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The 1970s saw the production of numerous innovative cars, such as the fuel-injected BMWs, the turbocharged Saabs, and the 16-valve Triumphs, but for mainstream sedans it was a decade in which time stood still. An extraordinary number of sedans that were already in production in 1970 were still in production in almost unchanged form in 1980.

Morris Marina, 1971


Engine1,798 cc, straight-four
Top speed86 mph (138 km/h)

Mechanically little different from the 1948 Morris Minor, the Marina sold surprisingly well for Britain’s struggling car maker. It lasted, as the Ital, until 1984.

Wartburg Knight, 1966


OriginEast Germany
Engine991 cc, straight-three
Top speed74 mph (119 km/h)

An East German car with a two-stroke engine, the Knight sold well in Eastern Europe throughout the 1970s. It fared less well in Western Europe, despite incredibly low prices.

Triumph Dolomite Sprint, 1973


Engine1,998 cc, straight-four
Top speed115 mph (185 km/h)

Triumph built innovative cars with attractive styling on a tight budget. The Sprint, which challenged the BMW 2002 series, was one of the first 16-valve family sedans.

Citroën CX2400, 1974


Engine2,347 cc, straight-four
Top speed113 mph (182 km/h)

The Citroën DS’s successor combined all of its predecessor’s innovation with a transverse engine for increased space. It had 2.0-2.5-liter engines, and was made until 1989.

De Tomaso Deauville, 1970


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

Though styled by Ghia, the Deauville suffered from looking like the Jaguar XJ12-which offered similar performance-while trying to sell for double its price.

Škoda 120S, 1970


Engine1,174 cc, straight-four
Top speed86 mph (138 km/h)

The “people’s car” for communist Czechoslovakia sold on price alone in Europe, being noisy and difficult to drive. This one did remarkably well in its class in rallying.

Hillman Avenger, 1970


Engine1,498 cc, straight-four
Top speed91 mph (146 km/h)

An all-new design for the 1970s from Chrysler’s Rootes Group, the Avenger was thoroughly conventional and lasted until 1981 in various guises.

Saab 99 Turbo, 1977


Engine1,985 cc, straight-four
Top speed122 mph (196 km/h)

Saab showed the world that turbocharging could be used in a mainstream sedan, not just for racing homologation. It sold well and lifted the company’s whole image.

BMW 2002Tii Alpina A4S, 1972


Engine1,990 cc, straight-four
Top speed130 mph (209 km/h)

The 02 series from 1966 established BMW as a serious car maker, selling 750,000 in 10 years. Its finest model (apart from the Turbo) was Alpina’s tuned, fuel-injected A4S.

BMW 520, 1972


Engine1,990 cc, straight-four
Top speed106 mph (171 km/h)

Key to BMW’s success in the 1970s, the 5-Series combined handsome looks with modern running gear. It offered four- and six-cylinder engines from 1.8 to 3.0 liters.

Ford Escort Mk2 RS1800, 1973


Engine1,835 cc, straight-four
Top speed112 mph (180 km/h)

Ford boosted sales through motor sport success, and the RS1800, with its BDA engine, was a formidable rally car. It won the 1979 World Rally Championship.

Rover 3500 SD1, 1976


Engine3,528 cc, V8
Top speed125 mph (201 km/h)

Despite its advanced looks, high specification, and excellent dynamics, the SD1 rapidly gained a reputation for poor quality in the 1970s. Later models fared little better with buyers.

Cadillac Seville, 1975


Engine5,737 cc, V8
Top speed115 mph (185 km/h)

General Motors added a more mainstream line to its upper-crust Cadillac marque in 1975. Stylist Bill Mitchell targeted the Mercedes/Rolls-Royce market; it sold well.

Ford Cortina MkV, 1979


Engine1,993 cc, straight-four
Top speed103 mph (166 km/h)

The best-selling Cortina changed little from 1970’s MkIII to the last MkV in 1982, and sold over two million, mostly in the UK. It was spacious, efficient, and cheap.

Maserati Quattroporte II, 1975


Engine2,965 cc, V6
Top speed125 mph (201 km/h)

Conceived when Maserati was owned by Citroën, the Quattroporte II had a Merak/SM engine and plenty of SM hydraulic equipment. Just five of these four-door models were built.


It is a quote. The Definitive Visual History Of The Automobile 2011