The Malaise Era. When the cars bled power onto the design house floors. A quick history lesson for those of us too young to remember: In 1973, several members of OPEC suddenly attacked Israel, a US ally. After some assistance to Israel with military resupply, the United States became the target of some OPEC smackdown, and they turned off the oil supply to punish the US government.
To Joe Consumer in his big, heavy, V8-powered Detroit hulk, this meant a huge hike in fuel spending and long (very long) lines at the pump. Eager to respond quickly, the Big Three began stamping a new generation of small, anemic cars, cars that would get the job done, and that’s about it.
Now, in some cases, small economy cars were already in the works long before the crude stopped flowing. The Chevrolet Vega, for instance, had been in development since the late ‘60s. But the Embargo, combined with tightening federal emissions restrictions and a firm reliance on old-school carburetion, meant that even the fast, high-powered variants of those cars had to be slow and suffocated.
But what if they hadn’t been? What if the emissions restrictions had never passed and OPEC had remained happily our bros for life? Take a look at three cars that could have been so much more. Continue reading