"If there are "thousands upon thousands of used ones still sitting in junk yards" then how can there be many "still on the road"?"
Because there are still hundreds of thousands upon thousands more cars of this vintage still on the road. Obviously these cars aren't going to last forever, but the ones that are still around are generally in decent shape. Hmmmm don't see many Hondas, Toyotas, Nissans, Datsuns of this era any more. Most of those rusted on the showroom floor.
Today's cars are more reliable and efficient? My 1999 Dodge Intrepid blew 3 engines and two transmissions in 88,000 miles. My neighbor's 2005 Nissan Titan just ate its 2nd rear differential at 52,000 miles. My 2002 Accord is an electrical nightmare that eats brakes and is barely capable of 26 MPG highway going at or below the posted speed limit.
My 1987 Chevy Caprice has 189,000 miles and is capable is 23 MPG at 70 MPH. Try that with a Nissan Armada, or a wimpy, weak Honda Pilot. After you take it to the shop, pay $75 to hook it to a computer to find out the same thing is wrong with it for the 18th consecutive time. Tried and true tough old car vs. "modern" plastic junk. NO COMPARISON
I just bought a 1977 Chevy Impala station wagon for $900 bucks from an older gentleman who was concerned about minor oil leaks.
The thing may be beat up on the inside, but it runs and rides like a dream. It has given me no trouble.
On the other hand, my mom's 2003 Ford minivan is already having trouble with the brakes, the electrical wiring, and the transmission is slipping.
Tell me which car is more durable and efficient.
Amen to that. I'm still driving my '73 Dodge to work every day, 318 2-bbl. that gets 16 city/21 highway, and owned it for 20 years.
Sure, I'll admit that it doesn't handle as well as a new car and has lots of body roll in corners, and you feel more bumps, but you can't beat the price!
And, my "check engine" light never came on, my tranny chip never needed to be flashed because it went into "limp mode", and I never had an oxygen sensor or mass air flow sensor go out!
But you know what, up until about 2005, it wasn't really any worse than most other cars out there, and in some cases it was still better!
Being the guy that wrote the "I bought another one" 1977 Wagon review, (Really an early '78) I must agree with the above reviews about the mostly trouble free - good longevity of these earlier cars.
"The Turbo 350 lasted 210000 miles". I suspect the camshaft was another victim of the EPAs war on flat tappet cams by mandating an extreme reduction in ZDDP (zinc dialkydithiophosphate),the extreme high pressure lube added to the oils of the era. That's what reduced my camshaft's lobes to "lumps" at around 370k. I now use non API labeled oils like Valvoline, Lucas, Royal Purple, Penn Grade (Kendall) racing or "extended life" oils. They will help any non roller lifter motor live a happier life these days. Best of Luck and a happy new year, Folks!
I am looking at purchasing a 1977 Impala this week, to add to my collection of rides. I'm going to look at it tomorrow, it's a daily driver with only 170k on it, senior owned. Would love to have it in my garage!
The old GM rear wheel drive technology was incredibly durable, no companies makes quality like that anymore.
It was simple to repair, and most repairs could be done at home too. Now you bring your car to the dealer, and they can't even find the problem after $300 of computer diagnostics.
You see tons of old Chevys from the 70's and 80's where I live, more than any other brand, for a reason; they are durable and need little to no maintenance.
Some older Ford and Dodge trucks are still around, but very few cars. Once in a while you'll see an rusty Toyota pickup with a 22re under the hood.
Old Impalas and Caprices are very common, most are pretty beat up and need paint, but still running everyday.
Lots of seniors and people on disability have these cars, because they don't have money to buy a new one, and the old Impala just keeps running.
I am very excited to see my new car tomorrow, the 1977 model is rare to find and I will likely buy it no matter the condition. After market parts are cheap for these cars, you can drop any 350 or 305 crate engine in.
The only thing modern cars do better is not pollute - everything else they do worse, and at an enormously greater cost. For similar size and use of vehicle, their fuel mileage is no better, and the real deal-breaker is they are incredibly expensive to buy and repair. Alas in 2010, and after the 'Cash-for-Clunkers' program, the old gems really are becoming a great rarity.
In my mind the clunkers are new with poor drivetrain quality in our home. The older ones are still running well.
"In my mind the clunkers are new with poor drivetrain quality"
Yes, precisely! There is something satisfying about a simple, robust, well-designed vehicle, that is still satisfying even when it is old and worn out. A poorly-engineered over-complicated, delicate mess is offensive to practical sensibilities, whether new or old.
I'm looking to buy a 77 Impala that's white. It has only 30k miles on it. Lambo doors and has 24 inch rims. I'm wondering if these cars are good. The price is cheap too, the guy only wants $1,500. The car runs and nothing is wrong with it. No mechanical problems. Is it a good deal?
"Lambo doors and has 24 inch rims."
Fail... If you buy the car, please make it normal again. Sell the rims and use the cash to fix it up properly.
You have a gold mine at 1500. Part out the very expensive rims and likely double your investment. Sell the motor and trans. Then the door kit. Then get at least 300.00 more for scrap value for the frame and body, due to its heavy weight. Take the profit, buy a nice stock one and have zero in your next car. That's what I do.
Wagons are really gaining appeal. I would keep my eye out for earlier era 2 door 60s GM wagons, as they are currently very hot. Unusual ones though with Vista roofs and rear faced seats are also very cool. Ones like this pre 72 with factory Rally wheels look great. I owned a 1963 Chevrolet Belair Wagon, which was factory Silver with white painted top. Some were ordered with impressive engines, even in wagon form. Another very cool non GM smaller wagon I see is the late 50s-early 60s Rambler Wagons. They are a rare sight.