The ’70s were not terribly kind to many of our favorite car brands and models. Engines were sapped of power to limit emissions, big bumpers bloated formerly elegant designs in the name of lower repair costs, and overall, designs got kind of blocky. Some cars managed to survive the era with their good looks intact, while trucks seemed to thrive. Sure, they also took a hit to their power ratings and hadn’t quite made the transition to do-it-all suburban chariots they are today. They did, however, offer buyers plenty of character with factory-built or dealer-added graphics. We have many more cab and bed configurations to choose from in our trucks today, and they’ve never been more powerful, but I wouldn’t mind a little flavor like the following pickups and SUVs.
Here are my favorite graphics from the fabulous ’70s, one—or three— per truck/SUV brand, as decided arbitrarily, and unilaterally, by me … someone who wasn’t even around in the 1970s ...
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There was one in 1990 that with a little tuning and massaging to the engine caused some to tremble: 454 SS. And I wonder if Ford will recapture the past by bringing out a Big Oly Bronco...
The trouble with so many graphics is there is just too much of it. It's like the designers had to do something, even if it was wrong. Looking at these examples, the best in my opinion is the Jeep Golden Eagle. The Dodges are on the verge but not too bad and the Bronco would be nice if it got rid of the lower graphic. I remember the vans in the 70s with murals. Some were nice, subtle to breezy, but some, some looked like a Picasso that had some sort of rational pattern that made the van look like like an extremely overweight lead sled, especially when they were lowered with those gawd awful cheapo aluminum diamond plate running boards. Bottom line is the old adage, "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder." If you like it that's your business and don't let me or anybody else tell you different, that is unless we're neighbors and I have to see it parked in your driveway every morning before coffee.
But tastes in bygone years are different than today's. Thinking about the wallpaper pattern that was in my house when I bought it made me think it was inspired by Edith Bunker's house dress.
That’s why I comment on leaving out pictures of the subtle pinstripes with matching gold wheels on Dodge Warlock (they also put pinstripes on the wood rack & inside the cab). Owned one in the day, I now own another one. Li’l Red Express also used pinstripes with wood on the box & tailgate.
Good work! Can't wait to see your follow-up article on the stripes and graphics used during the golden era of Japanese compact trucks. And, a quick heads up in those regards, those graphics were oftentimes outwardly bold but subtly sold feelings of, for example, the open road, traversing terrain, etc. Very well imagined stuff.
If vinyl stripes "back in the day" are bad...how about the "wraps" of today commissioned by owners to look "different"...recently at a show there was a C7 Corvette wrapped totally in shiny gold...it looked like a giant nugget on wheels...I felt sorry the Vette but not the owner whom was standing near hoping someone would make a positive comment...
All these trucks are pretty nice to be sure. But I guess I'm partial to those mid 70's Dodge's. I owned one for 21 years before I had to surrender it to the scrap yard. Sad day that day my friend.
Tastes have changed, or have they? I see just as many strange graphics today applied to vehicles as I've ever seen before. Many do not do the vehicle any favors. And wraps? But it is just a matter of taste! Remember how modern the Brady Bunch's orange kitchen looked back in the day. Millions of kitchens turned orange because of that show. Last week a home show was destroying and replacing the black granite counter tops. Yep! So 2010's. Vehicles are no different. Who said "there is no accounting for taste"?
I made pretty good money painting pickups in the 70's.Everybody wanted there truck to look cool.Like the one they saw in the magazine. I must of gone through a half million miles of masking tape during that period.Things have changed,you don't have to be good with a spray gun any more. Just have to be good with a computer.
I thought this stuff was really cool in the 70’s; when I was in my early teens. I grew out of that. Can’t imagine being an adult and thinking it’s anything but awful.
Having said that; I’m a sucker for unusual stuff. If I found one of these in original paint (must be a manual transmission); I would consider it. So hideous; it’s interesting.
Yeah... In this "age" where insurance companies, oil embargoes and governments essentially squelched performance, manufacturers struggled to come up with something new and attractive, especially for the younger folk.
MOPAR was successful with its cartoon characters and its "Rapid Transit District" fleet of cars in the later 60's and early 70's... and "kids", like myself back then, gobbled them up!
All I had was the Duster 340 stickers on my car and the power to back it up... which caused me to shy away from the later cars with a 190 hp and "speed graphics" or murals all over their rides.
Geez-Loueez! Was this the NEW ERA of "performance"... stickers!
Related topic: 70's murals/multicolored paint schemes on vans. I had to count the number of colors, the number of fade-outs and the number of stripes and then use some complicated and long forgotten formula to calculate the paint time. And then add on for the clear coat. Don't miss it.
IH made a lot of different packages. The Scout SS and Shawnee (with the lovely Miss Linda Vaughn) were two of the best. The '76 Spirit Scout was the official US Olympic Ski Team vehicle. The "Johnnie Reb" pickup stripe and stars package was definitely unique-and would've been a more appropriate ride for Uncle Jesse, albeit less PC. The yellow and white "sno star" pickup and scout packages were distinctive up north. The Midas Conversion scouts were a little excessive for my taste, but the Comanche and Aristocrat were understated and very attractive. Lots and lots of other scout paint/stripe packages. I miss my '79 dark brown with stripe, orange tartan interior, and gold spoke wheels "Selective Edition".
I bought a new 77 Ford F-150 with a package similar to the Free Wheelin' Bronco. It was a red long bed 2WD with a 460/AT. Individual side stripes covered the entire body below the side chrome going from gold to navy blue. A stout front factory push guard was mounted on the black front bumper. Anson style slotted mag wheels were fitted and the interior featured a black vinyl bench seat with silver inserts and red piping. The door panels and dash had similar themes. Fun truck as it would smoke the rear tires. I remember in 1978 the side stripes were blended and created a fading effect instead of the individual stripes.
My Aunt had a '77 or '78 F150 flareside 4wd that was white with blue panels around the fenders and doors. I always liked it but what got my 6 yr old blood pumping as fars as pickups went was:
And even though it was VERY early 80s: