1973. In the time machine. Smaller family cars, considerations and the final choice

Auto Motor Klassiek » Articles » 1973. In the time machine. Smaller family cars, considerations and the final choice

It was a nice brain teaser. A while ago, the Briton Darragh Mc Kenna posted a message on Twitter. “We are in the seventies .. British Leyland lets you look for a cheap foreign car. Which car do you buy? ” 

I decided to give that a twist. Mc Kenna presented four cars: the Fiat 128, the Toyota Corolla KE20, the Mazda 1000 and the Datsun 120Y. The Mazda and the Datsun 120 Y fell off for me immediately and I decided to add three manual small middle class cars (four-cylinder, minimum 8 grand / maximum 9 grand in guilders, year 1973): the Ford Escort, the Opel Kadett B and the Simca 1100. The Peugeot 204, the VW 1303 and the NSU 1200 C and 1200 TT failed - within the perspective of the zeitgeist. A choice that I cannot imagine today as a classic enthusiast. But now it is about the experience of that time, in 1973. The Peugeot was already too expensive then, and both German brands were still building on old concepts.

I step into the time machine, I am an imaginary 35 years old, married and the father of two young children. It is now March 1973. I live comfortably in a colorful house with Heuga carpet, Philips color TV, Erres stereo, Dual pick-up and a new Bruynzeel kitchen. I have also been looking for a replacement for my Austin 1100 for a while. I really liked the car. I'll buy one again in a minute. Sometimes I daydream about an Austin 1300 GT. A white or red, with a black vinyl roof. But it will soon be out of production and it is also well over budget. In addition, more and more noises about social unrest and strikes are seeping through from Great Britain. Everything has come to a standstill there, it has become a strange, old-fashioned and dark affair. Decline they call it on the other side of the North Sea. And that also does not feel good in terms of car purchase.

The Fiat 128 was enthusiastically received by the press in 1969. But unfortunately for several years now I have heard noises about mechanical malheur, excessive rust and poor parts supply. And I don't just hear it, I also read about it regularly. Fiat has done itself a disservice. A while ago I drove the 128. In particular the transmission was reluctant, that is already a known ailment. The generally mentioned objections and my own experiences are enough to keep me from being seduced by the attractive design. Not even now that an improved series has been launched on the market.

“It is not without reason that the Kadett is number one in the Netherlands, I don't care about comments about bourgeoisie. Let it chat, people know better. ”

Then make a quality leap anyway. I have already dropped the Beetle, just like the NSU 1200 C and 1200 TT in advance. How much I still like them. But what about the Opel Kadett? Nothing wrong with that, and a 1.1 Special falls in the same price range as many a competitor on my list. But then I have to make do with a 1.1 engine with 50 DIN-HP and a top speed of 132 kilometers per hour. If I want a little nicely dressed 1.2S then I will be more expensive, and I may be above the budget limit. There will also be a new Kadett soon. What does that do to the trade-in value? On the other hand: the Kadett is still number one in the Netherlands, and not just like that. Qualitatively it is fine and it drives acceptable. And stories of bourgeoisie? Well, let's talk, they know better.

The Ford Escort has also been on the market for a while. Competitively priced, also in combination with a 1300 engine. In addition, the Escort is also tried and tested and loved for its rally adventures. A street escort also comes across as dynamic and youthful. In terms of interior I find it a bit more complicated, you are guaranteed of a high frame line, a low seat and the low position of the steering wheel. I noticed it when I drove it in 1972, and it was actually hard to get rid of my long legs. Too bad, because the Escort has something naughty and brings fun.

You say a Simca 1100? Front-wheel drive, plenty of space, a lot of comfort and that for little money. Moreover, it is also competitive in terms of price as a five-door LS, and it has a spicy, but noisy engine. Despite that, I don't find the 1100 sporty. And way too high on the legs. But you do drive something else. Still, it's not my car. Too French, too soft, too headstrong. And not consistently qualitatively.

“The counter-arguments have been overtaken by time, the XNUMXs are long gone. Toyota has been on the rise for a while now. ”

I suddenly remember the Toyota Corolla KE20, which I drove over a year ago. The Japanese still oppose the conservative appearance. But the counter arguments have been overtaken by time, the XNUMXs are long gone. Toyota is on the rise for good reason. The entire series fits perfectly into the European traffic image and offers the better of several worlds. Take the Corolla. He is with his coke bottle shape and its sloping rear pillars are almost a cross between a coach and a coupé. And as a De Luxe, it is fully equipped. And the standard 1200 engine is already a tough one. With almost 60 DIN-HP, it enables the Corolla to reach a top speed of 145 kilometers per hour. Reliability is fine. I also understand that this is one of the best-selling cars in the world today. This has been the case for a few years now. That is not without reason.

When I drove it myself at the end of 1971, I noticed the ease of operation, the light and precise shifting, the smooth engine, the sporty damping and the light steering. And take a look at what is on and on. Reversing lights, front disc brakes, two-speed wipers, moquette carpeting, bucket seats with headrests, radial tires and so on and so on. Moreover, there are more and more Toyota garages, so the service network is also getting better. By the way, they won't make much money from repairs. It's March 1973. I know what it will be. Because this is the best in its class.

Dear Mr Mc Kenna. When it was 1973 and BL asked me which car to buy: I would know. I bought the Toyota. Without any doubt. ”

Dear reader, which smaller middle class would you choose in 1973?




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  1. Drove this car from 1974 to 1980. Never experienced any problem. Was a very solid car for the price of 102.000BF with all the trimmings, seat belts, radio ……;

  2. We had bought a new Simca 1969 at home in 1100. This was exchanged for another Simca 1100 LX in 1978. The 69'er 1100 was not rotten after 9 years and had little rust, the LX was already rusting after 6 years. The eleven hundred for 1974 were more resistant to rust.

  3. I miss the Honda Civic in the list, which was just new in 1972 and given the 3rd position in the AvhJ election of 1974, it must have been widely available in 1973 anyway.

    • The Civic drove so well that people drove it so fast that almost all smoked! Except the machines then vd grannies! Will you ever find them? !!

  4. And yet,… .. the forgotten KE10 Corolla was the trendsetter with things that were not commonplace at the time in terms of luxury,…

    Well, it is the time when every worker had to use the car, or so said Joop den Uyl, it was the time of many brands such as Heugaveldtegels, Philips, Erres, Bruynzeel,…. all faded glory. Just like the realization has faded away from doing but normal then you act crazy enough, ...

  5. Driven a Fiat 128 for years. Nice and smooth, nice and quiet, never had a problem with it.
    Sometimes you seem to have to be lucky.

  6. Unfortunately, the Corolla 30 that I bought in January 1976 was quite disappointing. Technically not, but after 14 months the paint fell off spontaneously and after 6 years it was almost completely loose. The normal paint was sprayed directly on the metal, without undercoat! It took a long time before I trusted a Japanese again.

    • Which can. At the time, the cars were also transported on deck and even if you didn't see it in the showroom, if you were unlucky enough to buy a Japanese who had been sprayed with salt water for four weeks, then you had bad luck.

      An aunt bought a very nice Datsun 1973Y Coupé around 120, a really nice car, but wow, the rust pits and chrome blades were terrible. Our neighbors had just such a Datsun and it remained beautiful for years.

      • Oh well all those sandwich monkey stories, .. in the 70s no car was transported on deck anymore, then the RoRos were already busy, ... Another story is that it was the bad Japanese steel, .. nonsense, .. cars all rust at that time, not one with exception. Why you that those ML treatments and Tectylation became so popular in the 70's… just think about that.

  7. From the price list I would, for a family with two children and a budget between 8.000 and 9.000 guilders, choose a Renault 6TL or a Simca 1100. Both just super practical and solid family cars with a fifth door. Back then it was innovative, nowadays it is standard. If the amount could be slightly higher, then a Renault 12 break.
    Not Japanese, they weren't that good in the beginning and mainly caused bread robbery in Europe. You just brought in the Trojan horse, which we do with the Chinese stuff now. Only where the Japanese hegemony has finally been broken, I think China is a bit more dangerous.

    • China is by far the largest car producer in the world so, yes, you are not going to stop that. And you can call it bread robbery, but in our economic system it is called competition. And, are we so much better?

      Fifty years ago, the Japanese car industry created a battlefield in Europe, among manufacturers who were not producing efficiently enough or who had outdated factories or were facing labor unrest.

      To make a Morris Marina it took 46 British man-hours, to make a Toyota Corolla 14 Japanese. In addition, in Japan the entire production process was super tight, there were no concessions to the quality of purchased parts and they also had the quality control well organized. Brands such as British Leyland were killed, as did the Rootes Group, Simca and our own Daf. May the best man win, I say.

      • In itself I agree with you, but it is just a shame that China is such a bad dictatorship. And there is absolutely no fair competition. So just not.
        It is a pity that people throw sand in their eyes and do not (want to?) See the danger.

      • Olav now things are a bit different. China still has the advantages of being seen as a developing country. The EU forbids companies to merge. Politics pushes electric cars down our throats, while China has the monopoly. As for the raw materials for the batteries, the compulsion not to produce combustion engines after a certain date, which does not affect China, Coal-fired power plants are forcibly closed too early here, China cleverly buys itself from poorer countries in exchange for their raw materials. If nothing changes here, we will soon have a lot of dissatisfied unemployed citizens who have no money for that Chinese junk. A bit of an unfair fight, I think.

  8. As an LTS "apprentice" car mechanic worked after school at Cock Dobbe - Ford dealer -and- van Marwijk - Renault dealer in Leidschendam. My 1st car was my father's B-Kadetje 1200, but there was no way in it. My friends were all American CRAZY, so I too !!! … Chevrolet Camaro, Pontiac Firebird, Chevy Van. Was -and- still 'infected' with the V-8 virus, and is still running it in 2021. Driving - steering-and- braking behavior will of course not make it, with what is now manufactured in Europe, Japan -and- China !!! … But yes, I have been living and working in West Africa for 20 years now, and if you can reach 100 KM / H on these roads, you're lucky. So my Chevy Suburban is PERFECT !!! … Gasoline per liter, converted Euro 0,80 per liter, so 1-on-6 no problem !!! … For my work a Toyota High Lux D4D -and- Mercedes 208 CDI available, but need TOO MUCH maintenance, because the diesel over here has too much sulfur, sulfar -and- bacteria, so every -2- refueling, only one bottle of brake oil Bee !!! … Otherwise you will not keep a “Common Rail Diesel” running in Africa !!! … So if possible, then the "Chevy" anyway !!! ... it always works, and no matter what quality gasoline you tank, it ”puts it in the fire” and you get where you need to be !!! …

    • Nice that there are dots and exclamation marks on your keyboard huh ????….

      Obviously not to be sneezed at such a rock-solid V8, but would still fall somewhat outside the stated budget…. !!!… !!

    • That's all TRUE !!! ...

      But this is about cheap cars under 10.000 guilders.

      Chevrolet Camaro fl. 22.144, -
      Pontiac Firebird fl. 22.664, -

  9. not to forget the renault 12, had a 12 ts with double carburettor, lovely “airplane” seats, also had the peus204, fiat 128, toyota, kadett and a simca 1100 ti, but the R12 was the best, it turns out noh jaaaaren made in romania

  10. I have forgotten the Mazdas mentioned in my price list. Here they are:
    Mazda 1000C 7.299
    Mazda 1300S 7.799
    Mazda 818 Sedan 9.095

  11. Well, that Fiat 128. It was said that it already rusted in the folder…. But later they also started to tectylate the folders and then it went a lot better!
    From an objective point of view, this Fiat was of course the most modern in all respects at the time. It is a pity that it was not produced by the Japanese, then the quality would have been fine. Incidentally, I was also confronted with the famous rust devil of this spicy Italian: a friend of mine organized autocrosses in the eighties and asked if I wanted to participate sometime. So I bought an elderly 25 for 128 guilders. It took off like a rocket at the start, but the party was already over at the very first corner. The whole front suspension collapsed…. But still nicely located 50 meters in front!
    Jan van 't Spijker

    • Those Fiats 128 drove perfectly. In principle, the Zastava 101/1100 was the same as the Fiat 128, but it also had the necessary quality problems. Or you had to be lucky, a colleague of mine had such a Zastava 1100 and it kept looking neat and was never wrong. Another colleague had nothing but misery with it and the paint and chrome flew off after a few years.

      But make no mistake about the "renowned brands" of 1973. Many VW Passat / Audi 80 did not make it into ten years and with the otherwise rock-solid Kadett it was quite normal that after about 8 years the bottom parts were replaced. Simcas were already on the scrapyard by then, with a tectyl treatment maybe a year later.

  12. Everything under fl. 10.000 in the May 1973 price list

    Austin 1100 7.815
    Austin 1300 8.530
    Autobianchi A112 7.366
    Audi 50 9.980
    Chrysler 160 11.100
    Citroën 2CV4 5.745
    Citroën Dyane 435 6.165
    Citroën Dyane 6 6.590
    Citroën Ami Super 8.290
    Citroën GS9.640
    Daf 33 Confort 6.140
    Daf 44 Confort 7.630
    Daf 66 DeLuxe 8.995
    Daf 66 Marathon 1300 9.850
    Datsun Cherry 7.450
    Datsun 120A Coupé 9.850
    Datsun 1200 Luxury 8.295
    Datsun 1200 Coupe 9.285
    Fiat 500R 4.901
    600 Fiat 5.107L
    Fiat 850E 5.997
    Fiat 126 5.916
    Fiat 127 6.902
    Fiat 128N 8.102
    Fiat 128 Rally 9.454
    Fiat 128 Coupe 1100 9.905
    Fiat 124 9.137
    Fiat 125p 1300 8.549
    Ford Escort 1100 7.285
    Ford Escort 1300 8.010
    Ford Escort 1300GT 9.901
    Ford Escort Sport 9.048
    Ford Cortina 1300 9.350
    Lada 1200S 7.995
    Mini 850 Luxury 6.170
    Mini 1000 Special 6.730
    Mini Clubman 7.030
    Mini Clubman 1275 GT 8.730
    Morris Marina 1300 Coupé 8.735
    Morris Marina 1300 9.630
    NSU Prinz 1000 6.490
    Opel Kadett 1.2 7.586
    Opel Kadett 1.2S 8.110
    Opel Kadett 1.2S Coupe 9.761
    Vauxhall Ascona 1.2S 9.460
    Peugeot 104 8.535
    Peugeot 204 Luxury 9.545
    Renault 4L 6.474
    Renault 5TL 8.187
    Renault R6 7.642
    Renault R6TL 1100 8.528
    Renault R12 9.484
    Scaldia 412 6.995
    Simca 1000LS 6.360
    Simca 1000 Rallye 1 7.260
    Simca 1000 Rallye 2 8.800
    Simca 1000 Spécial 7.260
    Simca 1100LS 7.995
    Simca 1100 Spécial 9.360
    Simca 1301 Spécial 9.800
    Skoda S100 6.578
    Skoda S100L 6.817
    Skoda S110L 7.088
    Skoda S110TS 7.390
    Skoda S110R Coupé 8.594
    Subaru sedan 9.890
    Suzuki Fronte 500 5.195
    Sunbeam 1250 8.400
    Sunbeam 1250TC 9.100
    Sunbeam 1500TC 9.800
    Toyota 1000 Special 7.250
    Toyotas Corolla 1200 De Luxe 8.599
    Toyota Corolla 1200 Coupé 9.100
    Toyota Carina 2-drs 9.999
    Trabant 601 4.498
    Vauxhall Viva 7.875
    VW 1200 6.304
    VW 1300 7.638
    VW 1303 8.375
    Volkswagen 1303S 8.752
    Wartburg 353 Standard 6.345
    Zastava 750 5.127
    Zastava 101/1100 Luxury 8.578

  13. What a nice story again and it brings back quite a few memories. In 1973 I was 29, the father of a child and lived in a corner house with a garage. In the sixties I drove Mini and Morris 1100 (Hydrolastic), but in 1973 I drove Ford, I lived Ford, employed by Ford NL. At the end of 1973 my larger Ford, due to the oil crisis, was replaced by an Escort 1600 Sport, a wonderful ripping iron for that time, which took you considerably further with the available petrol coupons than the 2300 V6 and which I normally drove more quietly than with the Escort . From the Ford corner we kept a close eye on Opel performance, but the rise of the Toyota also caused a number of Ford sub-dealers to switch. By now all history and looking back I have to conclude that the EU car industry has waited too long with adequate means to be able to cope with the Asian competitors.

  14. To choose from those four, I would go for the Fiat 128 with its excellent chassis and front-wheel drive as driving qualities, but the Fiats from that time also excelled in rust and paint problems.

    The Toyota and Nissan lagged behind the quality of the Mazda 1000/1300 series. Mazda was at a higher price and quality level than its Japanese competitors, with Subaru. So I would take the Mazda.

    Other mentioned cars: The NSU was quite outdated in the 70s, just like the Simca 1000. The Simca 1100 was a notorious rust monster, just like the Peugeot 104 and the Volkswagens, yes, really, a Passat from the mid 70s was a horror. Citroën offered the Ami 8, which dates back to 1961 and the GS, which was not a cheap class. The Kadett was extremely reliable and had a nice retention of value, just like the Escort. This did not apply to the then Skodas and Ladas, which offered a lot of cars for their new price, but were less advantageous in terms of depreciation.

    Also to be considered were the cheapest versions of the Ascona and Taunus. Or a Vauxhall Viva or Ford Cortina. Extremely strong, reliable and stable in value. And otherwise a Daf 66.

  15. Excellent choice.

    In line with the colorful house with the Heugaveld tiles Erres stereo, Dual pick-up and the Bruynzeel kitchen (how colorless do you want it), this Corolla fits perfectly.

    I drove the Fiat1973 Rally in 128 and would immediately choose it again, what a wonderful, problem-free cart that was.
    If that would fall outside the budget, then the “normal” 128 or Simca 1100.

  16. My father drove the Toyota and was completely satisfied. I chose a red two-door Dataum 1200 coupe that I later exchanged for a 240z with some extra payment. Both to complete satisfaction. In hindsight should never have sold them. The successor at the time was an A310. Also nice.

  17. I trained in a Toyota Corolla and got my driver's license, certainly a candidate, or I would go for the NSU 1200TT, a nice sporty driving behavior, or the Ford escort. I had an NSU 1000 myself and I had 3 beetles.
    Gr Len

  18. I was 18 at the time and we had the Austin 1300 at home. What a wonderful car that was. Sublime handling. Spicy character and plenty of space.
    I would have gone for the 1300GT, the Peugeot 204.

  19. Citroen GS for gourmets and for the somewhat more conservative family: Renault 12. Also comfortable in the Break version with plenty of space.

    • Yes, but those were cars within a larger class than mentioned. Incidentally, I grew up with the GS for a number of years. Great memories of it. Incidentally, this was not only a car for gourmets, but also for handy and patient tinkerers who knew how to navigate the complexity of the technology, such as my father. By the way, has been driving Toyota for years now.

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