Three Way Three-Pedal Showdown: Pony(ish) Cars Representing the Beginning, Middle and End of the Malaise Era

1974 Chevrolet camaro for sale1985 mustang lx t-tops for sale

Let’s take three distinctly different looks at a common formula: two doors, eight cylinders and three pedals. Most interestingly, they capture three specific moments in time: a Camaro ushering the descent into the Malaise Era, the very mascot of the Malaise Era: a Ford Granada and the car that best embodied the end of the Malaise Era: a Foxbody 5.0 Mustang.

When defending second-generation Camaros, the ’70-73 stub-nose models generally get a pass, but the slant-nose impact bumper face of the ’74 signaled the beginning of the end. At this point, compression ratios were dropping, horsepower were down to net things were just lame. This particular example managed to avoid a the typical autumn hues of the 70s in favor of a decent white and blue over black color scheme. The 350 makes whatever power a mid-spec 350 makes, and is thankfully backed by a proper four speed. Alas, the floors will need replacing, but that’s about it. The opening bid’s $5,300…whether or not there’s a reserve atop that remains to be seen.

We’re going out of chronological order to take a look at this ’85 Ford Mustang. ’85 was the first year of the roller-cam, higher-flow 5.0 with a decent Holley 600CFM carb backed up by a five-speed overdrive transmission. This one’s of the earlier “four-eye” Fox chassis example, sporting early-80s era-appropriate T-Tops. It’s been sitting for years, but only has 35,000 miles (on a five-digit odometer). It’ll need some love to get back in proper running condition, but the current $1,800 price (with three days left) reflects that.
(Side note: the P71 Crown Vic and Rolls Royce in the background of the Mustang’s listing suggest the seller might be an interesting guy to hang out with)

Lastly, the most perplexing vehicle of the group: mint condition brown-over-tan Granada Sport Coupe. Rather than some pathetic badge-only special, that title actually holds water: this thing has a 302 and a four speed. As a reminder, the Granada shared a chassis with the engineered-in-the-late-50s Falcon, meaning this car is frightfully close to a ’60-whatever Mustang GT underneath. That is, so long as we ignore the curb weight and the fact that a ’77 302 made like 120 horsepower. Still, there’s little preventing one from swapping that 302 for an angry 347 from the nearest Summit catalog. The only holdback? This car is in perfect condition. Like, museum-grade. So, if you’re looking for the absolute best of the absolute worst Ford had to offer, this is your time capsule. It’s sitting at $4,400 with an unmet reserve and two days to go.
So, what’ll it be? The maybe-not-that-Bitchin’ Camaro, the Mullet-and-Oakleys Mustang or Triple Distilled Malaise?

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  1. tonyola Avatar

    It should be noted that the 4-speed stickshift in the Granada is pretty much the old tree-shifted 3-speed converted to floor shift with an overdrive top gear added, so it’s not really a performance setup. Sadly, the stickshift wasn’t offered with the optional 351.

    1. Tiberiuswise Avatar

      Not a performance setup? I assure you that mine easily kept up with powerhouses such as my friend’s 1980 Trans Am. And it was a TURBO!

      1. tonyola Avatar

        That must have been one sick-running ‘Bird.

        1. Tiberiuswise Avatar

          It was. The previous owner cut the seatbelts out to save weight and ensure he’d be thrown clear in the event of a crash.

  2. P161911 Avatar

    Get the Granada and throw everything in the Shelby/Ford Racing/Summit/Jegs catalogs for 1960s Mustang suspension and brakes at it. Put in a 5-speed, good strong engine, and some sticky tires. Don’t touch the rest.

    1. Alff Avatar

      Yup. Wanna go halfsies?

      1. P161911 Avatar

        I don’t think that I can even afford to buy the tires right now.

  3. linkpin Avatar


  4. Alff Avatar

    I’d take the Granada. Low mileage be damned, it gets suspension and drivetrain upgrades but appearance is left as is. A most unlikely and probably ineffective Q-ship.

    1. mad_science Avatar

      Thanks, nice catch.

  5. BigRedCaveTroll Avatar

    The Granada gets my vote. There are plenty of 2nd gen Camaros and Fox Body Mustangs around. But, like others have said, it wouldn’t remain stock, except in appearance.

  6. Mr. Ollivander Avatar
    Mr. Ollivander

    Run away from the Camaro.
    Think of how much the Mustang is going to cost and it will still be a lesser-liked Mustang.
    Spend the money on the Granada. It will be odd at the shows and can be upgraded if you wish.

    1. tonyola Avatar

      If only the Granada didn’t look like a Granada…

      1. Alff Avatar

        I look at it and see a $24K Mercedes SLC.

        1. tonyola Avatar

          You’ve been into the Ford Kool-Aid again, haven’t you?

  7. Tiberiuswise Avatar

    That Granada is the spitting image of the one I had in 1984.

  8. Tiberiuswise Avatar

    If that Mustang is really an ’85 (why CHMSL?) the factory Holley was a 585.

  9. salguod Avatar

    That Camaro is project car hell personified. Wrong spoiler, wrong hood, no interior pics and rusty floors (and likely more). Yeah, the Mustang is no peach, but at least it’s not pretending to be something special.
    I’ll take the bargain Mustang.

  10. dukeisduke Avatar

    Hmmmm… The Granada Sports Coupe here doesn’t have the louvered opera windows shown in the brochure, or one of the side accent stripes (narrow, or wide). or the black window molding and wiper arms.