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?