Readers Rides

Muscle Car Talk: The Dark Days Of The Mid. 70s’

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By Mark Weisseg

Just like a football team that loses its funding, its best players and gets relegated, muscle cars from the mid-70s, lost their ‘Je ne sais quoi,’ due to emission controls, insurance prices and basically being squeezed from all angles.
Just like any dark era, it is just a period of time which comes and goes. Now the golden era is back.

From Great to Bad
The end was very near for this Dodge Charger mid. 70’s, then it actually got worse.
If you study a ’66 – ’72 Dodge Charger you knew you had something very special. By the time the tanks arrived on the streets with the 360 Lean Burn V8 we all knew it was over.

At the back of this car someone even put a decal on it that says “Pop’s car”.
Some old guy owned it and thought it was cool enough to jack it up a bit and put on chrome wheels along with chrome tips on the ends of the exhaust pipes.
The car was heavy, slow and not a muscle car at all. Only a few years before, these were rolling works of art with powertrains that still echo today.

I had a very good friend that had a ’77 Chrysler Córdoba which was the sister car and it was a slow hunk of metal. It rode great but that 360 V8 was a dog. Little cars were later produced with the Charger name plate stuck on them, made lots of people like me run for the exits.
Chrysler lost its way back then and introduced Aspens, Volare, Colt, Arrow, New Yorkers and so on. How often do you see a Dodge Aspen or Plymouth Volare today restored or even made into a resto mod. These are now classed as classics themselves, but not a patch on the golden era.

Junkyards of the early 80’s saw many a prized muscle car scrapped. People back then just did not see the worth in these cars apart from the most rare examples, but this was not uncommon. Many vehicles which are now worth a king’s ransom, were junked on a regular basis back in the day. People just saw them as ‘old’ cars. ‘Old’ used to be very bad and no one wants an old car, right?
Luckily, not everybody thought that way and now every muscle car worth saving at least gets a second glance.

Back to the good times.
Now we are back to the good times. The horsepower wars are back on, the big three are making ever better muscle cars and making enough waves to make the competition sit up and notice in design, performance and price.

Muscle cars may have lost their way in the mid-70s, but they are now back and stronger than ever. We can’t ask for more than that.

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