The Best Cars of the 1970s

If you’ve been around for more than four decades, you likely have a favorite car or two from the 1970s. Cars from those days were iconic; often long and sleek, designed to go fast but without safety features that we take for granted today. What were the best cars of the 1970s, and is your favorite on the list? Let’s look at some cars ranging from the 1970 Pontiac Trans Am to the Ford Mustang.

1970 AMC Gremlin | Warren K Leffler/US News & World Report Magazine Photograph Collection/PhotoQuest viaGetty Images

The 1970 Pontiac Trans Am’s long hood is unforgettable

1970 Pontiac TransAM | The Enthusiast Network via Getty Images via Getty Images

The 1970s Trans Am had a long nose and a shaker scoop, which you may remember as the bump in the hood of the car. According to Motor Trend, you could get the 1970 Trans Am with a bright blue interior, though they did away with this by 1971. The 1970 Trans Am was capable of 345 horsepower. Fewer than 4,000 1970 Trans Am’s were made, meaning if you’re looking for one, you’ll be lucky to find it.

The 1970 AMC Gremlin was sorta hideous

A white 1970 AMC Gremlin against a white background.
1970 AMC Gremlin | Hulton Archive via Getty Images

The 1970 AMC Gremlin wasn’t exactly an attractive car, but it sure is memorable. WIth its hunched design and boxy spaceship rear, the Gremlin sticks out in a lot of people’s memories. All Collector Cars says that it wasn’t “particularly popular or reliable,” but that doesn’t keep it from being well-known. All Collector Cars notes that it was a competitor of the Ford Pinto, which was known for catching on fire, so it’s a wonder that Gremlin sales weren’t better. Add to that its initial cost of $1,879, and it’s a surprise that the Gremlin didn’t persist. 

The 1970 Jeep Wagoneer is a classic that’s still a sign of the 1970s

A dark 1979 Jeep Wagoneer outside.
1979 Jeep Wagoneer| National Motor Museum/Heritage Images via Getty Images

When you think back to beach movies of the 1970s, images of the Jeep Wagoneer certainly come to mind. They were a staple of the 1970s, the epitome of family vacations and surf trips to the coast. Its wood paneled sides give it a classic 1970s look that people will still pay big bucks for. 

According to Auto Week, the Jeep Wagoneers from 1968 to 1971 used a Buick engine. This engine was a 5.7-liter, 230 horsepower V8. 1970 also saw a front grill change, giving it the ice-tray look it’s known for. 

The 1970 Ford Mustang

A Ford Mustang on an outdoor racetrack.
Ford Mustang | Alvis Upitis via Getty Images

The 1970 Ford Mustang was one of the first muscle cars, and its image has persisted to this day. The Mustang was a competitor to the Trans Am, a rivalry which lasted several decades. The 1970s Ford Mustang was the first one to switch from four headlights to two, according to MotorTrend. These headlights were mounted inside the grille, and the famous Mustang symbol rests in the center of the grille. MotorTrend also notes that the tail lights were recessed into the rear grille in the 1970 model, a change from 1969. 

Each of these cars has a unique trait (or traits) that make it memorable. Whether you like the look of the Trans Am or the vibe of the Wagoneer, these cars are reminiscent of the early days of design. While there may not be many on the road anymore, they definitely define a highly memorable era of cars.

RELATED: Tesla’s Model Y Butts Heads With Ford’s Electric Crossover