Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Twofer Tuesday/Wednesday returns with 2 1970s cars that couldn't be more different

I was on my way to drink these delicious watermelon tequila drinks on the sunny rooftop of Brooklyn Crab in Red Hook when I spied this little punk through the bars of the Fairway parking lot:
SWEET! What we have here is a beautiful 1977 Honda CVCC Civic in Forel Blue. We know it's a '77 because the grill and hood design only lasted from '75-'77 and this great color was introduced in 1977. This is the car that really put Honda on the map. The CVCC stood for Compound Vortex Controlled Combustion. Basically the design of the heads and fuel mixtures burned so efficiently that these cars passed stringent emissions without a catalytic converter.
They are also so tiny and cute that parking was easy and the fuel economy staggering.
One great anecdote about the CVCC is that the CEO of GM was asked about the technology and why it wouldn't be used in their cars (Ford and Chrysler had both licensed the technology from Honda). The GM boss stated that he had studied the design and "while it might work on some toy motorcycle engine I see no potential in using it in one of our GM car engines".
Word eventually got back to the great engineer and company founder Soichiro Honda. Soichiro took it upon himself to buy a brand new 1973 Chevy Impala with a 350 engine and have it freighted to Japan. He instructed his designers to build a CVCC unit for installation on the mighty GM powerplant. Afterwards he sent the CVCC equipped 350 Impala back to America for testing by the EPA. Not only did it work but it blew the emissions numbers of the catalytic cars out of the water. The moral is this: don't tell Soichiro Honda what can and can't be done!
The Achilles Heel on these rides was their prone to rusting out. The problem was so dire that Honda recalled all cars for front fender replacement on the condition that rust had taken hold within 3 years of it being sold new. Unfortunately that was the case for most CVCCs sold in states that used salt on the roads.
But enough of that innovative world-changing Japanese design. How about some good old American hubris I discovered last time I was in Alameda California?
 This unapologetic beast is a 1973 Chevrolet Chevelle Laguna in either Tuxedo Black or something close to it. The Laguna was the top of the heap for Chevelles produced from 1973-1976. The main styling difference is the front bumper being incorporated with the grill and lights into a single polyurethane unit not unlike the Pontiac GTO Endure Front of the day.
This was the era of Colonnade styling where the rear window was steeply raked and the thin pillar behind the door could support the body weight in a rollover crash. In '73 the regular Laguna sported this small opera window in the side of the landau vinyl roof. However you could also order a large quarter window that reached back all the way to the rear window.
I dig the Chevelles of this era as it manages to still look pretty tough even though it's a large car (for the record this was a mid-size Chevrolet in '73!). The four round lights in the back are similar to both the Camaro and Corvette, and the Colonnade roof give it a very forward-leaning stance. This is the same year that Ryan Gosling drove in Drive (though his was a Malibu; one step down from the Laguna). Even with the back bumper painted black and those Flowmasters poking out from underneath I would proudly roll in this ride.

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