The Most Epic Car Masterpieces From The ’70s

Car manufacturers were handed some serious challenges in the seventies. Federal regulations were starting to take over style and power design meeting rooms with many cars taking a significant hit.

While some companies were making iconic designs, many others were pumping out cars like the Porsche Turbo and Lotus Espirit. It might have been the worst of times for cars in this particular decade, but some diamonds in the rough came out for the better.

1970 Plymouth Hemi Superbird

This short-lived model was created as an updated version of the Plymouth Road Runner. Not only did it have 425 horsepower, but it boasted a 7.0-liter engine. The car’s primary rival was the Ford Torino Talladega, a direct response to the Mopar aero car.

Barrett-Jackson Northeast Inaugural Auto Auction At M
Paul Marotta/Getty Images
Paul Marotta/Getty Images

It was speculated that a motivating factor in the production of the car was to lure Richard Petty from Ford back to Plymouth. Petty’s Superbird even appears in the 2006 Pixar film Cars, with the NASCAR Hall of Famer voicing Strip “The King” Weathers.

1977 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am SE

Most car fanatics will argue that the 1977 Firebird is one of the most iconic American cars of the classic era. Firebird featured four square headlamps from 1977 until 1981. In comparison, the Camaro continued to retain the two headlights that had been shared by both second-generation designs.

trans-am
CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons
CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

The Trans-Am received national attention when it was the main car featured in Smokey and the Bandit. For the sequel, the 1980 Firebird Trans Am Turbo Model was used.

1973 De Tomaso Pantera

The Pantera was built in Italy but sold through Lincoln-Mercury dealers in the United States. The model combined the 351 horsepower V-8 engine and it included power windows as well as air conditioning.

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Bob D’Olivo|Gerry Stiles/The Enthusiast Network/Getty Images
Bob D’Olivo|Gerry Stiles/The Enthusiast Network/Getty Images

Additionally, the 73′ edition of the dash was changed- going from two separate pods for the gauges to a unified unit with the dials angled towards the driver. Today, the Pantera is widely known as the improbable idea that both Detroit and Turin got right and a recognizable supercar of the decade.

1970 Chevrolet Chevelle SS 454

Chevy fans of the classic era believed that the 1970 Chevelle SS 454 was the ultimate in cars. This particular model came in Sport Coupe, Sport Sedan, convertible, and a four-door sedan.

1970 CHEVROLET CHEVELLE SS 454
Barrett-Jackson via Getty Images
Barrett-Jackson via Getty Images

Depending on the consumer, the car could be bought with the standard 155 horsepower engine, or a massive 307 cubic-in V8 with 200 horsepower.Of course, that was only the tip of the iceberg as far as engine customization went. Plus, the company gave buyers the option to get this car in either three or four-speed manual.

Mk1 Golf GTi

Volkswagon didn’t feel like they needed to develop a faster version of their signature Golf car after the juiced up 1973 Beetle was met with a negative reaction. Instead, the Golf Mk1 is the first generation of a front-engine, front wheel drive model.

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National Motor Museum/Heritage Images/Getty Images
National Motor Museum/Heritage Images/Getty Images

Marketed by the German automaking company, it made its debut in May 1974, with styling by Giorgetto Giugiaro’s ItalDesign. Production numbers needed to hit 5,000 in order for the Golf GTi to to qualify for Group One Production Touring Car class. It did not.

1970 AMC Rebel ”The Machine”

The 1970 AMC Rebel was something to behind. The new decade brought with it a new design that included and a new C-pillar shape and a restyled rear end. The hardtop was also redone to appear with more of a slope in-line with the roof-line.

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AMC was the underdog among U.S. manufacturers, and the Rebel “The Machine” was a perfect example of this. The model came with a 390ci V8 and had 340 horsepower. The vehicle was the most powerful one AMC would ever build.

1977 Cadillac Coupe DeVille

In 1977, in honor of Cadillac’s 75th Anniversary, they introduced a downsized version of the DeVille. The new model featured a higher roofline, making the car nine inches shorter than other models, and four inches narrower.

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wikipedia.org
wikipedia.org

The 500 in3 V8 was replaced for the 1977 models by a 180-horsepower 425 in3 V8 variant of similar size. For this model, the lineup included the two-door Coupe de Ville and four-door sedan de Ville. Only one available package was carried over from the previous model.

1970 Buick Gran Sport 455 Stage I

The Buick Gran Sport was another high-performance muscle car of the decade. It’s known as the Hemi killer, and with nearly 400 horsepower and 510 pound-feet of torque on tap, there’s no wondering why.

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This particular year was special since it was the last year that General Motors offered high-compensation engines before adopting for the lower-fueled standards of 1972. The engine provided had the most torque of any domestic engine available, which wasn’t topped until the 1992 Dodger Viper came out.

1971 AMC Hornet SC/360

The SC360 was a compact two-door muscle car that was intended to be a follow up to the 1868 SC Rambler. Powered by the AMC’s 360 cu 5.9-liter V8 engine, the SC was distinguished with styled wheels, body striping, individual fully reclining front seats as well as other performance and appearance upgrades.

hornet
CZmarlin, Christopher Ziemnowicz / Public domain via Wikimedia Commons
CZmarlin, Christopher Ziemnowicz / Public domain via Wikimedia Commons

Despite the SC/360 not managing to compete with the holdover big-engined muscle cars, the model was respectable in terms of quickness by reaching 0 to 60 mph in 6.7 seconds.