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Hagerty
Hagerty Employee

7 underappreciated 1970s cars | Hagerty Media

The '70s were a great time for music, film, and (arguably) fashion. For cars, though? Not so much. It was a turbulent time for the automobile. Engine performance couldn't keep up with the pace of ever-stricter emissions laws, and insurance rates were making muscle cars increasingly hard to own.
https://www.hagerty.com/media/valuation/7-underappreciated-1970s-cars/
91 REPLIES 91
audiobycarmine
Instructor

Opel DID have a car that sold fairly well here: the Kadette.
CBL1
New Driver

Currently I drive a 2018 Buick Regal (Opel Insignia). I think it has great responsiveness, a tight suspension and I love the hatchback. Best Opel ever
GRP_Photo
Instructor

They also made a coupe called the Manta which sold pretty well in Atlanta. IIRC, the clearances were pretty critical and the engines wouldn't last long if you waited too long between oil changes.

MattK
Detailer

Yes the Manta A and the GT/E, Great looking cars.
MattK
Detailer

A few more Opels, the Cadillac Catera imported from Germany and Saturn Astras that where Opels Built here. Also the new Opel GT Built on the same platform as the Saturn Skyline and Pontiac Solstice. This time though we exported the GT to Europe.
1959Imperial
Pit Crew

Remember to enjoy your collector car because "what it is" and not "what value it could be someday". If you enjoy it and drive it, it will give you more pleasure than hoping the value increases. And as always if you cannot afford it then purchase a picture of it to put on your wall.
daffodildeb
Pit Crew

Absolutely agree! If it's no fun to drive, why bother? I am thoroughly enjoying my 2002 Porsche Boxster S, which I bought nearly 3 years ago. It is my sunny day car, and the top is down if it's over 45° or so. The fact that it's appreciating is a bonus!
Tim
Instructor

When compared with other investments, there are very, very few cars that are worthwhile investments. So, even if someone held a car long enough for it to be worth a lot more "someday", chances are the same money would have yielded a better return invested in a simple index fund. So, yes, definitely use and enjoy owning the car. Of course, the exception would be cars manufactured in such small numbers that it doesn't take a crystal ball to recognize their rarity. Or, if you are extremely lucky in market timing and happen to buy a vehicle right at the nadir of its price line just before it sees a rapid value increase over the next several years.
DT
Detailer

"Nadir" Really ???? SMH
BMD4800
Instructor

Tim,

Have sex with a woman, drink an alcoholic beverage, eat a steak, and take a drive in any vehicle that is 150% impractical.

This is an enthusiast, and limited car-guy, site. Investment advice is for the people who transport their auction purchases via enclosed transport and brokers.

Own it, drive it, enjoy it, live life. Get busy living, or get busy dying. Your choice.

Did I offend? Plenty of Hondas on Autotrader.
Ragster
Intermediate Driver

Always loved the Grand Am look and the Laguna in the early -mid '70s.
jakay11
New Driver

I guess the 1970's 240/260/280z is not considered underappreciated... 🙂 My dad bought one after his new AMX tried to kill him by the brakes catastrophically failing on a steep downhill road... He stopped by taking out some poor lady's hedge and mailbox. She was VERY confused when he knocked on the door and asked to call the police.
ppointer
Intermediate Driver

I was about to write something scathing about having the Laguna S3 on the list without a similar Grand Am. Then I scrolled down a little further. Anyway, as a teen I bought a well-worn '73 Grand Am coupe with 4-speed. It was even more well worn when I had to get rid of it because i was a starving college student. I have seen less than a handful of the 4-speed's since then (mid-80's). Really like the Can Am, which are not too difficult to find today, but they are all automatics.
BMD4800
Instructor

77 Grand Prix SJ (Steve Jobs if you are a fan), 400 poncho, under-powered, low gears, 70s lousy sheet metal, who cares?

If you have it, enjoy it. Let the rest enjoy their Tupperware transport pods.
drhino
Instructor

I never thought the TR7/8 bad looking at all. Certainly better looking than the TR2/3 (but not as nice as the TR250/4/5/6).
TG
Instructor

The only problem with them is I knew a guy who had one and he had to pop the top out to drive it and his eyes were pretty much even with the top of the windshield
BennyS
New Driver

To each his own, I guess, but to me the TR3 is the best of the Triumphs. Wish I had one. Maybe one day.

MattK
Detailer

I agree. Look at the Behemoths that littered the Highway at the time. I thought it was pretty slick looking.
BMD4800
Instructor

Compare and contrast to today.

Those awful square headlight mafia monstrosities are decades ahead of the sub-2 liter boosted trash they sell as “cars”. Quicker? Sure. Cool phone integrated…whatever.
Better gas mileage? Are you commuting in your collector car?!

Ask for a V8 and you’d better have your Fauci mask, your Vax card, and a tax slip that signifies your contribution to the local “save the fruit-fly” org.

I tried looking for “can pull a wet stick out of a dog’s @$$” in the towing guide, and was directed to the smallest possible turbo V2 with hybrid, egoboosted, skyantacid, and off-road proven tech. Thanks, but how about a real-world thing? Ya know, after 100k, plenty of neglect, and parking outside because my good, non-computer stuff, is inside.

Instead I decided that the 267 small block Chevy was worthy of a 350 swap, that 14 mpg is fine, and ya know what, $5 for 14 oz of mediocre coffee is still worse that $3.75 for dog p!$$ 91 octane fuel.

If you own it, drive it! Tell those that don’t get it to … ya know…act like a 1-wire alternator and self-excite.
elldorado2000
Intermediate Driver

I have a 74 Grand Am and am currently massaging the fiberglass replacement nose to fit it to the car. I have always loved the styling and in particular the dash.
https://youtu.be/vB-W3ibqZYo
Propain32
New Driver

I grew up amidst all of those cars and besides the Opel GT, which resembles a mini corvette, those were definitely ugly cars. It’s a shame most of the Opels rusted to pieces.
Studenorton
Instructor

Fiat had an 850 Spyder that would fit inside the Opel, and then the Opel inside the Corvette, like Russian nesting dolls.
Piper
Intermediate Driver

1970 to 73 Corvette and Camaro don’t seem to be underpowered or under appreciated.
For me the 1973 Camaro Z/28 is the holy grail of Z/28 because I could get one with air conditioning.

BMD4800
Instructor

It doesn’t matter if it is the holy grail. Rather, what you have. 305 automatic, 6-cylinder, who cares?! Own it, fix it, mod it, ENJOY IT!
73Mustang
New Driver

What about the 1971 - 1973 Mustangs? Especially the Mach 1 and convertibles. They weren't very popular with fans at the time but their looks have stood the test of time. I have a '73 convertible that's turns heads wherever I go. I believe their value has remained steady.
MATTMERICA
Instructor

mach 1s have appreciated pretty well actually
BMD4800
Instructor

ENJOY IT!

That is what matters.
janedon
Intermediate Driver

I do chuckle sometimes reading about how certain more mainstream Older cars turn heads -Literally any car from back then Will turn heads because they are Rare on the street-- Esp convertibles ---
Richard1
Pit Crew

I have a 73 Ford Maverick which is 1 of 23 as optioned. Seems to be very underappreciated as it was over shadowed by the Mustang. 9 times out of 10 I'm the only Maverick at the car shows. It's a sleeper with the original 302 V8 and only weighing 2900lbs. It surprises a lot of people on how fast the car is and looks good doing it.
MrKnowItAll
Detailer

From my perspective, '70s were a time of lousy disco music, laughable "fashion", art, and architecture-
and crappy cars from Detroit (and it only got worse as the decade progressed). It was also an era when Japanese cars became extremely popular because they were economical and, most importantly, reliable. Those are the choice cars of the era.

deckerbilt
Intermediate Driver

Sorry to be off topic but the [early] 70's had some of the best rock and pop music ever. Just my opinion.
OldCarMan
Instructor

And the worst styling! Corolla who? Honda what? I don't know where you were, what you played or designed, but I would bet it doesn't survive today.
The 1979 Chrysler 300 (Was supposed to be M), had the incredible bad luck to come out in time for Fake Energy Crisis II. You could buy 2 very reliable Omni/Horizons ,for the price of a 300. These were the fastest Chrysler cars that year, comparable to the Lil Red Express truck and even Trans Ams and Vettes! Downsized from B bodies, they still were large enough to get 5 people in them and a huge trunk. The 360 4bbl was the HD police version with a forged crank and other goodies, dual catalytic convertors and dual exhaust, only red leather interiors and spinnaker white exteriors and a great die cast chrome cross hair grille.
Iso_Grifo
Advanced Driver

The AMC Javelin is the sleeper here. Extreme value for the money and cool looks. I'd like to have one and do it up like the Trans Am winner it is, minus a crazy paint job. It's kind of surprising the hipsters haven't picked up on it.
MATTMERICA
Instructor

I agree with you completely. I have a buddy who is literally scouring the USA looking for his dream javelin to restore.
Timbo
Intermediate Driver

I'm hardly a hipster at 71, but I own my second '74 Javelin. This is the AMX after having a base 304, both with automatics. It's been restored-modded with a 4th gear overdrive, 4 wheel discs, EFI, and headers. It also has almost all factory options for that year. It's always the only one of its kind at car shows. Too bad rarity doesn't equate to value!
mhealy1
Detailer

Funniest story (to me anyway)…in the early eighties I had an impromptu low speed street drag with a 71 Javelin. It was a four speed, unknown V8 (I know from the engine note coming through the glass pack dual exhaust) and fat rear tires. Mine was a 56 DeSoto (which I still own), 330 Hemi and 2 speed Powerflite automatic. We took off from the stoplight and I soft-pedaled it. He pulled ahead a bit then short-shifted into second because he already had me by a car length or so. I nailed it. I was still in low so the Powerflite didn’t need to downshift. I roared past him and arrived at the next stoplight a split second before him. Mind you, he would have had time to grille some burgers before I arrived at the next light had we caught the green, but I just can’t forget the look on his face as 20 feet of wide-whitewall history blasted past him.
Robin
Pit Crew

Of all the Pony Cars, the Javelin was the best looking (in my humble opinion). Never understood why it wasn't embraced with the same fervor of Mustangs, Camaros, and the Dodge offerings. Hope it will someday get the respect it deserves.

Also, during the 70's to 80's I had several Opel GT's and a GTJ. They were bigger on looks than performance, but I was able to be competitive with mine in Autocross and various Solo II events. They were very solidly built, reliable cars....wish I still had one, or the '69 Ralley Kadett.
GRP_Photo
Instructor

I had one of those Opels in the late 70s. I had it up to 105mph once. It got its best mileage at 85mph (those were the "double-nickle" days). It was a bit disconcerting to be looking up at the tops of the tires of a semi while passing, but a fun car.
The biggest rust problem was caused by the fact that they mounted the battery in front of the radiator. Acid spillage caused by careless owners tended to rust out the pan there in only a few years. It was hard to find a good one in Atlanta in 1975, so I imagine it would be a real job to find one now.
My first wife got the car when we separated. She totaled it out about the time the divorce was final.
GRP_Photo
Instructor

That Opel also needed 95 octane unleaded fuel, which was only available at Amoco stations. Bit of a pain.
CBL1
New Driver

1973 was a sad, sad year for the entire GM Midsize line. Overweight rust buckets that were under powered. Nothing lined up on the body and try to find a Laguna today that doesnt have a warped front end from the elements. My father bought a brand New Buick Regal and when he got it home I asked him to send it back because they put a Century bumper on the front. Quarter panels started rusting with 2 years and the car was garaged.
BMD4800
Instructor

Plenty of 2.4L Camrys on autotrader.
dan5
Pit Crew

I had a '73 Olds Toronado. It was a great car and surprisingly fun to drive for its size. It was front wheel drive with about 75% of the weight on the front end, yet enough power to light up the front tires at 10-15 MPH. With the torsion bar front suspension it handled well and didn't torque steer one bit. The 455 had true dual exhaust and was rated at about 270 HP. It responded well to a little more timing lead and a recurved distributor. For a 5000 lb car it would do 0-60 in the 7's and quarter in the 16's. I really ran it one time at Indianapolis Raceway Park on tuning night for time slips (I was out there to tune my Mustang, but hey...). It actually was as good as 4wd in the snow, never got it stuck, even in drifts up to the headlights. I bought it at the depth of the 1979-80 fuel scare for a really good price and drove it for another 100,000 + miles. I had a hitch shop make me a class III / IV receiver and I used it to pull a 6000 lb travel trailer all over the midwest. I wish I still had it, but in the mid-90's I moved to a subdivision and ran out of places to park it and it had to go.
GrandPrix71
New Driver

Great article! I’ve owned an Opel and a Javelin. But my baby which I still own is my 71 Grand Prix which blew the Javelins doors in when I raced my brother back in 77. Wouldn’t trade the Prix for any of the vehicles in this article. Talk about under appreciated!
dd1
Intermediate Driver

I always loved the "mini-corvette" Opels. I know there are people who pan the 70s as shallow, fake and plastic. But for me it was a golden era. I went from my childhood to teenage years in this era. There was bad stuff but there was lots of great stuff too. Even if many of the cars were junky, they were gorgeous pieces of junk! There's nothing on the road today that comes even close to the gorgeous lines of the Opel, Grand AM, Leguna or Javelin. I miss this time period. I miss the music. I miss the pure unadulterated rock of Glen Frey and the Eagles, Foreigner, Boston, Heart and so many other great musicians. I miss good R&B from the likes of Barry White and Marvin Gaye. I miss disco (yes, I'm one of those disco freaks). I miss my beautiful Donna Summer--my princess. May God rest her sweet soul! I even miss the cheesy sitcoms! There was some good stuff that came out of the 70s. It wasn't just all stagflation and plastic soul.
deckerbilt
Intermediate Driver

70's rock and pop is the best there is.
Robin
Pit Crew

All good, right up to Disco, lol.
MattK
Detailer

Yeah but Disco Inferno is still way cool.

salsa96
Intermediate Driver

Well said, I too am a child of the 70’s. It was a wonderful time to be a kid in those days!
Sterling
New Driver

The 1979 Plymouth Sapporo - that’s the one I miss. 2.6L, 5 speed, beautiful styling. Made by Mitsubishi from 1978-1980. Almost never see them, now. Probably most rusted away.