October 24, 2014 @ 05:36 PM

Friday Fives: The Top 5 Japanese beauties of the 1970s.

Once upon a time, the Japanese made beautiful cars. What are the five cars of the 1970s that made our list? By Arvind Kumar

Once upon a time, the Japanese made beautiful cars. What are the five cars that made our list? By Arvind Kumar

The Bee Gees had nine No. 1 Billboard hits during the 1970’s, including the longest reign of 27 weeks at the number one spot. The 70’s also brought on one of the largest oil crisis in the century upon the trade embargo imposed by the members of OAPEC. 

Therefore, the demand for American V8 muscle and large displacement British cars dwindled into obscurity. This marked the dawn of an era for the economical Japanese car. But these Japanese beauties show you don’t necessarily have to trade great styling and performance for fuel economy. This is CAR’s top five best looking Japanese cars from the 1970’s.

No. 5: 1973 Honda Civic 
(Photo Source: Crwpitman) 

Well, it’s more cutesy than gutsy but there’s no denying that its elegant proportion and low slung hatchback design can still turn a few heads today. Elegant detailing in the form of gills and a pronounced powerdome nicely compliment bright work around the front and rear tail lights. Plus, for a nameplate that stands stronger than ever, this car started it all.

No. 4: 1975 Mazda Cosmo
Also known Mazda RX-5 in some markets, the Cosmo was produced from 1975 to 1981 in either Coupe or Fastback form. The Cosmo also featured Mazda’s famed Wankel-rotary powerplant. This Grand Tourer was marketed as a personal luxury car for the discerning driver and was a sales hit, shifting 55,000 units in the year it was introduced. It’s not hard to see why because, the Cosmo’s low and wide proportions exuded suave charm which echoed the American pony-cars of the time. The Cosmo would also come to spawn another Mazda great, the legendary RX-7. 

No. 3: 1975 Toyota Carina 2000 GT
(Photosource: TTTNIS) 

Sold between 1970 and 1977, the Carina was marketed as a step-up from the more pedestrian Corollas of the time, but tucked under the more luxurious Corona models. Sort of the working man’s Celica Supra. Available in wagon, sedan or the more desirable coupe format you see here. And desirable it is – with its nip and tuck front and rear haunches, flanked by streamlined glass house proportions. You get a sense, this car was designed with simplicity and functionality in mind. And all the better for it.
No. 2: 1976 Toyota Celica Liftback 2000 ST
(Photosource: Charles01)

Affectionately known as the Mustang Celica, there was no better example of a homage to the famous American pony-car. The Liftback body-style was introduced in 1973 but it wasn’t until 1976 when the car finally was imported to other markets. All Liftbacks had flat-noses, and there was no B-pillars to dull the clean silhouette from front to back. Another cool feature is the tail-lamps which had five individual light-strips just like Mustangs of the era. You know what they say, “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery”. 
No. 1: 1975 Datsun 280Z
(Photo source: 76Datsun280z)

You can’t have a Japanese car countdown without a Nissan making an appearance somewhere. The Datsun 280Z which would also come to be known as the Nissan Fairlady Z, featured a rear-wheel drive 2-door sports coupe. A sales and competitive racing success, the 280Z still holds high regard amongst car enthusiasts today and is rapidly becoming a sought after modern classic. Well, there’s no arguing its curvaceous coke-bottle sheet metal, gorgeous barrelled front wings and integrated headlamps still look sensational today as it did in 1975.  

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