As we stated in Part Two of this article, we looked at several cars that were so significant that one can easily say that they changed the car business. In Part Three of this article, we will look at several more of these game-changing vehicles.
Volkswagen Golf GTI
In the mid-70s, Volkswagen was getting ready to introduce a new line of models. They wanted to shed the dull image of the VW Beetle, so in 1975, They added a GTI version to the Golf lineup. The Golf GTI featured a three-door hatchback body style and sporty details on the exterior. They equipped it with a 1.6-liter fuel-injected four-cylinder engine with a 110 to 115 HP power output and it was an immediate hit. In the late ’70s when performance levels were low due to tight regulations in America, the VW Golf GTI could outrun mid-spec Camaros or Mustangs. That made it one of the best performance cars you could buy.
Ford V8 DeLuxe
Although the ’32 Ford was a regular, mass-produced car, it changed history due to its Flathead V8 engine. The 1932 Ford came with one of the best engines of the 20th century, the 3.6-liter V8 engine. Even though other car makers offered V8 engines, Ford’s design proved to be the toughest.
Soon, it became the engine for anybody looking for power in an affordable package. Hot rodders found the Flathead V8 had serious tuning potential, so ’32 Fords became the favorite basis for all kinds of modifications. The ’32 Ford with the Flathead V8 engine is one of the most revolutionary cars ever.
The Jeep Wagoneer was the ultimate luxury off-road vehicle. Jeep produced it from 1963 to 1991. It seems that Jeep never intended the Wagoneer to be a car just for the streets. Rather, it was a luxurious land barge for navigating through ranches and fields. Our local Jeep dealer, Williamsburg Jeep (VA), told us that the most coveted models came from the 1987 to 1991 Chrysler era when the car went through a series of upgrades. The Wagoneer was a well-equipped car with air conditioning, comfortable power seats, lots of chrome and optional woodwork. This was the first proper SUV and the daddy of all modern SUVs.
Chrysler Town & Country Minivan
In the late ’70s, Chrysler was practically done. Enormous losses, poor sales and the lack of new models had pushed it to the brink of bankruptcy. When the famous ex-Ford executive Lee Iacocca came to Chrysler in the late ’70s, everybody thought he couldn’t save the company. Iacocca proved them wrong, however. In just a few short years, he returned Chrysler to a top position in the industry.
His main weapon was a new line of vehicles called “minivans.” Today, minivans are a common sight in America, but in the early ’80s, the concept was nonexistent. Iacocca strongly insisted that Chrysler invest in the production of front-wheel-drive people carriers. He wanted them to come with as much space and comfort inside but have overall compact dimensions. The first model was the Chrysler Town & Country which established the minivan class, becoming the first Chrysler sales hit in decades. The Town & Country was so influential and revolutionary, they still produce it today.
The Pontiac GTO was the first proper muscle car, debuting in 1964 as an option on the Tempest model. Even though there were lots of early muscle machines, the 1964 GTO is the first true muscle car. Pontiac marketed it as such, selling it in big numbers. The GTO featured all the right ingredients that later became mandatory for all muscle car manufacturers. However, the GTO didn’t bring anything special in design or technology.
Basically, it was a Tempest in a two-door form with a 389 V8 engine producing up to 360 HP. The combination of power and a cool body and name attracted the attention of performance-loving young buyers. In 1964, the GTO exceeded sales expectations and was the hottest premiere during the 1964 model year. Soon, all manufacturers followed the Pontiac formula, making the GTO one of the most influential, revolutionary cars ever.