How much did cars cost in the 70s?
When I was growing up in the 1970s I always wanted a Rolls-Royce Corniche. Back then it cost nearly £32,000. I thought I'd be a millionaire before I was thirty, so that was no problem. Things didn't turn out quite like that.
The most expensive British car of the 70s was another Roller, the 1979 Rolls-Royce Camargue, which had a list price of £56,756 [in today's money £220,000].
Today's top cars sell for millions of dollars. It is an indicator of the growing divide between the super-rich and the rest of us.
At the other end of the scale, a 1970 Fiat 500D sold for £498 [or £5,500 in today's money]. Cheap cars were also much cheaper than today.
Inflation was a huge problem in the 1970s. At the beginning of the decade a basic Ford Cortina 1300 cost £914. By the end of the decade the Cortina 1300L was the cheapest in the range. It cost more than double the price of the 1970's car, at £1,979.
Cars at the top end of the market went up spectacularly. A 1970 Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow cost £9,925. In 1979, the Silver Shadow II cost £39,219; a four-fold increase.
In cash terms, used cars held their price in the 1970s. They could go up in value as the purchasing power of money declined.
A 1974 Morgan 4/4 cost £1931, but in 1976 the same car in first class condition was worth £2,300. The famous waiting list kept prices high. More mundane cars held their value too. A 1973 Morris Marina cost £1090. In 1976 the same car in top condition was worth £1,130. So who says cars aren't a good investment?
Another car which was a good investment was the VW Beetle. Volkswagen introduced the Golf in 1974. The Beetle's days were numbered. In 1976 they were able to charge a premium over the Golf for the Beetle. Older Beetles sold for around their new price, provided the owner maintained them in first class condition.
This table shows a range of well-known cars and their prices in 1976.
|Cost||In today's money|
|Citroen 2CV 6||£1,364||£7,200|
|Lada 1200 saloon||£1,395||£7,300|
|Mini 800 saloon||£1,496||£7,800|
|Datsun Cherry 100A 2d saloon||£1515||£7,900|
|Ford Escort Popular 1000||£1,599||£8,400|
|Reliant Kitten saloon||£1,671||£8,800|
|Austin Allegro 1100||£1,771||£9,300|
|Vauxhall Chevette hatchback||£1,934||£10,100|
|Ford Cortina 1300 2d saloon||£1,950||£10,200|
|Triumph Spitfire 1500||£2,184||£11,500|
|Volkswagen Beetle 1200L||£2,228||£11,700|
|Vauxhall Cavalier 1600L 4d||£2,325||£12,200|
|Austin Maxi 1750 5d saloon||£2,383||£12,500|
|Chrylser Alpine GL 5dr||£2,457||£12,900|
|Ford Cortina 2000 Ghia saloon||£3,121||£16,400|
|BL Princess 2200HLS||£3,627||£19,000|
|BMW 316 2d coupé||£3,679||£19,300|
|MGB GT V8 2d coupé||£3,881||£20,300|
|Mercedes Benz 200 saloon||£4,475||£23,500|
|Lotus Esprit 2d coupé||£7,883||£41,000|
|Aston Martin V8 saloon||£14,836||£78,000|
|Rolls Royce Cornische 2d convertable||£31,998||£168,000|
Source:'Motorists new and used car price guide', published December 1976, pages 19-23