The 1970s imported cars were impacted by the new Environmental Protection Agency's CAFE (Corporate Average Fuel Economy) standard which meant a stricter set of fuel economy rules in 1975.
American automakers rushed to comply with the strict rules meant to get us off foreign oil imports and force fuel efficiency into both domestic and car imports.
The 1973 oil crisis (and again in 1979), emphasized the importance of fuel economy worldwide thereby putting pressures on both US markets as well as foreign markets to build cars with an increasing proportion of the cost of vehicle operation into fuel economy. Its impact in the United States with its greater distances was worse compared to that of, for example Europe with its short distances.
Both Detroit and foreign automakers woke up to the new reality: implementation of new emissions and safety regulations onto new automobiles which necessitated major and costly changes to vehicle design and construction for the U.S. market.
Some Popular 1970s Imported Cars:
The 1970 Datsun 240Z was a rear wheel drive two-door sports car that offered great performance, beautiful styling as well as a great price. Coming with a 2.4L inline-6 engine with solid valve lifters with two valves per cylinder, its output was 151 horsepower at 5,600 rpm and its torque was 146 lb-ft at 4,400 rpm.
It came standard with a four speed manual transmission The 240Z was released in America on October 22, 1969. Combining good looks, and powerful performance, it sold more than 135,000 units from 1971-1973. They were very popular 70s car imports.
1971 Datsun 240Z
The first generation Celica came with a 2.0L inline four cylinder engine and a five speed transmission. With a rear wheel drive, these small, light 1970s imported cars easily traverse around corners. Displayed at the October 1970 Tokyo Motor Show and marketed in December of the same year, the Celica was a personal car that emphasized styling and driving enjoyment.
For export markets, the Celica was offered in three different levels of trim; LT, ST and GT.
1970 Toyota Celica
This was the first Honda imported into the US for sale. A forerunner of all the Civics, Accords, CR-Vs, and Odysseys, it was a two-cylinder, air-cooled engine making 1300 CCs. Technologically advanced for its time, with an all alloy engine that could achieve 9000 rpm, engine output was 36–45 hp capable of 81 mph. Weighing only 1,100 lbs, the N600 could provide some zip.
1970 Honda N600
Daihatsu Fellow Max
It was a small sedan imported from Japan and was equipped with a very modest engine: a two stroke Inline-two engine, an output of 33 horsepower at 6,500 rpm and torque of 27 lb-ft at 5,500 rpm. It also came standard with a four-speed manual transmission.
In April 1970, the front-wheel drive L38 Daihatsu Fellow Max replaced the rear-wheel drive Fellow.
1973-1975 Daihatsu Fellow Max
VW Super Beetle
Arguably the most iconic and best-loved automobile ever produced, the German "People's Car" was last sold in the US in 1977. These popular 70s imported cars underwent changes and improvements through the years.
The 1971 Beetle came with MacPherson strut front suspension and a redesigned front end strut front suspension. The VW 1302 from 1971 to 1972, and VW 1303 from 1973 onwards were known as the Super Beetle. Even today, many baby boomers who were born in that era continue to love these 70s foreign cars.
1973 Volkswagen Super Beetle
The Daytona was a traditional front-engined, rear-drive car. The engine (known as the Tipo 251) was a 4.4 L DOHC V12, 365 cc per cylinder produced 352 hp and could reach 174 mph. 0-60 mph acceleration was just 5.4 seconds.
Memorable to "Miami Vice" fans as the car of choice for Sonny Crockett it's a 2-seater that can turn heads. Although known as the Daytona it's official name is Ferrari 365 GTB/4 These popular 1970s imported cars were replaced by the mid-engined 365 GT4 Berlinetta Boxer in 1973.
1971 Ferrari GTB4 Daytona
The Saab 96 has good gas mileage and front wheel drive capability and able to drive one in the middle of a blizzard. Introduced in 1960 and was produced until January 1980 it replaced the 93 It was the car for which the marque Saab became internationally known partly because of its safety innovations and its successes in racing circuits.
1979 Saab 96
The Toyota Corona gave buyers more interior space while still offering dependable, affordable performance. Just less expensive that the Toyota Crown, it focused more on fuel economy. The Coronas were successful export cars and was known in European markets as Carinas but in North America as the Coronas. No longer in production, the Toyota "T" platform used in these 1970s imported cars are still being used in some Toyota subsequent models.
1973 Toyota Corona
Dubbed as the "poor man's BMW", the Datsun 510 was in production from 1968 to 1974. Incorporating a SOHC engine, MacPherson strut suspension in front and independent, semi-trailing arms in the back they came in 1.6L L-series I4 engine with 96 hp and maximum speed of 100 mph. They were available in either a 4-speed manual or a 3-speed automatic transmission.
The Datsun 510 found enthusiasts during the past four decades, thanks to these 1970s imported cars' affordability and reliability.
1971 Datsun 510
Produced between 1969 and 2012, the first generation Galants were known as Colt Galant. The new Saturn engine powered the early models in 1.3 or 1.5 L. In more than four decades of production, more than five million of these cars were sold. Originally a compact sedan, Mitsubishi Galant has evolved into a larger mid-size car.
1973 Mitsubishi Galant
Extremely popular in the North America because of the OPEC gasoline shortage and a cheap price tag, the Datsun B210 arrived at an opportune time. Although plagues by rusting even in dry weather and paper-thin metal notwithstanding, US buyers accepted these 1970s imported cars that got 27-32 mpg and a starting price of US$2849.