Review by Mike Schlee

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Icons of the 1970s

When one thinks of the 1970s, images of bell bottoms, disco balls and leather jackets usually come to mind. You will notice none of these had anything to do with automobiles. That is because many consider the 1970s to be a forgettable decade as far as the automobile is concerned.  This decade suffered a massive oil crisis smack dab in the middle of it, but that is what makes it so unique. The start of the decade screamed in with 400+ horsepower muscle cars being the norm and exited with sub 100-hp econoboxes taking over.

So, did any good cars come from the 1970s? Well, yeah, quite a few; they are just a little different and unique, while some vehicles are still remembered to this day for all the wrong reasons. In fact, that may sum up the decade as a whole, which were turbulent times of hit-and-miss experimentation.

The automotive industry was at the pinnacle of this experimentation in the 1970s as several models came and went, or evolved to keep up with the times. As can be expected, some these vehicles are permanently etched in our collective psyche (for better or worse) when we think of the 1970s.  Below are the 11 models I like to think best define the seventies, in North America, at least.

Feature: Icons of the 1970s motoring memories classic cars
AMC Pacer. Click image to enlarge

AMC Pacer

The original, unloved AMC Pacer looked like nothing on the road that came before it. In fact, it looks like nothing on the road since, for that matter, and is referred to by some as a fishbowl on wheels. The car has since become somewhat of a cult icon, partially due to its cameo in the Wayne’s World movie. Party on, Garth!

Feature: Icons of the 1970s motoring memories classic cars
BMW 2002. Click image to enlarge

BMW 2002

The BMW 2002 is an icon to Bimmer fans the world over. The predecessor to the best selling 3 Series, the 2002 was the first move by BMW towards establishing itself as a premier maker of sport sedans.  All the amazing M3s from the 1980s to today can trace their roots back to the thrilling 2002tii and 2002 Turbo.

Feature: Icons of the 1970s motoring memories classic cars
Bricklin SV-1. Click image to enlarge

Bricklin SV-1

The Bricklin SV-1 is the one and only all-Canadian, ‘mass-produced’ automobile. I use the term ‘mass produced’ loosely since only 2,854 vehicles were ever produced over a three-year period. Ahead of its time in many way ways, the Bricklin was a case of the wrong car at the wrong time. There is still a heated debate to this day whether or not the Delorean ‘borrowed’ elements from this car’s design.

Feature: Icons of the 1970s motoring memories classic cars
Nissan 350Z and Datsun 240Z. Click image to enlarge

Datsun Z Cars

The original Datsun Z car, the 240Z, was released in 1969 and enjoyed sales success all through the 1970s through subsequent models like the 260Z and 280Z.  Although the Z cars have continued to enjoy success right up to present day, it was in the 1970s when the Z shook up the automotive landscape by bringing European-type, sports-car performance at an affordable price.




About Mike

Mike Schlee is the Social Editor at Autos.ca and autoTRADER.ca. He began his professional automotive writing career in 2011 and has always had a passion for all things automotive, working in the industry since 2000.