Skip to comments.Performance Pretenders: 10 Malaise-Era (not so)Muscle Cars
Posted on 09/15/2012 12:09:14 PM PDT by djone
There's a dead zone in the history of performance cars between the hairy-chested muscle cars of the 1960s and the rebirth of power in the mid-1980s: the 197282 "malaise era," when machines were so strangled by new emissions rules that their performance levels were an embarrassment to even today's compact cars. Automakers slathered flashy paint and taped racy stripes and stickers to the hoods of the cars, but these 10 just couldn't get'er done at the dragstrip.... 1978 Ford Mustang King Cobra...1974 Pontiac GTO...... Read more: Performance Pretenders: 10 Malaise-Era Muscle Cars - Popular Mechanics
1977 Chevy Monza Mirage
I had a 79 Monza Spyder that was actually pretty good. Not a muscle car but the V6 gave me good performance and fuel economy. Its weakness was one common to many American “sportscars”- it was uncontrollable on slippery roads.
Heh, I knew the Mustang II would make the list. One of my older brother’s friends had a Roadrunner (and a Duster. I’ve never even heard of the Monza or the Dodge Mirada before.
I had a 1978 Trans Am that was fun, not so fast.
Would it be legal to take one of these chained beasts and free them? I know that wouldn’t be “original” but they can be had for far cheaper than their pre-emissions counterparts.
I think a car older than 30 years is exempt from emissions tests. At least in NY.
That was the last car I could actually work on myself, and when it left a year later my interest in cars left with it.
My father bought a 1976 Dodge Aspen four-door (same chassis as that ‘76 Road Runner) when it first came out. 318 V8, green with a white vinyl top, I remember it quite well. It was the biggest piece of junk he ever owned. It stumbled and stalled anytime my mom made certain left-hand turns taking me to school in the morning. It was already starting to rust after 11 months. We got three recall notices on it inside of a year. By the time that year was up he had dumped it for half what he paid for it and bought a ‘77 Toyota Corona “Luxury Edition,” a much better car.
Ironically, my uncle bought an almost-identical Aspen at the same time, except the color of the body and top were reversed, and his had one of the last of the immortal 225 Slant Sixes in it instead of the 318 V8. That thing lasted almost 20 years with no major mechanical issues and no rust. Go figure.
I like the photo of the Road Runner.
I had a 1973 Ford LTD four-door sedan that had a 429 V-8 motor with plenty of muscle. It was a traffic ticket hazard—you had to be careful while accelerating, or you could be going over 100 mph in no time. On the downside, it was a slurper.
They put underpowered engines in a lot of trans ams. Knew they were underpowered too.
what wasn’t a slurper if it was built in 1973?
Dad drove a buick electra with the big engine, mom had a handed down buick le sabre with the 454 wildcat engine. Talk about guzzlers. Lots of power though.
1. they were inexpensive to buy
2. they didn't usually need much maintenance.
Besides body integrity issues, the Aspens and Volares had that truly awful transverse torsion bar front suspension which both irritated us Mopar traditionalists and left the owners with wallowers. All-in-all, they were a sad way to wind up the pre-K Car era, although I run into people now and then who wax nostalgic about the one they had... my eyes probably involuntarily glaze over when that happens.