In the early '70s, the Cold War was raging. The Space Race was heated and Elvis Presley was performing in Hawaii.
And, Dodge, Plymouth and other American automakers charged ahead with their luxury and muscle car production.
From the Gremlin to the Cadillac, cars of the '70s came in all sorts of shapes and sizes, with two noticeable sizes: the biggest cars ever made, and the smallest sub-compacts that became known as "econoboxes." The disparity was with reason. Here's what was going on.
Automakers assumed that gas prices would always be cheap, and because of it, they made cars with low gas mileage. But it would be the sanctions placed on the U.S. in October 1973 that would trigger the biggest automotive changes of the decade.
Just days after the Yom Kippur War began in the Middle East, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) placed an oil embargo on the U.S. -- specifically because of American support of Israel in the war. There were shortages, thefts and price spikes to contend with when the OPEC embargo sent gasoline prices skyrocketing across the country -- increasing by 37 percent after sanctions were in place.
This oil embargo would go on to separate the gas guzzlers from the gas sippers, the eight miles per gallon Ford wagon from a 21 miles per gallon Ford Pinto.
From the Dodge Challenger to the Honda Civic, see how much you know about these popular cars of the decade that gave us the Pet Rock, the Trans-Am and lines at the gas station.
This supercar went on to star in the iconic role of Thomas Magnum's car on the TV series, "Magnum P.I.," beginning in 1980 with a 1979 model. It's since been described as an example of the transition between the disco era and the decade of excess.
Beginning in 1970, the American Motors Corporation, AMC, sold more than 671,000 Gremlins in North America. It was marketed as the "first American-built import" during the gas crisis, until it was replaced by the AMC Spirit in 1978.
The Country Squire was the longest and also the heaviest station wagon ever produced by Ford. The 1969-1978 model -- its sixth generation, is the No. 2 bestselling Ford -- behind Henry Ford's Model T. This Ford station wagon's tailgate was capable of swinging down to be used as a tailgate -- but it also could swing out with the window either up or down.
In 1970-71, Neiman Marcus offered "His and Hers" Thunderbirds in its catalog. The models were available with telephones, tape recorders and other luxuries.
Not only was the Lotus in "The Spy Who Loved Me," but it can also be seen in "For Your Eyes Only," "Pretty Woman," "Basic Instinct," and several other films of the '70s and '80s. Although it's not the only one among designer Giorgetto Giugiaro's famous polygonal "folded paper" designs, the Lotus is among the very first.
From late in 1971 to 1975, Ford imported De Tomaso Pantera for the U.S. market, sold through its Lincoln Mercury dealerships.
Plymouth paid Warner Bros. to use the name and likeness -- and "beep, beep" -- from their Wile E. Coyote and The Road Runner cartoons. In 1970, the Road Runner model had shark-like teeth on either side, and was available in colors like "Moulin Rouge" and "Vitamin C."
Except for the 1502 model which was sold until 1977, the 02 Series was replaced by the E21 3 Series in 1975, making the 2002tii a direct ancestor of today's BMW 3 series models.
The Omega, an upgraded version of Chevrolet's Nova, was introduced in 1973. It came in two- or four-door models, and was available with or without sporty stripes.
In 1976, a Bill Blass version of the Lincoln Continental Mark IV was sold -- in midnight blue with cream accents, with a quadraphonic 8-track stereo system. In addition to Blass, the Designer Series Mark IV was also re-envisioned by Cartier (gray with red accents), Givenchy (aqua blue with black and white accents), and Pucci (red and silver).
Road & Track magazine called this 1973 Chevy, "One the best Corvettes we've ever driven." Starting in 1973, with a quieter ride and a nose job, this muscle car began its transformation into a touring sports car -- in fact, the changes did improve the ride of the Corvette and made it 40 percent quieter in the cabin.
Originally known as as project XJ27, this Jaguar grand tourer replaced the Jaguar E-Type in 1975. Jaguar produced more than 115,000 of the XJ-S before eventually replacing it with the XK8 more than two decades later. Comparable to Lamborghini and Ferrari, the first series of this model were able to accelerate to 60 mph (97 km/h) in 7.6 seconds with a top speed of 143 mph (230 km/h).
The American Motors Pacer was sold from 1975 until 1980 -- making it a good 12 years before it would star in the movie, "Wayne's World," and become a collectible. AMC also produced an electric version in response to the '70s gas crisis.
As a replacement to the Chevy Vega, the Chevy Chevette was considered an entry level Chevrolet when it hit the U.S. market in 1976. The automaker's smallest car ever offered was aimed at budget-conscious consumers. Chevrolet developed this famously slow yet reliable and fuel-efficient "econobox" in response to the 1973 Oil Embargo and resulting gas prices.
In November 1971, a stock 1971 Coupe de Ville placed third in the annual coast-to-coast Cannonball Run. It posted the highest average speed, at 84.6 mph (136.2 km/h). When its new body style was introduced in 1971, at 62.1 inches front shoulder room and 64.0 inches rear shoulder room, this full-size car set a record for interior width that wouldn't be beat by any car until the 1990s.
Remodeled and relaunched in 1974 as the Mustang II, the Ford Mustang was officially on a diet in response to the '73 oil crisis. In 1976, Ford introduced the more sporty -- and but less fast -- Cobra II, reminiscent of the Shelby Cobra style of the '60s.
The famous wedge shape and scissor doors of this sports car were nothing like any other car on U.S. roads when it was introduced. In 2004, American auto magazine Sports Car International went on to name the Countach No. 3 on its list of Top Sports Cars of the 1970s.
Datsun unveiled the original 240Z in October 1969, forever changing the way that Americans felt about Japanese cars -- and mostly for the better. It was kept as part of the Datsun line through 1973. Its successor, the 260Z, was sold to the U.S. market in 1974 only. In 2004, Sports Car International magazine named this GT No. 2 on their list of Top Sports Cars of the 1970s.
It wasn't Fiat's first or its most reasonably priced sports car. But the X1/9 was endearing. Production models underwent three generations in the U.S.: during 1974; from 1975 to 1978; and, then from 1979 into the 1980s. The "X1/9" meant it was the ninth passenger car developed by Fiat at the time.
This first generation pony car, the Dodge Challenger, was built sharing major components with the Plymouth Barracuda. The two shared the same platform, the rear-wheel drive Chrysler E platform, between 1970 and 1974 model years.
The Super Beetle, introduced in the '70s, stole the limelight from the standard edition -- and all of its bells and whistles and comforts, too. Compared to its original 25 horsepower back in the Beetle's early days, more contemporary models -- which continue to have the engine in the rear -- put out more than 170 hp.
One of Chevy's most successful cars, the Chevelle was available as a coupe, sedan, convertible or station wagon. Super Sport, or SS, versions were produced through the 1973 model year before being replaced by the Malibu.
The intermediate-sized Cordoba was the automaker's first entry into the personal luxury coupe market. It was also the first Chrysler-branded vehicle that was smaller than full-size. Perhaps to make up for that, it was a limited edition model available in "Cordoba Gold" paint with matching molding and wheels -- and golden-toned AM radio.
First generation Honda Civics, made between 1972 and 1979, would become infamous for rusting after fewer than three years when driven where salt was used to treat the roads in the winter -- and would go on to gain the reputation for having "typical Honda rust." At the time, Honda's recall for rusted cars was the largest to happen among all auto imports into the United States.
The black and gold Pontiac Firebird Trans Am drove into the hearts of Americans when it starred as The Bandit's car in "Smokey and The Bandit" in 1977. But it didn't begin that way -- the Trans Am began as an option package for the Firebird 400.
The very first of this model sold was purchased by Elvis Presley in 1970. It can now be seen on display at Graceland.
The Oldsmobile Ninety-Eight was the largest of the available models in the Oldsmobile line when it rolled off the production line in 1970.
When it was introduced in 1971, it was the smallest Ford to hit the U.S. market since 1907. The most famous thing about the Ford Pinto wasn't its looks-- it was its explosions. The car, rushed into production to compete in the sub-compact market in 1971, was vulnerable during crashes and had a high risk of bursting into flame on impact. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) forced the automaker to recall the model in 1978.
The first-generation Barracuda, a fastback coupe based on the Valiant, was famous for its wraparound rear glass. But with the Hemi V8, the 1970/71 Plymouth Barracuda was known more for its performance -- it went from 0 to 60 mph in 5.8 seconds, with a top speed of 155 mph.
In the early to mid-'70s, the Fleetwood Brougham and Fleetwood Sixty Special models were consolidated into one -- a model called the Fleetwood Sixty Special Brougham. In 1977, when the Sixty Special was retired, the Fleetwood became Cadillac's largest sedan model (through the mid-'80s).
There were numerous body configurations of the Bronco. But here's a trick to spotting the '77 -- it was the only year it was made with a gas door.
The Lancia Stratos was a sports car and rally car that although only produced from 1973 to 1978. It won a World Rally Championship in 1974, 1975 and 1976.
Good on the road and good on the track, the BMW M1 was a sports car sold to the public from only 1978 to 1981 -- the very first of the M series, and the first time BMW, dipped its toe into supercar production.
It's pronounced "nine-eleven," not "9-1-1."
Despite beginning not as a model but as a trim option, Oldsmobile's Cutlass Supreme went on to become not only an entry in the early and growing market for smaller personal luxury cars in the U.S., but also was the most popular and the best-selling model in its class.
The Chevy Nova went from mild-mannered to muscle car its over 16-year run. The final Nova rolled off the line in 1978. According to a -- debunked -- urban legend, this car sold poorly in Spanish-speaking countries because its name translates as, "It doesn't go."
GM's first entry into the personal luxury car was in 1963 when it introduced the Buick Riviera, which it continued to produce until 1999. It underwent a radical redesign in the early 1970s, resulting in a "boat-tail" style and bigger body.
The Celica, which debuted in the U.S. in 1971, gets its name from the Latin word "coelica," which means "heavenly" or "celestial." It was available as a notchback and liftback coupe or as a convertible.
Of the thousands of movies the Camaro has been seen in since it hit the streets in 1967, in the '70s it may have been most recognizable in the movie, "Gumball Rally," where a yellow Z/28 was driven Cannonball Run-style across the country by actors Gary Busey and John Durren. (Spoiler: It doesn't make it.)
This off-road vehicle was created to compete with Jeep, specifically the 2-door Jeep CJ 4x4, and originally came in 2-door SUV or 2-door truck body styles. Early versions of the International Harvester Scout originally featured a fold-down windshield.