Automobiles were not having a good couple of years. Apart from the idiot regulatory push making cars worse every year and, effectively, dooming the American auto industry and gifting the Japanese ascendancy for the next two decades and more, in 1973, the US was in the middle of a fuel crisis (partly caused by the hasty and not well-thought-out smog regulations).
So you can imagine that the December 1973 issue of any car magazine wasn’t going to be a riot of happiness and joy. Road & Track was no exception.
The cover was a bright spot, however. That red car was a Wankel-powered Corvette displayed at the Frankfurt Auto Show. Mid-engined and looking to the future (Wankels were considered one possible solution to the impossible forthcoming smog laws) this was a dream that wouldn’t come into being until the very late 2010s (the mid-engined Corvette, that is).
But a lot of the rest of the magazine, at least the part about modern cars one could buy, reads like Consumer Reports. With a lack of any excitement, you end up getting a huge test of auxiliary driving lights, and a big focus on how this new car isn’t quite as bad as they expected, and that new car, despite the smog equipment doesn’t quite guzzle as much gas as one might think. They were dreary times for automotive scribes trying to find a silver lining.
Fortunately, old cars and race cars come to the rescue. Any magazine with a report about the Pebble Beach Concours D’Elegance has to be good… and both Formula 1 and Can-Am were much more interesting in the early seventies than they are today (Can-Am is dead and F1 has decided that letting manufacturers develop their cars is bad, so that if you start the year slow, you will be slow. God forbid that the upper echelon of motorsport actually show any innovation).
Anyway, this one had a bunch of fun stuff, but the part about cars people could purchase remained very, very grim. It would be the eighties before cars started getting better again.
And we haven’t even reached the OPEC wars yet. This fuel crisis was mainly structural, not political!
Gustavo Bondoni is a novelist and short story writer. His science fiction novel Incursion is perfect for those who enjoyed Starship Troopers. A space adventure on a grand scale, it shows you how wars will be fought against incomprehensible foes in the far future. Here is the Amazon link.