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The Best Cars From The '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s and '90s

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  • uplanderguyuplanderguy Kent, OHPosts: 7,494
    The '77 GM full-sizes were revolutionary when introduced. One of the first cars to use computers extensively in design. The big question on everybody's mind...will Americans pay as much, or more, for a smaller full-size car? They were about the same size, or slightly shorter, than the same year's 'midsize' models (Chevelle, etc.). They actually had more usable interior space and trunk room than the behemoth '76's before them, but had 600+ pounds trimmed out of them. They got much better MPG with better performance too. One drive and the cars sold themselves...they were whisper-quiet and smooth but not mushy-riding. They were engineered to not have all the boxed-in rust-prone body areas the previous cars had too.
  • lemmerlemmer Posts: 2,676
    I guess all that was lost upon me as a seven year old. I wanted a 911 or a Camaro at the time, as I recall.

    I still think the '76s look cooler than the '77s.
  • berriberri Posts: 4,141
    The '77s still just seemed like typical land barges to me. By 1977, you could easily buy cars with fuel injection, 4 wheel independent suspension, decent gas mileage, etc. So, how exactly was the Impala breaking new ground?

    ...but not really on a large sized car. Space utilization and efficiency were key on it. Also, a 350 actually got pretty good mileage compared to its peers for that period in time.
  • berriberri Posts: 4,141
    I still think the '76s look cooler than the '77s.

    I'd probably go with the 71 sports coupe personally.
  • uplanderguyuplanderguy Kent, OHPosts: 7,494
    edited September 2011
    I agree with Andre that the '72 Impala had a nicer-looking grille and rear bumper-taillight combo, as well as nicer seat trim, than the '71, IMHO, but I did like the '71's wide rocker trim. The '71's looked nice even without the optional (except Custom Coupe) wheel opening moldings and body side moldings.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 17,593
    The best Buicks ever built were the late 40's early 50's with that sweet sounding straight eight.

    Those would easilly go 100,000 miles and more at a time most cars were needing overhauls long before that.
  • bhill2bhill2 Posts: 1,330
    I still think the '76s look cooler than the '77s.

    It just goes to show how tastes vary. I was in my late 20's when the '77s came out, and I thought at the time that the transition from the rounded, bulbous '76s to the crisp, trim '77s was a quantum improvement in looks. But then, I was driving a Volvo, so boxy was familiar to me.

    2009 BMW 335i, 2003 Corvette cnv, 2001 Jaguar XK cnv, 1985 MB 380SE (the best of the lot)

  • andres3andres3 CAPosts: 5,325
    was a Cadillac! What year did that happen?
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,167
    Interesting perspective!
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,167
    Are you sure your sister's six cylinder Chevelle had Turbo-Hydramatic? I thought the only automatic available for the six was Powerglide.
  • berriberri Posts: 4,141
    I agree with Andre that the '72 Impala had a nicer-looking grille and rear bumper-taillight combo, as well as nicer seat trim, than the '71

    I honestly don't know those cars well enough to distinguish, but I was a young Lt. when I saw that 71 and liked it so that's probably my perspective. I actually liked the Grand Prix and Camaro better then, but was more of a Mopar guy (Challenger, Sebring, etc) in those days - but after actually owning one my attitude soon changed!
  • berriberri Posts: 4,141
    While we're on this topic of 70's cars, I always thought that the GM 350 was one of best volume V8 engines made along with maybe the Mopar 383. I think that Buick, Olds and Chevy all made their own variation of it with slightly different specs. Then in the late 70's or early 80's I believe GM consolidated all 350's to the Chevy version. Does anyone know why they selected the Chevy variant? Best version? Cheapest to produce? Largest production volume facilities?
  • fintailfintail Posts: 33,505
    1982-88. Caddy in the 80s was much much worse than Caddy in the 70s.
  • bhill2bhill2 Posts: 1,330
    Are you sure your sister's six cylinder Chevelle had Turbo-Hydramatic? I thought the only automatic available for the six was Powerglide.

    You know I would guessed the same thing, but I found a brochure online (at American Car Brochures) that says that the Turbo-Hydramatic was coupled with the six in the Chevelle (the Deluxe was the only Chevelle wagon that came with a six, incidentally).

    2009 BMW 335i, 2003 Corvette cnv, 2001 Jaguar XK cnv, 1985 MB 380SE (the best of the lot)

  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 21,847
    Then in the late 70's or early 80's I believe GM consolidated all 350's to the Chevy version. Does anyone know why they selected the Chevy variant? Best version? Cheapest to produce? Largest production volume facilities?

    Ultimately, I think the Chevy 350 stayed around the longest because of trucks, so they got a greater volume there. And performance cars like the Corvette.

    Starting in 1977, Pontiac V-8's got banned in California because they couldn't pass the stricter emissions standards. Pontiac 350 and 400 engines were replaced with Olds 350 and 403's there. And the 301 was just flat-out banned in the bigger cars, and replaced with a 305 in the smaller cars.

    Same thing might have happened to the Buick V-8, which was down to only a 350 size by 1977, but I'm not sure. By 1978, they were definitely substituting Olds engines for Buicks in California and regions that adopted CA's stricter standards.

    I think the Pontiac 350 and 400 went away entirely for 1979, there were enough 400's left over to use in some Trans Ams. In the Catalina/Bonneville though, they substituted a Buick 350 (Olds in CA).

    By 1980, the cars the even offered a 350 were thinned out immensely. It was dropped from the Caprice/Impala, with the exception of police cars. Pontiac also dropped its use entirely, except for California full-sized cars, which offered an Olds 350. The Buick LeSabre and Electra still offered a Buick 350 but oddly, according to the EPA at least, the Riviera was now using an Olds 350. And, the Olds 350 was still used in the Delta 88, 98, and Toronado. Some California Cadillacs, like the Eldorado and Seville, used it as well.

    Then, for 1981, it was all over. Unless you got the Diesel 350, or a Corvette or Camaro, or Impala police car, the 350s were all gone. Biggest V-8 choices were a Chevy 305 or Olds 307.

    Overall, I think the Chevy 350 was the cheapest to build. It wasn't as clean-running as the Olds 350, but still met emissions requirements better than the Pontiac or Buick engines. I've also heard that it's actually the least durable, with the Olds being the best. But, still good enough. The Olds engine used a lot of nickle in its block, which made for a block that was stronger, yet lighter.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 21,847
    I wonder how slow a '73-era Colonade wagon would be with a 6-cyl? I've heard that in the sedans and coupes, it could sometimes take 20 seconds to get from 0-60, and CR tested a 1977 Cutlass Supreme sedan with an Olds 260 V-8 (probably no faster than a 6-cyl) and got 0-60 in around 21.6 seconds.

    I guess in a lot of "normal" driving, a car like that might not have been too bad. A lot of those weak engines were often okay in normal driving conditions, but the only problem is that when you really needed to stomp it, you didn't get anything more out of them. So, pulling away from a green light, you might not hold up traffic, but if you really needed to stomp on it to merge onto the highway, or pass a slower car, that's where you'd run into problems.
  • uplanderguyuplanderguy Kent, OHPosts: 7,494
    To be honest, I don't remember it being ridiculously slow, but then I was 16 when I drove it. We had a 3-speed Nova at the time, and I drove that Deluxe wagon before I drove the Nova. In Aug. '74 we bought a new Impala Sport Coupe and at that point I drove the Impala and the Deluxe was relegated to the back of my (driving) mind. The Deluxe was traded in on a new '75 Buick Century Special Coupe. I do remember that V6 felt really rough compared even to the Chevy six.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 21,847
    I think sometimes, we just get used to faster and faster cars, and end up forgetting just how slow some of those old cars really were. For instance, I remember when I first started driving, I thought my grandmother's '85 LeSabre, with its 307, or Granddad's '85 Silverado with the 305 were pretty fast. Compared to my '80 Malibu with the 229 V-6, they were! And compared to what most of my friends drove at the time, the Malibu was even pretty quick. :blush:

    But now, I still have that same Silverado, and today it seems slow. Part of it could be due to aging, but I've taken a stopwatch to it, and 0-60 comes up in around 12-13 seconds, which probably isn't too far off the mark from when it was new.

    But, over the years, I've also gotten used to faster and faster cars, and as you get used to them, suddenly those faster times seem like no big deal. For instance, most times I've seen quoted for my 2000 Park Ave are around 7.6 seconds, which would make it the fastest car I've ever owned. Yet, when I punch it, it doesn't really feel THAT fast. But then when I get behind the wheel of the Silverado, or any of my other cars, I think man, what a dog. Except for the Catalina. It's pretty quick from a standstill, but out on the highway, when you need to accelerate, it seems a bit sluggish. I guess that's where newer cars, with 4+ speed automatics, really start to show their advantage.
  • au1994au1994 Posts: 764
    Gosh yes, we are spoiled now. When I turned 16 I had a Mustang with the 289. No emissions to strangle it and I thought it was crazy fast. It had nice torque and was an automatic so off the line it did provide a bunch of 16 yr olds a nice seat of the pants feel when I took off.

    Now a V-6 Accord would absolutely eat its lunch in a drag race.

    2013 335i Sport Line Alpine White over Coral Red w/Black Trim

    2005 330cic ZHP Monaco Blue over Natural Brown w/Black Trim

  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 17,593
    edited September 2011
    Cadillac reallly killed themselves in the 80's as they struggled to meet emission and MPG standards. they made some lousy cars and made some dumb mistakes. te put underpowered V-6 engines in full sized cars. They took a Chevy Cavalier and turned it into a Cimerron.

    Then in 1981 they produced the one year only 4-6-8's. The engines themselves weren't bad but the primitive cylinder switching systems simply didn't work right. The Cadillac mechanics hated them and the "fix" was to snip a wire that caused them to only run in 8 cylinder mode.

    Then in 1982, they REALLY outdid themselves with the 4100 engines. These were terrible engines that didn't get better until 1988.

    The damage by this time was done. Loyal Cadillac owners left in droves and Cadillac was no longer the "Standard of the World"
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