Friday, November 23, 2007

the 70'

i've told you before that i can't sit down to eat unless i have something to read. it's a habit i developed when i was very young, and it's only gotten worse. if nothing else is available, i'll read the cereal box, the label on a soda can, anything. my script of choice is a magazine. sometimes bicycle stuff, mostly car stuff.

lately, since i only get one subscription (car and driver), i don't have much to read a couple of days after the magazine shows up. i get through it, and then re-read everything and even stupid ads and fine print for the rest of the month. so, i've been digging into the kaiser's box. the box contains car and driver magazines from the 70's up to 1980. my own collection started around 1984, so i've been anxious to check out what automotive journalism was like before my time. the kaiser lived through those years, so he pretty much didn't need his collection anymore (like i don't need my contemporary collection), so he thought i might find them amusing.

my conclusions: those cars sucked. they just sucked. i owned a few 70's cars, and i remember them a lot more fondly than the pages of these magazines. oh, my lord. the interiors. the body styles. the bumpers! the power, as in none! none! the american cars were bad, and the foreign cars were worse! it's a wonder that the automobile industry survived at all after the dark ages that were the 70's. and that's when they were new! imagine what they were like when parts started falling off, rust began to appear, springs began to sag, paint began to fade and peel...and that was before the cars hit 50k miles! i remember these things being sort of normal. i thought that's what cars did.

what was considered cool or high tech was amazing. everything was optional. i'm pretty sure seats may have been optional in some cars. mirrors were optional. radios. a/c. horsepower was optional, too. lots of cars had less than 75 horsepower. (then again, many, many cars were between 2000 and 3000 pounds, which necessitated less power). four cylinder cars had 75 or 80 hp. 6 cylinders had maybe 100, possibly 110 hp. v8's had 120, possibly 130 hp. 0-60 times were in the 12-13 second range for most cars. what the hell was going on in the 70's? i know gas was expensive (comparatively!), i know emissions controls were a black art, i know them big ass bumpers were heavy, but good lord!

when i've been getting into the freestyle lately, i have been looking at it from the 70's point of view. 4000 lbs. 3 liters. 203 hp. 22-23mpg. seating for 6. anti-lock brakes. traction control. continuously variable transmission. air bags coming out of the woodwork. 0-60 in about 8 1/2 seconds. completely folding seats to make a full size load floor bigger than a small pickup. i keep thinking that the writers of those old magazines would've thought that the freestyle was some sort of chariot from God....and to think it's just par for the course today.

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