6 of the best cars from the swinging ’70s—according to Hagerty readers

The 1970s were a rough time for automakers. Increasing emissions and safety standards meant the old way of producing cars had to change, and that meant some of the flash and panache of the fabled “glory days” 1960s cars faded. There were bright spots, though—specifically, six of them, according to Hagerty readers.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://www.hagerty.com/articles-videos/articles/2019/09/03/best-cars-from-the-swinging-70s-according-to-hagerty-readers

Where O where is the 2002. My g/f at the time had a 74 2002, we drive the wheels off that thing year in and year out for 150k miles until the rear shock towers rusted out. It totally changed my perspective on what a sporty daily driver could and should be. There’s not a car on this list that even comes close. HOW COULD YOU FORGET?!!

@dave6 - The list was composed by votes from the Question of the Week last week. The 2002 was mentioned, but the cars that compose this article were mentioned much more frequently.

I have only tip-toed around in a 2002, but I really want to drive more in one. It was a blast and seems like I would only enjoy it more with more miles!

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And where, pray tell, are the early 1970s Oldsmobiles, especially the Hurst and 442 versions, circa 1970-72? Surely one of them could/should have made this list.

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In the same vein as dave6, where are the BMW E9 coupes? Beautiful and some of the best highway cars ever created; you can drive for hours and hours with that inline 6 just humming. I’ve had one since 1987 and it’s still a fantastic head-turner.

The Lincoln MKIII’s were killer. They came with a 460 not a 390 as the article states. The 71’s offered an optional steel electric sunroof. The 69’s and 70’s would smoke the tires from a dead stop. They benefitted from straight up timing gears and higher compression.


No offense, but these listicles are getting increasingly boring. Next on the docket:

  1. 9 Cars from 1983 that came with full size spares!
  2. 8 engines from the 1960s which sounded like wild boars during mating season
  3. Jazzed Up Japanese–14 stickers that added zero horsepowerziz to '70s sport coupes.
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The restyled C-body cars starting in 1977 were something GM did right. I had a 1977 Olds 98 for almost 30 years, over 300K miles. Never rebuilt the 403 engine (don’t think you even could). What it lacked in power it made up for in durability. It was comfortable, had a smooth ride, and handled surprisingly well for a luxury car of the time. Wife made me give it up because she didn’t think it was safe for our kids, she’s like that.

I, for one, am looking forward to these upcoming lists, particularly #1!

@kcturbodug - We as an editorial team always appreciate feedback, so thanks for sharing. Is there something you would like to see more of in our articles?

All nice cars and worth experiencing, but only one on the list was a true game-changer.
The S30 series of Datsun Z’s – 240/260/280 – simply dominated the worldwide sports car market for the entire decade. With the exception of the 260 – which had a carburetor weakness that simply couldn’t be fixed for any length of time – they just kept getting better right up until the last of the 280Z’s was built in 1978. The problem with the 260’s could be handled with several aftermarket carburetor setups – but few were ever competently done.
What came after the S30’s was unfortunate, in a vain attempt to move upmarket into a more luxurious niche. Neither the 280ZX nor the first Z31 300ZX variant was as pleasurable to drive.
It took the Z32 300ZX to be as good a car for its trim as the initial S30 series was.

I love the sound of these though!
4. Which cars came with the biggest back seat ash tray!
5. Ten cars that let the radiator fan run with the key off!


That Grand Am is so horrible… I love it! I think that era car is going to gain in popularity- later 70’s over the top lookin cars, Malaise I think I’ve seen them called? I’d drive it with a big smile on my face no doubt.

Wow, I got my drivers license in 1970. I would think the Firebird and Camero, '70 Challenger from the movie Vanishing point, 454 Vette, 70 Monte Carlo, Porsche 928…

Hey! I can’t believe a see the Pontiac Grand Am on the list. I have one and am in the process of making it drivable. If you care to see some videos of it…

This list is limited to the readers that take the time to respond. Not a true picture of the other 90% of the readers that don’t respond.
So in our minds we just know better. But at least we know what 10% think.
The '72 Toyota Corolla wagon, about the size of my shoe now, would have been my first choice. See how silly this can get?

The list should have been best top 10 at the very least. Needed to include the Ford Maverick. True American muscle that was overshadowed by the Mustang.

The Grand Am selection tells me people really didn’t care about this topic.

Our neighbor had the GTO version of that G-body Grand Am. 1973, I think? It was burgundy and looked similar to that Grand Am (not the Nova version), but said GTO on the back. I remember thinking it was such a cool car. Never see them anymore.

I was thinking the same thing as I read through the list. The 442 is a glaring omission.