Currently enjoying their new ‘classic car’ status, many iconic models from the 1970s are becoming popular all over again. This is evident from the number of articles appearing in classic car media, highlighting models from the era and looking at ‘ones to watch’ in terms of investment potential. For example, Classic Car Magazine’s lead article this month, entitled ‘70s scorchers’, looks at the Ford Capri, BMW 3 series, Triumph Dolomite Sprint, Ford Escort and the Opel Commodore.
Of course, the Jaguar XJS would be at the top our list of classic cars from the era, but there are a few other cars we think are worth a mention – ones that have in some way influenced car design or the progress of automotive technology. None of these cars, in our opinion, match the XJS in terms of durability or lasting elegance, but are influential none the less.
Saab 99 Turbo (1978 to 1981)
This chunky-looking car put the Swedish car manufacturer Saab firmly on the map when it was introduced in 1978. It was one of the first family cars to be fitted with a turbo engine and, although it wasn’t to everyone’s taste, it was well received from a performance and technology point of view. Its four-cylinder, 2.0-litre engine offered 135bhp, outperforming many cars in its class at the time.
Just over 10,000 models were made. Some, like the limited edition five-door in Carnival Red, carry an upward price of £10,000 in today’s market.
BMW 3 series (E21 – 1975 to 1983)
This model was the bigger, boxier successor to the much-loved, but rather out dated 2002 series. When it was launched in 1975, Autocar described its performance as ‘zesty and smooth’. Thanks to a very high build quality and angled centre console – a totally new concept in terms of cockpit design – it soon built up its own reputation as an executive saloon car. Specifically the 323i model became the iconic sports saloon of its time.
High specification, restored 323i models today can fetch anything in the region of between £10-15,000, but they are hard to come by as – like so many BMWs from that era – corrosion was a major issue.
Audi 80 (B1 – 1972 to 1978, B2 – 1978 to 1986)
With its Bertone/Luthe styling and robust (and now legendary) EA827 engine, it’s easy to see why the Audi 80 was voted 1973’s European Car of the Year.
Audi added a sporty 1.6 GT version to its range in the same year, which became a well-known Q-car. When Audi revamped the range in 1976, the GT became the GTE (E for ‘einspritz’, which in English means injection). VW used the engine from this model for its Golf GTI.
Earlier models are rare; so expect to pay upwards of £10,000 for a car in good condition.
Porsche 924 (1975-1988)
Initially conceived as a VW sports car, Porsche replaced its unpopular 914 model with the 924 in 1975. Despite its superb build quality and financial success – sales of this car allowed Porsche to take the 911 upmarket – the car was thought to be somewhat lacking in performance. This led Porsche to develop a turbo version in 1978, and a Carrera GT in 1981.
There are still quite a few around today, at auction expect to pay upwards of £2,000 for an early 1980s turbo model.
VW Scirocco (first generation 1974-1981)
The Mk1 Scirocco was a big success for Volkswagen and an instant hit when it was first released in 1974. It was styled and engineered to be a much sportier car than the Golf or Jetta – the platforms from which were used to underpin the design of the Scirocco. The desirable 1.6 litre ‘Storm’ also shared its engine with the Golf GTI, making it a very fast front wheel drive for its day. Now in its third generation, the Mk3 was reintroduced in 2008.
Sadly, issues with rust mean there are very few good-quality early edition Mk1s around to buy today.
Which models would be on your list?
Of course these are just some examples of influential cars from the era. There are many more; for example, we haven’t mentioned the Lancia Delta. We’d love to know which cars would be on your list. Let us know via Facebook or Twitter.
For more information on the history of the Jaguar XJS, click here.