You can tell a lot about the culture of a particular decade or time period by its movies, its music, and its cars. I've talked about a lot of aspects of the 1970's here on Retrospace, but I don't think I've said much about 70's wheels. Well, it's high time I did. And speaking of "high" let's start with vans...
Vans were nothing more than a enclosed mobile space in which to smoke weed and have sex. Many of you reading this post were conceived in the back of these love machines. Nowadays, vans are for soccer moms - they're always full of kids and are equipped with a TV and plenty of cupholders for Starbucks and juice boxes. Back in the day, they didn't have all that fancy shmancy stuff - the only thing you'd likely find in the back would be shag carpet and a massive bong.
Muscle cars were the choice vehicle of young men in the 70's. They were literally an extension of your manhood. They had but two purposes: attracting chicks and making that blacktop your bitch. They weren't necessarily expensive, even bag boys owned them. However, the key was tricking out the engine to where it became a gas guzzling Bat out of Hell.
And speaking of gas guzzling - the 1970's were a time of great concern over fuel prices and availability. Who wanted to wait in long lines at the pump when you could be driving an economy car with great gas mileage? The speed limit was lowered, parking lots got "economy car" spaces right up front, and you started seeing ugly but economical cars like the Rabbit, Gremlin and Pacer on the city streets.
Sports cars had their heyday in the 1960's, but still were popular in the proceeding decade. The candy apple red Corvette is essentially a symbol of the late 70's (who can forget Mark Hamill's Corvette Summer?) If I could choose any car to own, it would have to be something like the Triumph Spitfire (shown below); nothing is better than a vintage foreign sports car.
So if the young men and women were driving vans, muscle cars and sports cars, what were the other people driving? Well, first of all, you need to know one thing: it didn't really matter. The Baby Boomers ruled the market (and still do), so auto manufacturers could give a flying shit about the older set. Let them keep driving their old Cadillacs till the wheels come off - Detroit had its eyes on the new generation.
Of course, if you did happen to have a family, the only way to go was the station wagon. I prefer the Brady Bunch wood paneled variety, or the Clarke Griswold "metallic pea" variety. My uncle's wagon had a CB radio up front and we all chilled out in the back where there were comfortable sleeping bags. Do they even make station wagons anymore? If they do, I sure don't see them.
Lastly, you might wonder where seat belts fit into all this..... they didn't. No one used them (except maybe out of curiosity to see what it was like to wear one). The only "click" heard in the 1970's automobile was your dad's Bic lighting up a smoke with the windows rolled UP. (cough!)
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