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?
While Opel, Fiat, and PSA blame the European malaise for their lack of luck, Mercedes, BMW, and now Volkswagen can’t get the grins off their faces. Volkswagen reports global group sales of 642,300 for February; this is up 5.1 percent from the 557,900 sold in February 2011. Global vehicle deliveries by the Volkswagen Group in January and February 2012 rose by 7.7 percent to 1.29 million units. According to Volkswagen, the world automotive market was up by roughly 6 percent in the first two months. This indicates that Volkswagen won worldwide market share.The following tables show why Volkswagen has reason to be happy. In the first two months of the year, Volkswagen slightly increased sales in Europe, propelled by 34.2 percent growth in Central and Eastern Europe. Volkswagen is very strong in Asia, in China alone, sales are up 13.4 percent, while the overall market dropped 4.37 percent in China. A good showing in NA adds to the growth. In all these markets Opel, Fiat, and PSA are … [Read more...] about Volkswagen Group Sales Brave European Malaise
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?
The table tells the story better than words:Volkswagen GroupQ1 2012Q1 2011ChangeEurope937,000908,3003.2%W Europe (ex Ger)507,100531,900-4.7%Germany282,400267,3005.6%C&E Europe147,400109,10035.1%Asia / Pacific726,100621,80016.8%China633,900548,50015.6%India34,10028,10021.4%North America179,100143,90024.5%U.S.A.124,40092,80034.1%South America229,400220,9003.8%Despite a tanking market, the Volkswagen group could eke out a small gain in Europe based on a solid showing in Germany and big gains in Central and Eastern Europe. Sales in China did beat the market and are now more than double the sales in Germany.Brand-wise, all divisions are strong, except for SEAT. which has maximum exposure to the malaise in Southern Europe. Suddenly, SEAT’s overall weakness is beneficial: Where one does not have much, one cannot lose much.Volkswagen BrandsQ1 2012Q1 2011ChangeVolkswagen … [Read more...] about Europe-Shmeurope: Volkswagen Brushes Off Mediterranean Malaise, Delivers Record First Quarter
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?
Great handling, two seats, sporty styling, and coupe lines. No, we’re not talking about a Corvette Z06, because it’s another Malaise Day here at Rare Rides — and our topic of discussion is a shockingly orange Ford EXP.I always thought those letters stood for EXtra Powerful, but maybe I was wrong. Let’s find out.Ford announced its first two-seat vehicle since the 1957 Thunderbird, and set it for introduction at the 1981 Chicago Auto Show. Intended for the post-oil crisis customer, the EXP was light, sporty, and efficient. Imagine the sea of brown suits with large lapels which crowded around this new sporty coupe. Exciting!Based on Ford’s successful CE14 platform, the EXP and its Mercury LN7 sister were cousins to the Escort and Tempo from Ford, and the Lynx and Topaz from Mercury.Built in California, Michigan, and near Michigan (Canada), the EXP lived through two generations. The first was available from 1982 to 1985, and was lower and slightly longer than … [Read more...] about Rare Rides: The 1983 Ford EXP Handles All Your Malaise Driving Needs
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