Malaise Era: Definition and Examples
Malaise: This word comes from the combination of French words mal- and aise (which translates to ease). This word generally means a sense of being uneasy or feeling out of sorts. It usually involves the beginning of an illness or feeling less that healthy. The term “malaise” has come to designate the decade of cars produced between 1973 and 1983.
The Malaise Era is ironic and insulting at the same time. It defines the time when muscle cars were no longer muscular, because of gas rationing and environmental concerns. The era ends when cars became status symbols for the preppies who took control of the mid 1980s. While many of the Malaise Era cars were nothing like the beauties from the 1950s, the sleek space-age cars of the 1960s, and the cars of the later 80s, 90s, and 2000s that had not yet been imagined, there were a few winners.
But, first, the losers:
Cars that weren’t Chevy Novas, but looked like them. This included the little known Buick Apollo and the Pontiac Ventura. While the Ventura did look slightly different in the front end, the Buick Apollo required you to blink twice to see that it was not the Nova but was the forgettable Buick Apollo instead. The car’s eponymous Greek god would be insulted that something so dull wore his name.
Plymouth Volare. Did you say the last “e” or was it silent? It’s hard to believe that Motor Trend named the Volare and the Dodge Aspen as cars of the year in 1976. These snoozers were supposedly aerodynamic and extremely fuel efficient. The fuel efficiency probably came from the fact that no one wanted to be seen driving them.
The Ford Mustang II or the car that nearly made the Mustang extinct. It was not fast. It was not good looking. It just was.
Don’t even get me started on the Chevy Vega. This one almost killed an entire car empire.
The biggest winner was the sexiest car of the 1970s, the Bandit, or the 1976 Pontiac Trans Am in black with gold trim. If it was good enough for Burt Reynolds, it was good enough for every other driver.
The same year Corvette was another winner. The 1976 Corvette had bold fenders and unique slotted wheels. The only downer was the cheap steering wheel. Otherwise, Chevy has not yet managed to ruin anything that proudly bears the Corvette name plate.