While the US was driven crazy by some of the sickest muscle cars ever released to the market, the European car manufacturers responded with gorgeous sports cars. Over the years, those cars have also increased in popularity, so that now they are rare pearls for collectors.
At a first glance, we can spot some immediate differences. While the bulky, large and heavy muscle cars needed an appropriate massive V8 block to produce decent horsepower, the Europeans built smaller and more agile cars. Their mechanics was also dimensioned to the reduced sizes, and engines would, at times, feature turbochargers and injection systems to maximize the performance on smaller engines. Check out the coolest European cars that hit the road during the ’70s!
BMW 2002 Turbo
The 2002 Turbo was presented in 1973 at the Frankfurt Motor Show, and BMW couldn’t be more proud of such an amazing car. Interestingly, this was the first road-homologated turbo car from a European manufacturer.
What contributed to the fame of the car was the masculine features and rigid handling. No traction control and a close-ratio transmission made the stiff 2002 Turbo a sports car for brave driving enthusiasts. The 2.0-liter turbocharged engine could make up to 170hp, and push the car to a top speed of 130 mph.
After the numerous wins obtained by the three generations of the Fulvia in Rally competitions, Lancia decided to design a new sports car with a futuristic look. And this is what the Lancia Stratos is all about. A tiny 2-seater with a small, yet growling, beating heart ready and prepared for the most diverse driving condition.
The Lancia Stratos was designed by Marcello Gandini for Bertone Bodyworks and equipped with a V6 Ferrari Dino engine and gearbox. The car weighed less than 2,000 lbs and the 2.4-liter engine made about 190 hp. In the mid-seventies, 0-60 miles in just 6 seconds was considered really quick.
Porsche 911 Carrera RS
In 1972, Porsche gave the 911 a lighter body by reducing the thickness of the exterior panels and by replacing doors and hood with aluminum sheets. Now, the Porsche 911 Carrera RS could hit the road with renewed power and the 2.7-liter flat-6 boxer engine produced 210 hp.
Today, this car is a rare pearl sought after by collectors all over the world. The ducktail Porsche, a nickname that comes from the rear wing, wasn’t only aesthetically desirable, it was also a stunning example of mechanical art: the naturally aspired air-cooled engine could run from standstill to 62 mph in just 5.9 seconds and reach a top speed of 147 mph.
Ferrari 308 GTS
You might not have the same charm Tom Selleck had in Magnum P.I. TV series, but you could have a cool car just like the one he used to drive on the set. The Ferrari 308 is all about that exotic aesthetics we just can’t stop ogling. Mid-mounted V8 engine, targa roof, and pop-up headlights: what else could a retro gearhead want?
The car was a naturally aspired 3.0-liter V8 engine with 4 Weber carburetors. The 308 GTS wasn’t only a good-looking sports car, but was also fast. The Engine could make up to 255 hp and its top speed was 157 mph.
In 1972, Mercedes released the 450SL, powered by a 4.5-liter injection V8, which was mated to a 4-speed automatic gearbox. This engine was also used in the 350SL model, but here it was more powerful since it was not affected by all the anti-pollution measures provided by US regulations. The maximum power reached 225 hp.
The car didn’t mean to compete with natural-born sports cars such as Ferraris or Lamborghinis, since Mercedes-Benz has always stood out for offering luxury vehicles with a sport-oriented soul. The 450 SL roadster, with its leather interior and wooden inlays, was without a doubt one of the most elegant European cars of the ’70s.
Lotus Esprit S1
Let’s go to England and take a look at one of the most beautiful examples of cars ever built. Interestingly, when the Lotus Esprit S1 was unveiled at the Paris Motor Show in October 1975, a British specialist magazine labeled it “the most exciting and challenging British sports car since the Jaguar E-Type.”
How to prove them wrong? A decade earlier, Lotus was able to anticipate the ’80s most appreciated trends by applying a geometrical look to the car, a clean and pointy hood, hideaway headlights, and marked lines on the sides. The 4-cylinder 2.0-liter engine could initially make up to 157 hp. Over the years, Lotus gave birth to more sensational versions of the Esprit, like the turbocharged version.
Lamborghini Miura P400 SV
Most Italian gearheads would agree that the Miura is the most beautiful car ever designed and made on the Peninsula. First introduced in 1966, the car underwent different modifications throughout the years, and in 1971 the SV edition was made available. Its name, Super Veloce, literally means Super Fast, and we think that says it all.
The power of the 12-cylinder engine increased to 385 hp. The rear of the body was widened to accomodate wider tires, and the headlights lost their characteristic lashes. The production of the fast, elegant and classy SV was limited to only 150 units.
Khamsin is a hot Egyptian wind, and this 2+2 sports car bears its name, interestingly, it’s not the first nor the last time that Maserati associates a car with a name of a wind. Designed by Marcello Gandini for Bertone Bodyworks, it debuted as a prototype (under the Bertone brand) in the autumn of 1972 at the Turin Motor Show. It was unveiled in March the following year at the Geneva Motor Show.
Gorgeous in every single detail, the Maserati Khamsin left almost everybody speechless for its incredibly elegant soul. The Khamsin was powered by the twin-cam 4.9-liter V8 which could easily make 320 hp. Due to homologation needs, the power was decreased to 250 hp. What has remained unaltered, though, was the timeless charm created by the fusion of class and speed of this stunning Trident creature.
When it comes to hot wheels, there are two brands that come to mind: Lamborghini and Ferrari. But, when put to the test, which brand is best?
About The Author