Home Cars 10 1970s Sports Cars Actually Worth Buying & 20 As Bad As You Remember
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10 1970s Sports Cars Actually Worth Buying & 20 As Bad As You Remember

Cameron EittreimApril 26, 2022

Chevrolet Vega GT
Photo Credit: GM

29: Chevrolet Vega (Worth It)

Another seemingly forgotten relic of the muscle car era was the Chevrolet Vega. This is another car that was not originally planned to be a muscle car but has since garnered a unique following. The platform has a lot of potential and these cars are still affordable to get your hands on (via Auto Blog).

Chevrolet Vega GT
Photo Credit: GM

If the styling looks familiar, it’s because it was meant to look like a smaller version of the Camaro. The short wheelbase and the current aftermarket scene have made the car popular. If you can’t afford a Camaro from this era, the Vega is the next logical step and you’ll enjoy driving it.

Ford Maverick
Photo Credit: Ford

28: Ford Pinto (Worth It)

The Pinto is the car that almost bankrupted Ford Motor Company, but it’s also become quite highly sought after in the muscle car world. The unique styling of the Pinto and the fact that it was the basis for the Mustang II have helped to bolster the value. Again, the short wheelbase and the ability to have a V8 engine are both major advantages to this car (via Car Gurus).

Ford Pinto - Ford Motor Company
Photo Credit: Mecum

The Pinto was once one of the most hated cars on the road but is now a desirable collector’s item. With the right amount of work, you can build the Ford Pinto into a respectable street rod. The interchangeability with the Mustang II makes the Pinto a notable exception to the hatchback segment from this era.

Photo Credit: Bring A Trailer

27: AMC Pacer (Worth It)

Another car that was the furthest thing from a sports car when it was new was the AMC Pacer. The design of the car was not the most attractive at the time, but the platform on the Pacer is one of the best that you can get. It’s not uncommon to see one of these with a V8 swap in it. Coupled with the short wheelbase, the performance is excellent (via Go Motors).

Photo Credit: Bring A Trailer

The Pacer has become one of the most sought-after cars from this era. The unique design and ability to build on it with a V8 motor have made the ugly hatchback popular. Not to mention that AMC is a piece of American history in the automotive industry.

Photo Credit: Ford

26: Ford Mustang Cobra II (Worth It)

The Ford Mustang II was one of the most despised Mustang models ever built. The fact that it was based on the Pinto was sacrilege to Ford loyalists. The car wasn’t a great seller when it was brand new, but nowadays it has increased in value due to the current muscle car bubble (via Motor Trend).

Photo Credit: Ford

The Ford Mustang II was one of the most interesting cars from this era, just because of the design. Ford was attempting to make an economical sports car, and using the Pinto was a daring move. While the Mustang II was initially faulted for its lack of design nowadays, it has become a collector’s item.

Photo Credit: Chrysler

25: Plymouth Sapporo (Worth It)

You don’t generally think of Plymouth when it comes to compact sports cars, but the brand released a few notable models. Chrysler was attempting to rejuvenate its sales in the 1970s, and thus Sapporo was born. The car was a lightweight two-door model and had a decent bit of performance to it (via Hemmings).

Photo Credit: Chrysler

The Sapporo is one of the least known relics from this time at Chrysler, but the car has started to gain traction on the used market. Two-door domestic cars from this era are increasing in value, making the Sapporo a noteworthy addition to any collection.

Photo Credit: Mecum

24: Chevy Chevette (Worth It)

Hot hatches are all the rage from the 1970s and 1980s, but one that never gets enough attention is the Chevy Chevette Sport. The interesting hatchback came with an appearance package and a manual transmission, which gave it a decent amount of pep for the period (via The Truth About Cars).

Photo Credit: BAT

The Chevette is unlike many cars from this era, in that the value hasn’t started to bubble yet. This means you can still get one for a great price and make it a unique 1980s hot hatch. If you are lucky enough to find a sports model, you’ll get the unique black and red front grill and stripes.

Photo Credit: Auto Evolution

23: Volvo 262C (Worth It)

Volvo isn’t a car company traditionally equated with performance, but the 262C changed all that. The 262C was marketed as a luxury performance coupe. The design was different than the Volvo models previously seen, and even some that came thereafter, and even a tad bit higher quality than you’d expect (via Hemmings).

Photo Credit: Auto Evolution

The Volvo 262C is a departure from the traditional Volvo formula of modest driving characteristics and safety. The performance of the Volvo 262C was the most impressive part of the car and the recent interest in the car on the used market was peaked by the one-of-a-kind design. The build quality of this Volvo was also much higher than the other two doors from this same period.

Photo Credit: Car Domain

22: Mercury Bobcat (Worth It)

Mercury doesn’t get mentioned enough about the muscle car and sports car segments, but the brand has had some great cars. The Bobcat is a car based on the Ford Pinto, which transversely means the car shares a platform with the Ford Mustang II (via Motorcities).

Photo Credit: Car Domain

The Bobcat is an interesting hatchback that you can find for a decent price. The design of the car has a lot of potential and there are many performance upgrades that you can get for this car. Given the rarity of the car, it’s a more unique option than the Pinto or the Ford Mustang II.

Stutz Bearcat
Photo Credit: Mecum

21: Stutz Blackhawk (Worth It)

Some sports cars are so rare and underrated that they don’t get the attention they deserve. The Stutz Blackhawk is one of these cars from a rapidly changing era. The car was sort of a concept car that made its way into production and it was rare indeed. The obscene styling of the car was controversial at the time and many find it hard to believe this was a production model (via Below The Radar).

Photo Credit: Mecum

The Stutz Blackhawk is very much worth obtaining simply due to the novelty of the car alone. The unique design is unlike anything else that you’ll see on the roadways. Although the car has the appearance of a low and slow cruiser, this was a purpose-built sports car, and it has the performance to match.

Photo Credit: Car Domain

19: Chrysler Cordoba

The Chrysler Cordoba is that one great car that was forgotten shortly after it hit the market. But, with the prices for classic cars soaring to new heights the Cordoba is a noteworthy V8-powered muscle car. You can use the platform as a base to do all kinds of modern upgrades, and the car wasn’t half bad looking when it was new (via Medium).

Chrysler Cordoba
Photo Credit: Hot Rod

The styling of the Cordoba is very much akin to the Chevrolet Monte Carlo, but you’ll pay thousands less for it. The car has a lot of potential inside and out, and there were interesting features, such as the Corinthian leather interior. With a little bit of TLC, this car can be a great weekend cruiser or sleeper muscle car for the track.

Photo Credit: Mecum

18: AMC Hornet 360

The AMC Hornet was a strange sports car, to say the least. It was short and stubby and its performance was questionable at best. The car didn’t have many redeeming qualities and that’s why sales were so poor. AMC was in a transitional period around this time, which is why the Hornet was mostly made up of parts from the AMC parts bin (via Curbside Classic).

AMC Hornet SC/360
Photo Credit: Car Domain

With the recent muscle car craze, the Hornet has started to peak in value, but the car is still as bad as you’d remember. There weren’t a lot of good cars coming out of AMC around this time. The Hornet just didn’t have what it took to become a real player in the muscle car segment, and by this point, the rising fuel costs were starting to kill the segment off anyway.

Photo Credit: Hot Rod

17: 1970 Dodge Dart Swinger

The Dodge Dart name gets thrown around in muscle car circles all the time, but does that mean the brand is worth it? The Dart Swinger was a car that was released on the cusp of the next muscle car generation. Unfortunately, the rising fuel costs and waning consumer interest meant the car never reached its full potential (via Barn Finds).

Photo Credit: Hot Rod

IF you are lucky enough to find one with the highly coveted yellow paint job then you’re in for something special. Otherwise, the car is just another poor marketing attempt by Chrysler, and it doesn’t offer anything real in the way of performance. There were a lot better muscle cars that you could get from this particular point in the era.

Photo Credit: Car Gurus

16: Chevrolet El Camino

The El Camino has been on a hot streak lately in the muscle car market with values soaring to obscene levels. But, that doesn’t mean that this car is worth the high price tag. At the end of the day, the El Camino was a failed project by GM, and the car had a lot of shortcomings that are tough to overcome (via Car Gurus).

Photo Credit: Car Gurus

The build quality on the 1980s models was questionable at best, and the reliability started to go out the window too. The performance of the El Camino also wasn’t the most impressive either. The design was also very limiting, there was no back seat, and the car wasn’t good at going off-road like a real truck either.

GMC Spirit
Photo Credit: Bring A Trailer

15: GMC Sprint

Likewise, the El Camino’s clone wasn’t that great of a car either, and it was the only car GMC ever built. What the GMC Sprint did wrong was differentiate itself from the El Camino. The car was not different in any way other than the badge on the grill, and this left a bad taste in the mouths of enthusiasts (via Car Gurus).

Photo Credit: Bring A Trailer

Even with the rising values, the Sprint is as bad as you remember. The car has an ugly design, and there isn’t much to boast about in terms of performance or versatility either. The Sprint is worth avoiding if you are in the market for a sports car from this era, there were so many better options.

Photo Credit: Motor Trend

14: Volkswagen Type 181

This is probably one of the ugliest sports cars that came out of the 1970s and it had a Volkswagen badge slapped on the front of it. This car was an attempt by VW to gain some of the consumers back that the company lost during the muscle car era. Unfortunately, this was the furthest thing from an actual sports car you could get (via Hagerty).

Photo Credit: Motor Trend

Take one look at the car and you’ll instantly be able to tell that Volkswagen didn’t have a real plan. It looks capable of going off-road, but it doesn’t do that well. Its performance is also not even close to being called exhilarating. Yet values of this thing continue to rise to obscene levels.

Photo Credit: Car Domain

13: Subaru Brat

The Subaru Brat is another car from this era that tried to serve two purposes of being a pickup truck and a compact sports car. Advertising would make you think that the Brat was the most exciting car that you could drive. The unfortunate reality of this, however, was that the Brat was far from an exciting to drive the car the (via Subaru Car Blog).

Photo Credit: Car Domain

The basic build quality of the car was iffy at best and certainly doesn’t justify the premium price tag that the car is currently being sold at. Subaru built much better cars back then than you could get. A Brat is a unique project car, but it definitely won’t put you back in your seat from the exciting driving characteristics.

1979 Ford LTD Country Squire
Photo Credit: Ford

12: Ford Country Squire

I know what you’re thinking, the Country Squire that we all saw in National Lampoon isn’t a sports car. But, that’s where you are wrong because this wagon has built a following. The ability to swap the engine out with a modern Coyote V8 has piqued the interest of many enthusiasts (via Bring A Trailer).

Photo Credit: Mecum

But the current high price tag of the car just isn’t justifiable. Even without modifications, the Country Squire had questionable reliability, as well as the car was prone to rust. There are better performance-oriented wagons that you can find from this era that will serve you well and save on the wallet.

Photo Credit: Car Domain

11: Mercury Cougar

The Cougar was always the also-ran brother of the Ford Mustang, and there wasn’t anything unique about this car. The first generation especially has risen in value due to the current muscle car bubble. But at the end of the day, the car isn’t worth the price tag and will only depreciate as time goes on (via Repair Pal).

Photo Credit: Car Domain

The car was a confusing mix of muscle car and luxury, something that GM had tried with the Camaro Berlinetta and failed miserably. There are sports cars from this era that are worth considering, but with the current inflation, the Cougar just isn’t one of them. You just won’t justify the high price tag you spent on the car.

Photo Credit: Motor Trend

10: Opel GT

This is a sports car that you don’t see often anymore and there are a few reasons for that. The first of which being that the design wasn’t very practical, and most sports car enthusiasts found the car to be a tough proposition. The off-the-line performance wasn’t that great, although the handling of the Opel GT is unmatched (via Car Gurus).

Photo Credit: Motor Trend

Nevertheless, this is another car that has been seemingly caught up in the bubble. You’ll never get the money you spent on this car back, and that is a problem when it comes to making such a costly investment. Opel isn’t a brand that has earned a lot of loyalty in the sports car segment, and this car should be avoided altogether.

Photo Credit: Motor Trend

9: Ford Ranchero

Ford tends to copy GM when it comes to a popular product and the Ranchero was their version of the El Camino. Unfortunately, if the El Camino was bad then the Ranchero was especially bad. The design of the car was a sole rip-off of the El Camino and this was not an original design in any way (via Car Survey).

Photo Credit: Motor Trend

The performance of the Ranchero was also questionable and doesn’t justify the money you’ll have to dump into it. Even with modern upgrades and modifications, the Ranchero isn’t worth it. Unless you’re a diehard Ford fan, there are much better cars from this era that will provide more excitement.

Photo Credit: Car Domain

8: Cadillac Coupe DeVille

In the 1970s, the Cadillac brand was still synonymous with high-class luxury, but the company wanted to attract younger buyers. Thus, the Cadillac Coupe DeVille was born. This was a luxurious sports car that provided decent performance for the period, but in recent years the value of this car has risen to obscene levels (via Notorious Luxury).

Photo Credit: Car Domain

The Cadillac Coupe DeVille is something that should be reserved for true enthusiasts of the brand. This isn’t a car that will provide a lot of excitement, and the price will probably break the bank. There were other vehicles built on this platform that provided better value for money.

Photo Credit: Car Domain

7: BMW E3 3.0Si

The BMW E3 is often highly regarded when it comes to the sports car segment from this period. Released in a wagon version as well this was one of the original sports wagons that you could buy. But, the value of classic BMW models has gone to new heights, and this car is way overpriced for what it is (via Car Review).

Photo Credit: Car Domain

Getting a BMW from this era or even the years that followed is problematic, because parts are hard to find, and a trustworthy repair shop is even more difficult to find. The E3 should be avoided if you want a sports wagon from this era, at least until prices start to stabilize.

Photo Credit: Plymouth

6: Plymouth Arrow

The Plymouth Arrow was one of the first sports-themed trucks to be sold on the market and most people don’t even know about it. But the little truck only provided excitement that was skin deep, because the engine was lethargic at best. The Arrow was based on the Mitsubishi trucks of the same era, and thus there wasn’t much to offer (via Barn Finds).

Photo Credit: Plymouth

With a little bit of work, the Arrow can be an exciting truck to drive, but the resale values on the thing have ballooned to obscene levels. This was a bargain-basement truck when it was new, and now it’s being priced as if it were a real collectors car. The sports model is even rarer with its two-tone paint job and painted wheels.

1972 Citroën SM
Photo Credit: Bring A Trailer

5: Citroën SM

This car has recently come into the limelight because Jay Leno is the proud owner of one. This was one of the first mainstream French sports cars to hit the market, but that is about all that was good about it. The design of the Citroën SM was questionable at best and it didn’t catch on with many consumers (via Hagerty).

Photo Credit: Bring A Trailer

There were some interesting features of this car, but nothing worth the high price tag it commands today. The Citroën SM is one of the most overrated sports cars from this era. This is also one of the least common sports cars from this period, and if you see one on the road, it stands out.

Photo Credit: Classic Car DB

4: 1978 Oldsmobile Omega Coupe

The Oldsmobile brand was once a major part of the automotive industry, but nowadays it’s just a relic. However, there were some sports cars that the brand released that have become forgotten. The 1978 Oldsmobile Omega Coupe is one of these cars released during the rising fuel prices of the 1970s (via Hagerty).

Photo Credit: Classic Car DB

The Omega was not popular by any stretch of the imagination, and nowadays the car is worth avoiding. This was just one of the many cars that GM built on this same platform.

Photo Credit: Edmunds

3: 1972 Lombardi Grand Prix

What exactly was the Lombardi Grand Prix? It was a very limited production sports car with an even more limited appeal. Many of the stylings were in line with what you’d expect from this era in automotive design. Pop-up headlights were one of the most noteworthy features of this car, and they helped it stand out (via Hagerty).

Photo Credit: Edmunds

The appeal of the car doesn’t justify the high price tag that these are going for on the used market. You can get better performance from many sports cars that won’t break the bank.

Photo Credit: Edmunds

2: 1970 Marcos Mantis

There are quite a few sports cars that came out in the 1970s that didn’t deserve to see the light of day. The 1970 Marcos Mantis is one of these cars. The design of the car is bad enough, but performance was also lackluster at best. There was nothing remotely appealing about this car (via Hagerty).

Photo Credit: Edmunds

Just the naming of the Mantis should have been enough to send drivers running for the hills. The car was perhaps one of the worst planned sports cars of the decade. Car enthusiasts who know their stuff try to avoid this thing at all costs. There is no value in the Mantis.

Photo Credit: Edmunds

1: 1975 Bricklin SV-1

Gull-winged sports cars are all the rage. There is just something about these cars that invoke your inner spirit. But the 1975 Bricklin SV-1 is nowhere near as cool as the famous gull-wing sporting cars you’re used to seeing. This was a concept car that went into production way too fast and didn’t offer anything in the way of value (via Hagerty).

Photo Credit: Edmunds

While the styling of the car was alright, it just didn’t attract consumers enough to justify the price tag. The car sold poorly, and you’ll seldom see one around anymore. There were much better sports cars from this era.

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