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Exotic Saloons And Tourers

Increasingly sophisticated technology made the best saloons and GT cars even better as the 1960s turned into the 1970s. At the top end power usually came from V8 engines, often built in the US, though V6s and VI2s were used as well. All of them provided superior performance and refinement, generally with a stirring soundtrack. Independent suspension and disc brakes were standard, and automatic transmission was often available. It was an era of distinctive design, as car-makers blended the organic curves of the 1960s with the new sharp edges, wedge shapes, and aerodynamic efficiency.

Rolls-Royce Corniche, 1971


Engine6,750 cc, V8
Top speed120 mph (193 km/h)

The Silver Shadow was a monocoque, but this did not stop Rolls-Royce from adapting the structure into this elegant two-door coupé or convertible. A face-lifted Corniche II in 1977 brought new fascia, better air conditioning, and more precise rack-and-pinion steering, all shared with Shadow II.

Citroën SM, 1970


Engine2,670 cc, V6
Top speed137 mph (220 km/h)

Citroën owned Maserati at the time, so the power of this extraordinarily streamlined coupé came from a 90-degree Maserati V6. Typical of Citroen engineering, the suspension was hydropneumatic, and the steering and brakes used high-pressure hydraulics. It looked, and drove, like nothing else on the road at the time.

De Tomaso Deauville, 1970


Engine5,763 cc, V8
Top speed143 mph (230 km/h)

Though styled by Ghia, the four-door Deauville had a disadvantage because, while it resembled a Jaguar XJ12 (which offered similar performance), it cost twice the price. The Deauville was only ever built in tiny numbers, but remained available into the late 1980s.

Buick Riviera, 1971


Engine7,458 cc, V8
Top speed125 mph (201 km/h)

Buick’s status-symbol coupe was given a stunning new look for the 1970s. Its boat-tail body, made possible by a complex, curved rear window, was inspired by the Corvette Stingray. Despite giving the model a V8 engine, Buick progressively cut back the car’s power to conform with evolving emissions legislation.

Aston Martin V8, 1972


Engine5,340 cc, V8
Top speed162 mph (259 km/h)

The big potent Aston Martin V8 had 282-438 bhp, and was sharply styled by William Towns. A huge success, the car stayed in production for two decades. A high-performance Vantage model was the fastest-accelerating four-seater in the world, while Volante was an elegant drophead version.

Ferrari 400GT, 1976


Engine4,823 cc, V12
Top speed156 mph (251 km/h)

Unlike Ferrari’s traditional sports models, the 400 was designed for long-distance cruising, could seat a driver and three passengers, and was its first car with an automatic gearbox. In spite of the fact that Ferrari purists considered the 400 controversial, it sold well.


It is a quote. The Classic Car Book – The Definitive Visual History 2016

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