The 1970s brought us platform shoes, Swedish supergroup ABBA, and, worst of all, emission-choked vehicles with barely any horsepower. Given the suspect reliability, indifferent construction, and giant 5-mph bumpers that cars of this era had, it's not surprising that the automotive world has since dubbed this period the malaise era. But we're here to prove that it wasn't all bad.
Armed with a $45,000 budget, the Window Shop folks set out to find the best of that decade. Spoiler alert: If you're hoping to see opera windows, you may be disappointed.
Contributor Jonathon Ramsey selects an elegant and early Datsun 240Z that sends a few of us swooning. Light, fun to drive, and relatively reliable for the period, this Datsun is the great-grandfather of the 370Z.
No less popular is senior editor Elana Scherr's 1978 Ford F-150. While it's festooned with period accessories, including racy mud flaps and a CB radio, the mechanical bits are sound. The emissions equipment is intact, too, with one device that looks like a can of beans. The shag-like carpet protecting the bed gives us the heebie-jeebies—not to be confused with the Bee Gees—but we're more concerned by the Playboy bunny gunsights on the hood.
John Pearley Huffman, now a Road & Track staffer, makes a choice similar to Scherr's. His '78 F-250—which rides on a massive 155-inch wheelbase—is so good, that Pearley freezes up in response to the love thrown his way.
Deputy testing director K.C. Colwell finds one of the most beautiful cars to come out of the '70s: the Alfa Romeo GTV. His candidate loses points when we discover that it has a salvage title. The crew also brings up that the car's design dates to the '60s, so can you really call it a car of the '70s?
Deputy editor and host Tony Quiroga finds a manual BMW 528i from 1979 that costs a mere $14,900 and hits 60 in 8.3 seconds, but no one seems to be on board with his pick. Their loss.
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