70’s

1979 Honda Civic CVCC

This is a final-year first-generation Civic, the car that really cemented Honda’s place in the US market. The Civic first came to our shores in 1973, three years after Honda officially entered the market with the N600 and later Z600: both of which were too small to be successful in an American market still saturated with hulking land yachts. The Civic’s success largely stemmed from its fortuitous timing: it arrived just as the 1973 oil crisis began to take foot, prompting an increased demand for smaller, more fuel-efficient cars, both qualities possessed by the new Civic.

Honda’s subsequent climb in sales was quite striking: starting from just 4,195 US sales in 1970, they crested the 100,000 per year mark in 1976 and by the time this Civic came around in 1979, Honda was selling over 350,000 cars in the US per year. And to think it was this little car that started it all.

Atwater Village, Los Angeles, CA

Photos by The Professor

 

1974 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray

The license-plate frame on this Corvette says it’s a ’74 model, and I’m inclined to believe it, but the rear bumper is definitely from a ’75 Corvette. 1974 Corvettes were the first year of the urethane-molded rear bumper assembly, but the first year had a split bumper with a visible seam running down the middle (which isn’t visible on this car’s bumper). The presence of rear bumper guards also pegs this as a ’75. But the front bumper is definitely from a ’74: otherwise it would have bumper guards of its own. So my best guess is that this is indeed a ’74 Corvette, but one that got rear-ended at some point and reassembled by a less-than-fastidious repairer.

Sawtelle, Los Angeles, CA

Photos by The Professor

1970-73 Volkswagen 1600 Squareback

Looking back through the archives, it seems I hadn’t yet posted a 1600 Squareback. Which is surprising, really, since this is one of no fewer than 8(!) that I’ve shot over the years.

Squarebacks are sort of on that weird frontier of being too common to stop and take a picture of and too old to not stop and take the picture. I also think that outside of California (and maybe the PNW) they’re not nearly as common: I imagine rust has claimed quite a few of them by now. Still, in Los Angeles at least, there are still quite a few rear-engined Volkswagen fans for whom a Beetle will simply not do. Or maybe they just want something a bit more practical.

(Side note: if anybody knows how to narrow these down by year for the ’70-’73 models, please let me know: I have absolutely no clue of any distinguishing features between the years.)

Santa Monica, CA

Photos by The Professor

1970 Buick Electra 225

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New for the 1970 Electra model was a 455 cubic inch V8 pumping out 370 horsepower, making it the most powerful Electra ever. The newly redesigned 1971 models would keep the same engine, but, due to a lower compression ratio, see their output drop to 315 horses.

1970 was also the last year of the Electra “Coke bottle” design first introduced in 1965; the ’71 models would ditch the sleek lines for more slab-sided styling.

The Electra name soldiered on until 1990, by which time the name was but a shadow of its former glory, saddled with a 3.8L (232 cubic inch) V6 and a FWD chassis.

Los Angeles, CA

Photos by The Professor

1973 De Tomaso Pantera

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Designed by Tom Tjaarda, the Pantera featured exotic Italian styling coupled with a 5.8L Ford V8 engine. Ford imported around 5,500 Panteras between 1971 and 1975, selling them through their Lincoln-Mercury dealers. Early Panteras were notorious for their unreliability; Elvis Presley once shot a gun at his when it would not start.

Though Ford ceased importing Panteras after 1975, they were imported via the grey market through the 1980s. A total of 7,260 were sold between 1971 and 1992.

Pacific Palisades, CA

Photos by The Professor

1976 Cadillac Eldorado

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1976 Eldorados were promoted by Cadillac as the “last American convertible;” selling over 14,000 in total. However, Cadillac re-introduced the Eldorado convertible for the 1984 model year.

1976 was also the last year for the massive 8.2L V8 engine; the next year, a downsized 7.0L engine was introduced.

Pacific Palisades, CA

Photos by The Professor

1973 Dodge Dart Sport

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1973 was the first year for the Dart Sport, essentially a fastback version of a Dart two-door and closely related to the Plymouth Duster. It was previously called the Demon (from 1971-1972), but frequent complaints from religious groups about the name led Dodge to rename it. This car likely has the 150 HP, 318 cubic inch V8; optional was a 240 HP, 340 cubic inch V8 on “340 Sport” models.

Washington, D.C.

Photos by The Professor

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