28 March 2014

Five Of The Coolest Nearly Extinct Cars From The '70s And '80s

The attrition rate of cars from the mid-disco to late Reagan-era is huge. And while we’d love to see someone somewhere driving any one of the cars on this list, in truth, we can’t remember the last time we saw any of them.  Here are five of our favorite nearly extinct cars:

  1. 1971-77 Mercury Capri — Few people remember the 1980s Fox-body Mustang’s near-identical twin, the Mercury Capri. Fewer still can recall the Australian-built front-wheel-drive convertible Capri. This isn’t either of those cars— it’s not even the first to wear the Capri badge. It’s the German Ford mini-Mustang Capri. Sold in the U.S. through Mercury dealers and marketed as “The Sexy European” with an assortment of four- and six-cylinder engines, it was nice looking and great to drive—at least we’re assured of this from vintage road tests. One Capri recently offered on Bring-a-Trailer.com was the first that we’ve seen in ages.

  2. Chrysler Conquest/Mitsubishi Starion — The Conquest was the captive import twin of the Mitsubishi Starion. In the hottest turbo spec with 197 HP, these cars would put the fear of God into Porsche 924/944 owners who had the privilege of paying almost twice as much for less performance. Where have they all gone?

  3. 1969-75 International Harvester Travelall — The Travelall was the Scout’s big brother, and while Scouts are still regularly seen (particularly in the summer with tops off), the Travelall has all but disappeared. In reality, it was one of the pioneers of the modern SUV and one of the first vehicles to offer anti-lock brakes. Sadly, it was completely overshadowed by the Jeep Wagoneer. 

  4. Chrysler Laser/ Dodge Daytona Z Turbo — The K-car platform saved Chrysler in the 1980s and underpinned nearly everything that they built, including the sporty Laser/Daytona twins.  The car was nowhere near as bad as the foregoing would suggest; 2.2- and 2.5-liter turbo fours produced anywhere from 175 HP to 224 HP in their hottest states of tune. Carroll Shelby versions of the Daytona are somewhat collectible, assuming you can find one.

  5. 1975-81 Volkswagen Scirocco MKI — The Scirocco was the spiritual successor to the Karmann-Ghia. It followed the same formula of a pretty Italian body over more pedestrian underpinnings (in this case a body designed by Ital Design clothing Rabbit-derived mechanicals). No matter, it was a decent handler and quick enough for the day. Today, there are probably more Bentley Continentals on the road than MK I Sciroccos.

41 Reader Comments

  • 1
    George FORT LAUDERDALE March 31, 2014 at 14:06
    Love those Gen I Sciroccos, but finding a good one is harder than finding a good Ferrari of the same period. Lancia Beta Sedans were rare then, but find one now!???
  • 2
    Scott McGrath Sunny South Florida April 1, 2014 at 08:06
    In the late 70's and early eighties, as a stupid kid with an Alfa GTV, there were a number of cars I had fun duking it out with on PCH and the twisty B-roads around Point Reyes and Mount Tamalpais. Mot of those vintage canyon carvers continue to be kept up by their owners and the 2002's, Porsche 914's, 911's and 912's, Triumphs MG's and of course Alfa's continue to race against me when I go to the track. But back in the day there were two Fiat X1/9' that alway gave me a run for my money. I always thought that they were great little cars, especially once someone had bolted on a few Abarth upgrades; one of the first consumer mid-engined sports cars, and VERY reasonably priced. I can't recall the last time I saw one in the flesh despite the number of historic hows and races I attend. Too bad.
  • 3
    David Adams United States April 1, 2014 at 08:25
    The Starion/Conquests are still out there. You just have to keep an eye open. I passed a yellow one the other day. I own one and am about to have someone donate a shell to me.
  • 4
    Dave NYC April 2, 2014 at 11:35
    What about the Datsun 240Z?
  • 5
    Norm Murdock Ohio April 2, 2014 at 00:52
    Whaddya talking about, my good friend, Rob? :) There are a LOT of Capris out there. They change hands regularly. BAT and eBay aren't the only two (or even the best two) places to find a collector car for sale at a reasonable price. I know. I own the world's largest and oldest Capri spare parts business, Team Blitz. We have thousands of Capri customers all over the USA, Canada, and the planet.
  • 6
    Joseph Bennardo Long Island April 7, 2014 at 07:21
    I think Hagerty likes to mention the Capri every few years just to get us Capri enthusiasts excited. Last time was 2010 when they claimed that they insured less than 25 Capris, which was found later to be incorrect. Hagerty sponsored the CCNA/Capri-List Capris at Carlisle 2010 when all 3 generations of the Capri were showcased in a Capri/Merkur "Dealership" along with almost 20 other Capris and almost 100 Capri enthusiasts. That's right. The Capri-list mailing list community (over 1200 strong with most members in the US and Canada) managed to find a MK3 Capri to attend the event. Now that's a rare find in the USA. The Capri mailing list is the worlds largest and oldest resource for Capri enthusiasts in the world. Looking for a Capri? Look no further. Search us on Yahoogroups or Capri-list.com.
  • 7
    Drew Wisconsin April 9, 2014 at 13:01
    I remember my Mom coming to pick me up from the University of Wisconsin at Oshkosh with her brand new '84 Chrysler Laser Turbo, gloss black with black Mark Cross leather interior, all digital dash and damn near every option available. When it wasn't turning heads, it was eating head gaskets (two in 60,000 miles) but it was a nice little performer and a nice change from the glut of Z-28s and T/As.
  • 8
    Matt K Kempton PA April 9, 2014 at 13:33
    Rob from Hagerty is correct when he says "Where have they all gone". Let's look at some numbers and you see a very interesting contrast. The Ford Capri in it's first generation import 1970-1977. Sold over 500,000 units in the US and Canada. The second generation 1979-1986 Mercury sold 370,689 cars. So It's a legitemate question when considering such high numbers. when you look for a car on Auto Trader or Hemmings Motor News you hardly find one, if at all. Now the contrast (Sorry with my favorite) The 1981-1983 Delorean. So here we have only 8,583 cars built up to 1983. Today 6500 of these cars can be accounted for. Yet on any given day you can go to the aformention car sites and find a dozen or so Deloreans for sale. And so in here lies the answer. And please I'm not taking anything away from the Ford/Mercury, I always like the 2nd gen Capri with the bubble back window. The Capri's were normal everyday cars and weren't considered remarkable by any standards. Their collectability having come into question long after all those normal cars were gone. The Delorean on the other hand was Considered almost immediately collectable upon the demise of the company and ecspecially after the BTTF movie in 1985. An incredible support system was put into place and 5 DMC locations are located in the US all of which sell and restore the Delorean, Not to mention all the other sites that sell parts. I think this reasoning can go along way with the "disappearance" of many cars. Now you Don't need a movie to make a car collectible. The Buick Reatta is already seen as mildy collectible. For years to come you will find a healthy assortment of these hand built cars to chose from, Because their collectibility was seen early on And they have far fewer numbers then the Capri. :)
  • 9
    Will Owen Pasadena, CA April 9, 2014 at 14:35
    Travelalls go back much farther than 1969. In the fall of '63 I flew with a fellow USAF enlisted man from Elmendorf AFB to Seattle, where we picked up his new Travelall from the Carrington Company and drove it back up the Alaska Highway. He'd saved almost $2K by buying it there instead of at their Anchorage dealership, and didn't mind feeding me in return for my co-driving. It was a very good long-distance driver with the bigger 6 and three-speed column shift, and handled a lot better than I'd expected it to. The only flaw was the vertically-mounted rear doors he'd specified; on the (mostly) unpaved road the body would flex enough to let our dust get sucked in through the back, and we'd have to sweep it out before bedding down for the night, since the owner's generosity did not extend to motel beds!
  • 10
    Ski Virginia April 9, 2014 at 14:53
    I've got a 73 Karman Ghia AND a 1970 914-4. Best of both worlds in my opinion. Both great drivers
  • 11
    Don Pfretz Broomfield, Co April 9, 2014 at 15:00
    My father ordered a 1964 Travelall (white on metallic blue) with 304 V8, 3 speed on the column w/ electric overdrive. We 5 drove the all gravel Alaska Highway and back. No troubles, except those nylon tires and broken windshield. Dad then ordered a '68, dark metallic green w/ white top, 4speed, 345 V8 on the floor. Towed my CJ-3A Jeep well. Marginal drum brakes, loose coach work, very functional, never left us walking!
  • 12
    Vinny United States April 9, 2014 at 15:03
    The GMC & Chevy Suburban was the first and greatest SUV. 1935 on and still going. I had 7 from 1958 to 2001 and simply kept the last one too long for New York's heavily salted roads. GM sort of proved why they went bankrupt (with their attitude) but the suburbans were really good vehicles.
  • 13
    Paul Smith Mio Michigan April 9, 2014 at 18:13
    What about the 74-78 mustang hard to find ! I'm redoing a 78 corba II rite now hope to have done in June
  • 14
    Janet Mansfield Cannon florence sc April 9, 2014 at 18:20
    I have owned a 1971 Karmann Ghia since 1984. Its a fun car to drive.
  • 15
    Cindy Cunningham Eureka MO April 9, 2014 at 09:23
    IH Scout Travelall is not extinct! While we drive the vehicle sans-top (or with soft top acquired from a parts Scout), we have the 300lb original Travell removable top in the garage.
  • 16
    Rich Harris florida April 9, 2014 at 09:45
    Won many auto x events with my starion had great balance and turbo kicked in right when you needed it .Surprized many people with that car
  • 17
    Mark Pa. April 9, 2014 at 21:58
    What no 1977 AMC Pacer stationwagon ?
  • 18
    Steve Papp Hendersonville, North Carolina April 9, 2014 at 10:08
    I purchased a new 1972 international travel all. I would say it was the worst vehicle I have ever owned. I ended up getting rid of it after 14,000 miles. Scored piston. After warranty, cracked distributor, leaky front, gas tank, replaced drag link and a rattle in the dashboard. I never found. Was so disappointed because the older internationals travel all had such a great reputation in very loyal customers. This was a fully equipped vehicle, complete with towing package. Steve
  • 19
    Steve H Denver, CO April 9, 2014 at 10:20
    My '84 Daytona was one cool car!
  • 20
    Dave Richmond, VA April 9, 2014 at 10:43
    I've seen one Gen 1 Scirroco in the last 15 years and it was a beater 1 step from the grave, they are indeed hard to find. On vacation last summer I saw a Chevy Vega being used as a daily driver!! Talk about a rare sighting!
  • 21
    Dave NE TX April 9, 2014 at 11:19
    I bought a yellow 4 cylinder 73 Capri literally off the truck when the first shipment arrived at the dealership in Springfield, IL for sticker price, $2892.00. It was a wonderful car that was comfortable, economical, and fun to drive. It was all but bulletproof. The car's weakness was rust. Were it not for that, it would likely still be around today.
  • 22
    Pat B Chicago April 9, 2014 at 11:22
    Forgot one important one -- XR4Ti
  • 23
    Dave NE TX April 9, 2014 at 11:26
    In 1985 I bought a new Dodge Daytona. Like the Capri, it was a comfortable, economical, and fun to drive car. Handling was excellent as was performance. Early on it was plagued with A/C problems which was a real irritation living in Phoenix, but eventually those were solved. We ended up keeping it as a daily driver for about 12 years and lots and lots of miles.
  • 24
    Eugene Peekskill, NY April 9, 2014 at 23:38
    My brother had a white Daytona Turbo with a 5 speed that I found for him. Was extremely fast, 1st time I drove it I got pulled over for speeding on the NYS Thruway. Since my brother was NYPD, they didn't ticket me, but I would have deserved it. I had bought a Conquest turbo with automatic, leather, loaded. As a muscle car fan owning big block Chevelles and the ilk, I was stunned at how fast it was. Sold it quick for a profit. Then realized I had a find on my hands as I couldn't find another to keep. Always liked the Capri. Ended up with an 89 Mustang LX 5.0 auto. Eventually sold to my nephew. He wrapped it around a pole within 2 weeks. I warned him and my sister the car was dangerously fast.
  • 25
    Jon B Beulah, MI April 9, 2014 at 11:42
    Mopar/Shelby FWD cars from the late 80's do have a bit of a cult following, and can be found regularly. There's actually a Shelby Dodge club ("SDAC") with regional and national events. I have an 88 Lancer Shelby that I've owned since new. Very low production numbers, so I've held onto it.
  • 26
    MikeSte home of Travelall April 9, 2014 at 11:44
    Cindy is mixing Travler Scout and Travelall. These are 2 very separate vehicles. Scouts were built in Fort Wayne, In while the bigger Travelalls were built in Springfield, Ohio. We did not build a Travelall with a lift off top. Come to an IH gathering in Ohio and you will see many people still driving and enjoying Travelalls and Travler Scouts.
  • 27
    Ross M. Utica, NY April 9, 2014 at 11:47
    To me, one of the coolest and hard to find cars of the 80's is the Toyota MR2 . It wasn't that fast for a two seater mid-engine sports car, but it sure was fun to drive.
  • 28
    Alejandro Marin County, California April 9, 2014 at 12:08
    @Cindy, wow, I had a Scout for years but I never knew that the Travelalls also had removable tops. Unbelievable. That's what drew me to the Scout originally, it was one of the few 4x4s out there with a full, completely removable top (instead of just a front seat top popout like the later Blazers). And with front and back seats and the Scout full of people in front and back, what a blast. I can only imagine how awesome a Travelall must look going down the road loaded with people and the entire top off.
  • 29
    Dave Sanders Charlottesville, VA April 9, 2014 at 12:22
    Where did the Sciroccos go? They really didn't "go" anywhere, they just sort of dissolved in place (rust). I had a '78 in college and always keep an eye out for another. The Mk 1 is probably the best looking VW ever made.
  • 30
    John Hajeski NJ April 9, 2014 at 12:28
    Cindy Cunningham...you are confusing the Scout Traveller with the Travelall. The Traveller was the Scout with extended wheelbase and removable top. The Travelall us all steel.
  • 31
    Bill K Long Island NY April 9, 2014 at 12:35
    How about the predecessor to the Starion? The Dodge Challenger with the 2.6l 4 cylander silent shaft engine.. GAve me 12 yeras and over 200,000 miles trouble free...
  • 32
    stanley jablecki lake havasu city az April 9, 2014 at 12:36
    nothing can or will be a successor to the karman ghia. I have a 1970 and it is the most fun car to drive that i have ever had.
  • 33
    Mike Victoria April 10, 2014 at 13:50
    "Mark Pa. April 9, 2014 at 21:58 What no 1977 AMC Pacer stationwagon ?" Aughhhh! I was trying to suppress the memories of my mother's '77 Pacer Wagon... I certainly *don't* miss it! ;-) Always had a bit of a soft spot for the Capri's, I saw one the other day (first time in a long time) and thought "jeez, don't see many of those around".
  • 34
    P. Gibson Portland, OR. April 10, 2014 at 19:03
    The funnest car I had in the 80's was a Fiat 131 coupe. With twin side draft Webbers and minor suspension upgrades, I never had to look at the tail lights of a Datsun 510. Never left me stranded and the clock always kept time.
  • 35
    Kelly Hoover Portland, OR April 10, 2014 at 21:42
    I have a 1974 International Travelall sitting in my driveway. We'd love for this vehicle to find a loving new home. If you are interested, please let me know!
  • 36
    Dave M NE Indiana April 15, 2014 at 12:41
    I still have the 1988 Chrysler Conquest TSi I purchased new. It now has 88k miles. In the late '80's it would put the "fear of God" in all of my friend's Trans Am's and Camaros. In the '90's it put the "fear of god" in many Autocross competitors. I believe 188hp was the max. hp ever offed stock.
  • 37
    Loren Meigide California April 21, 2014 at 00:22
    My first new car was a 78 Scirocco. Traded in the. Scout because gas was getting outrageous at eighty plus cents per gallon and could only buy it on odd days. I put 250,000 miles on it then fixed it up for my daughter to drive it some more.
  • 38
    Len Buck Louisiana November 13, 2014 at 15:00
    I saw a 95 Avanti in perfect condition last night. Unfortunately, it was not a Studebaker edition but was built off the same assembly with a GM 350 engine and gearbox. This author left out the Nash and Hudson vehicles of the 50s and 60s which were as good as any Buick Roadmasters.
  • 39
    Joe Lawson Colorado April 8, 2015 at 11:15
    Still got our '71 Trav family hauler. Bought it in '77. got a 392, 4-speed, 4x4. Sits a lot now as kids all grown. We have a '73 Scout that belongs to #2 daughter. it's got a 392 (swap), auto trans, 4x4, and track lock on rear gears (factory). We still do tons of 4 wheeling, but mostly in a lifted Cherokee. The Travelall has been relegated to snowplow duties. We own and drive old iron, most of it older than those listed above.
  • 40
    Al Kaslo BC Canada September 19, 2015 at 21:30
    Currently building a 74 Capri inspired by the South African Capri Perana which is one of Fords most aggressive muscle cars ever - that never made it to North America. Think Capri with a Mustang drive line. I have a blog about the build at www.capri-Perana.com
  • 41
    Doran Bush IA June 2, 2016 at 20:58
    Have a 1973 2600 Capri in the garage

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