It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!
- Last Active
One other detail I remember about GM's '73 intermediates, from CR, is that they mentioned the use of frameless door windows all around, similar to what Ford started doing with the '72 Torino/Montego, but mentioned that Ford's were sealed better.
They also had one test car, I think it was a '73 Malibu station wagon, where they commented that NONE of the windows rolled all the way down! The back windows were designed like that, stopping with about 4-5 inches of glass still exposed (must have been fun to slam the door extra hard on those) but even in the front doors, I think one stuck up about a half inch and the other a full inch!
Ah, the 70's. Remind me again why I like those cars so much? B)
@benjaminh said: Andre: Great report. I agree with you that entry level compact sedans usually have significant flaws. Interesting how the Mazda3 seemed better with a test drive, while the Cruze was worse. What were the asking prices on these? Is he considering new as well?
I can't find a link for the Mazda3, but I think it was around $11,998. I thought that price was ridiculous for something with 95,000 miles on it, whereas I thought the Cruze was a screaming bargain...until I rode in it!
One thing I think is funny about a lot of these cars is how great they seemed when they first came out, but then something better comes along, and they just seem like cheap little cars. I remember thinking what a big deal the first Mazda3 was when it first came out, seemed like such a big leap over that old 323/Protege. And when my uncle brought home his '03 Corolla, it seemed like a vast improvement over what came before. But now they just don't seem like a big deal.
Oh, there was one other car there that caught my eye. Of all things, a Dodge Avenger. I think it was a 2013, with under 20K miles. Had the 3.6 V-6, nav, and a sunroof, but no leather. It was only around $15-16K. It was this nice shade of light blue that sort of reminded me of my first car, a 1980 Malibu coupe. I know the Avenger is pretty mediocre overall, but sometimes when I find a V-6 at a low price, I get a bit of a temptation.
There was also one of those largish-by-today's standards Audi coupes...A5, S5 or whatever? I find a bit of an attraction to these as well, although I imagine they're the type of car you lease or trade before the warranty is up. I forget the specifics on this one, except it was about $31K. These Audi coupes actually remind me, faintly, of my old Malibu as well...roughly the same size and proportions. Probably not an association the folks at Audi want to hear, though!
I have a friend who's been casually car shopping. Last weekend, we went to CarMax and he drove a 2011 Mazda3 with about 95,000 miles on it, and a 2012 Cruze with only 13,000. They were both base-level cars. I think the Mazda was called a 1-series or something like that, while the Cruze was an LS. I know this isn't quite an apples-to-apples comparison, but they're both base-level compacts.
In my opinion, they both kinda sucked, but for different reasons. The Mazda was small and cramped, and felt claustrophobic. Felt like it had the thickness of a beer can when you rapped on the sheetmetal. And the interior was way too plasticky, but that's the norm these days. However, and this is only from experiencing it as a passenger, but the ride and handling felt great. My friend, who normally drives a stick shift, also liked the way its automatic shifted and accelerated. The ride, I would consider firm, but well-planted. It felt like it cornered well and handled the road well.
The Cruze, on the other hand, felt a lot sturdier and thicker. Much roomier up front, but at a slight loss of legroom in the back. One advantage the Mazda had here was that the seatbacks were padded and soft, so my knees could sink in a bit without encountering anything hard. The Cruze had a little padding, but not enough, so it wasn't as comfortable. I think the Cruze actually had more plastic in it than the Mazda.
Unfortunately though, when the Cruze started up, it sounded like crap. I really didn't pay much attention to how the Mazda had started, because it didn't really catch my attention, in either a good or bad way. But the Cruze had a sound like something was wrong with it, until it warmed up at least. My friend said he hated the way the Cruze's steering felt, and I could even tell from the way he was driving it, wandering around in his lane and such, there there was some kind of disconnect. It didn't seem nearly as confident around curves and sharp turns. The ride smoothed out a lot of bumps, but managed to feel a bit out-of-control and queasy at the same time. It's almost as if they tried to engineer a big-car feel into the Cruze, like Ford did with the '75 Granada, to convince big car buyers that a small car could be a worthy alternative. But often when you do that, you simply end up with a small car that can neither handle nor ride very well...much like a '75 Granada!
IMO, the Mazda put up a bad first impression, but at least redeemed itself on the test drive. The Cruze did just the opposite. I was also impressed that, at 95000 miles, the Mazda still felt tight, squeak, and rattle-free. Just don't rap your knuckles on the sheetmetal.
I wonder what the latest Mazda3 is like? I have to say, that I was impressed that Mazda seemed to put some effort into even the cheapest 3, to make it fun to drive. And as a passenger it wasn't too bad of a ride, but I sat behind the wheel and just couldn't get comfortable in the driver's seat, with the pedals being too close.
Both of them still felt too cramped and claustrophobic compared to what I'm used to, though, so I think I'd grow to hate either one, long term. And I just can't get used to those cheap interiors. You'd think it wouldn't be a problem, compared to my stripper-interior Ram, and my older cars. But in the Ram's defense, I think there's a bit more soft-touch, and with it having a roomy cab, that cheap hard stuff isn't right up in your face. And while old 70's and 80's cars (and my 2000 Park Ave) were cheap in their own way, the ones I've had have simply been plusher, more luxurious models. I'm sure if I compared a stripped-down '76 Nova, Maverick, or Valiant, instead of a fully decked-out Grand LeMans, to a new Cruze or Mazda3, I wouldn't be looking at the 70's through such rose-tinted glasses.
@benjaminh said: I remember wondering why he was making such a big deal about a kitty, but then I walked out and saw him riding a giant Caterpillar tractor. He let me up with him. Now that was a fun ride....
Anyway, he could afford any American car he wanted, included a Cadillac. But he told us he'd met some people in his life who owned Cadillacs, and usually he didn't care for them. And so, instead, he bought brand new Oldsmobile 98s loaded with options. Honestly, those cars were pretty close to a Caddy imho.
My Granddad had an old Ferguson farm tractor that dated to around 1947 or 1948. I remember as a little kid, he used to let me ride on his lap. Probably dangerous as hell, and might get a call from Child Protective Services these days, but it sure was fun back then!
Granddad was pretty much a Chevy man, but the last new car he and Granddad bought was their '85 LeSabre. In many ways, it was probably better than a Caddy that year, as it had the tough Olds 307, whereas the Caddies were still using those little aluminum 249 V-8's that were unreliable, and just too overmatched in a big car. That LeSabre was a Limited Collector's Edition, so it had the same interior that a 1984 Electra would have had, I believe...thick loose-pillow velour seats, thick, high quality carpeting, the somewhat tacky looking fake woodgrain on the upper door panels, etc. A Caddy would've had a bigger back seat, but that's about it.
For the most part, I tended to prefer the Olds Ninety-Eight and Buick Electra to the Caddies, throughout the 70's and up through 1984. They could be every bit as luxurious, but IMO were a bit more understated. If I was to get one of the biggest of the big, I think I'd go for a '76 Electra 4-door hardtop. The '74 Olds Ninety-Eight also catches my eye, for some reason. I think it might be because it's cleanly styled, not really in-your-face flashy, yet still has a substantial, luxurious look to it.
I just looked it up in my old car book. Looks like the '64 Ninety-Eight sedan offerings were as follows: Town Sedan, $3993, 11390 built Holiday Sports Sedan hardtop, $4265, 24791 built Luxury Hardtop Sedan, $4342, 17346 built
It doesn't mention anything about a 4W versus 6W body style though. I did some googling though, and have found a few pics of 4W styles. Also, looking at the '64 Olds brochure, the Luxury Sedan (LS) that they show is a 6W model, while the Holiday Sport Sedan is a 4W, with the thicker C-pillar. They don't show a Town Sedan. Was the Ninety-Eight still offered as a pillared sedan by then, I wonder?
FWIW, those prices included Hydramatic transmission, power steering/brakes, power windows, and even a power seat on the Holiday and LS models. Lotta car for the money, IMO. I remember spec'ing out my '57 DeSoto once, and as equipped, it probably MSRP'ed for around $3800. Its base price was something like $3085 (Firedome hardtop coupe) but automatic, power steering/brakes, even a heater were all options. And a Ninety-Eight was a more prestigious car, as a '57 Firedome would probably equate more to a Buick LeSabre, or whatever Olds was the "step up" 88 model (I always lose track with those Dynamic, Super, Delmont, Delta, et al...)