There are plenty of import buyers, so your effort is not going to go 100 percent. I never bought Vegas or Pintos. I always bought V8 domestics in the 70s. Ones with 318s or 350s. GM and Chrysler engines that were great. Later I had Crown Vics with 302s. Either I have have been extremely fortunate, or simply made wise decisions all these years. The mid and full size cars were great.
GM was the first manufacturer ever to offer a 100,000 mile power train warranty. And that was on those "awful" Vegas. GM immediately corrected the defective earlier engines that were prone to head gasket failures. After the modifications, these engines were just as reliable as any other. As for rust, I wouldn't know, as I live in an area where cars generally aren't exposed to rust-causing agents. Our 1955 Pontiac does not have a speck of rust after 58 years.
I constantly see comments from import industry supporters about all these supposedly horribly unreliable cars built by American companies in the 70's and 80's, but they must have been very rare. I bought my first new car in 1972 (a Plymouth Duster) and have owned a large number of cars since then. None of our domestic vehicles was ever anything but rock-solid reliable.
My extended family has owned many many cars over the past half century. We were (and are) a family of car enthusiasts who loved working on older cars and doing our own maintenance on our newer cars. We have owned cars from all of the domestic Big Three auto makers, as well as Studebaker, Nash, American Motors and a number of imports. We even owned a beautiful cream and charcoal 1958 Edsel Ranger. We never found the reliability of our imports to be one iota better than any of our domestics. Some of our longest-lasting domestics (Buick and Ford) were from those supposedly "awful" 70's.
My late brother and I both had our own businesses. We relied upon our friends, neighbors and fellow citizens for our livelihoods. No, we were nowhere remotely near the size or power of a large industry, but we relied upon people buying our products and services to provide for our families. Our customers could have gone to foreign companies and put us out of business, but thankfully they chose not to.
No one is or has been arguing for a "closed economy". What we are advocating is support for hard-working Americans who are trying to prevent our country from becoming a nation of burger flippers at fast-food restaurants. Our heavy industry, such as auto makers, has basically been the driving force behind middle-class success. To cheer on the destruction of that industry, as some import fans do, is cutting off your nose to spite your face. Continually propagating myths about how awful American cars are and supposedly were, is very destructive to our way of life.
Recent surveys have shown that fully 80 percent of Americans would prefer to support American industry, even if they have to pay more for the products. And yes, the remaining 20 percent are free to abandon their fellow citizens and neighbors by supporting foreign companies. That is one of the many freedoms our great country has, even if it hurts the vast majority of our citizens.
The Vega and Pinto were terrible. They were built for PR reasons after the 1973 Oil Crisis. However, if you bought the full-sized cars from the 1970s, you were alright, as they came with reliable engines and had far better build quality than the ill-fated small cars the Big Three were producing at the time.
On the other hand, full-size cars were incredible popular, but the CAFE standards and high gas prices began taking their toll on them by the late-'70s. They enjoyed a resurgence of popularity in the 1980s and 1990s when gas prices fell and continued to sell. However, they were slowly out-competed by SUVs, which were far more versatile and useful for families.
Now that gas prices are at record highs, small cars are the vehicles to have today. Their efficiency and good array of standard equipment makes them high sellers.
I love reading your claim over and over that the American car companies made a sudden turn around in past few years, and somehow built junk in the 70's and 80's. Take the Cutlass Supreme for example, it was the best selling car (not to mention being also known as America's favorite car) through the mid-70's to the late 80's, before it was turned into a smaller front-drive, to be like the imports, then the sales went down. A majority of GM and Ford cars through that era were not bad at all, but you couldn't give me a Chrysler vehicle. I lived, owned and worked on cars from this era; did you? Yeah, Vega's had rust problems, but so did your "much better Japanese cars of the time".
We bought a new 1974 Pinto to use as a company delivery car. It was certainly no frills and very basic, but it was very reliable. The 2.3 engine used in most Pintos, as well as several other Ford products for many years, was a very solid and reliable engine.
Many years later I bought a used 1979 Pinto to use as a third car. It had over 180,000 miles on it, and ran great.
Myths are easy to start and very hard to kill off. When Japanese car companies began dumping cars into the U.S. market in the early 70's at below cost, they began a campaign to spread the idea that anything made by Americans was sub-standard. None of that was true, of course, but a gullible public bought into it.
When I moved to my current home in 1987, I became friends with an old gentleman who owned one of the largest repair facilities in our town. He was preparing to retire and told me had only started to make real money when Honda, Nissan and Toyota began selling large numbers of cars here. His response to Japanese imports was "they are poorly built, horribly unreliable and the best thing that ever happened to my business!"
Instead of Pintos or Vegas, why not talk about Corvette chrome bumper models or 2nd Gen Camaros, Chevelles, Nova SS and Chevy II, or Mach 1 Boss Mustangs for the Ford set. That's what we picked pre 72.
In the Northeast area, I noticed the import bodies rusted so severely before the drivetrains went. I had a 5 year old high end Z car that started rusting at first in the wheel wells... it was nearly the cost of a Corvette.
Early Japanese cars didn't have the same high-quality rust proofing as domestics. I think our government finally required them to rust proof cars sold here.
I would revise that comment and say the steel quality was certainly not as high as the domestics. I commented on a Datsun 280ZX I bought new, and year 5 it was rusting inside out. I keep my cars clean and garaged, but it was an issue then. And not cheap to buy as well.
Actually nothing used in Japanese cars matches the quality of materials used in domestics. It isn't just inferior metal on the bodies, it's every structural part of the cars. In order to be competitive, Japanese manufacturers cut every corner they can to save a dime. Such cheapness is what caused Toyota's massive recalls and Honda's recent huge number of brake recalls. Trying to build cars too cheaply and too fast shows little concern for buyers.