Hooniverse Asks – What's your favorite American car of 1976?


Thirty-five years ago today, our country (well, at least the country of most of us that write for Hooniverse) celebrated its 200th birthday. And if you weren’t around then, let me tell you that Bicentennial Fever hit bigger than Peter Frampton (What’da mean, ‘Who?’ — Go look him up on that Walkie-talkiepedia thing).
There wasn’t a lot for car-loving ‘Mericans be happy about in 1976. The economy was in the toilet, the 55-MPH Federal speed limit was in effect, and the build quality of American cars was rather dismal compared to the foreign competition. But the Bicentennial gave people an excuse to party like it was 1776.
You could buy a Bicentennial Edition of nearly everything that year — Eldorado, Pinto, Dart, and no less than four different Chevys (El Camino, Nova, Impala, and Vega). You could even buy a Bicentennial Edition Kenworth truck, Harley-Davidson motorcycle and Monark bicycle.
Looking back, there still may not be much to love about the cars of 1976, but surely there’s one among the bunch that warms your heart. Regardless of whether it was available bedecked with red-white-and-blue stripes that year, what is your favorite American car of 1976?

[DISCLAIMER: Images are from my hard drive. Most were pulled off the web long enough ago that I have no idea where they came from, with the exception of this one from Clunkbucket. If one of the photos belongs to you and and you’re mad about it, contact us and we’ll remove it.]

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  1. Joe Dunlap Avatar
    Joe Dunlap

    Hmmmmm. 1976. So little to love, so much to hate. I'll go with the Cobra II, only because Im partial to Ford products. It was still a POS like everything else from Detroit that year. Sorry.

  2. buzzboy7 Avatar
    buzzboy7

    So it was possible to get a Levi's Pacer X in 1976. I couldn't find that specific of a picture so I give you a Pacer X, non levi.
    <img src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-lu1pz5IpdS0/Ta4v2jATj_I/AAAAAAAAB-g/3ITDM1AUH5Y/s1600/Pacer%2BX.jpg&quot; width="600">

  3. tonyola Avatar
    tonyola

    I think I'd have to go with the Dart. – though hardly a great car, it's pretty good compared to the rest. Definitely far better than the Aspen that replaced it during 1976. By the way, that Nova isn't a '76 – it's a '74 Spirit of America special.

    1. west_coaster Avatar
      west_coaster

      Yep, the Sprit of America Chevrolets (Vega, Nova and Impala officially; regional dealers came up with other variants) beat the bicentennial by two years. They were sold in the spring of 1974.

  4. $kaycog Avatar
    $kaycog

    Fordfan that I am, I choose the 1976 Ford Gran Torino. If it's good enough for Starsky and Hutch, it's good enough for me.
    <img src="http://images3.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb20091002234758/uncyclopedia/images/f/f8/Torino2.jpg"width="500"/&gt;

  5. Mad_Hungarian Avatar
    Mad_Hungarian

    The 1976 Fleetwood Brougham: <img src="http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2632/3987533423_68d48c652e.jpg">Being one of the last cars to roll out of Detroit without making any attempt whatsoever to apologize for itself, or to be less than what came before it. There's 5000 pounds of American spirit for you.

    1. mdharrell Avatar

      Sorry, all I'm seeing in that photo is the outstanding roof rack on that 96. I suspect it's this rather famous example:
      http://www.wmsbrg.com/ebay/history/66mc850/

      1. Mad_Hungarian Avatar
        Mad_Hungarian

        I do believe you are right.

      2. tonyola Avatar
        tonyola

        I'm seeing that glass Astro-roof on the Fleetwood. The glass sunroof was still something unusual then and it cost a pretty penny as an option, too.

        1. west_coaster Avatar
          west_coaster

          My father had a friend who bought a '76 Buick Electra with one, and I seem to remember it was something like an $800 option.

    2. OA5599 Avatar
      OA5599

      I was in a parade this morning. While we were looking at the other cars in the staging area, my son pointed out a 59 Cadillac that was apparently left in neutral and had started rolling downhill. I stopped it less than a foot from a 65 Mustang and somebody got the owner's attention so he could put it in park.
      After everything was safe I sudden;y had a flashback to the last time I wrestled two and a half tons of Cadillac, which resulted in near-death, a lengthy hospital stay, and a permit for the closest parking spots.

  6. west_coaster Avatar
    west_coaster

    The Ford Bronco.
    You could finally get front disc brakes on the original "baby" Bronco in the penulimate year before it went all OJ Sinpson sized.

    1. johnnymac09 Avatar
      johnnymac09

      I have a friend with a 76 Bronco. Between him and his brother I think they have 4 of the old Bronco's in various states of repair.

  7. Stumack Avatar
    Stumack

    The "Spirit of America" Chevies were '74s, not '76s. The leadfoot's choice is probably the final Duster/Dart Sport 360s.

    1. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar
      Peter Tanshanomi

      Little slipshod on my research. Don't I feel like a fool.

  8. paxman356 Avatar
    paxman356

    I'll go for the Nova SS.
    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/4/4e/197

  9. Deartháir Avatar
    Deartháir

    It's the Malaise-i-est!
    <img src="http://www.mclellansautomotive.com/photos/B23356.jpg"&gt;

  10. johnnymac09 Avatar
    johnnymac09

    I have to say the 1976 Ford Maverick is my favourite. But that is mostly because it was my first car. I wasn't even born when the car was built, but boy did I enjoy driving it. 4 door, baby blue, 302, automatic. Bought it for a $100. When I replaced the brakes the front pads actually crumbled in my hand.

  11. MusclesMarinara Avatar
    MusclesMarinara

    <img src="http://www.firebirdfever.com/images/76white.jpg"&gt;
    The last gasp of the big-block American pony car – the '76 Trans Am 455.

  12. Macko Avatar
    Macko

    My uncle had a Spirit of 76 edition Dodge Pickup.

  13. Tomsk Avatar

    <img src="http://www.phoenixgraphix.com/gm/7677olds.jpg&quot; width="500" />
    First year for the wedge nose and the dogleg 5-speed (provided you ordered the 260 V8) and the last year for the 455.

    1. MadKaw Avatar
      MadKaw

      When I was a kid, my mom drove a '76 Cutlass S for a number of years. 350/TH350, battleship gray faded so it might as well have been primer, and a dry-rotted maroon vinyl roof. I still think this is by far the best looking of "Collonnade"-era A-bodies.

  14. Smells_Homeless Avatar
    Smells_Homeless

    If I were a buyer in 76, I'd hold out until the Pontiac Can Am landed at the dealers. But the hawk graphics on that Regal have always appealed to me as well.

    1. tonyola Avatar
      tonyola

      Had I been buying a new car in 1976 for reasonable money, I would have bought a new Celica or Scirocco or maybe waited for one of the first Honda Accords that came along mid-year.

  15. longrooffan Avatar

    Only because I Hooned a maroon over white interior one of these back in the day
    <img src="http://hooniverse.info/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/316009_s1.jpg"end&gt;

    1. Lotte Avatar
      Lotte

      Believe it or not, that was the EXACT car I was going to post. I checked the year, searched for 1976 Gran Fury and, well, there we have it. Then I refreshed the page…I even have the link for it on my other tab: http://hooniverse.info/2011/02/02/hooniverse-wagon
      For me, it has to be that one. Nothing else, not even another one from the same year in the same bodystyle. I'll only have it poop-on-wood with red pinstriping. I think just about everything on it is perfect (save the smog equipment, and maybe dog dishes). Kinda scary I still recall the post, actually.

  16. OA5599 Avatar
    OA5599

    The best Bicentennial edition was about a half-dozen years early.
    <img src="http://www.stencilsandstripes.com/images/AMC/Rambler_Scrambler.jpg"&gt;
    I'd take a Patriot Edition Scout, though.
    <img src="http://www.oramagazine.com/images/0506-june/050613d-old-iron/06photo07.jpg&quot; width="500/">

    1. tonyola Avatar
      tonyola

      There were also red, white, and blue Sprint packages for the Ford Mustang, Maverick, and Pinto in 1972. These were supposed to honor the US involvement in the 1972 Olympics.
      <img src="http://i53.tinypic.com/21lnc5h.jpg&quot; width=500>

  17. buzzboy7 Avatar
    buzzboy7

    Don't know why I didn't say this the first time. Also didn't realize you could get it with a 440. Mmmmm….
    <img src="http://image.customclassictrucks.com/f/29788271/0510cct_03_o+1976_dodge_warlock+front_side.jpg&quot; width="600">

  18. Maymar Avatar
    Maymar

    <img src="http://www.topclassiccars.com/car-pictures/cosworth-vega.png&quot; /img>
    Even if I wish it came with the original Camaro-esque nose, BLACK GOOOLD!

  19. Sam Avatar
    Sam

    I'd go with a Mercury Capri with the V-6 and 4-speed manual. Probably the most "Euro" American car in 1976.

    1. west_coaster Avatar
      west_coaster

      Probably because, really, it wasn't American at all. Built in Germany, but sold by L-M dealers.

  20. Rust-MyEnemy Avatar

    '76 was the last year for the Bricklin SV-1.
    <img src="http://thegarageblog.com/garage/wp-content/uploads/sv1.jpg&quot; width=350>
    I'm going for that, just 'cos.

    1. mdharrell Avatar

      But Dominion Day was last week….

      1. Rust-MyEnemy Avatar

        Ah, dammit! I should leave this Murrican car shit to people who know what they're talking about! I'm more in my comfort zone with MG Metros

  21. Stephen Hood Avatar
    Stephen Hood

    !/Users/stephenhood/Desktop/club-cab.jpg
    1976 Dodge Club Cab (the one in the picture is a '73). It was my first vehicle and I called it the Corn Dog Cab. It was more bronze than orange and had a Quail Creek topper. There were some advantages to the wide bench seat, but the truck was frowned upon by the Short bed Chevy drivers at my high school in the mid 80s. I eventually traded the Dodge for a Jeep CJ7, but I remember the Club Cab as the best vehicle of 1976.

  22. Paul_y Avatar
    Paul_y

    I'm rather partial to the Kenworth K100 Bicentennial edition:
    <img src="http://www.hankstruckpictures.com/pix/trucks/david_miller/dm_kw_aerodyne_k100.jpg&quot; width="500">
    …and there was a W900 version as well:
    <img src="http://www.hankstruckpictures.com/pix/trucks/david_miller/kw_aerodyne_bicentenial.jpg&quot; width="500">

  23. Alff Avatar
    Alff

    One of the great things about America – we are all free to make bad choices…
    <img src="http://www.trombinoscar.com/neoclassics/st760203.jpg"width=500&gt;

    1. mdharrell Avatar

      That's an excellent choice! They just need to let it roll forward about twenty feet.

      1. Alff Avatar
        Alff

        I totally understand the vitriol, as I have no love for any of the "neoclassics"… except the Blackhawk. I don't know why, but it's always been a guilty pleasure. Perhaps because my grandmother had an early '70's Grand Prix SJ that I loved, and the Blackhawk is a Grand Prix on steroids.

        1. mdharrell Avatar

          True, the neoclassics aren't to my taste (such as it is), but mostly I object to the misappropriation of marque names, which always strikes me as a cynical attempt to make a quick buck off an unearned reputation. Someone wants to make an over-the-top abomination on wheels? Fine. Heck, I'll even root for it, if I'm convinced it represents that person's sincere vision of what a car should be; witness my enthusiasm for the products of Bruce Baldwin Mohs. On the other hand, someone builds that thing above and seriously wants to call it a Stutz? Not fine, even if that someone is Virgil Exner. Let the car stand or fall on its own merits.
          Mumble, mumble, Bugatti, mumble, mumble….

          1. Alff Avatar
            Alff

            I have mixed emotions on that point. Clearly the latter-day Stutz was hardly an homage to the original. Ditto for the horrific neoclassic Packard.
            Done appropriately, though, I would love to see the Studebaker name rise again.

  24. Gundy Avatar
    Gundy

    Chrysler 300 Cordoba “Sprit of America” edition. White exterior with the red leather interior. Got 8 miles to the gallon even driving it at 55 mph.

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