The so called ‘Malaise Era’ was a dark time for American automotive enthusiasts. Between massive ugly 5mph bumpers, raising fuel prices, and emission choked engines cars from this time period had a hell of a hard time living up to their predecessor’s glory. To get an idea of how bad it was take a look at what powerful cars of that era.
Lamborghini Urracco 217hp
Rolls Royce Silver Shadow 220hp (250 Europe)
Maserati Merak SS 220hp
Porsche 928 222hp (240 Europe)
Chevrolet Corvette 230hp (165hp lowest)
Ferrari 308 240hp (255 Europe)
Jaguar XJ-S 242hp (282 Europe)
Mercedes 450SEL 6.9 250hp (286 Europe)
Porsche 911 Turbo (930) 260hp
Aston Martin V8 310hp
Ferrari 400 310hp
Maserati Khamsin 315hp
Maserati Bora 320hp (330 Europe)
Lamborghini Espada 321hp
Lamborghini Jarama 365hp
Lamborghini Countach 375hp (later downgraded to 355hp)
There’s no set definition of when exactly the “Malaise Era” was. For the purpose of this group of cars I found the years with the lowest power outputs (1975-80). In the early 1980s horsepower ratings started to climb.
In 1973 US automakers switched to net power ratings creating a relatively consistent playing field.I thought about drawing the line at 1974, however there were still some big block cars that had hadn’t quite gone down (220hp Lincoln Mark IV, 270hp 454 Corvettes, and most notably the 290hp Trans Am 455 SD.
It’s curious as to how Lamborghini was able to keep selling such powerful cars, but it’s possible that they were embellishing the rating and/or cheating at emissions (not that it really matters). It’s notable that there were only dozens of Lamborghinis, Maseratis, and Aston Martins sold in this time frame.
Note the Ferrari 512 wasn’t sold in the US, nor was the BMW M1 (I think)