Mazda presented the first-generation RX-7 in 1978 and it stayed on the market until 1985. During that period, they built almost 500,000 RX-7s, selling most of them in America.
Under the hood was a 1.1 to 1.3-liter Wankel rotary engine, which was the RX-7’s most notable feature. This extremely compact and light engine produced 102 to 135 HP, which was more than enough for a lively performance from this little coupe.
Mercedes Benz G-Klass
Originally developed as a military vehicle, Mercedes introduced the timeless G-Klass in 1979.
It was a highly capable and durable off-roader with minimal luxuries and a spartan interior. Over the years, it evolved into a luxury SUV. Since the G-Klass is still in production, it is one of the longest producing models in the world.
BMW 6-Series E24
When they presented it in 1976, the new 6 Series was BMW’s entry in the Gran Turismo market. Also, it was one of the most elegant coupes of the period with its recognizable design, four headlights, and a big BMW grille. They built the 6 Series on the 5 Series base, but it only featured those powerful six-cylinder engines.
The 6 Series proved to be popular, spending over 13 years on the market. BMW managed to produce over 100,000 of them, all of which are still highly-desirable models on the used car market. Interestingly enough, more than half of the examples BMW produced were sold in the USA.
Plymouth Roadrunner Superbird
Plymouth based this car on the Roadrunner. It came with a 440 V8 motor as standard and the 426 Hemi was the only engine option. However, to make it as aerodynamically efficient as they could, Plymouth installed a nose cone, hideaway headlights and an enormous spoiler on the back.
Also, they transformed the rear glass from a standard concave-shaped one to a regular-shaped glass, which proved more slippery in wind tunnel testing. Sadly, it was just a one-year-only model for 1970.
Ferrari 512 BB
This fantastic sports machine wasn’t the first mid-engine car for Ferrari, but it was an advanced offering for the mid-70s.
The Ferrari 512 BB featured a flat 12 engine with a 5.0-liter displacement that pumped out a whopping 360 HP. That was an extremely high power output for 1976. Unfortunately, with the fantastic performance came a lofty price tag, so they only sold 926 of them.
The first BMW sports car was the legendary M1, which they introduced in 1978. Because BMW only sold 500 of them, the M1 was considered a failure. However, the M1 is now a highly collectible car with an enormous price tag.
They mounted a 3.5-liter engine producing 280 HP right behind the driver, which provides this sleek Bavarian with respectable performance numbers.
Jeep was already a well-established company, but in 1976, the CJ7 arrived, sending the sales numbers through the roof. The CJ7 was the perfect combination of an affordable price, compact dimensions, and luxury features, as well as uncompromised off-road ability.
This meant the CJ7 was usable as both an everyday vehicle and a brutal off-road tool. The public loved it, so it stayed in production for 11 years.
Dodge Lil’ Red Express
The Lil’ Express Truck was a special truck Dodge built for just two years, 1978 and 1979, and in limited numbers. The importance of the Lil’ Express Truck was in relation to the strict rules of the late ’70s. They robbed the V8 engine of its power and vehicles of their performance.
But Dodge found an interesting loophole in the regulations that declared all pickup trucks didn’t need catalytic converters. This meant that Dodge could install a more powerful engine to allow it to breathe easier and deliver more punch than their previous models or competitors. That motivation is how the Lil’ Express Truck came to be.
Chevrolet Vega Cosworth
In 1975, Chevrolet presented the interesting yet not-so-successful Vega Cosworth model.
It featured a high revving 2.0-liter four-cylinder twin-cam motor that produced 110 HP. Although it wasn’t particularly fast or strong, the Vega Cosworth was attractive with its striking black and gold paint job and unique wheels. Today, this compact is a highly-sought-after collector car.
Dome Zero was a small Japanese car company dedicated to the production of expensive road-going and racing models. They began production in 1976 and continued until 1986, but it is still unclear how many cars the company built.
The Dome Zero was powered by a 2.8-liter SOHC six-cylinder engine that delivered 147 HP. Although that doesn’t sound like much, the car was extremely light, so the performance was respectable.
Jaguar XJS Coupe
When Jaguar revealed this car back in the mid-70s, the XJS was a big step for the company. Under the long hood, there was the well-known 3.6-liter six-cylinder or the 5.3-liter V12 engine, which was a better choice for the full GT experience.
The XJS was extremely popular, especially in America, where Jaguar sold the majority of the 115,000 cars they made. Due to its elegance, power, and speed, the XJS has remained in production for an incredible 21 years. In fact, it’s still is a respectable car in every way.
MGB GT V8
When they presented it in 1973, the MGB GT V8 was powered by a 3.5-liter engine that produced 175 HP. That was a good figure by early ’70s standards. The car immediately became a strong seller because it combined the practicality of a bigger cabin and trunk with the performance of a V8 engine. It achieved a 0 to 60 mph time of just 7.7 seconds.
American buyers loved the GT V8 since it offered compact dimensions and improved practicality with more power and performance, which was a winning combination.
Toyota Celica A30
Toyota built the Celica on a standard Toyota Carina base. It was one step above the popular Corolla in terms of size, technology, and engine power. They presented the new Celica to American buyers in 1970 with two body styles, a regular two-door coupe and hardtop fastback.
Immediately, drivers compared the new Celica to the Ford Mustang because it was inspired by the Ford pony car. Also, it was a sportier version of a regular production sedan, just like the Mustang.
Chevrolet Monte Carlo
Chevrolet introduced the Monte Carlo as a personal luxury coupe back in 1970. They built it on a modified Chevelle platform.
The Monte Carlo was a handsome coupe-only car with a V8 engine and an attractive interior that offered a decent performance. Even though most Monte Carlos came with the smaller V8 engine for drivers who concentrated on the luxury aspect of this model, there was one crazy muscle option in the form of the SS 454 package.
These are 40 well-known ’70s classics from the disco era. Did you ever own or drive one of these icons? If you can’t afford to buy one, just visit any classic car show, and you’re sure to see some of these ’70s legends in all of their glory.