It’s entirely too easy to get lost wading neck-deep through the thousands of high-gloss, big-money muscle cars that hit the auction block every year. It’s usually the same predictable contenders, year after year, with enough ‘60s Mustangs, Camaros, and Corvettes sold to fill the Woodward Dream Cruise. On the eve of auction powerhouse Barrett-Jackson’s 2017 Scottsdale sale, we found some alternative GM muscle from the genre’s most unloved era to balance out the glitz. 1986 Pontiac Grand Prix 2+2 Here’s one of the more obscure Malaise-era American cars. Much like the semi-popular Monte Carlo SS Aerocoupe from the same period, the 2+2 was a homologation attempt by GM to fit a more aerodynamic design onto its NASCAR stock cars. Thanks to rear-end lift on the boxy G-Body cars, GM was eaten alive on the oval, prompting the smoother appearance of the 2+2. Under the front hood beats a fairly standard 5.0-liter (305 ci) V-8 engine, pushing out a miserable … [Read more...] about Just Listed: Four Malaise-Era GM Oddities from Barrett-Jackson’s Upcoming Scottsdale Sale
Saturday Night Live in which Lorne Michaels famously asked New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani if it was it OK to be funny again, at some point in the early 1980s, car manufacturers asked the question "Is it OK to be fast again?" The memory of the second energy crisis was receding, the dreaded "double nickel" (the national 55 mph speed limit) was on its last legs, and idiotic 85-mph speedometers went away. It didn't hurt that the wonders of electronic fuel injection and oxygen sensors helped horsepower and clean tail pipes coexist. To paraphrase Ronald Reagan, it was morning on Woodward Avenue again. Here are some of the cars that drove a stake through the heart of the Malaise Era: 1984 Buick Grand National (above)At first glance, the Regal seemed like an unlikely platform for the second coming of Buick muscle. It was a bit upright compared to the fastback Skylark of the early 1970s, but it was relatively light, and in all-black trim it looked suitably menacing. One of the first … [Read more...] about Malaise Era Busters
Corvette Sting Ray and the Porsche 911. If Corvettes and Porsches aren't your thing, it's also the 50th of the Aston Martin DB5 and the 60th of the last great Packard, the Caribbean. Lost in the hoopla, however has been any mention of the fact that it's also the 40th anniversary of the Ford Mustang II, the de facto standard bearer for the automotive dark age that came to be known as "The Malaise Era."Pollution regulations, safety standards and a fuel crisis that saw pump prices skyrocket created the perfect mediocrity storm that forced Americans – and most of the rest of the world – into cars that were as bland and gutless as the Carter administration. The start of the malaise era is roughly marked by the Arab oil embargo of 1973 and the resulting great muscle car extinction, and it lasted until the introduction of the 200 hp + Buick Regal Grand National and the Ford Mustang GT 5.0 in 1985. Here are some of the malaziest from the era. 1974 Ford Mustang II (above)The … [Read more...] about Happy 40th Anniversary to the Malaise Era
we bid a fond happy 40th anniversary to the automotive dark ages of 1973-84 that have come to be known as "The Malaise Era" – the performance ice-age when 160 horsepower was a lot and a 0-60 time of under 10 seconds was remarkable. Like music in the 1980s, everything in automobiledom didn't suck, however. There were a few bright spots. Here are five of our favorites: 1976-79 Porsche 930, aka 911 Turbo Carrera (above) Photo Credit: DorotheumWhile Chevrolet beat them by a decade with the turbocharged Corvair Corsa, the Germans more fully developed turbocharging through racing where General Motors couldn't. Early Porsche 930s (known technically as 911 Turbo Carreras) were a bit crude, with turbo lag that could be measured with an egg timer. They lacked an intercooler as well as brakes that were up to the task, but performance was sensational, with the buff books reporting 0-60 times of anywhere from 4.9 to 5.8 seconds and quarter-mile times of under 14 seconds. This was '60s … [Read more...] about Malaise Era All-Stars
shut off the oil taps, and Detroit got busy making many of their full-sized land yachts a lot smaller. By model year 1977, the downsized fifth-generation Buick Electra was ready to go ... just in time for the 1979 Iranian Revolution to squeeze the supply of the black stuff even further. You won't see many of the 1977-85 Electras these days, but I spotted this faded but solid '79 Limited sedan in a Denver self-service yard last week.General Motors must have bought up the entire world's supply of blue velour around this time, because you'll see this stuff in just about every car they made for the following decade or so.By this time, GM was doing a lot of mixing-and-matching with engines from its various divisions, which meant you could buy an Oldsmobile 88 with a Chevrolet 350 V8 engine, a Chevrolet Monza with a Buick 231 V6 engine, or— as in this case— a Buick Electra with an Oldsmobile 350 V8 engine. Do you want to know how many horses this engine delivered to this … [Read more...] about Malaise Era Junkyard Gem: 1979 Buick Electra Limited
Malaise Era for cars in the United States spanned the 1973 through 1983 model years, and featured such abominations as a Corvette with just 205 horsepower (from the optional engine!) and MGBs with suspensions jacked way up to meet new headlight-height requirements. There were many low points throughout this gloomy period, of course.The horrifyingly low power and fuel-economy numbers for big V8s during the middle years of the Malaise Era make a strong case for 1974 or 1975— the years of Nixon's resignation and the Fall of Saigon, respectively— as the most Malaisey years. But then the GM-pummeling debacles of the Chevy Citation and Cadillac Cimarron could make an early-1980s year the low point. 1979, the year of the ignominious Chrysler bailout? You choose!Related Video: … [Read more...] about Question of the Day: Worst year of the Malaise Era?
Junkyard Find Datsuns (the ’78 510 and ’77 280Z) featured mysterious “FLOOR TEMP” idiot lights on their dashes. Floor temp? Why?Malaise Era was the inability of the automotive industry to meet US federal and– in the case of cars sold in California— state exhaust-emission regulations without crippling the vehicles (whether this inability was due to Naderite anti-progress bomb-throwers infesting the government or corporate mismanagement and the over-reliance on lobbying to fend off emissions regulations is your subject to debate). While Honda’s CVCC engines managed to beat the tailpipe test without the use of the early, incredibly inefficient catalytic converters, just about everybody else had to bolt a super-restrictive and surface-of-sun-temperature cat onto the exhaust. On low, sporty vehicles that didn’t have a good location for the catalytic converter, an overheating cat could set the car’s interior on fire. Nissan’s … [Read more...] about What’s the Deal With those FLOOR TEMP Warning Lights in Malaise Era Datsuns?
Let’s face it: The thrill of adding another bazillion-dollar supercar to your scale-model collection faded in middle school. What your shelves need is some scale malaise, the American boats you saw on every street and driveway when you were a kid. The average toy company may not get that desire, but we do—and so does NEO Scale Models, whose 1:43-scale collection of ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s American iron will take you back to your childhood cul-de-sac.NEO’s collection is made from resin, allowing for sharper details and finer features than toy-grade die-cast models. That means they’re too fragile to be playthings, but just look at the detail in these models. We haven’t seen a K-car look this good since dial-up was king.All this intricate detail comes at a price, of course: Each roughly smartphone-sized model starts at around $60, and shipping from Germany can run the price of an individual model up into the triple … [Read more...] about Buy These: Malaise-Era American Iron Immortalized in Awesome 1:43 Scale
“Crisis of Confidence” speech of July 15, 1979 (interestingly, Carter did not use the word “Malaise” in his speech). Carter dared to suggest that Americans couldn’t always have everything they wanted, cheap, and for this— plus his reluctance to turn the residents of Tehran into clicks on a Geiger counter after a bunch of beardo Islamo-loons took advantage of the power vacuum resulting from the CIA’s man losing control of our oil-soaked real estate and taking US embassy personnel hostage— conventional American wisdom regards him as The Worst President Of All Time, Except For Maybe That Guy That Did The Teapot Dome Thing. The idea that things were always going to get worse took root in America sometime between Walter Cronkite revealing himself as a paid agent of Vo Nguyen Giap and a Georgia preacher getting whacked by some asshole while supporting a bunch of Memphis trash collectors; the inflation resulting from the Vietnam … [Read more...] about What About the Malaise Era? More Specifically, What About This 1979 Ford Granada?
Around the time of the Bicentennial, 300 horsepower was reserved for from-the-factory supercars and custom builds aimed at the drag strip. Today, you can find family sedans eclipsing that benchmark without a lot of trouble. Compare the first decade of Toyota Corollas to hit North American shores to their modern day equivalents and you’ll note that 0 to 60 time have been almost halved.It’s the same with most models. A few years ago, I had the privilege of driving a well-maintained 1977 Oldsmobile Omega and wondered how enthusiasm ever survived malaise era automobiles. It must have been the gorgeous styling keeping us going.Modern cars aren’t just more powerful, they’re also far more efficient and significantly less dirty. Additional safety regulations and standard equipment should have left us with bogged-down fuel hogs, yet automakers have managed to roll with the punches — not just maintaining the status quo but routinely … [Read more...] about The Replacement for Displacement: Plotting Our Path Out of the Malaise Era