7 August 2013

Photo Gallery: The cars of the Malaise Era

This year marks the 40th anniversary of the beginning of the Malaise Era, that period in automotive history that signaled the end of horsepower-driven fun. Contrary to popular belief, there were some truly great cars to come out of the years 1973-85, such as the Mustang II and Chevy Citation X/11. For a story in the fall issue of Hagerty Classic Cars magazine, we examined and photographed the cars of the Malaise Era. Check out additional photos from the shoot below.

9 Reader Comments

  • 1
    John Barnes Houston August 19, 2013 at 20:30
    Wish you all would do a little more research or talk to folks who still own some of these cars instead of taking the easy journalistic approach by parroting the same ol' stories that have been floating around for decades. I do not know much about many of these but I think I can make an argument that the Vega was really a pretty good car for that era especially '75 and later. I am the first to admit that GM made some silly mistakes on the early Vega but worked out the bugs in the later years. Besides my E-Type the Vega is the only car I have ever owned and still use one every day commuting in Houston traffic. I think it is one of the few 70's cars that in basic stock form still holds up well to it's modern contemporaries in handling, gas mileage and cost of operation. The styling and ease of maintenance are much better than any of it's counterparts today. I have been trying to get the car guys I know who wonder why I am still driving a Vega after all this time to tell me what modern car is better in all these categories. So far no one has been able to do it. Here is the criteria... 1 Small 2 Good looking 3 Good gas mileage 4 Good handling 5 Rear wheel drive 6 Easy to work on. I could add inexpensive to buy but will not hold that against a modern car if it would be better than a Vega on the other six
  • 2
    Craig bishop California August 21, 2013 at 02:10
    I have 8 70's cars , I keep running these cars and been driving them for a long time, all u need to do is to keep maintain them , I will have to say chevy did go on the h-body cars better when they got rid of the vega engine and came out with the iron duke 4cyl engine , but it's funny in hagerty did not mention the Monza,star fire ,sunbird, sky hawk with V6 and some had V8's 262 V8, 305 V8 and 350 in the Monza in 1975 ( have one ) all orig , most of the cars were pretty good ,love reading about cars people had back then and still have them
  • 3
    Lewis Napa, CA August 21, 2013 at 12:53
    Fascinating article but pictures are too small.
  • 4
    Harry Griffith Amarillo, TX September 7, 2013 at 15:26
    This article brought back some memories for me. I had a 1981 Chevy Citation X/11 (2 door hatchback). I will admit that fit and finish on this car was poor. However, I really liked the car and I found it was fun to drive and had a huge interior. The 2.8 l V-6 was somewhat peppy with 135 hp. The 4-speed transmission was something else again. I believe the X/11 was supposed to get a Getrag 5 speed gear box but delays in production caused Chevy to install a 4-speed. This transmission gave me trouble from the day I picked the car up from the dealer. After a week of grinding gears between first and second I took it back to have the synchcro’s replaced. While shifting from first to second improved, it was impossible to try and shift between those gears anywhere near redline rpm. I had a couple of other maintenance issues, the HEI distributor was replaced twice, an AC hose blew off, and I replaced the right CV joint. I drove the car until it had 96K miles and sold it to get a Ford Taurus SHO in 1989.
  • 5
    hugh right here September 22, 2013 at 13:44
    I grew up in the 80's and had a 79 mustang "cobra" which, unfortunately, sported the 2.3L "turbo" rather than the coveted but detuned 5.0L of the day...the styling was flat, the performance low and the reliability, well, unreliable.
  • 6
    oldcarman OaklandMI October 11, 2013 at 11:43
  • 7
    John Oldcarman Oakland MI October 11, 2013 at 11:49
    Where are all of the Mopars? 73-76 Dodge Chargers, Magnums, & Miradas. How about the '79 Chrysler 300, Lil' Red Express truck & Warlock pickup? Omni GLH & Shelby TC3? Even the Gremlin was a darn sight better than the Vega/X cars! You blew it pushing a Mustang & Pacer.
  • 8
    Tom Dethmers Fort Worth, TX October 20, 2013 at 17:33
    Mustang II, a great car? That car was an embarassment to the Mustang line and just Ford's usual cheap way to save a buck! Basically, a glorified Pinto.
  • 9
    Tommy Sixtysix Route 66 in Missouri October 25, 2013 at 15:25
    I have a number of fun cars from this era. A '78 King Cobra Mustang, and the '79 Fox body Cobra to match.... along with a couple of Giant Monte Carlos, Grand Prix and Cutlass counter parts. I had an X11 back in the day, along with a V8 Monza with 4 Speed. YEAH they were smogged down, and not much, but best you could get for a little cash at the time.... I now have a collection of ''75 thru '81 Trans Am and Z28 cars, along with a '79 AMX with 304 and 4 speed... Sold my Orange Volare' Road Runner, so I don't have a Chrysler entry... but I would take a Dodge Magnum if anyone has one....

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