CLASS OF 1979: How About A 1979 Project Car?

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Sometimes, the most unexpected cars come from searching an odd term on Craigslist. Like in this case, we’d plug in 1979 with a max $3,500 budget.


The year 1979 marks the start of the official US’s Malaise Era – it was July of that year that President Jimmy Carter gave his infamous “Crisis of Confidence” speech. Although pristine cars from this time are rising in price, they are still largely unappreciated beyond their loyal fans.

So it’s a period from which you may be able to find a screaming deal on something that really stands out.

Like this Triumph TR7. The seller takes the dubious tack of charging a collector $200 more than the recycler, and the interior has been hosting the elements through the broken-out back window, but hey – it ran when parked.


If a Triumph seems like a parts nightmare, then this Fox-body 1979 Mustang might satisfy, as its spares are as common as dirt.


This Mustang does have one eclectic touch: its German-made V6 engine was offered for only a portion of the ’79 model year, until its supply ran out. The V6 was replaced by the ’60s-era straight six that was first found in the Falcon.


If the Mustang whets your appetite for muscle, then maybe this 1979 Pontiac Firebird will appeal.


Non-Trans-Am Firebirds looked great without its sibling’s the flaps and air dam, though this one does have the Trans Am’s prominent rear spoiler.

Related: VIDEO: 7 Things You Probably Didn’t Know about Smokey and the Bandit


If a Firebird is too common, then this pert 1979 Alfa Romeo Alfetta could be interesting.

1979_alfa_romeo_alfetta_1Just 35K miles and lots of component rebuilds make this seem less risky than an Alfa project might be, though the fact that it’s missing the creamy V6 of the later GTV6 series might give pause. Love those simple alloy wheels, though.


Speaking of hatchbacks, maybe this 1979 Honda Accord will inspire fond looks back to when Honda’s current midsized sedan was simply a larger version of the then-teensy Civic.


The interior looks to need a thorough refresh, but the exterior isn’t so bad. Four rear badges – make, model, engine and transmission – demonstrate that Honda was eager to make its case to passersby.


There’s gotta be a truck in the mix when you’re checking out a vintage year, and this 1979 Chevy Dually with a honking 454-cu. in. V8 fits the bill.


Lines that are simple and strong make the GM truck from the era a favorite for many. Bonus if you’re able to determine if it’s a Scottsdale (middle trim level) or Silverado (top trim).


If you wanted an American V8 but didn’t need to tow a horse trailer, then maybe this 1979 Chrysler New Yorker would do.

1979_chrysler_new_yorker_2These Chrysler R-body sedans sold in relatively few numbers and had generally subpar quality, so they’re a little light on the ground today. Still, here’s another one from ’79, this time with a white roof. Ignore the ad headline – it’s a Chrysler, not a Plymouth.


If you wanted something smaller, then maybe this 1979 Ford Granada ESS would do the trick.


ESS stood for “European Sport Sedan”, but we see how American the interior was, with planks of fake wood and a steering wheel drilled with lightening holes. It’s as European in there as a Big Mac.


Much more true to its mission was the Lincoln Versailles, which sprang almost whole from the Granada platform. This 1979 model has the enhanced carriage roof that helped to spike 1979 Versailles sales.


Gotta love a car with a padded hump in back.


The Versailles’s main competitor, the Cadillac Seville, finds its way onto our list in this shortened version. The proportions are painfully awkward, but at least it would be parkable.


Then there’s the one that would likely be most tempting to the editorial eye, this 1979 Saab 900 Turbo. It busts the budget at $3,800, but it looks like there’s room to negotiate. It has plenty of options, and it blessedly has a 5-speed manual. Bet it would be a real kick to drive.

Related: CRAIGSLIST FIND: Classic Saab 900 with 39,000 miles


And yep, it’s pretty Broughamy in there, with diamond-patterned velour. This was Saab’s reach into premium-sedan territory, and today, it would be in a class of one in your neighborhood.


Tell us in the comments – which of these 1979 project cars would you choose?