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5 Ugly But Fun 1970s Cars

  
Via:  Buzz of the Orient  •  one month ago  •  60 comments

By:   Pete Dunton - Old Car Memories

5 Ugly But Fun 1970s Cars
 

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5 Ugly But Fun 1970s Cars

The 1970s decade for automobiles was one of the most interesting and radical in terms of change than any other decade before it. Fuel efficiency and lower emissions became new buzzwords for 1970s cars however automotive styling was emphasized more than ever before. There were many memorable cars with either beautiful or ugly styling that were produced during the 1970s. Here’s the list of the top 5 that were ugly yet fun cars.

1973-1975 Pontiac Grand Am (4-door)

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When Pontiac released the all-new Grand Am for the 1973 model year, Pontiac had officially created its first version of the the European touring car. It was considerably bigger in size than most European touring cars but it had the handling and road manners close to these European touring cars when compared to most American cars at the time. The 2-door model of the 1973-1975 Grand Am was super sporty and attractive with a semi-fast back roofline, louvers on the rear side windows, and a sleek endura front-end. It was what the Pontiac GTO should have been during that time since it had better styling than the 1973 GTO and 1974 GTO.

5-ugly-but-fun-1970s-cars-8.jpg

The problem was Pontiac also offered a 4-door sedan version of the Grand Am which changed the Grand Am’s appearance to the point where it lost its good looks. The 4-door Grand Am’s more formal roofline did not really blend as well with the Grand Am’s sleek exterior body lines or the very sporty front and rear design like the 2-door Grand Am’s roofline did. American car buyers were not yet ready for an 4-door American car with European touring car attributes, by the 1980s this would change. Though the 4-door Grand Am appeared ugly to many buyers back in the day it was very fun car to drive and it could be equipped with either a Pontiac 400 or 455 cubic-inch V8. It was a great handling car for its era and for anyone wanting a one-of-a-kind 1970s era 4-door performance car with good handling, the 4-door 1973-1975 Pontiac Grand Am is your car.

1974-1976 Bricklin SV-1

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Bricklin was a small Canadian automaker with only one mission in mind – to build an ultra safe 2-seat sports car. SV-1 was short for “Safety Vehicle 1”. The Bricklin SV-1 had ultra modern styling with flat body panels with sharp edges which would foreshadow the sports car styling of the 1980s. Unfortunately its super large ugly front bumper which provided excellent crash safety ruined its modern looks and gave the car such a long frontal area, it made the rest of the car look disproportional. Not to mention the massive rear bumper was the size of railroad tie. Even the SV-1’s futuristic gull-wing doors could not make up for the ridiculous front and rear bumpers. Bricklin would not last long as a company before it permanently closed its doors, this is why the SV-1 only had 3 years of production with its last year being produced by another company.

5-ugly-but-fun-1970s-cars-10.jpg

Had Bricklin not used the jumbo-sized bumpers, the SV-1 would have been a great looking sports car. As an example the 1984-1989 Nissan 300ZX had much smaller bumpers and was a great looking extremely popular sports car that curiously had the same exterior styling of the SV1 from the front tires all the way back to the rear taillights. The SV-1 which had fiberglass body panels was a fun car to drive since it was a front-engine rear-wheel drive sports car that was standard with a V8 – depending on model year it was either an AMC 360 cubic-inch V8 or a Ford 351 cubic-inch small-block Windsor V8.

1968-1978 Lamborghini Espada

5-ugly-but-fun-1970s-cars-3.jpg

The Lamborghini Muira and Countach were bold and beautifully styled sports cars that made Lamborghini a legitimate competitor to Ferrari. Unfortunately the same can’t be said for Lamborghini’s 2+2 sports coupe, the 1968-1978 Espada which had wild exterior styling that gave it strange proportions that made it appear ugly in comparison to other expensive Italian cars. Its long hood, long front overhang, and a fastback roofline that was so horizontal it made the car look like a sport wagon.

5-ugly-but-fun-1970s-cars-4.jpg

Ironically when the Espada debuted, around the same time Lamborghini also debuted the Islero which was also a 2+2 sports coupe. The Islero had modern pop-up headlights versus the Espada’s more conventional exposed round headlights. The Islero had beautiful exterior styling in comparison to the Espada. However what the Espada lacked in good looks it more than made up for with its fantastic steering, handling, and a legendary engine under the hood. The Espada’s 3.9 liter V12 engine was a powerhouse back in the 1970s producing 325 to 350 horsepower depending on model year. During the 1970s when most cars were loosing horsepower the Espada had plenty of horsepower to reach a top speed of 155 mph. Back in the 1970s it didn’t get any better than that for a 2+2 sports coupe.

1970-1978 AMC Gremlin

5-ugly-but-fun-1970s-cars-5.jpg

Anyone alive during the 1970s will remember seeing the 2-door AMC Gremlin on America’s streets. It was a sub-compact car which was reliable inexpensive transportation but it was ugly. Its stubby rear hatchback design was the main cause of its bad looks. However the Gremlin was very inexpensive which was just what frugal car buyers wanted back in the 1970s. It was the perfect economical car for the times yet it didn’t have a four-cylinder engine option until late in its production life.

5-ugly-but-fun-1970s-cars-6.jpg

The Gremlin had big some advantages compared to other sub-compacts of the 1970s because it was rear-wheel drive and could be equipped with either a 232 cubic-inch inline 6-cylinder engine or 258 cubic-inch inline 6-cylinder engine. These engines provided fantastic low-end torque and zippy acceleration. But it got even better, from 1972-1976 the Gremlin could be ordered with AMC’s 304 cubic-inch V8. Even though it was a low-compression V8 with a 2-barrel carburetor, the Gremlin’s light-weight ensured quick acceleration for a sub-compact car. Add to that both 6-cylinder engines and the V8 were available with a manual transmission with a floor mounted shifter. It was all these factors that made the Gremlin a lot of fun to drive.

1973-1974 Volkswagen Thing

5-ugly-but-fun-1970s-cars-.1.jpg

The most ugly new vehicle on the road in America back in the 1970s was the Volkswagen Thing. The name says it all, it was so ugly that Volkswagen couldn’t give it a proper name for the U.S. market. Back in Germany, it was officially the Volkswagen Type 181 which was marketed and sold as the Thing in the U.S. Market, it was marketed in other countries with different names. The reason for its ugly duckling looks was the Type 181 was originally designed as an utilitarian vehicle for use by the West German Army. This also meant it was an extremely durable vehicle that was built to last.

5-ugly-but-fun-1970s-cars-.2.jpg

The Volkswagen Thing was a four-seat, four-door vehicle with a rear-engine and rear-wheel drive layout. It was only available in the U.S. with Volkswagen’s air-cooled 1.6 liter flat 4-cylinder engine and a 4-speed manual transmission. However the reason why the Thing has such a high fun factor was it was a convertible with easily removable half doors, a retractable soft-top, and a fold-down windshield. With the soft-top retracted and the doors removed the Thing provided the same open air experience which the current Jeep Wrangler and Ford Bronco provide. In fact the Volkswagen Thing is so fun to drive it’s more popular today than back in the 1970s.

 


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Buzz of the Orient
Professor Expert
1  seeder  Buzz of the Orient    one month ago

Wait a second, I owned a 1973 Pontiac Grand Am, but thankfully it was the 2-door model that the author said was super-sporty and attractive.  It was also damned fast.  Mine looked like this, but it was dark racing green.

1973-pontiac-grand-am

 
 
 
Texan1211
Professor Principal
1.1  Texan1211  replied to  Buzz of the Orient @1    one month ago

Remember when Cadillac came out with the Seville?

It really wasn't bad looking, but all I could think when I saw it was "WTF? THAT'S a Cadillac?!"

 
 
 
Buzz of the Orient
Professor Expert
1.1.1  seeder  Buzz of the Orient  replied to  Texan1211 @1.1    one month ago

My brother (who emails the jokes to me - my only sibling) owned a 1984 Cadillac Seville that looked exactly like this:

R-C.16c734c69d0df11d1dbe13f890172958?rik=hR8fPozX3vu6Uw&riu=http%3a%2f%2fmomentcar.com%2fimages%2fcadillac-seville-1984-2.jpg&ehk=ERfMcoA9TVD8zS7cE8r%2fzPTKmXtPG7BBCRsU1HKGhwo%3d&risl=&pid=ImgRaw&r=0

When I first saw it what went through my mind was that Cadillac was trying to make its cars look like a Rolls Royce. 

 
 
 
Texan1211
Professor Principal
1.1.2  Texan1211  replied to  Buzz of the Orient @1.1.1    one month ago

I am sure some folks really liked these cars, but I couldn't look at one without doing a double take.

No offense to your brother, but they were butt-ugly!

I hated those ugly little Ford Pintos, too.

 
 
 
Buzz of the Orient
Professor Expert
1.1.3  seeder  Buzz of the Orient  replied to  Texan1211 @1.1.2    one month ago

I never liked it either, but I never told him that. 

 
 
 
Vic Eldred
Professor Principal
1.2  Vic Eldred  replied to  Buzz of the Orient @1    one month ago

Would the DeLorean fit in here?

 
 
 
Buzz of the Orient
Professor Expert
1.2.1  seeder  Buzz of the Orient  replied to  Vic Eldred @1.2    one month ago

I think we would have to determine if the DeLorean was considered ugly in the past or in the future.

 
 
 
Vic Eldred
Professor Principal
1.2.2  Vic Eldred  replied to  Buzz of the Orient @1.2.1    one month ago

I guess my opinion of that car is now obvious. Maybe I'm in the minority on that one.

 
 
 
Buzz of the Orient
Professor Expert
1.2.3  seeder  Buzz of the Orient  replied to  Vic Eldred @1.2.2    one month ago

Chacun a son gout.

 
 
 
Vic Eldred
Professor Principal
1.2.4  Vic Eldred  replied to  Buzz of the Orient @1.2.3    one month ago
Chacun a son gout.

I knew a woman whose husband got her everything she wanted.  I asked her once, what is the one thing she wished she had. She said when she was young, she always wanted the DeLorean. That is when I recalled how ugly I used to think it was.

I advised her husband to get her a toy version of the car for her birthday.

 
 
 
Buzz of the Orient
Professor Expert
1.2.5  seeder  Buzz of the Orient  replied to  Vic Eldred @1.2.4    4 weeks ago

He could also have given her a ticket to the movie Back to the Future.

 
 
 
MonsterMash
Sophomore Quiet
3  MonsterMash    one month ago

The first new car I bought was a 73 Grand AM identical to the one shown below. I originally wanted a 73 Mercury Cougar but the dealer couldn't get the monthly payments in my comfort zone so I opted for the Grand AM with monthly payments of $ 117 for 36 months. I forgot what I got for my trade in, it was a 67 Buick Electra.

The Grand AM was sporty and fast, I kept it for 13 years.

?u=https%3A%2F%2Fcdn.dealeraccelerate.com%2Fhollywoodmotors%2F1%2F576%2F29358%2F790x1024%2F1973-pontiac-grand-am&f=1&nofb=1&ipt=fc0a6cdbc4679b58f129bf29c310cb6e1f42feff38c0649eb74d1a8c30c45567&ipo=images

 
 
 
Buzz of the Orient
Professor Expert
3.1  seeder  Buzz of the Orient  replied to  MonsterMash @3    one month ago

I can't open either of your images - your Grand Am or your Pacer.  You probably copied them from Google and then posted them directly onto your comments, but I cannot open Google, so for me to see the images you would have to take an extra step and save the Google image to your computer's picture library and then post it on your comment from there, using the square with the little arrow in it in the banner above your comment as your are typing it.  I would appreciate your courtesy in doing that. 

 
 
 
MonsterMash
Sophomore Quiet
3.1.1  MonsterMash  replied to  Buzz of the Orient @3.1    one month ago

proxy-image?piurl=https%3A%2F%2Fcdn.dealeraccelerate.com%2Fhollywoodmotors%2F1%2F576%2F29358%2F790x1024%2F1973-pontiac-grand-am&sp=1718426754T5f54332ccbf64e362f69d37d9d8a149abf812b82e4cd2e9586d02b01e1820a64

Does it show now?

 
 
 
Buzz of the Orient
Professor Expert
3.1.2  seeder  Buzz of the Orient  replied to  MonsterMash @3.1.1    one month ago

Not there, but the white Grand Am down below.

 
 
 
MonsterMash
Sophomore Quiet
3.1.3  MonsterMash  replied to  Buzz of the Orient @3.1.2    one month ago

OK, glad I finally was able to show it to you.

 
 
 
Buzz of the Orient
Professor Expert
3.1.4  seeder  Buzz of the Orient  replied to  MonsterMash @3.1.3    one month ago

Now, not only do we have something in common, but obviously we also both have very good taste.

 
 
 
Igknorantzruls
Freshman Quiet
4  Igknorantzruls    one month ago

What, the Pacer didn't make the cut ?

 
 
 
MonsterMash
Sophomore Quiet
4.1  MonsterMash  replied to  Igknorantzruls @4    one month ago

The Pacer was Uggggggggggggllllly

?u=https%3A%2F%2Fs-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com%2F736x%2Fee%2Fc4%2F51%2Feec451764b2f730e91bcdeb9d7c56f82.jpg&f=1&nofb=1&ipt=ac5697f8d42d4c849f4e36a16dc759f8306ea5ecfe4cf41057e0d3dce65acbb6&ipo=images

 
 
 
Texan1211
Professor Principal
4.1.1  Texan1211  replied to  MonsterMash @4.1    one month ago

It is hard to believe this car didn't make the list!

 
 
 
Buzz of the Orient
Professor Expert
4.1.2  seeder  Buzz of the Orient  replied to  MonsterMash @4.1    one month ago

I can't remember what car I traded the Grand Am for.  During those times I had a lot of different cars (2 at a time - one for me and one for my wife), Volvos, a Peugeot 604, a Buick 350, Camrys....

 
 
 
MonsterMash
Sophomore Quiet
4.1.3  MonsterMash  replied to  Buzz of the Orient @4.1.2    one month ago

256

 
 
 
Buzz of the Orient
Professor Expert
4.1.4  seeder  Buzz of the Orient  replied to  MonsterMash @4.1.3    one month ago

She's a beauty.

 
 
 
MonsterMash
Sophomore Quiet
5  MonsterMash    one month ago

256    Ugly Pacer

 
 
 
Buzz of the Orient
Professor Expert
5.1  seeder  Buzz of the Orient  replied to  MonsterMash @5    one month ago

And yep, that is one ugly Pacer.  LOL

 
 
 
MonsterMash
Sophomore Quiet
6  MonsterMash    one month ago

256  256

1973 Grand AM interior

 
 
 
Buzz of the Orient
Professor Expert
6.1  seeder  Buzz of the Orient  replied to  MonsterMash @6    one month ago

If I remember right, I think the interior of mine was black. 

 
 
 
MonsterMash
Sophomore Quiet
6.1.1  MonsterMash  replied to  Buzz of the Orient @6.1    one month ago

Mine was red, but I think it was a lighter red than the ones shown

 
 
 
Buzz of the Orient
Professor Expert
6.1.2  seeder  Buzz of the Orient  replied to  MonsterMash @6.1.1    one month ago

I might have been thinking of the black interior of my 1964 Pontiac convertible - I now think the interior of my Grand Am was a medium brown colour - which is a good match for the dark green exterior. 

 
 
 
Buzz of the Orient
Professor Expert
6.1.3  seeder  Buzz of the Orient  replied to  MonsterMash @6.1.1    one month ago

Actually, the original colour could have faded somewhat over 13 years.

 
 
 
MonsterMash
Sophomore Quiet
6.1.4  MonsterMash  replied to  Buzz of the Orient @6.1.2    one month ago

A red interior was a good match for my white Grand AM.

When I graduated HS in 1965 I bought a 64 Pontiac Grand Prix, with a curved rear window. It went 0-60 mph in 5.6 seconds, It had two four barrel carbs, Borg-Warner water cooled racing transmission with four on the floor. That car would leave GTO's in the dust.

 
 
 
MonsterMash
Sophomore Quiet
6.1.5  MonsterMash  replied to  Buzz of the Orient @6.1.3    one month ago

I'm sure it did fade some.

 
 
 
Buzz of the Orient
Professor Expert
6.1.6  seeder  Buzz of the Orient  replied to  MonsterMash @6.1.4    one month ago

I'm really not familiar enough with engine technology.  In high school I had a choice of taking woodworking, motor mechanics or commercial.  I chose commercial and learned bookkeeping and touch typing, and I'm happy I chose that for the advantage of being able to type with all my fingers on both hands without needing to look at the keyboard.  It sure has come in handy, starting with when computers started to be installed in offices, and now. 

 
 
 
zuksam
Junior Silent
7  zuksam    one month ago

I had a 74 VW Thing and I loved it. It was modeled after the Kubelwagon which was a German WW2 jeep. It was pretty good offroad as most bugs were and they shared the same running gear and suspension. Basically except for body parts the Thing used the same parts as VW bugs. The Things windshield folded down, the doors came off and it was a convertible, what's not to like. The one thing I did hate was the side windows which were called side curtains and they were clear vinyl and looked like jeep soft doors and they had terrible visibility and leaked cold air which was compounded by the VW's crappy heating system. The only thing good about the Things side windows was that they came off. 

 
 
 
zuksam
Junior Silent
7.1  zuksam  replied to  zuksam @7    one month ago

C41E7FB8-4A9A-45AE-A242-585AB0DB507C-tiny-2048x0-0.5x0.jpg

 
 
 
zuksam
Junior Silent
7.1.1  zuksam  replied to  zuksam @7.1    one month ago

That's the 1974 Acapulco edition, mine was just a standard 74 Thing. They sold a lot of these in Hawaii and places like that and many were rental cars. The rims are Empi rims not factory, it would have had regular steel rims and VW caps.

 
 
 
Buzz of the Orient
Professor Expert
7.1.2  seeder  Buzz of the Orient  replied to  zuksam @7.1.1    one month ago

I would suppose it would not be too viable in colder climates.

 
 
 
zuksam
Junior Silent
7.1.3  zuksam  replied to  Buzz of the Orient @7.1.2    one month ago

That's pretty much the way it was with all air-cooled VW's. the heat was not good.

 
 
 
zuksam
Junior Silent
7.2  zuksam  replied to  zuksam @7    one month ago

Mine was yellow like this but this is a custom body but looks cool.7fa61ba266d2ee71b635ea69e4d88cc2.jpg

 
 
 
Buzz of the Orient
Professor Expert
7.2.1  seeder  Buzz of the Orient  replied to  zuksam @7.2    one month ago

It still qualifies to be included in the "ugly" class. 

 
 
 
zuksam
Junior Silent
7.2.2  zuksam  replied to  Buzz of the Orient @7.2.1    one month ago

I bet if VW had made this pickup in the 70's they would have sold millions of them (if they installed roll up windows in the doors). 

 
 
 
zuksam
Junior Silent
7.3  zuksam  replied to  zuksam @7    one month ago

43364_Front_3-4_Web.jpg

 
 
 
Buzz of the Orient
Professor Expert
7.4  seeder  Buzz of the Orient  replied to  zuksam @7    one month ago

The only VW I ever had was a Golf convertible I bought for my 2 kids to share.  

 
 
 
zuksam
Junior Silent
7.4.1  zuksam  replied to  Buzz of the Orient @7.4    one month ago

They were good cars and great for newer drivers because they handled great and were like a go-cart to drive.

 
 
 
Buzz of the Orient
Professor Expert
7.4.2  seeder  Buzz of the Orient  replied to  zuksam @7.4.1    one month ago

I forget what year model it was but it looked just like this - the kids loved the car.

volkswagen-vw-golf-rabbit-cabriolet-cabrio-convertible-black-metallic-zwart-noir-schwarz-12-4f7f0370.jpg

 
 
 
zuksam
Junior Silent
7.4.3  zuksam  replied to  Buzz of the Orient @7.4.2    one month ago

Nice Cabriolet

 
 
 
zuksam
Junior Silent
7.5  zuksam  replied to  zuksam @7    one month ago

81fe9d9749ca3f72d145d69e28f987933b09884c.jpg

 
 
 
Buzz of the Orient
Professor Expert
7.5.1  seeder  Buzz of the Orient  replied to  zuksam @7.5    one month ago

A “reverse" Lincoln Continental.

 
 
 
zuksam
Junior Silent
7.5.2  zuksam  replied to  zuksam @7.5    one month ago

That's a WW2 kubelwagon.

 
 
 
zuksam
Junior Silent
7.6  zuksam  replied to  zuksam @7    one month ago

93392ab602c685c64fa47b0c21570673.jpg

 
 
 
zuksam
Junior Silent
7.6.1  zuksam  replied to  zuksam @7.6    one month ago

This is a WW2 Schwimmwagon and yes it can go in the water. I just added this because being a VW nut I always liked these.

 
 
 
Buzz of the Orient
Professor Expert
7.6.2  seeder  Buzz of the Orient  replied to  zuksam @7.6    one month ago

A while ago I did an article on war cars and those boxy German ones were represented on it.

 
 
 
zuksam
Junior Silent
7.6.3  zuksam  replied to  Buzz of the Orient @7.6.2    one month ago

I must have missed it, 

 
 
 
zuksam
Junior Silent
7.6.4  zuksam  replied to  Buzz of the Orient @7.6.2    one month ago

I always liked boxy cars like my VW bus or my Volvo's. I even like those little Japanese Kei cars.

 
 
 
zuksam
Junior Silent
7.6.5  zuksam  replied to  Buzz of the Orient @7.6.2    one month ago

14538912859973

 
 
 
Buzz of the Orient
Professor Expert
7.6.6  seeder  Buzz of the Orient  replied to  zuksam @7.6.3    one month ago

Here you go - the article includes the VOLKSWAGEN KÜBELWAGEN    LINK ->

 
 
 
Buzz of the Orient
Professor Expert
7.6.8  seeder  Buzz of the Orient  replied to  zuksam @7.6.4    one month ago

Over the years I had a few different boxy Volvos, and my Peugeot 604 (considered the Cadillac of France) was very boxy but it was a grear ride.  

 
 
 
Buzz of the Orient
Professor Expert
7.6.9  seeder  Buzz of the Orient  replied to  zuksam @7.6.5    one month ago

One of these days I'll do an article on classic motor homes. 

 
 
 
zuksam
Junior Silent
7.6.10  zuksam  replied to  Buzz of the Orient @7.6.8    one month ago
Over the years I had a few different boxy Volvos

I had a 1971 Volvo 142 and a 79 242 both with standard transmissions. I loved the 142 it was a great car, the 242 was nice just not as nice as the 142.

 
 
 
Buzz of the Orient
Professor Expert
7.6.11  seeder  Buzz of the Orient  replied to  zuksam @7.6.10    4 weeks ago

At different times I had a 240 sedan, a 240 wagon, and a superb car was the 760 in which I took my family on a pilgimage to Cooperstown - we were big Blue Jays fans back then.

 
 

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