Frantz

Was quality really this bad in the 1970s?

100 posts in this topic

I was pulling my farm stuff out of the back of my shop and moved my brothers unmolested '77 Granada out and saw something I never noticed before on it. At the light pull it looks as though it got stamped twice, the first time being too low so it wasn't really readable. Rather than put a new piece of trim in, they just stamped it again! Is that what happened here? I know I've heard horror stories but this is pretty darn lazy.

 

0507171429.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I had a '78 Fairmont with a Fairmont logo on the hood and a Zephyr logo on the trunk lid. I bought it new.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I had a 18k Chrysler Lebaron, and the "S" of "Chrysler" on the truck was upside down. It took me awhile to notice. I don't think it had ever been repainted. But that seemed like more of a "whoops" not a "I don't give a darn"

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Sounds like Monday or Friday cars, to me. On the inside of one of my cars under the door panel and under the plastic on the door it read, "Help...." scratched in the paint. I don't think the door panel was ever off before I got the car.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have read reviews of 1950's cars written in that decade,

and they noted the sometimes-careless workmanship then too.

 

And the Edsels, especially ones built in the Ford plant,

occasionally had missing parts as they left the assembly line.

Gayle Warnock, Edsel's Public Relations man, later recalled 

in his book, "They were shippable as soon as off-line repairs

brought them to a pre-determined percentage of acceptability.

There was a minimum of quality control and minimum repair

of problem units."  Some cars were shipped to dealers with

a list of what needed fixing, and occasionally, due to a shortage

of spare parts, Edsel dealers were cannibalizing one car

on their lot to fix others!

 

Here's a comforting thought:  There may be challenges in the present,

but the past wasn't perfect either.  Excellence is what you make it.

 

 

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Mopars also were shoddy in 75-76 when I worked at a Dodge dealer.  They had drum brake and disc brakes on the Darts and Valiants.  As many of you know, one guy on the assembly line does the right side and other guy on left... we got a Dart in with drum on one side, disc on other.  The drum style uses a 4" bolt circle, disc uses 4.5" circle.....read on..

 

One brutal cold morning when night temps went to below zero and barely climbed, a meek timid small guy in a suit comes to service desk, arrived by wrecker driver., he calmly says he got a flat on the Highway, opened the trunk to look in the deep tire well for the tire..

He said it was buried in thick ice (from trunk leaks that were so common on mopars).  ...He then goes on to say he had no gloves, but spent an hour to chip all the ice with a jack handle to get the tire out..

 

you guessed right, it was the wrong bolt pattern.  The service desk guy was biting his lip so hard to hold back his laughter, he said later.  The guy just kept his whole story in a timid soft way, which seemed even funnier to him.

'

 

Yea, I wanna drive to Hershey to look at modern junk  :)

 

.

2 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)

My brother took me and a friend to the Dodge dealer to pick up the friend's brand new 73 Charger with a 340. I was looking forward to the 40 mile ride home with him. He drove it gently about 11 miles, when bad engine noises ensued. After getting it towed back to the dealer ( remember, no cell phones to help out then) it was found that a pressed in rocker arm stud had pulled out of the driver's side cylinder head.

 

Edited by 31 Caddy (see edit history)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We bought a 72 Camero that the engine blew after two weeks. When the tow truck driver lifted the front end the windshield shattered. They replace all and four weeks later that engine blew and again the windshield shattered. The third engine finally work ok. The 70's bad music bad cars. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In 1965 I was driving a new IHC Loadstar for a local cartage.  The day after its first 1000 mile oil change and inspection I was fully loaded and noticed that the steering was funny when I braked.  Being only a couple of block from the dealer I drove there.  There are supposed to be four bolts holding the backing plate on the front wheels, one side only had one bolt.  They said it was okay for me to drive it 5 miles to where I was unloading and then to bring it back.  I called the dispatcher and he sent another truck and we transferred the load right there without moving the truck.  They fixed it and the company I worked for never bough another international.

My best man bought a new Firebird in 1967.  The first time he drove it towards me I noticed the front wheel wobbling.  Guess what, no cotter pins through the nuts on the spindles..

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I was selling new Chevys in the early '70s. We received a new Caprice coupe in "Covert Tan" with a darker vinyl top and interior. Our sales manager loved combinations like that, so he ordered the car to be detailed for showroom duty. After the clean-up guys parked it on the showroom, my fellow salesman Dennis and I noticed that it had a big dent in the passenger-side rocker panel, which we immediately reported to the sales manager. Now, this dent had absolutely no scrapes or scratches in it, which led us to believe that the panel was installed WITH the dent and then painted.

 

While I was out to lunch, a customer came in and fell in love with the car. Dennis later told me that, not wanting to lose the sale, he did his entire spiel standing in front of the dent. The customer bought the car and later brought it back when he found the dent. Dennis, being the slick salesman that he was, feigned surprise when the customer showed him the problem but - of course - offered to have it repaired at no charge...

 

Then there was the two-tone Nova coupe that had the Exterior Decor Package (bright window moldings, full-length body side moldings, etc.) on the driver's side but not on the passenger's. The list goes on, but yes, quality control was often spotty at best!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You don't have to go back as far as the '70s.  Didn't the AACA raffle off a brand new car just a few years ago, that had some major problem (like seizing up on the highway)?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There was a black 38 Chevy coupe with a cream pinstripe on one side and a red one on the other. The car lived it's entire life that way. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In 1972 I ordered a brand new AMC Hornet and when I went to pick it up the salesman,  also the owner,  told me this was the first car in a long time they unloaded without having to repaint a panel from shipping.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
9 hours ago, SC38DLS said:

We bought a 72 Camero that the engine blew after two weeks.

 

Apparently the quality on that car was so bad that they even misspelled Camaro on the logos...  :D

2 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
All this during a time the Japanese imports where gaining market share and American manufacturers where dismissing foreign cars as junk.  I was beginning a 20 year run of Datsun 240 Z, 280 Z, & Nissan 280 ZX and 300 ZX, all great cars that are now collectible.  I wish I still had the 1979 280 ZX, the best of the lot.
 

280 ZX.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)

About 10 years ago someone here on the forums told about a late Seventies Firebird he ordered new. The right front fender was for a Firebird...the left one was for a Camaro. Refused to accept it because, if they couldn't get the fenders right, who knew about the rest of the car.

Edited by jeff_a (see edit history)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
13 hours ago, 31 Caddy said:

My brother took me and a friend to the Dodge dealer to pick up the friend's brand new 73 Charger with a 340. I was looking forward to the 40 mile ride home with him. He drove it gently about 11 miles, when bad engine noises ensued. After getting it towed back to the dealer ( remember, no cell phones to help out then) it was found that a pressed in rocker arm stud had pulled out of the driver's side cylinder head.

 

 

I have never seen a 340 that the rockers ran on studs. All on shafts.

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I had a 1969 Toyota Corolla, it made it to just over 41,000 miles it before it needed a new head. The repair was going to be almost the same price as a new new 1973 Corolla.

I was working in a body shop and a almost new Fairmont wagon came in. Opening the rear the gate it moved every which way. the left bolts were out a good 1/2" and one right one had one bolt that was kind of tight.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, JACK M said:

 

I have never seen a 340 that the rockers ran on studs. All on shafts.

I'll defer to your expertise. It was a long time ago, and I was 17 years old. Certainly not the car expert that I am now, lol.:rolleyes: That's how I remember it - but I'm sure I have the particular problem wrong. I remember going out into the shop area with my friend and the mechanic had the driver's side valve cover off. I recall him mentioning some drilling and tapping involved. A few hours later we were on our way. Lesson learned - don't try to share 45 year old memories.

2 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, jeff_a said:

About 10 years ago someone here on the forums told about a late Seventies Firebird he ordered new. The right front fender was for a Firebird...the left one was for a Camaro. Refused to accept it because, if they couldn't get the fenders right, who knew about the rest of the car.

 

Well my new 78 Camaro had a Firebird door panel on the passenger side door. I did not notice it for a week

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I worked for a Ford dealer in 1975. Those cars were atrocious.

A body man friend of mine worked for a Chevy dealer at about the same time. He says that new cars used to arrive with rust already showing around the trim.

My late father-in-law bought a new 1976 Cadillac. In three years, it was showing rust around the vinyl roof, as well as the side, hood and trunk trim.

 

With a very few exceptions, most cars of the seventies and early eighties were piles of (shall we say) disappointment. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A couple of events that showcased poor production quality...

 

My cousin sold Dodges and got the first new Demon his dealership received as a demo.   One fender said 'Demon' the other said 'Duster'.

 

A friend bought a new '74 Corvette.  He brought it to my house before even going home with it so I could see what a mess it was.  I took it for a spin (brand new with under 25 miles on it) and the car had lots of issues.   After several trips to the service department, the dealer informed him that they didn't build the car and were not going to do any more work to it.   He dumped it soon thereafter and got a Datsun 280Z.

 

The fifties had their share of quality issues as well.  My father was a NYC cab driver and the company test driver when new cabs came in.  One DeSoto lost a wheel on Columbus Circle, and another caught fire because of a wiring issue.

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)

7 hours ago, joe_padavano said:

 

Apparently the quality on that car was so bad that they even misspelled Camaro on the logos...  :D

So you must be so perfect you never make a typo. Must be nice. 

You should read the post on why the AACA has a hard time getting younger people involved. Your attitude will surly be a big help. This is such an old boys club it's just not fun being a part of it. Certainly not worth spending  time on 

Edited by SC38DLS (see edit history)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I got the sense he was just playing and the typo went along well with the notion of imperfect car production. Internet sarcasm can be hard to read sometimes.

2 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)

I went over my special ordered goat wagon when it arrived at the dealer in '72. He could not understand why I wanted it on a lift. There was no fluid in the posi diff. 70 GS had so much engine sealer that it clogged the radiator and I never made it home from the dealer before it overheated.

 

Remember hearing of a car that was a Volare on one side and an Aspen on the other.

 

Every car I have had has been a learning experience. Can't think of a car that wasn't better when sold than when bought (except when bought new and even some of those).

Edited by padgett (see edit history)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now