Car Culture & Entertainment

Are the 1970s the Best Decade in Automotive History?


Instead of focusing on performance, many cars—including this Chrysler Cordoba—highlighted luxury features like “rich, Corinthian leather.” (Image/Mac’s Motor City Garage)

The decade of the 1970s has adopted the ominous nickname “malaise era” among gearheads.

At first glance, it’s easy to see why folks aren’t too fond of the seventies—performance was down, styling was subjective, and the rise of the import market forced cars to downsize (both externally and under the hood).

But to disparage the entire decade is to overlook the critically important role it played in the evolution of the automobile.

Besides, throughout the 1970s, engine performance gradually recovered, car designers learned to integrate federally-mandated safety systems, and the Japanese showed they could build game-changing performance cars like the Nissan 240Z and Mazda RX7.

The 1970s gave us other great car stuff too.

Including some of the most significant TV/movie tie-ins in pop culture, like the Dukes of Hazzard Charger, Smokey & the Bandit Trans Am, Mad Max Falcon, and Vanishing Point Challenger.

And what about the Fox Body Mustang? It was introduced in 1979 and has since become a drag-strip mainstay—practically every gearhead has either owned, driven, or ridden in a Fox Body at some point.


Perhaps your very existence can be traced back to a tricked-out custom van? (Image/Car and Driver)

While we’re at it…

Ever avoid a wreck because of anti-lock brakes?

Did you have a poster of a Lamborghini Countach on your wall?

Do you like car-crushing monster trucks?

Well, friend, you can thank the seventies for all these things.

The 1970s clearly represent the Best Decade in Automotive History. Can ya dig it?

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