40 years.They were also a Harley Davidson dealer
Thanks for the update Gem-I didn’t know Bauer and Millett had now gone.That’s a shame.I do remember them selling Harleys when they moved to the former BMW showroom on Deansgate .As for the British malaise I did say the old Hillman Hunter was good and I would still buy a GLS Hunter, Vogue, Sceptre or another fastback Sunbeam though i bet there’s not many of each left in the UK now.
Sure, why not, if I could buy one of the following for the right price in the right condition:
1974-78 Imperial/New Yorker Brougham four door hardtop, enjoy the last of their kind
1972-79 Lincoln Continental Hotten or AHA convertible Town Coupe customs.
1971-74 Lincoln Continental Hotten custom lwb Formal sedan or Limousine.
1975-1979 Cadillac Seville, especially the San Remo custom convertible.
1974 Cadillac Talisman Fleetwood Brougham
1977-81 Cadillac LeCabriolet convertible by Hess & Eisenhardt or American Custom Coachbuilder custom convertible
1977-79 Fleetwood Brougham, good color and equipment
I grew up on them. My parents had a 72 Thunderbird, 73 Country Squire, 78 Cougar, 78 Zephyr, 79 Thunderbird, and a 79 Marquis. I wish I had pictures of them all. Today, I have this 74 Galaxie 500.
Very nice! Were it not for the fact that HPD was pretty loyal to Ma Mopar in those days I’d say it looks like a blinged out old Houston cop car.
During the time frame of the malaise era (1974-83), Japanese imports were gaining in popularity. That was especially true in California and the western states (Arizona, Nevada,etc). People who bought Japanese cars (led by Toyota and Datsun/Nissan) in the late 70s/early 80s discovered that not only they got good fuel economy. They were more reliable and handled better than the blubbery land yachts from the mid 1970s. One of my favorite Japanese cars from the malaise era were the Toyota Celica and Datsun Z cars (240-260-280Z and 280ZX). Also, between 1977-83, BMW was selling the 320i. That car turned BMW from a niche to a mainstream brand.
I really don’t know. But if I did it would be a 1975-76 Mark with some serious modifications to both the engine and suspension.
I think the only 70’s American car I would think of owning is a Camaro, a Fox body Mustang or a Fairmont turned into a Mustang sleeper car. Otherwise the only 70s cars that interest me are imports.
I would provided it can be made to be reliable and won’t eat my meager paycheck in gas. That leaves out virtually anything made by Chrysler and every block-long 2-ton plus 460-powered gas hog. So, what’s left? Looks like I’m rocking a Pinto, Vega, or 6-cylinder Gremlin.
I’m strangely OK with that.
Well the 78-79 Monte Carlo is the only vehicle I would bother with other than maybe a GMC Pickup.
Yes I would if I could install some performance parts to where the performance will be as good as the pre-1971 vehicles, my favorite cars of the Malaise period are the 1976-77 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme, 1977-79 Chevrolet Caprice Classic, 1977-79 Oldsmobile Ninety Eight, 1977-79 Buick Electra, 1976-77 Chevrolet Monte Carlo and the 1975-78 Mercury Marquis
First of all I would avoid all silver/gray/white which are too common now. So many good color combos back then. Gimme red or blue or green interiors!
75 Can Am (manual of course)
76 Grand Prix
Daily driver: Rustproofed 76-81 Accord
I always thought 1973 was the beginning of the Malaise era for the vehicles which ended sometime around 1983, I consider 1965 to 1971 to be the golden age of the automobiles.
There are some non-U.S. models by which I might be tempted if I ever had more money than sense, but probably not in the forms they were sold here. Detroit products of the Malaise Era? Probably not unless I were the victim of some unfortunate time travel accident. The idea of a beater pickup truck from that era for hauling crap and the S.O.’s art stuff wouldn’t be completely outlandish, although it’d undoubtedly be expensive to feed.
If were talking American during this era (and I think we are), no. Had a 75 Rabbit (Calif model) but it had to be modified with Weber carb and other alterations before it ran as it should and was not really smog legal. The 77 Rabbit and 80 Jetta, both FI cars I owned ran great for the malaise era and a good condition example of either I would still drive today.
Dear Santa, I’ve been a very good boy. Please leave the keys to these CC’s in my stocking this year. I know, I said keys.. .they didn’t have “clickers” back then !!
1974 Fleetwood Brougham Talisman, in triple black
1974 Coupe de Ville in Mandarin Orange with white Cabriolet roof and orange plaid interior.
1977,78, or 79 T’Bird in navy blue, with chamois vinyl roof, chamois leather interior, and chamois faux luggage straps on the trunk.
1977 Coupe de Ville in Naples Yellow with matching Cabriolet roof and yellow leather
1984 Coupe de Ville in Woodland Haze with brown Cabriolet roof and brown leather
1975 Cordoba in white with red landau and red Corinthian leather interior
1978 Eldorado Biaritz in triple white with red dashboard and carpet.
Thanks Santa – I’ll be sure to leave you a glass of full fat milk and some homemade cookies !
My short list of Malaise Era Cars:
1976 Caddy Seville
1976 Pontiac Grand Ville convertible
1977 Cutlass Salon
1977 Mercury Cougar XR-7
1976 Buick Electra Park Avenue
Yes! Just yesterday I had the 77 Vega wagon out for the day. Aluminum motor and automatic to boot. Handles ok and brakes nicely, but driveability stinks. It needs to stay stock for the bi annual smog checks here in CA. Amazing how ineffecient the motor is, at 2300 cc it is more than double the displacement of my daily driver Opel but only about 18 horsepower more. Amazing how we can “pollute less” by burning more fuel. Anybody want a Vega?
I had a nicely optioned GT Erik. Yes it had it’s little issues. Factory ordered and very enjoyable to drive. Stayed in the family until 1990. All complete and no major rust by then. Undercoating and sitting in a dry garage for a few years helped it survive for so long.
Yes I would like your wagon or another well preserved GT.
I think the malaise era actually began much earlier – around 1967. I base that on the fact that starting roughly around 1966, almost every single model from an American manufacturer that subsequently went through a significant redesign resulted in a car I like less. For example, though I do like the fuselage Mopars, do I like them better than the crisply pressed ’65 through ’68 era? No sir. There’s only a small number of models for which I’d pick a ’68 over a ’66 – the AMC Ambassador, A-body Mopars, the Nova and the Charger. And from then until the down-sized B body Chevy debuted, every single redesign resulted in a car I like less than its predecessor. (I know some would point to the 1970 Camaro as a contrary example, but it’s a lingering trauma of my rural southern youth that I can’t look at one without seeing a trailer park appear magically in the background.)
I have a soft spot for the Granada-Monarch, as a ’75 Monarch was my Driver’s Ed car, and my parents had a couple of long term loaners, a ’76 Granada 2-door 351, and a ’77 4-door 302. We had these while the Ford dealer was trying to repair my dad’s for all practical purposes totaled ’76 Elite.
I’m not a big fan of restomods. For me, having any old car is to travel back in time to the way things were, warts and all. If I had a 60’s muscle car, I would upgrade to radial tires, Pertronix ignition, and disc brakes (which were on the option list anyway in most cases).
For a malaise car, I wouldn’t change a thing. I believe that at least a few examples of these need to be preserved with fully functional (disfunctional?) emissions equipment, just so people can see how far we’ve come. I can just see myself reveling in the sheer awfulness of it now. I step into my ’75 Granada (or Monarch) Ghia coupe. I twist the key and the 302 stumbles to life, sputters a few seconds, and stalls. I turn the key again, this time it stays lit, until I put it in R to back out of the driveway. Cough, sput, out she conks again. By the time I finally get it rolling, I punch up my favorite free format AOR FM station on the slide-bar AM-FM, Steely Dan followed by Genesis, then more yacht rock. I nudge the gas to slide into an adjacent lane, only to have the engine cut completely out for a split second, and then stumble back to life, and I complete my maneuver unscathed. Time to get on the freeway, traffic’s moving pretty good, better punch it. It kicks down, and am absolutely surrounded by the mellifluous aural sensations of fan roar and the exhaust hissing like a service station air hose, but little sensation of acceleration. Somehow, I make it into a slot, and my commute is underway.
Speaking of service stations, I’d better pull into the next one I see because this “precision sized car, designed to make efficient use of space fuel and money” never does better than 12 MPG, and it’s thirsty again! Ah, the memories.
Sounds just like my mornings with the Monarch!
Of course I would take a car from that era. Today’s “experts” seem to know all about how bad cars were back then. They weren’t. The engines were choked half to death, but the cars themselves were NOT all lead sleds and poorly-handling vehicles.
Happily own a 1977 Buick Electra. Would more happily own a ’75-’76 Fleetwood, Sedan DeVille, Electra, or 98. Same goes for ’75-’79 Lincoln and the big New Yorker’s beautiful, too.
I don’t care about triple digit top speeds, handling, road feel, mpg, space utilization, or cutting edge suspension components. Give me something with a Redi-Whip ride, big spacious seats, a gigantic hood with a big ornament, buckets of chrome trim, real bumpers, fake wood, and 4 doors and that’s all I ask. I will happily keep buying Malaise era land yachts as long as someone can handle any complicated repairs. Except for the post ’71 loss of horsepower they are the pinnacle to me.
I would definitely own one… and while my ’90 Mustang is not technically a ‘malaise era’ ride given the model year, it definitely performs in the same manner as the early Fox Mustangs, the 2.3L is only slightly livelier with it’s EFI over the original 2 bbl carb.
I would give it up for the ideal car, which for me would be a solid Fairmont/Zephyr, especially the Futura/Z7… those are the ultimate prize for me… especially a 78-79 equipped with the 302 and all the goodies.
I once owned a low mileage 1981 Z7 with everything you could get in it, sunroof, A/C, power windows, floor shift automatic with full console, premium cloth seats, cruise control… and that beige-on-gold two tone paint job. The original owner had even swapped out the 4.2L boat anchor of a V8 for the standard issue 2 bbl 302… it was about as perfect as perfect could be, in my eyes!
I loved that car… and unfortunately, I just wasn’t financially sound enough to keep it going in the city. It got terrible MPG even after tuning it up as best as I could and needed parts replaced frequently. Sadly, I had to let it go for something a lot more economical and I am certain it ended up at the crusher. Back in the early 2000s, there just wasn’t the interest in making this into something, even though it was completely solid and could have been dressed up so easily in the performance department.
It was truly the one that got away! I would do anything to have it back.
I’d entertain other F/Z variants too… but they are basically extinct out here. You just don’t see them around at all, even here on the Island, where classic cars roam around in quantity.
Would I own one? Hell, yes I would own one for fun as mpg is not relevant at this point in time with them. I drove quite a few in the day and I like big American cars for cruising on the highway.
Do I think you have over analyzed the era? Yes, big time….
My malaise era cars, 75 Buick Special V6. POS, 80 Dodge Omni 024 Sport, loved it. 1984 Firebird 4 cyl, POS of the highest order. The closest I have right now is 87 Mercedes Benz 300E, probably one of my all time favorites.
Come to think of it who exactly came up with the term Malaise Era and exactly how old are they to make a judgment on that time? All I have to say is that the person had better been 25-35 years old that time and now 65-75 years old now. Otherwise, as a court would say, they have no standing to bring the case.
The name comes from the famous “Malaise Speech” made by Jimmy Carter on 15 July 1979 in the midst of the second energy crisis. Ironically, the word “malaise” never appears anywhere in the speech.
Regardless, it is a perfect descriptor for the 1970s: stagflation, energy crises, economic and political uncertainty, deindustialization… it encapsulates the era perfectly. Especially the cars.
As a child of the 90s the first time I ever heard Malaise referenced was in the Simpsons
‘ll take anything that was used in the ‘Rockford Files’……..
My malaise era pics:
74 dodge charger
74 pontiac firebird 455 S.D.
74 ford torino (starsky and hutch variety)
75-79 chevy nova 2 door 350 4bbl 4 speed
77 ford LTD II Sport 2door (with 400M motor and opera window delete)
78-79 chevy malibu SS 2 door 350 4speed
78-79 dodge magnum GT with 400 motor
78-80 ford granada ESS 2door 351 4 speed
79 hurst olds
79 chrysler cordoba 300 w/400 motor
80 chevy malibu M80
82 pontiac trans am (KITT variety from Knight Rider TV show)
70s ford F-100 2WD with 300six and stick shift
71-75 international pickup
73-74 pontiac grand am with 400 4bbl 4 speed
77 AMC hornet AMX V8 4speed
78 AMC AMX 401 4 speed
79 AMC spirit AMX V8 4speed
79 ford mustang pace car replica
If you want a Granada with a 351 & a 4 speed, you’ll have to build it yourself. 351 was auto only, and NA after 1977. ’79 Cordoba 300s were E58 360 only.
well that changes my list…delete those two
Have owned and would own again… and again.
’77 T-top Aspen
’79 Ranchero GT
’74 Ford F-100
’81 El Camino
…still miss my ’76 Cordoba. Dammit.
They all sold as 150-hp slugs, but it didn’t take much to wake them up to, say, 1971 power levels. Most still had a pre-’70’s platform. Knock yourself out making the comfiest ’70’s hotrod possible. Leave it looking stock if you like.
… I still wanna early ’80’s series Monte SS.
Tried to buy one when I was 18 in 1984.
oooh…T-top Aspen…I remember those now
Yep. Leather and Magnum 500’s. Maroon.
Every time I had THE car to put down, I’d read another reply and then changed my mind to what the next person wanted: Lincoln Continental Mark V, the Town Car, Chrysler R etc etc. Just for the record on that short list, I will go with the Mark V.
Then it dawned on me; why not extend the fantasy a little? Why not include the lottery? If I won the lottery — like a huge jackpot (I’d need it for what I’m about to say) — I would buy a car off eBay or whatever, modernize it with fuel injection for driveability, keep the automatic as that’s what I prefer, refresh the weaker parts with modern equivalents (that leaves the Volare out as the whole thing is a weaker part), and then drive it around till I got bored with it. Then I would sell the thing at whatever profit or loss I got (who cares with lotto) and then start over again. Repeat.
…Why settle with one 70s chariot, when you can have the whole malaise buffet? …
Meanwhile, I could do funky youtube roadtests like the Regular Car Reviews guy shown above (with my own brand of abrupt edits, tortured metaphors/similes, and engineering-student-style humour — actually I found his car reviews pretty entertaining compared to other amateur car reviews out there and probably much much better than I could every do) and have a grand old time driving up the price of oil in brougham comfort crashing around with soft suspensions and real-mans 15 inch steelies. Sweeet…
For now I’m quite happy with my Ford 62.. oops I mean Fusion that already reminds me of driving an LTD II because its “intermediate” size to the Taurus.
There are lots of them I’d love to have again and many I’d like to have.
75 or 76 Electra or Limited 2dr
73 Century Luxus
Mark IV or V
73 Cougar Convertible
74-79 Cougar XR-7
73 Mach 1 or Sportsroof.
I’d say 72 Torino Sportsroof but they are not really Malaise since they didn’t have the 5mph front bumper and the performance package actually gave you performance goodies rather than just stripes and wheels.
Do cars like this count? I can name hundreds if we’re not talking exclusively GM-Ford-Chrysler…
My opinion is no. It must be either an overweight huge engined car or something with the cheesy 70s disco look.
…and I can think of plenty of American cars I’d want too, although I’d prefer to de-Malaise most of them (for instance: an AMC Pacer or Hornet with a Jeep 4.0l). Disco Novas, Fairmonts, Turbo Buicks, ’77-’79 B-bodies, the final years of the Dart/Valiant…
You just reminded me of the movie Donnie Brasco, where the wise guys are arguing about whether a Caddy or a Lincoln was better, and the boss tells them fuhgetaboudit! The MB S-class makes ’em both look like crap. He then later buys one.
“A Lincoln’s like drivin’ a f-in’ waterbed, for chrissakes!”
I think the question should be confined to GM/Ford/Chrysler/AMC, you could probably include British Leyland too. The 70s and early 80s was actually more like the golden era for German cars like Mercedes Benz and BMW. As cars(not sales success) it all went downhill from there.
78 Pontiac Sunbird notchback with Buick V6. Or even the Iron Duke. Lots of faux luxury touches and the version with the opera windows and vinyl top turn it into a fuel efficient “Brougham” of the “Malaise Era”. Styling is quite clean and cohesive with well integrated bumpers and no awkward angles anywhere.
78 AMC Concord, 76 Mercury Grand Monarch, Chrysler LeBaron, Fury II, AMC Ambassador, any of the Brougham affected compacts: Dart, Valiant, Nova Concours.
I always thought larger cars got to be such a ridiculous size weight and width with their inefficient interior dimensions relative to their exteriors that it was obscene. 76 Olds Toronado anyone ? 73 Monte Carlo ?
I learned to drive in the era and while my folks always had big cars till the 80s appreciated the smooth ride and the isolation but the bulk was uncalled for.
The Xs Ks and Omnirizon still fascinate me with their packaging and design efficiency. Probably why my Dad’s Olds Ciera impressed me so much: kind of Broughamy inside, fuel and space efficient, quiet, smooth ride. Made me a GM fan until…
If I could have another 79 Malibu – without the nasty gas tank problems – I’d take it. But I would want a modern car too. The Malaise era cars were not built to go the mileage new cars can. My Malibu was never mistreated but it was a rusty mess at 145k. My grandfather always had it serviced as did the folks who bought it from him.
In contrast, my Regal was running great at 150k, no rust, always started.
I could be talked into an enormous Cadillac from the 70s. Just the biggest land yacht ever…a rolling middle finger to every Prius on the road.
And unrelated, speaking of the Prius and its bretheren, those little boogers are hapless in snow. There were a couple stuck on my hill when the snow came in a few nights ago. Yikes. I have a feeling people have them and then buy SUVs too, which sort of cancels things out.
What kind of gas tank problem? I have never had any of that with mine. When it was new the sunroof leaked into the trunk until the dealer found out that some jerk at the factory had run the drain tube into the trunk instead of down the A pillar like it was supposed to be. I had carb problems the first year I had it but a local mechanic fixed some of the built in problems with that. I did break the 4 speed when it was about 10 years old, but some of that is from my early abuse I think.
I would love any car that my folks owned when I was growing up – 1972 Toronado, 1977 Caprice Estate, 1979 Riviera, 1982 Country Squire…….and I would love to find a mint condition V-8 Mustang II Ghia, black with chamois package. SOLD!!!!
Don’t know if my 81 Scirocco counts…malaise era, but German
Nice! I’d happily DD this car. But more “Malaise era” then Malaise car.
My favorite car from the 70’s would have to be a 1974-1976 Caddy Coupe de Ville in either Mandarin Orange, or Persian Lime with the coordinating plaid cloth seats. Must have the white landau Cabriolet roof, opera lamps, white pin stripes, faux Caddy spoke wheel covers, and big thick whitewalls.
Of course it wouldn’t be complete without an AM/FM/8Track, 60/40 split front bench, Twilight Sentinel,and Guidematic lights.
And.. the big gigantic V8 that guzzles gas like there’s no tomorrow.
I’ve owned this ’77 Pontiac Can Am since 1979, LOVE it! It’s only has 200 horse power but back in the day that was more than the Vette and it gets alot of looks where ever I drive it. I took it to the local Pontiac dealer for service back in the ’80’s they wanted to know if it was something that I made up; they had never seen one before
If that car is rust free, keep it forever. Looks like a Grand AM with a different grille.
Also keep that ’77 Chevelle, even though it is a 4 door. I had a ’73 Laguna woodgrain wagon (back in ’79) I sold it because the pinion bearing failed. Yes, it also had high mileage, but it looked great. 350 engines and TH350 transmissions from that era are still a dime a dozen. Brakes, steering and suspension were a model of simplicity, but worked fine.
While I don’t believe any of these cars will ever be true collectibles (at least not in my lifetime) many are highly sought after and going up in price. IMO, any RWD car without a computer is worth hanging onto. As these cars keep getting older, many, like my ’72 Pinto, qualify for collector car insurance, which does away with emissions testing, at least in my state. For me, there is a lot of pleasure and satisfaction in owning and driving a RWD, non computer car. To me, they are the absolute last of the desirable cars. They are from a different era, and will never be back. Keep as many of them on the road for as long as possible. Not only are they fun to drive out there with all the little guppie mobiles, but they can be worked on with common hand tools, and maybe a timing light and multimeter.
I disagree with junkyard…even if it has rust, don’t you never ever sell.
I do own a Malaise era car… a 1977 Chevrolet Malibu Classic sedan. Not swift with the 145hp 305, but it goes down the road with minimal drama, and returns decent mileage (19-21mpg on the highway) With 5 of us on board and one in a bulky infant seat, there’s still plenty of room in it for a road trip.
Slowly making it better in terms of performance, build quality is still largely 1976 GM Arlington plant, so it still has plenty of panel misalignments, but I still love that big ole boat, flaws and all.
Love my Malaise-era, Deadliest Deadly Sin. … wouldn’t have it any other way.
1979 Cadillac Seville 38K miles
In my mind, the “malaise era” is mostly about American cars. I got my license in ’80, and my first couple of cars were pure American Malaise. I will never own another.
That having been said, there were foreign cars sold during the Malaise era, that I’ve either owned, or would like to. Volvo 240s, of course – I had dozens, although they got better in the post-malaise years. I’d also like to own any of a number of tiny, RWD Japanese cars from the era – after removing the smog parts!
Interesting is that around 1970 and in the years to follow the mainstream automakers here started to introduce bigger models with more powerful engines. Cars like the Fiat 130, Renault 20/30, Peugeot 604 and Ford Granada. The year 1972 was also the starting point of BMW’s M division.
Small and light cars with tiny fuel-efficient 4 cylinder engines. That’s what most folks already drove when the first oil crisis hit. If they had a car at all.
1975 Caprice Classic
1978 Nova Concours, two of them
1978 Caprice Coupe
1978 Mustang Ghia
1984 Caprice Classic
And then an Skylark and a Oldsmobile Omega j- body, forgot the years for those, Buick with a V6, Olds with the line-4….
All of those,mexcept for the Buick and Olds, I would happily own again!
What is the definition of “malaise” ? Many of these “malaise” era cars mentioned in this thread are not at all like the 74 Thunderbird with its John Waters style lipstick decor option.Some are reasonably sized and very good looking eg
Dodge Dart Swinger
all the original GM colonnade style cars
Mustang II fastback
Vega (beautiful if unreliable)
Monte Carlo (big but not a whale)
and some of the full sized cars were handsome too -the green mid 70’s Chrysler Newport featured last week proved that you didn’t have to resort to camp trim options, opera windows, fake landau irons and phoney Rolls Royce front ends to make a big car beautiful.
While the Brougham epoch and the Malaise era certainly overlapped heavily and there are many cars that are both a Malaise era car certainly does not have to be a Brougham.
Many of the examples you give are definitely Malaise but not Brougham. The Granada/Monarch and the bulk of the Colonnades are certainly both.
I would own any RWD American car as a hobby car as long as it does not have EFI or a computer. Some of my favorite cars are from the ’70s Pretty much ANY 2 door ’70s car is high on my list, and even a couple of 4 doors, like the Ford Granada/Mercury Monarch, and several RWD woodgrain station wagons. My all time favorites are the personal luxury coupes (Monte Carlo, Grand Prix, Chrysler Cordoba, Buick Century and Regal, Olds Cutlass, ’73-’78 Chevelle and the BOP equivalents, Ford Thunderbird through ’79, Lincoln Mark IV and Mark V, economy cars like the Vega, Pinto, Gremlin, and Pacer, and sporty cars like the ’70-’81 Camaro/Firebird, Mustang through ’78, Corvette (specifically the ’74-’77) Dodge Charger and Challenger (through ’74) and the Charger and Magnum with the Cordoba body, Roadrunner through ’73,
I don’t see any “malaise” in any of those cars (and I’m sure I’m forgetting several) The complaints most people had with them was a lack of power and the safety bumpers. I can see how that might have seemed like a big deal back then. But if only people knew what was just around the corner. The days of wimpy little egg shaped FWD, 4 door sedans with EFI, ABS, air bags, and computer controlled everything, and swoopy cookie cutter SUVs with the same issues (mostly the car based ones) was the true beginning of “malaise” vehicles for me.
Vehicles went through many styles from the 1900s through the 1970s, but it seems we are going to be stuck with the current crop of awful vehicles forever. Just look at the difference between a ’64 car and a ’74. Huge difference. Yet my 15 year old FWD Malibu still looks “modern ” compared to cars from 10 years ago. In fact, it’s bodystyle goes back to 1997. So after 18 years, it still looks modern. It looks like this style of car, just like the horrible BMX bicycle (I had several Schwinn Sting Rays when I was a kid, but they are long gone. That style lasted just over 10 years, but the BMX crap has been around for 40 years, and shows no sign of letting up) will be here for the rest of my life. I own a ’72 Pinto, but I would trade that, and a whole lot of money, for a mid ’70s Monte Carlo or Grand Prix. I would even be proud to show off those huge bumpers in today’s age of blobmobiles. And I could easily fix the power problem now, if I wanted to.
I like the big heavy plain chrome bumpers of the malaise era. In fact, I prefer to have such a bumper. bumpers should stick out far enough to stand on them and they should be solid steel and heavy enough to use as a battering ram or a tow bar.. This is my preference.
Me too! The bumpers give the old Broughams I see parked at the curb a grizzled, don’t mess with me look. It’s positive imagery.
JD… NOTHING wrong with BMX bikes, they are just as much classic, if not cooler, than those banana seat bikes.
Plus, those BMXs make money. Bikes like the old 80’s GTs, Hutches, Skyways, CWs, Redlines, Kuwaharas, GJS, JMC, Free Agent, etc. are what the collectors are looking for.
Those were the bikes, when I was younger. BMX bikes like Webco, D&G and National Pro are worth $2500-5000 or so.
Actually I liked the first ones. I raced real MX as a teenager (and got hurt several times) many years later, I got my youngest daughter into BMX, as something we could do together. She raced, I wrenched and bought things. It was fun for quite some time, but she finally grew out of her tomboy phase.
But I mean, It’s been 40 years. We seem to be stuck in a time loop somehow. The first bean mobile, the Ford Taurus, came out 30 years ago, and car makers have been refining them ever since, trying their best to make all cars look alike and have FWD and 4 doors, while piling on more and more computer crap. We are so dug in here it may be impossible to get out. Imagine your great great grandchildren driving cars that look just like they do today, but loaded down with tons more computer crap.
Rather than buying another $10,000 transportation car, it makes me want to take my old Fairlane, put a new engine in it, install a new A/C system, and replace a few other minor parts, and use it for transportation, all over town and all over the country.
Yes, starting with a 1976 Porsche Turbo. No malaise there.
Yes. I own a 1976 International Harvester Scout II, which has the added Malaise-y distinction of being produced by a company that died during that period. It’s big, loud, unsafe, and gets lousy gas mileage. But the roof comes off, it goes anywhere, and it always makes me smile.
Yes, I have owned a couple of malaise-era cars. Two Renault 5, a ’78 and an ’82. I’ve had two Citroen GS both of them ’75. I also count 3 of the 4 Peugeot 505 in that era- an ’82 sedan, and ’82 and ’84 wagons.
But I’m sure you meany American Iron.
Here’s a family shot of the 1978 line of Chrysler LeBaron’s. (from http://www.vintageadbrowser.com). I like the coupe the most.
Used to own:
1974 Chevy 4 door hardtop (white vinyl top over metallic blue.) I remember having clients with me when a rub strip fell off the passenger side.
1981 Fairmont all-white 4 door with 200 six.
I owned 2 Fords from the malaise era,a 79 Cortina 1.6 GL and a Granada 2.8 GL.They were both very good cars.
A car I’d forgotten about was the 81 Imperial,a CCer has one with working injection.
The 1974 Pontiac Trans Am Super Duty… the car that bucked the trend, of NO power during the Malaise Era. The last of an extinct breed… 🙁
1974 Trans Am Super Duty 455
I had a 78 Caprice and a 76 Camaro. My folks had two 78 Cutlasses, a 79 Zephyr, a 79 Regal, an 83 Le Sabre and an 83 Bonneville. All were decent and reliable cars.
As a hobby/weekend cruiser car, absolutely. I love all the baroque-y kitch on big barges from the Brougham Epoch.
In a “if I won the lottery senario” this is at least what I’d get-
’70s-A triple red, a triple black and/or a Bill Blass white and blue Lincoln Mk V. Also a Lincoln Town Car from the same later 70s era with the parthenon grille and the oval opera windows. A white or black ’72 Eldorado drop top. A ’74 Fleetwood Talisman.
’80s-A burgundy Fleetwood Brougham with velour interior and gold package, preferably one with the 8-6-4 engine or one of the ones after the 4100. A Lincoln Mk VI sedan, triple red or black. An Eldorado Biarritz in black or red, preferably an early model.
Almost too late to post this, but a fun look
1.4 door sedans
2.4 door trucks
3.4 door SUVs
4.mini-vans that became maxi vans
8.ethanol laced fuel
10.total lack of style.all vehicles of a certain category now look alike.
11.on board tracking systems that allow your no style car to be tracked anywhere in the world
12.Interactive computer and phone systems which have caused an alarming increase of DUI (and it’s legal)
I agree with all that except for #1, #5, and #6, all of which my beloved ’96 Crown Vic possess. ABS saved my ass in a ’95 Grand Marquis I once owned when the steering column coupling under the dash fell apart at 35mph…
I have disconnected both the ABS and airbags in my Malibu. I do wear a seat belt in that car, but no way am I going to have a bomb go off right in my face. The ABS went because I found it worthless on dirt and icy roads. I almost witnessed a fatal collision between a minivan and an 18 wheeler that happened several cars ahead of me, at a stop light, on icy roads up in the mountains, during daylight hours. The light turned green, and the truck, which was a ways ahead of me, took off. A guy in a minivan tried to pull up to the red light in front of him and stop, but on the slippery surface, his brakes didn’t work. He slammed into the front corner of the truck, his wife in the front seat (on the right side of the van, which took most of the impact) and 2 kids in the back seat were all killed. I got out and walked up to take a look, as did several others including the truck driver but there was nothing we could do. The cops and EMTs showed up real quick. They airlifted the driver out and he survived, the others died at the scene. Had the driver realized his brakes would not work, he had time to steer the van off the road and into a field. There might have been some injuries, but not likely any deaths, since there would have been no impact.
Would I drive a Malaise car?
I have two of them. One is a ’77 Thunderbird that’s been in my family since new. The other is a ’78 Continental we affectionately call the Green Sofa.
What’s interesting is that there is actually a huge difference in how they handle! The Thunderbird, weighing 700 pounds less and being a foot and a half shorter than the Continental, feels downright lithe when cornering compared to the Conti. But, that 400 with a 2-barrel just has no oomph compared to that 460 with the 2.75 traction lock axle. The Bird’s great at half-throttle, but when those massive secondaries open on the 4-barrel 460, that giant Continental feels like it’s flying!
Mind, of course, they both feel like slugs compared to modern cars. But, they’re both delightful to drive.
Love that Continental! Both the 2- and 4-doors of that generation are favorites, and yours looks stunning! What color is that specifically? (Other than simply “green”…)
The color is Crystal Jade Metallic, color code 7Y. Has the emerald green velour interior.
Given the comments about carbs and smog-controls: is an EFI-conversion (carb out-EFI in, like Edelbrock’s EFI-systems) popular or is it a small niche-market due to “non-originality” and/or the costs ?
So far I haven’t seen one yet under any hood.
Sadly it is being done. Many vintage muscle car owners, and truck owners of all years, are going with the LS1 for more power. It has many different ECUs available, depending on what you are putting it in. Obviously (I hope) nobody is going to put a cat con on a vintage vehicle. It can be used in almost any engine that a small block Chevy will fit in. GM is building a crate engine called the E-Rod that will go into any vehicle that came with or was converted to a small block Chevy. I hate EFI and computers with a passion, so I would never do something like that. I buy old vehicles to avoid computers and electronics. I even converted on newer (1993) from a wimpy 2.8L EFI V6 to a fire breathing 400+ hp carbureted V8.
I can see people looking for a transportation device liking EFI (till something goes wrong with it) but I can’t see any true car enthusiast (other than a poser) wanting anything to do with it. EFI was not developed for the car owner/enthusiast, it was developed for the EPA, the number one enemy of car people everywhere.
My 3.6 liter V6 is rated at 321 horsepower. The performance of my car in the quarter mile is (standing start) 14.5 seconds and 95 MPH. A mid 60 GTO with 389 cubic inch V8 is about 14.5 seconds and about 100 MPH. My fuel consumption is about half that of the GTO.
Poser, really? Whatever dude. FWIW there’s a lot of 60s iron I’d love to own but unfortunately the “true enthusiasts” have inflated the entry cost of my top pics to $50,000+ I’m sure all of them are rebuilding their carbs every day like Two Lane Blacktop too. Meanwhile I’m relegated to piddling around with my EFI car I put together and tuned myself with a laptop. Yeah real poser here…
And I’m not sure the EPA had anything to do with this, the proto EFI:
I define a “poser” as someone who wants to look like something they are not. By installing a computer in a car that did not originally come with one, you are building a “fake” Do not blame true enthusiasts (like me) for the crazy prices on desirable cars. These are not enthusiasts at all, I doubt very many of them have ever even had a wrench in their hand. They are “speculators” who buy vintage classic cars as an investment, hoping to make money on them. They do not care anything about cars, only $$$ This is a sub species all to well known in the classic car scene. I would love to see the bottom fall out of this market, as there are a lot of cars out there I also want but can’t afford. However, if I were to somehow be lucky enough to attain one, I would keep it totally stock. Whether they have much monetary value or not, they have collector value, and to cut one up is a loss to every genuine car enthusiast on earth.
A large part of what attracts me to certain cars (besides style) is their total lack of computers, electronics, and emissions crap. They are simple basic cars. Some of the ones I want have a lot of power, some don’t.
I can’t afford the cars I really want, because of the absurd prices, but I refused to give up and live with computer cars. I found a couple of fairly inexpensive old cars (carbs, points, no emissions, no electronics, one still gas a DC generator) fixed them up mechanically, and drive them on a daily basis. I have had no problems with them. Once fixed up, they have been nearly trouble free.
I even went so far as to take a ’93 Chevy S10 pickup I bought new (it had computerized TBI, and emissions galore, and a 2.8 V6. After driving it for several years stock, I decided it needed a makeover. I ripped out the engine, transmission, rear axle, and ALL the computer parts. Along with the help of the guys at a local speed shop, I built a 383 small block with a ton of aftermarket parts, including a streetable cam, and a four barrel carb, headers and a real dual exhaust. Bolted up a rebuilt TREMEC manual transmission, installed a custom built posi rear axle, and of course a zillion other mods way to long to list here. I took an early ’90s malaise vehicle, and made a real street ripper out of it. 11.7 @120mph on 100 octane unleaded non ethanol. Yes there are much faster cars out there, but this one has not had a single breakdown in 3 1/2 years. And the most important part is it is done with no electronic technology at all. And it’s built out of just a plain old pickup you can buy anywhere for $2K-$3K. All the parts are new (including the carb) nothing vintage on it. If you have a solid body/frame, Summit Racing and Jegs has all you need to turn it into an old school hot rod.
I define cars in two catagories. Purely mechanical non electronic with no emissions on them (to me the real thing) and computer cars. I see computer cars as unfit for anything but basic transportation. Buy them, use them up, recycle them. Pretty much all real car enthusiasts have access to real vintage cars (or can convert a more recent one if it has RWD)
I am a fan of the Youtube series Roadkill, but it just made me sick when Freiburger and Finnegan not only installed an old school Chrysler 426 Hemi in a ’55 Chevy, but then put EFI on it (and tried to disguise it) It should have had a vintage Chevy big block in it, maybe with a Weiand 6-71 blower and dual Holley quads topped off with a vintage Hilborn style scoop. It actually showed them tuning it with a computer, rather than turning screws, replacing jets, and checking float levels.
Oh, and as far as fuel injection that actually came on vintage cars, I am not familiar with the Chrysler system, but I have worked on the GM Rochester version that came on early ’60s Corvettes. It was overly complex and expensive, but it was not there because of the EPA. The EPA did not even exist at that time (Nixon created it) it was designed for performance, and to invoke a performance image. It was not computer controlled, there were no computers back then. It was even designed to use leaded gas. “Turbo” also used to mean performance, now it is used to squeeze a little more power out of an EFI engine, usually with VVT as well, to squeeze a little more mpg out by making the engine smaller.
True performance engines (using computers) are restricted to only a very few American cars. The Camaro, Challenger, Mustang, Corvette, and now the new Hellcat Charger. Because of these few cars, and the need for manufacturers to meet across the board mpg and emissions requirements, that restricts the rest of that manufacturers cars to low performance FWD slugs. I can see a 700 hp Challenger being fun to drive, but I can guarantee a 400 hp 1970 Challenger is a whole lot MORE fun to drive
Back in the ’70s, insurance rates killed muscle cars. Today it looks like there are plenty of people out there that can afford the insurance on anything they want.
But you’re on a computer right now, watching youtube videos on a computer lol
Fuel injection wasn’t invented by the EPA is my point, nor are there any laws that directly required a switch to fuel injection. The fact of the matter is automakers stuck to carbs because they were cheap and the handful of Fuel injected cars in the carburetor era were prohibitively expensive, but they existed regardless, why? Because there’s inherent benefits to fuel injection that carbs just don’t have. Precise fuel control at all throttle and load transitions, no cylinder wall washout, reliability(EFI), and allows for better intake manifolds(long runners with much better powerbands). Carbs have trouble keeping fuel suspended in those types of intakes. In fact the primary reasoning behind the olde tyme no replacement for displacement mantra is because that is ESSENTIAL for carburator engines to have a broad torque/power curve, much more so than the engineering in any given engine. VVT of course is a further extension of that benefit. But either way, the former and fuel injection in general date back well before Nixon because automakers and race teams back then indeed wanted to make a better more powerful, more efficient engine. It was inevitable it would all become economically viable and that day came in the 80s when compromised Rube Goldbergian computer controlled carburetors became as(or more) expensive to produce as it would to do port EFI.
I’ve worked on and tuned both Carburetors and Fuel injected cars, to me both have their charms. If we lived in Mad Max society where an EMP wiped out every transistor on the planet, sure I’d pick carbs and points for my V8 Interceptor without question, until then though, yeah I kind of like fuel injection more. I respect your stance on the subject but to call people who build their own cars names because they didn’t build it to your standard(doing the inverse of what you did to the S10) is pretty ignorant. You just can’t seem to appreciate the fact that there are legit enthusiasts who don’t want a rat fink hot rod and appreciate the technology. Hell I don’t like Hybrid/electric cars but even I can appreciate anyone enthusiastic about them if it’s for the right reasons
I am very happy with my direct injected 3.6 V6
From the beginning in 1976. I have owned a ’73 Pinto “2 door”, 2.0L OHC 4 speed no hatchback, a ’70 Challenger 318/automatic on the column, a ’73 Chevelle Laguna woodgrain wagon, 350/350, a ’77 Pontiac Ventura 305/automatic, a ’79 Carmaro Z28 350/350, an ’87 Pontiac Fiero 2.5/5 speed (my first brand new car) a 1977 Corvette 350/350, a 1993 Chevy S10 2.8V^/5 speed, which I also bought new (it has now been converted into a 383 c.i. powered hot rod/drag racer, not a single piece of electronics or emissions controls left) ’67 VW street bug/custom/lowered, ’69 pretty stock bug, a few mods, ’72 all out drag race bug, mostly Gene Berg engine, ’72 Pinto wagon 2.0L/5 speed, ’01 Chevy Malibu, bought with 98,000 on it ( I consider it my one and only “malaise” car, driving it will put you to sleep, so will just looking at it) ’88 Suzuki Samurai, which I finally blew the engine in at close to 200,000, and traded for my last acquisition, the ’64 Fairlane 4 door 265/auto.
Extra malaise for me please! My 78 Squire and yes it’s a Brougham.
There were 2 maliase factors I havent seen focused on here.
1.The styling became stale in Malaise cars, No yearly updates or identyfying features.
2. the makers often were lazy in badge engineered model differentation; resulting in darts/valients…novas/apallos looklikes etc mustang capri , cavalier cimarron, the granada,monarch, etc… Id Love to have a Mark V diamond Jubilee Model blue …or Mark IV 1975 Aqua blue.
The 77 Devilles yes, but also those gaudy Pontiac Gran Prix until 77 …garish reds. Whites.lj sj…and buick regals were nice too.
Much like the music of these years, that I will always Love. They bring me back to Disco fever. The 77 Blue Espirit Firebird skybird … um …the 79 ElDorado…Biarritz . …The Riviera Conv 1983 … The Mark 6 no one wanted…
The Mirada. 82 Cordoba, Imperial as a cheap used car. … The Thunderbirds of course. But alo the Fairmount. A easy to handle city car I prefered in college over valares or novas. even x cars i suppose.
Firstly there were many decent to good cars from the big 3 during the 1975-1983 years. If anything I find the 1971-74 models worse in many ways and also the 1980-82 years where finding a vehicle that made anywhere near 200 horse was quite the task. The early 70’s cars like the Vega and Pinto along with terrible emission controls made those years really bad for many.
If anything by 1975 on up vehicles started to run much better and power was making a slow comeback until the next oil crises which put a damper of about 5 years on that. Also saying that handling took a back seat to boulevard rides is also a gross exaggeration. Having driven many many 60’s cars over the years I would say that most any mid to late 70’s predecessor was a quantum leap forward in ride, handling, braking and steering compared to it’s 60’s for-bearer. Two perfect examples would be a 1968 Chevy Nova 307 automatic vs a 1978 Nova 305 automatic and a 1970 Valiant versus a 1979 Volare’ both with 225 Slant sizes. The 78 Nova was a much better car in every conceivable way to the 68 especially in the handling, steering and braking department. The 305 felt nearly as peppy as the 307 but got better MPG. The 79 Volare’ also rode and handled and steered far better than the limp 70 car and it’s interior was much better built and more comfortable.
I have owned so many cars from this time era and except for a couple of Fords and Chryslers and the odd 200 metric transmission GM they were perfectly fine for the most part.
Most any 1977 on up GM B or C body car with a 350 engine tied to a 350 transmission is a bullet proof combo. Ditto a V8 equipped G-body from 1978-1988 that doesn’t have a 200 metric transmission. Any Cadillac up to 1981 is a solid choice. Even the odd Panther or Imperial or M-body is a solid choice if you can get past some of there issues such as the fuel injection on the 1981-83 Imperial.
I’ve asked myself this question since this article was emailed to me. For me, it’d depend on several factors. It’d depend on the condition of the car, it’d depend on how well it was maintained by its past owner(s). It’d also depend on how well stocked its parts were, that way I could take the car in for service when needed. It’d also depend on how well equipped the car is, and how complete it is. I’d also be concerned with how much it cost to buy.
Like many have noted I would like a car from my childhood, in my case my folks had a 1975 Coupe De Ville. Brown metallic with brown leather interior. Felt so “rich” riding in that car (even though were were clearly middle class). Great car until my mom totalled it by crashing into a parked semi trailer, crushed the front end of the caddy but as the hood was so long she and her passenger friend only had minor injuries. I still dream about that car!
I started driving in 1988, and had many 1977-1983 American cars unril maybe 1998.
A 1982 Mustang GL with 200 six. Dog slow. California emissions as well.
1977 Monte Carlo. 350 2bbl. Not a bad car, but my head hit the roof if I had poofy hair that day. Which I often did in 1991.
1983 Chevette. 1.6L auto. Could get outrunned by a snail on quaaludes. (sp?)
1983 Escort. 1.6L stick. Made me wish for the power of the Chevette. Really awful widely-spaced gears.
1983 Cavalier. 2.0L stick. Actually had some zip, this one. But heavy manual steering and floppy body at only 50,000 miles.
1978 Zephyr. 200 six. The only thing good about this one was it had limo tint so no one could see me inside it.
1984 Malibu wagon. Rear windows didn’t open. Still can’t believe they made them that way. Reliable and long-lasting and slow as s**t.
1981 Delta 88. 301V8. Brown and more brown. Sounded good when the 4bbl opened up, but then you noticed you weren’t going very fast. At all.
1984 Regal. 231V6.Dark gray and sliver. Very nice looking car, but couldn’t even get to 100mph with the anemic motor.
I think that’s about it. So to answer the question, hell no I don’t wanna go back to those cars. Maybe the Monte because they are kind of cool in a way. And I have a balding spot on my head where the poofiness used to be so I may fit comfortably in one now.
I will make an exception for the Bandit Trans Am, however. I just need to get a cowboy hat.