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SPORTS CARS OF THE '70s

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  • andys120andys120 Loudon NHPosts: 16,704
    You could probably buy a pretty decent 924 for $4,000 or $4,500. This is REALLY the Porsche that nobody wants

    Hell, I saw a decent-looking Porsche 944 going for $1,350 at a local repair shop. I'd be tempted to drive it until the first big repair bill hit and then just junk it.

    We diverge from topic, gentlemen, 924s and 944s are Sportscars of the 80's. ;)

    2000 BMW 528i, 2001 BMW 330CiC

  • fintailfintail Posts: 34,189
    I think the 924 came to NA for model year 1977 :P
  • gussguss Posts: 1,181
    I remember when the first oil embargo hit in the early seventies and my dad was trying to decide between a Fiat x1/9 and a Toyota Corolla to trade his Dodge Dart in on. With 3 boys under 12 guess which one won.

    Every time I see an X1/9 (which is rare these days), I feel like buying one for him. What could an one in excellent shape go for,maybe $3k ?

    I know they were crappy little cars, but sometimes crappy has it's own charm. And the removable roof was cool.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,669
    If you are of small build and if you buy the 1.5 model, the X1/9 is a very cool little car for chump change. Plugging into the whole Fiat parts network is a big help. They aren't fast at all but they handle really well. $3,000 should buy you an outstanding car.

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  • starrow68starrow68 Posts: 1,142
    The early 70's RS clones are common on track at road course events. One of the
    So. Calif. guys that drives one was in an article in either Grassroot or Classic
    Motorsports Mags with several others that had both clones or originals. It is a
    proven track weapon that for the HP can be wickedly fast in the right hands. Then
    again in the wrong hands they can be very tough to handle.
    Randy
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,669
    What RS are you talking about? You mean a Camaro? Not on my radar as a "sports car". More like a muscle car.

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  • fintailfintail Posts: 34,189
    I think he means Porsche RS
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,669
    OHHHHHHHHH....that's a mighty expensive car to be racing, but yeah, they go fast. An RS would kick the stuffings out of a '73 Ferrari.

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  • fintailfintail Posts: 34,189
    There are a lot of clones out here, as the OP mentions. I am sure one could be nearly as fun.
  • andys120andys120 Loudon NHPosts: 16,704
    I' wonder what those clones are using for engines?

    2000 BMW 528i, 2001 BMW 330CiC

  • jrosasmcjrosasmc Posts: 1,704
    What do you make about Ferrari Dinos as cars, particularly the 246 GTs from '71-'74? I always loved the styling- I think they are the sexiest mid-engine Ferraris ever made- but I've been afraid to own one. I've heard the maintenance costs can be super-high if they haven't been taken care of. Hemmings Sports & Exotic Car magazine says the engine must come out for any major service. But that twin-cam V-6 sure looks delightful!
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,669
    They are a very stylish car and fun to drive. The 246 engine is a lot better than the earlier 206 IMO.

    Sure, any Ferrari is going to bust your chops in maintenance. As I always say, if you cannot afford to LITERALLY spend $1.50 to $2 per mile in maintenance, don't reach for a Ferrari, no matter how cheap. So yeah, 3,000 miles in a year costs you $6,000, and an engine rebuild is $35,000 bucks.

    That's why the first word out of anyone's mouth in buying ANY Ferrari, old or new-ish, is "May I see the service records?"

    If there aren't any, you might as well either a) walk away, or b) low-ball the hell out of the car.

    1973 Carrera RS: Sure, any car with the engine hanging off the back end and with that much power (they would do 0-60 in about 5 seconds pure stock) can be a handful to drive. You really have to concentrate and you can't lose your focus and get stupid. The car will bite you so fast you'll miss the entire event.

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  • lemmerlemmer Posts: 2,676
    Excellence says that excellent condition 914 2.0s are approaching $20K, more than doubling over the past 5 years. Sure Excellence is inflated, but even then this seems crazy to me. At anything over $10K, I'd scratch that off of my list of cars to own one day.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,669
    Excellence is hardly an "impartial" appraiser of Porsches. I don't see why someone couldn't find a knock-out 914 2.0 for around $12,500 right now. I mean, get real, it's a VW engine back there. Nice little car (I've owned 2) but "914, you're no 911!"

    Now if you're talkin' 914/6, that's another story.

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  • uplanderguyuplanderguy Kent, OHPosts: 7,494
    "THE SHAPE OF THINGS TO COME"

    Maybe the rear end and taillight treatment of the '82 Chevy Cavalier, but I'm hard-pressed to come up with anything else!

    Bill
  • graphicguygraphicguy SW OhioPosts: 7,455
    Not meaning to start a debate, but isn't "sports cars of the 1970s" kind of an oxymoron?

    That's the decade where cars were choked by emissions controls. Maybe some early 70s examples would cut mustard. But, the vast majority of them I've seen (which are few) are poor examples of sports cars.

    Then again, I've never owned a Porsche. And, the last one I drove was a 928 (which I liked, quite a bit).

    I'm thinking of the "wedge" TR 7s, the afore mentioned (and much maligned) Fiat X 1/9 (which I've also had the "pleasure" (loose term) of driving.....neutered American muscle. Are those the cars we're speaking of?
  • lemmerlemmer Posts: 2,676
    240Z (early '70s)
    RX-7 (wonderful new car from the '70s)
    911 (great in the late '70s)
    928s (great GT in the late '70s)
    MGBs (early '70s)
    Alfas
    Fiats

    I love them all. The mid '70s seem to be the low point, but there is good stuff before the emissions and once they started figuring out how to engineer them later.
  • kyfdxkyfdx Posts: 30,545
    That was a sports car, wasn't it? HUH?

    never mind..

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  • lemmerlemmer Posts: 2,676
    I like Corvette C3s, as cheesy as they are. I didn't want to take the pounding I would get from adding that to the list. Cobra II? You are brave.
  • lemkolemko Posts: 15,198
    ...when I think of a '70s Corvette, I automatically think of Dirk Diggler's orange 1977 Corvette from "Boogie Nights" and how lame it was compared to earlier 'Vettes. Would've Scotty's (Phillip Seymour Hoffman's character) 1979 Datsun 280Z finished in the same color actually have been a better sports car?
  • lemmerlemmer Posts: 2,676
    I have a partial answer to your question - Circa 1987 a friend and I simultaneously test drove a '75 Corvette with an automatic versus a '79 280ZX with a five speed. We drag raced away from a traffic light to around 80 mph. To our dismay, the Corvette was the clear winner.

    The 280 was arguably still a better sports/gt car.
  • kyfdxkyfdx Posts: 30,545
    '79 was the first 280ZX.. ugh..

    I also like the C3 Vette, up until '73, which was the last year for the chrome rear bumper... not so much, after that..

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  • graphicguygraphicguy SW OhioPosts: 7,455
    It's really me, lemmer......GG!

    -forgot about those early 240Zs. Revolutionary. But, weren't the other iterations of '70s Z cars less than sterline (thinking the 260z, here)
    -RX7....no debate
    -Posche's....can't comment. I never drove anything but a 928. But, that was about 10 years ago. Very nice sports car, though
    -MGBs? I had a '69 MGB-GT. Fun car. Spent every weekend working on it, though. The ones after that had the "BIG BUMPERS", right?
    -Alfas....no opinion. I've seen them, but rarely. Heard the horror stories, though.
    -Fiat...my older sister had an 850 (?) Spider. Road in it. Fun car. Nowhere near reliable if I recollect, however.

    Maybe it's the mid-70s sports cars I'm thinking of. That's when I first started to take an interest in cars (well before I even got a license).
  • andys120andys120 Loudon NHPosts: 16,704
    -forgot about those early 240Zs. Revolutionary. But, weren't the other iterations of '70s Z cars less than sterline (thinking the 260z, here)

    The 260Z was essentially the same as a 240Z, with a little more displacement to compensate for the different carbs required for emmission controls. Smog controls began sapping the performance of nearly every car beginning in 1974.

    -RX7....no debate

    Outstanding car for it's time with plenty of performance and a rev-happy engine that delighted sports car purists.

    -Posche's....can't comment. I never drove anything but a 928. But, that was about 10 years ago. Very nice sports car, though

    The 928 is regarded as a mixed bag. Some think of it as a "German Corvette" but it's size and weight led most to regard it as more of a Gran Turismo than a true sports car like the 911. 911s oif the era suffered from emissions controls and heavy bumpers like everything else but in '76 they got galvanized steel bodies, a significant step forward. Early 70s 911s with the 2.7 motor are considered among the most desirable 911s, especially in Carrera RS form.

    -MGBs? I had a '69 MGB-GT. Fun car. Spent every weekend working on it, though. The ones after that had the "BIG BUMPERS", right?

    By 1969 MG-Bs were obsolescent thanks to the emergence of competitors like the Fiat 124 Sport and the Datsun 240Z but yes, they were fun, tossable and delightful to drive. The Triumph TR-6 with it's body-on-frame construction was even more obsolescent but the silky six was very nice. Big bumpers and revised ride heights ruined both cars in '74.

    -Alfas....no opinion. I've seen them, but rarely. Heard the horror stories, though.

    Early 70s Alfas included some highly desirable cars, my personal favorite being the GTV 1750/2000. Not a true Sports car with it's four seats, it was the very definition of the term Gran Turismo IMO.>
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    -Fiat...my older sister had an 850 (?) Spider. Road in it. Fun car. Nowhere near reliable if I recollect, however.

    I bought a 124 Sport Spider 1608 new in '71 and drove it thru 77K miles until 1979 it was no more problematic than any 1970s automobile with rust being the worst problem (cheap Russian steel!). I can't think of many affordable '70s cars I'd rather have. By the end of the decade they were ruined by big bumpers and jacked up suspensions to meet headlight height requirements.

    Maybe it's the mid-70s sports cars I'm thinking of. That's when I first started to take an interest in cars (well before I even got a license).

    Yep, it was all over after '73 thanks to the regulations on emissions and crash-worthiness. '70-73MY sports and GT cars were often quite nice.

    2000 BMW 528i, 2001 BMW 330CiC

  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,669
    I think people confuse Alfas with Fiats. Back in the early 70s, they were much more distinctly their own car and a much better-built automobile than a Fiat. Also Alfas were enthusiastically raced in SCCA in the early 70s, beating the snot out of much more powerful and expensive cars. Of course, these were specialty built race cars, not showroom cars.

    Next to an MGB, an Alfa of that era is like a machine landing from another galaxy, built by an advanced civilization.

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  • andys120andys120 Loudon NHPosts: 16,704
    Every now and then I get a yen for one of those beautiful 230/250/280SLs, some are actually priced within reason considering they represent a generation of Benzes that were considered the best-made cars in the world and the styling IMO is truly elegant.

    I wonder if Shifty or anyone who has driven one could tell me if they feel as ponderous as my Dad's old '72 Mercedes 240 sedan? If I thought they were nice to drive I might seriously consider a Pagoda.

    2000 BMW 528i, 2001 BMW 330CiC

  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,669
    I used to own one, and have driven quite a few.

    The 230/250/280 SLs are...well...very feminine in how they drive and feel. The shift lever is delicate, the power steering is light, with a HUGE steering wheel, poofy seats, tiny little control knobs. This is not a Cobra or a Sunbeam Tiger, that's for sure.

    They handle quite well and if you remember to drive them as the engineers intended, quite lively in performance for a 2.8L. But you have to wind the hell out of them to get excited.

    Alas most of the time we see them driven very leisurely by lovely women in big straw hats.

    Me myself---I'd prefer a stripped down 230SL with a stickshift. Although smaller in displacement, they are lighter in weight than their 280SL brethren, hence just as "fast".

    The AC totally sucks as you would expect from a 70s German car. The build quality is superb.

    One thing to watch out for is that someone didn't put a cylinder head from a 280 sedan on it. The head surfaces corroded on these cars, and the sedan head was a quick substitute. Also many of the body panels are coded to the VIN number.

    Some colors cause a loss of value, like Brown, Mauve, Beige and Black. Silver looks great, and so does White oddly enough. Red is okay, BRG is very nice, my favorite.

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  • andys120andys120 Loudon NHPosts: 16,704
    edited April 2010
    But you have to wind the hell out of them to get excited.

    Then it's my kind of car! the motor in my Dad's old Benz didn't care to rev very much.

    Unfortunately, I need to get an Automatic, my left side limbs don't work well. Have you driven an A/T W113? Any particular ergonomic problems aside from the tiny controls? The throttle on my Dad's car had a hellaciously strong return spring so that it was an effort to hold the pedal to the metal?

    I'd love a nice dark brown, BRG or Navy Blue example. IMO silver is a cliche on a German car, white I don't like on any sports car; Black Red would be Okay.

    Price ranges for a good 280SL w A/T?

    Thanks for your help Shifty.

    2000 BMW 528i, 2001 BMW 330CiC

  • fintailfintail Posts: 34,189
    I am pretty sure 113s, at least the earlier ones, have the same auto as my fintail. It's a very solid unit with low failure rates, but it is weird. Fluid coupling for clunky downshifts, 4 speed with 2nd gear start, early upshifts. You'd probably end up wanting to shift it yourself now and then as I do, you can squeeze out some more speed that way. I think all MB of that era had hard throttles...every MB I have ever driven has had a stiffer pedal than a normal car.

    From what I can tell, probably something like half of earlier cars, 230SLs especially, were white. Colors became more diverse as the years passed.

    I know a good driver 230SL can be had for no more than 20K, I think a 280 does carry a good premium, maybe 25% or so.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,669
    edited January 2007
    I think fintail pretty much summarized the automatic transmission---the shift lever is this spindly little thing and if you shift it manually (which I also recommend) you feel like you're going to break it off---but you won't.

    I'll second guess The Fin and say that really decent 280SLs that are nice drivers without major problems (certainly not show cars however) start at around $30K these days, and run up to $80,000 for super nice ones that have been restored. They get real ratty under $20K.

    A 230SL is, IMO, a better buy all around, but less likely to find an automatic, and more likely to be a European car. Most 280SLs are automatic, the vast majority and most are Federalized cars, which is good.

    Most come with hardtops, which weigh about as much as the car itself and require two sturdy people to install---hence, if you find a car without a hardtop, you can pay less for it. Most people who use the hardtop put it on in September and take it off in April. It's a real pain to lift, store, etc. A pulley system helps.

    Gear ratios and differential benefit acceleration, not highway cruising, so at 70 mph the engine sounds really busy. This can be annoying to some.

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