The 1960s ushered in a revolutionary period in the automotive world. Cars were faster, sleeker, and more sophisticated. Luxury models and muscle cars came into their prime, satisfying America’s growing appetite for top-of-the-line mobility. It was the golden age of automobiles, the peak of American car manufacturer supremacy, and a decade before the Oil Crisis precipitated its decline.
In the sixties, car racing came into its own. The rivalry between Ford and Ferrari, instigated by Ford after it lost a buyout deal for Ferrari, hit the asphalt and competitive racing at Le Mans and NASCAR tracks highlighted the world’s best cars. Let’s look at some.
1960 Dodge Dart
The 1960 Dodge Dart came about as a remodel on a Plymouth Savoy. The zippier name was selected, and the Dart was introduced in 1960, with a 225 cu. in. 3.7-liter Slant-6. It was offered in coupe or sedan, and with three different trim options, the Seneca, Pioneer or Phoenix.
With the Phoenix weighing in at the top of the high end, both that version and the Pioneer came stocked with a heavier, 318 cu. in. 5.2-liter or a 5.9-liter V-8 engine. Only 13 percent of buyers chose the high-end models, but sales were fantastic for the Seneca. The Dart made Dodge competitive with entry-level Chevrolet and Ford sedans.
1966 Oldsmobile Toronado
The 1966 Oldsmobile Toronado was named Motor Trend magazine’s “Car of the Year.” The winning car housed a 385-horsepower V-8, called the Super Rocket 425, specially engineered with high compression intake valves. The car was called a feat of engineering. It employed front-wheel-drive locomotion, designed with the feel of a rear-wheel-drive.
It was Oldsmobile’s most innovative car in almost 70 years. The beast weighed in at 4,800 pounds. As a classic fastback, it sported a long hood and short back, elegant yet minimalistic styling of sloping steel. Inside, a sophisticated, yet clean style opened up to passengers while a sleek dash of instruments was inspired by small Cessna plane altimeters.
1969 Triumph TR6
This British classic, made by the iconic motorcycle company, hosted a 2.5-liter straight-6 engine with 150 horsepower, capable of a top speed of 120 mph. However, the US version toned down the 4-speed manual TR6 with a carbureted engine to comply with emission regulation. Triumph Motors was a subsidiary of British Leyland, and thereby shared the stage with the likes of Jaguar and MG.
The speedy 2-seater Triumph TR6 was only offered as a convertible. How else? It was elegant inside and out. A very pretty dash of polished hardwood stretched across, spread with instrumentation. The car was manufactured until 1976 and remains a classic.
1961 Lincoln Continental
In 1961, the Lincoln Continental broke the mold. Nothing was wrong with its high-quality performance. In fact, its mechanical prowess delivered customers a 24,000-mile warranty, unheard of in the 1960s. But everything about its appearance changed in 1961. In contrast with its 1960 predecessor, the new Lincoln was shorter, lower and more streamlined.
Gone were the old-fashioned ’50s fins and swollen chrome trim revealing a sleek uncluttered, classy version of the distinguished vehicle. The Lincoln Continental had been conceived by Lincoln Motor Co. as “the world’s finest motor car,” a luxury convertible since its inception in 1939. By 1921, it fell into Ford’s hands. In 1961, it reclaimed its former glory.
1969 Chevrolet Camaro
To appear as badass as the ’68 Charger, Chevy muscled-up the ’69 Camaro with a flatter, wider and more fearsome look. Formidably shaped sheet metal lines confronted the observer with an imposing new grille design intensified by inset headlamps. It worked! The 1969 Chevrolet Camaro was its most popular model, selling almost 700,000 units.
The Sports Coupe offered bucket seats and carpeting, but the SuperSport hosted raw power, a specialized 3-speed tranny and professional sports striping. An upgrade to the Z/28 was a cut above. Dual exhausts, heavy-duty radiator, specialized suspension, quick-ratio steering, and large rally wheels set it up for competitive racing, whether on the streets or the track. On top of that, a Rally Sport option offered hidden headlights. Sweet stripes and wheels, special racing seats, and plush carpeting.
1971 AMC Javelin
The 1971 AMC Javelin galloped to the head of the pony car pack. Lightweight muscle cars like this sportscar were all the rage by the early 1970s. The AMC Javelin came standard with a 360 cu. in. V-8 with 245 horsepower and a two-barrel carburetor. But for just $137 more, you could pony up to a 401 cu. in. V-8 with 330 horsepower. Introduced in 1968, the Javelin earned accolades for its powerful engine that Road & Track called “an asset in such a small vehicle.”
The Penske AMC team raced the Javelin and won the 1971 and 1972 Trans-Am seasons. It zoomed 0-60 in 6.5 seconds. And its body was muscled-out with 15-inch Rally wheels, a severe rear spoiler, slick racing stripes down the side, and a black t-stripe on the roof.
1963 Buick Riviera
General Motors invented the personal luxury car concept in the late fifties, and in 1963, it introduced the Buick Riviera, an exquisite 2-door sports coupe. The Riviera improved on the T-Bird, not just with a backseat and more luggage space, but with more power, better brakes, and superior handling. The Riviera’s powerhouse consisted of a standard 401 cu. in. Nailhead V-8, outpowering the T-Bird by 25 horsepower, with 325 in total.
You could upgrade to the “Wildcat 465” engine, raising it to 340 horsepower. Inside, bucket seats and a center console created a sportier look than its predecessor, also standard. General Motors hoped the Buick Riviera would sell up to 55,000 models, and priced it about $100 less than its competitor, but the T-Bird outsold it by 50 percent! The Riviera was fast, better, and prettier, but it could not finish the sales race.
1969 Yenko Super Camaro 427
Racecar driver and car dealership owner, Don Yenko is responsible for the 1969 Yenko Super Camaro 427. Yenko worked with Chevrolet to build a 427-big block engine Camaro with a full 5-year warranty. The full-bodied Camaro was rated with a thundering 425 horsepower, but Yenko tagged it at 450. It came with a Hurst 4-speed manual or dual-gate automatic transmission.
It was also loaded with Z28 heavy-duty suspension and four F70x14 performance tires. Yenko special-ordered deluxe versions of the car, tagged with a “sYs” (Yenko Super Car) badge. Added were all kinds of bells and whistles inside, and on the outside, 15-inch Rally wheels, larger front roll bar, and a 140 mph-speedometer.
1960 Chrysler 300F Convertible
The 1960 Chrysler 300F Convertible was a big break with the 300E that came before. A stylish crosshatch grille was punctuated, front and center, with the “300F” logo. And it stood out with long conspicuous tail fins spreading out like airline wings. The unique trim gained plenty of notice.
Inside, the stylish trend continued. Four bucket seats with leather trim sat alongside a full-length console. Under the hood was an overhead valve V-8 with a 413 CID system, generating up to 413 horsies.
1962 Porsche 356 B
The first 356 B Porsche was introduced in 1960, completely redesigned from its 356 A predecessor. By 1962, the Porsche 356 B looked similar to an elongated VW Beetle, but it had a lot more power. It was a rear-wheel-drive, rear-engine sports car available in coupe or roadster. Designed by Porsche designer Erwin Komenda, the biggest difference between the A and B was an elongated front lid, widened severely at the bottom with the addition of vertical ventilation grilles.
Also, a new tank cap appeared on the front right wing. It came with a choice of three 1600 cc. engines, the 1600, the 1600 Super, and the 1600 Super 90. Varying in horsepower from 70 to 115, there was also the option of a 4-Cam Carrera 2. Prices ranged from $4,100 to $4,300. Porsches were built largely by hand during their early days, in spite of increasing demand.
1963 Studebaker Avanti
The design scheme of the 1963 Studebaker Avanti was famously sketched out by Studebaker’s new president, Sherwood Egbert, whose doodles were sketched on a jet flight to Chicago. The company hoped the Avanti would turn fortunes around. And the car garnered attention, people flocked to showrooms, but the company did not deliver.
It was unable to ship enough cars to the sales floor, and this, in turn, led to the Avanti going out of production the very next year. If you find one, you’ll find it’s packed with a Studebaker Hawk V-8, a 289 cu. in. 290-horsepower engine, driving an automatic transmission.
1967 Shelby Cobra 427 Super Snake
A 4-speed manual transmission driving a thunderous 800 horsepower barreled the 1967 Shelby Cobra 427 Super Snake 0-100 mph in just 10.3 seconds. Carrol Shelby said of this vehicle, “When I built this dual supercharged 427 Cobra in 1966, I wanted it to be the fastest, meanest car on the road.” Mission accomplished. It’s one of the most extraordinary cars ever made.
In its day, Road & Track called it “The Cobra to End All Cobras.” And, in January of 2007, a Shelby Cobra 427 fetched $5.5 million at auction. All other muscle cars sputter in comparison.
1963 Porsche 911
One of the all-time great sportscars is the Porsche 911. The 1963 Porsche 911 was the first of its kind. When the company released it, it was called a 901. Peugeot had a problem with the number, so Porsche renamed it. The history of the car goes back to the fifties, when Dr. Ferdinand Porsche based his vehicle on the VW Beetle. Taking it into a sportscar direction evolved the car until Ferdinand “Butzi” Porsche, the grandson of the company founder, led it to the epic sportscar we know today.
He made it more aerodynamic and lightweight. Placing the engine in the rear contributed greatly to that end while raising the bar on handling. It also had the effect of streamlining the hood. Inside was snug, but austere. A 6-cylinder 2.0-liter engine put out about 130 horsepower. It was only the beginning of the Porsche brand.
1968 Dodge Charger R/T
When this classic muscle car was brand new in 1968, it was markedly different from the former-year model. People loved it! They flocked in droves to the imposing and impressive, newly designed shark-like Dodge Charger R/T. The popular ’80s hit TV series, ‘The Dukes of Hazard’ showcased a NASCAR version of the R/T splashed in orange and called it “General Lee.”
The ’68 Charger came equipped with new features, like power-window safety lockout, recessed ashtrays, and padding on the dash. A V-8 engine was a popular option. Yet, the standard engine featured a burly 2-barrel 5.2-liter 375-HP engine. As an optional feature, Road and Track (R/T), was introduced in ’67, a muscle car innovation that included anti-roll bar, hefty front torsion bars, rear leaf springs, shock absorbers, and the largest standard engine and brakes available.
1961 Jaguar E-Type
Even Enzo Ferrari described the 1961 Jaguar E-Type as “the most beautiful car in the world” after it premiered at the Geneva Auto Salon in 1961. With a 3.8-liter inline-6 265 HP engine, this little car could scoot. Claiming a top speed of 150 mph, the manual 4-speed was a road car made for the joy of driving, and its beauty is still celebrated.
At the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the E-Type roadster was added to the permanent design collection, making it the second car ever to be so honored. With a price tag of $5,895 back in the day, it seems like a steal! Even back then, it was half as much as an Aston Martin or a Ferrari.
1967 Chevrolet Camaro Z/28
This rare Camaro package was designed for the sports car club of the newly minted Trans-American road-race series. With only 602 racecar-ready specimens in production, this rare 1967 Chevrolet Camaro Z/28 boasted Rally wheels, dual stripes running down the hood and trunk. Inside was a heavy-duty radiator, dual exhaust, special suspension, and power front brakes.
The Camaro ushered in Chevy’s response to the Ford Mustang. Muscle vs. muscle, the race was on. The real reason Chevy built these vehicles was to certify the 1967 Camaro for stock car racing. A special 302 cu. in. V-8 gave it the clout it needed to be chosen as the Pace Car for the Indianapolis 500 that year.
1969 Ford Mustang 428 Cobra Jet
The 1969 Ford Mustang 428 Cobra Jet rumbles with a 335-horsepower 428 CID Cobra Jet V-8 big-block. Nicknamed “Mach 1,” the base model came without A/C, power steering, and power brakes, but it could certainly make some noise on the drag strip! The newly-minted “Drag Pack” option was available.
For $147.60, a buyer could update his drag racer with a high ratio axle, engine oil cooler, cap screw connecting rods, a modified crankshaft, a flywheel and damper. And all 1969 Mustangs looked the part. A flatter windshield made a sleek entry into the fastback body style. Aggressive lines and front and rear sculpting gave it a fearsome look, and it was the only Mustang model with two sets of headlamps.
1964 Pontiac GTO
The 1964 Pontiac GTO blazed the way for the American muscle car, in spite of General Motors’ reluctance. Elderly and conservative clientele frowned upon these new-fangled “super” cars. They bristled at its rowdy cultural significance and winced at superfluous displays of raw power. But the folks over at Pontiac made it happen anyway. Working on a car that Americans would love, John DeLorean conspired with Pontiac’s VP of Advertising, Jim Wangers.
The promotion went so well that 5,000 cars were on the order sheets before even one car was built. The Pontiac GTO was nothing short of badass. Car and Driver magazine legendarily compared it to the Ferrari GTO. Of course, it was named “Car of the Year.” In 1965, sales numbers doubled, and the muscle car race was well on its way. Ford, Chevy, and Mopar began beefing up a new line of performance cars.
1964 Aston Martin DB5 Vantage Coupe
You’ve seen this one before. Everyone knows Bond, James Bond, first drove the Aston Martin DB5 in ‘Goldfinger’, right? What a beauty. A Silver Birch finish lined in red interior, designed by classy Italian coachbuilder Carrozzeria Touring, the DB5 was a head-turner. But you might not know what powers this pretty thing.
Under the fine lines that adorn the hood, a 4.0-liter DOHC straight-6 coupled with a ZF 5-speed transmission comprised the powertrain which delivered 282 horsepower and up to 288 lb. ft. of torque. The DB5 is a rare machine, indeed. Only 1,021 were built. The grand tourer could be acquired in a 2-door convertible or coupe.
1963 Buick Electra 225
The 1963 Buick Electra 225 was General Motors’ full-size luxury vehicle fully loaded with premium features. The Electra 225 was GM’s largest, poshest, and most pricey model, and it came renovated for a 1963 release with sleek and austere vertical-edged tails and distinctive wheel housing. The red-filled Electra 225 badge on its tail fenders boasted of its impressive 225-inch berth.
Packed with a Wildcat 6.6-liter nail head V-8, it possessed all the vigor necessary to scream to a haul. Inside, power seats, A/C, heater, power brakes, power steering pampered the driver. This car was meant to cruise the boulevard in style. The Electra enjoyed its denomination for over thirty years until 1991 when GM renamed it the Buick Park Avenue.
1966 Alfa Romeo Spider Duetto
This glamorous co-star of ‘The Graduate’ was the design work of Pinin Farina, maestro of Carrozzeria Pininfarina, and it was Farina’s last personally designed auto. His avant-garde sleek lines debuted at the Geneva Motor Show in March of 1966. A long and sloping hood parallels a tapering rear end, identifying the Alfa Romeo look. Inside, leather seats, a smooth-as-silk shifter, and an elaborate panel of instrumentation pampered the driver.
The rear-wheel-drive two-seater, known as the Duetto, yet never officially named so, is an icon of classic cars. Motored by an Alfa Romeo all-aluminum, double overhead cam, 108 horsepower was the product of its inline-4 1570 cc., 95.8 cu. in. powertrain. Top speeds hit 115 mph, and it zipped 0-60 in 11 seconds. The Spider was in production until 1993.
1965 Mustang GT K-Code Fastback
The 1965 Mustang GT K-Code Fastback was a special edition Mustang that sheathed the same blazing engine as the Shelby. Designated “K-Code” for its corresponding VIN starting-letter, these Mustang GTs were factory-fit with a special 289 cu. in., high-performance stallion. The K-Code cost drivers an extra $276 in the options package, but it was worth it.
The “High Performance 289” badge on the front fender was no gimmick. This car was built for performance. Upgraded pistons, cylinder heads, carburetor, lifter heads, and connecting rods meant business, as did the chrome air cleaner and valve covers sparkling under the hood. Ford knew drivers of these vehicles would push it to its limit, so a warranty on a Mustang K-Code covered just 3 months, as opposed to the 12-month warranty on a standard Mustang.
1967 Chevy Chevelle
“What you’ll see inside will probably bring on a severe compulsion to go driving.” So claimed a sales brochure for the 1967 Chevy Chevelle. The base model tore up the streets with a 325-horsepower engine, but you could upgrade to the SuperSport and commandeer a thundering 375-horsepower V-8. There were no shortages of choices in the Chevelle – a full six different transmissions were available.
There were two three-speed manuals, one four-speed, and two automatics to choose from. Plus, the Turbo Hydra-Matic transmission was tempting. Convertible or hardtop, 2-door coupe or 4-door sedan, two-seat station wagon, the selections went on. All Chevy Chevelle models were framed with a sparkling chrome grille that stretched across the front and rear ends. Bold lines in steel design left no doubt that this was a serious muscle car worthy of its name.
1960 Ferrari 250 GT PF Cabriolet
This gorgeous machine packed a SOHC V-12 260 horsepower engine under the hood, driving a 4-speed manual transmission with overdrive, but Pinin Farina (PF) dolled up the coach of Ferrari’s 250 GT cabriolet. And what a beauty! The luxury Grand Tour (GT) debuted in 1959 at the Paris Motor Show.
In all, 200 cars were built. Competition-grade models were revered as the fastest and most prestigious road racers money could buy. The Ferrari 250 PF brought automotive luxury and performance to a new level, soaring high above its predecessors and the competition.
1966 Toyota 2000GT
The 1966 Toyota 2000GT debuted in 1965, and it was to be Japan’s first supercar. It was a front-engine, rear-wheel-drive 2-seater that revolutionized the company’s sportscar division. The 2000GT made its film debut in ‘You Only Live Twice’ (1967) co-starring with James Bond as a convertible. As the most collectible Japanese car ever, with only 351 units produced, one competitive racer sold for $1.7 million at a recent auction.
When Toyota wanted to be competitive at the SCCA, they put their car under the workmanship of Carrol Shelby. The American auto designer stripped down the Toyota to its base parts, added better tires, boosted the engine size, and replaced the suspension. Two of these modified 2000GTs finished in 1968 in the CP category, losing only to Porsche. One of these is the model that went for $1.7 million.
1965 Chevrolet Impala
One response to the Pontiac GTO is the epic 1965 Chevrolet Impala. Crashing through sales records, the 1965 iteration sold over one million Impalas. Rounded sides and a sharply angled windshield identified this model, strikingly different from the 1964 version. New trim included bodyside moldings, wheelhouse moldings, rear cover trim, and triple-stacked taillights and Super Sport (SS) fender and front grille script.
Inside, bucket seats, SS identification, and an electric clock and a snazzy instrument panel impressed. The best part, naturally, lay in its powertrain. It came standard with a 6-cylinder engine with overhead valves and the revered Hydra-Matic transmission. A 230 cu. in. motor generated 140 horsepower. Upgrading to the V-8 put 200 horsepower into your hands. If that was not enough for you, you could purchase the 400-horsepower option!
1966 Ford Thunderbird Convertible
You might recognize this model as the vehicle that propelled Thelma and Louise over the cliff, in the classic film. The 1966 Thunderbird Convertible was legendary in its own day and remains a showstopper. Stocked standard with a 390 cu. in. V-8 engine, buyers could opt for a prodigious 428 cu. in FE-series V-8 345-horsepower-upgrade, a serious powertrain perk.
Perks were plentiful in this glamorous cruiser. High-tech taillights flashed in sequence across the rear end, and a spread of sweet sophistication greeted the driver with elaborate gauges, controls, buttons, and knobs across the dash—a rare treat for 1960s automotive norms. And the 1966 model found the iconic Thunderbird crest moved from the nose of the hood and newly centered on the front grille – a royal relocation.
1961 Chrysler 300G Coupe
Sheer muscle delivered with style. The 1961 Chrysler 300G Coupe is a close ancestor to the 1955 and 1956 Grand National Championship and Daytona 500 winners, from which its powertrain was born. Stepping inside the 300G was a breeze. Swivel seats make entering or exiting the car a high-class endeavor. Settling down amongst perforated leather, chrome-framed instruments, and upscale attention to detail, the interior impressed.
Even the control-center instrument cluster illuminates at night, it was a perfect grand touring vehicle. This car possessed enough power to light the city of San Diego. Under the hood was a 6.6-liter V-8 wedge engine generating 375 horsepower. You had the choice of cruising in class, in a 2-door coupe or a 2-door convertible.
1967 Lamborghini Miura
The 1967 Lamborghini Miura was yet another gem unveiled at the 1966 Geneva Motor Show. Its sleek and strong lines accentuating the emerging supercar as we know it today were as exciting then as they are now. In Geneva, automotive critics were flabbergasted by the formidable machine.
The burgeoning Ferruccio Lamborghini automobile manufacturer had started with building tractors, but luxury supercars were a blazing hot market. No other car could come close to his. Mounted in the rear with a monster 4.0-liter quad-cam V-12 engine, the Lamborghini Miura, named after a special breed of Spanish bulls, impressed and intimidated all.
1968 BMW 2002
Also premiering at the 1966 Geneva Motor Show, the 1968 BMW 2002 could not have been much different. The BMW 2002, called a “whispering bomb” by the German Auto Bild newspaper, was made for the practicality of motoring. Roomy inside, with plenty of head and leg space, and built with a spacious trunk, it was not made for the racetrack. Yet driving it was a joy.
With 114 horsepower, this modest-looking machine effortlessly cruised to 100 mph and over, handling turns better than American muscle. Great brakes and performance agility came standard. It was built with no-nonsense German engineering in an economic era recovering from the War when American autos dominated. Bells and whistles also came standard.
1962 Morris Garages MGB
The MGB is a favorite of classic car hobbyists. It’s adorable, a blast to drive, and it’s got a ruggedly dependable engine. Some people call it the best-selling sports car ever. The British manufacturer produced a total of 513,000 MGs from 1962 to 1980. The best-selling Miata by Mazda borrowed heavily on the MG’s design.
The MGB was also affordable. It packed a 4-cylinder MG T-series, but what it lacked in speed, it made up for in design and construction. Albeit, hitting 100 mph was totally possible with its 95 horsepowers.
1964 Chevrolet Bel Air
The 1964 Bel Air was a 4-door, 6-passenger sedan with a 283 cu. in. V-8 Turbo-Fire overdrive engine, and an upper-class image as a 1950s Hollywood celebrity wagon. In the ’60s, that well-appointed space went to the middle class, with plenty of room for families.
In 1964, the Chevy Bel Air model trimmed down on its full and curvy body style of the past and offered a sportier, more streamlined look. The Bel Air name badge lasted until 1975, after which Americans opted for Chevy’s Impala and Caprice for their high-class rides.
1969 Maserati Ghibli
In 1969, the Maserati Ghibli was available in a hard-top or soft-top convertible for the first time. Originally introduced at the 1966 Turin Motor Show, the Ghibli (pronounced “gib-lee”) had already established itself as a luxury, grand touring vehicle, crafted to transport its passengers in style. Another upgrade to the 1969 version was a 4.9-liter V-8, known as the Ghibli SS. Significantly, it made it the fastest street-legal Maserati, with top speeds of 174 mph, zipping 0-60 in 6.8 seconds.
Like its fellow Maserati brethren, the trident ornament on its front fender harks back to the statue of Neptune at the Piazza Maggiore of Bologna, the hometown of the six Maserati Brothers who first began building racecars in 1926. Inside, the Ghibli leather sports seats remind the driver of the car’s legendary racing history.
1967 Oldsmobile 442
The 1967 Oldsmobile 442 was a solid reply to the groundbreaking Pontiac GTO. Introducing the 442, the badge meaning a 400-engine, a 4-barrel carburetor, and “2” for dual exhaust, was all about muscle. The big-block 400 brought 350 horsepower and 440 ft. lb. torque. Setting a B/Pure stock national record, the 1967 442 commanded attention on national drag strips.
A 3-speed Turbo Hydra-Matic transmission became an option with the 442 as were front disc brakes. Built upon the luxury model Cutlass Supreme body, 442 became increasingly popular. It was praised as one of the best all-around muscle cars of the 1960s, excelling in performance speed, handling, and braking.
1966 Buick Wildcat
The 1966 Buick Wildcat was the most popular version of this model. Classy and nice to look at, the 1966 Wildcat boasted of superb handling with a tightened suspension. The Buick LT401 CID V-8 came standard, providing 325 horsepower. At 4,150 pounds, its power didn’t go to waste.
It offered an upgraded option with a high-performance V-8 with a 380-HP 425 CID, 4-barrel carb engine with dual exhaust and heavy-duty suspension. “Wildcat Custom” delivered bucket seats, deluxe steering wheel, padded armrests, plush seats. Due to competition from Buick’s LeSabre, 1970 was the last year for the Buick Wildcat.
1960 Ford Falcon
Introducing the virtues of its new Falcon model, Ford’s marketing department announced, “Here is a car that accomplishes the ‘impossible:’ gives you the handling and agility of a sports car . . . and the ride and comfort of a big car.” Offered as a “Tudor” or “Fordor” sedan or a wagon with two or four doors, the 1960 Ford Falcon delivered plenty of space neatly packed into a more economical machine.
With all practicality, the Falcon nestled a 144 cu. in., 6-cylinder engine under the hood, which provided power and fuel-efficiency. It could seat six, and it cost a mere $1,900 to put one in your garage. Significantly, the Falcon anticipated the Mustang, Ford’s most profitable sedan. It was also the platform from which other successful models would be launched throughout the sixties.
1962 Cadillac Coupe de Ville
This Caddy was lavish, and it could haul. The 1962 Cadillac Coupe de Ville housed GM’s Hydra-Matic 4-speed automatic transmission powered by a 325-horsepower V-8 engine with 583 lbs. ft. of torque. It could propel this leviathan from 0-60 in just 10.4 seconds, smoothly, quietly and quickly. Heck, in 30 seconds, you’d hit 100 mph. No need to stop there. The Coupe de Ville maxed out at 125 mph.
Some believe this 1962 Cadillac was the most advanced engine and chassis combination on the market. The bodywork was as exquisite as its engineering. Sharp tailfins and bold lines defined this luxury ride. Inside and out, high-class amenities came standard.
1968 Plymouth RoadRunner HEMI
Plymouth paid Warner Bros. $50,000 for name and likeness rights to the popular Road Runner cartoon image. And they paid an additional $10,000 for the beloved “Beep! Beep!” sound. A custom horn—gotta have it! It sounds gimmicky, but it worked – sales walloped expectations. Yet, it wasn’t just about a speedy little cartoon character; this machine was loaded with power, and it was fast as lightning.
The 1968 Plymouth Roadrunner revised the body of the Belvedere into a formidable muscle car with the stuff to prove it rumbling under the hood. The standard model hosted a 440 cu. in. V-8, known as the 440 Six Pack. But a $714 upgrade delivered a 426 HEMI with a stampeding 425 horsepower. Motor Trend called it “the most brazenly pure, noncompromising super car in history.”
1963 Chevrolet Corvette Sting Ray Coupe
The Corvette is an all-American classic sportscar, and it all started in the late fifties and early sixties with this brilliant beast. Racing nationally at the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) and showing off its stuff internationally at Le Mans, the Corvette could match anything the Europeans offered up. The split-window 1963 Chevrolet Corvette Sting Ray Coupe is perhaps the most recognizable and most elegant body on wheels.
The Sting Ray came with a 3- or 4-speed transmission and an overhead-valve V-8. With much of its weight setting on the back, and with rear-wheel drive, handling was quick and maneuverable, providing solid traction into turns and around corners. Sleek and elegant lines and wrap-around bumpers help give the Sting Ray its classic style. Today it’s a collector’s dream car.
1969 Dodge Charger Daytona
The 1969 Dodge Charger Daytona broke the 200-mph mark, and it was the first to do so in NASCAR history. Besides its speed, what defines this car is a two-foot-tall spoiler that lords over the rear. Completely functional, the massive wing lowers drag and maintains the power of traction. The engineers at Dodge worked to design a car that would hug the track tighter than any other.
Under the hood was a 440 Mopar big-block or the 426 HEMI. Yes. They were fast. In fact, they were so fast NASCAR effectively banned them from the track by changing the rule book—aerodynamic specs were no longer allowed. Daytona Chargers are highly collectible these days, fetching six figures. If the model houses a HEMI, you’re looking at up to $900,000!
1965 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350
There’s no doubt that the Ford Mustang is an epic American car, but the Shelby is the crème de la crème of all classic Mustangs. In 1965, Carroll Shelby International, Inc., an automotive company based on the designer and racecar driver Carrol Shelby, modified the Ford Mustang by introducing the high-performance GT350. The 1965 Shelby GT350 came wrapped in a striking white and blue striped body. No other color scheme options were available, and the conspicuous muscle car became instantly recognizable—as was its sound.
A 289-CID K-Code engine with 306 horsepower was more than enough power to make one quick and powerful pony of the lightweight GT350 frame. The original model was somewhat pricey. But $4,547 was a steal if you could know that they now sell for more than ten times that amount. A rare GT350R (“R” for Race specification), with only 35 ever produced, is an especially precious collectors’ item.
1960 BMC Mini Cooper
Back in the 1960s, the famous British Motor Corporation designed one of the first tiny cars to ever be produced: the BMC Mini. This cute little car quickly became a British pop culture icon. This small economy car was a unique, two-door car with a front-wheel layout and a transverse engine that allowed more space for the car interior, making it more comfortable for passengers and luggage.
The designer, Sir Alec Issigonis, created a car that would be in production from 1959 to 2000. And by 1965, a million Minis had been produced. In 2000, when production ended, over 5 million Minis had been sold worldwide. The car was fun, had a reasonable price tag, and was perfect for the narrow British roadways back in the day.
1960 Volkswagen Beetle
Everybody knows the famous Volkswagen Beetle. First produced in 1938, before WWII, the Beetle has gone on to become one of the most popular cars in history. But undoubtedly, the most famous is the Type 1 Beetle, which has sold over 21 million units. What many people don’t know is that the original Beetle had an unimpressive, 25 hp engine and could only reach a speed of 62 mph.
However, the Beetle’s speed and motor was largely improved. What made this car so beloved by the masses was the fact that it was an air-cooled, small, affordable and reliable little car that stood the test of time.
1967 Volkswagen Type 2
Another Volkswagen that became wildly popular in the 60s was the Microbus, or Type 2, which looks like a very big van or a very tiny bus, depending on who you ask. Even though the car was introduced in 1950, it wasn’t until the 1960s that it spread across the U.S. like wildfire. The Volkswagen Microbus is the technical name for what became the ‘hippie van’, the beloved iconic vehicle for the counterculture movement of the decade.
The amazing thing is that, this “van” has outlasted all of its competitors, since it is still being produced today, 70 years later. And it’s no wonder why, considering it is truly a fine piece of machinery, complete with a rear-wheel drive and a rear-mounted air-cooled engine. Not to mention it just looks incredibly cool.
1966 Plymouth Barracuda
The ’60s was a decade of major competition between car companies, and the Plymouth Barracuda was solely designed to compete with the popular Ford Mustang. The Barracuda, which featured a unique rear that had a big, wraparound glass, was introduced two weeks before Ford’s Mustang.
The 1966 Plymouth Barracuda was a two-door car based on Chrysler’s A-body, and largely similar to the Plymouth Valiant. It had a 106 inch wheelbase, and a Valiant-type hood, windshield, quarter panels, bumpers, hood, headlamps, and trunk. The most noticeable feature was its unique 14.4 sq ft rear window.
1962 Lotus Elan
Even though this car looks very similar to the 90’s Mazda Miata, it was manufactured back in the ’60s by British car company, Lotus Cars. Originally presented as a sports car, the Lotus Elan had a glass-fiber body, a smooth four-wheel suspension, a sturdy backbone frame, and a 1600cc four-cylinder engine called the “Lotus TwinCam”.
When initially released, this fun, curvy little roadster had a 108 horsepower engine, but its minimalist design was what drew people to it in the first place. The 1962 Lotus Elan brought worldwide fame to the Lotus Cars company, establishing it as a prominent spots car maker.
1960 Cadillac Eldorado
Cadillacs are recognized as one of the world’s finest cars, and their 1960 Cadillac Eldorado is nothing short of a legend. The Eldorado line was designed, produced and sold by Cadillac for twelve generations, from 1952 to 2002. With a smooth style, a full-width grille, low tailfins, finned rear drums and an X-frame build made this car into an impressive-looking machine.
This beautiful vintage car has been the favorite of many Hollywood celebrities and known car collectors, and has been featured in several blockbuster films.
1964 Porsche 904 GTS
This gorgeous Porsche 904 race car is a very rare model, since only a hundred were ever produced between 1964 and 1965, in Germany. Porsche released this 904 model after withdrawing from 1962’s Formula One, in order to race again with a new car for the 1964 season.
The vintage two-seater car is considered to be the first supercar ever built, since it was built for racing but could also be driven as a very indulgent street-car. Porsche produced 106 904 GTS models, which marked the start of a fine series of sports cars that ended with the 917 model.
1964 Jensen C-V8
Back in 1964, the Jensen C-V8 was one of the fastest four-seat cars in the world, able to reach top speeds of 130 mph. Produced by the English car manufacturer, Jensen Motors, between 1962 and 1966, this C-V8 model had an elegant, classic look.
The impressive vehicle had fiberglass bodywork and aluminum door skins, and of course, the famous big-block engines that all C-V8s used. This car was such a classic that even Sean Connery had a Jensen C-V8 in the during his time as the legendary James Bond.
1962 Willys Jeep CJ-6
The 1962 CJ-6 Jeep was made famous worldwide when it became one of U.S. president Ronald Reagan’s favorite rides. When he was back in his ranch in the Santa Ynez mountains of California, Reagan was always on his trusty Jeep. The CJ-6 was a wider version of the previous CJ-5, which allowed for more spacing options, like adding a second row of seats.
This beautiful, sturdy little jeep had side-facing rear bench seats, an 8,000 pound winch, a 134 cubic-inch flathead four-cylinder engine, Dana axles, and a Spicer transfer case.
1964 Rolls-Royce Mulliner Park Ward Phantom V
The 1964 Rolls Royce Mulliner Park Ward Phantom V is not only the vehicle with the longest name in car history, but was also the preferred car by the royal family for many decades. Both the queen and the queen mother had once. However, many years later, another famous, yet less royal British icon would own a Phantom V: The legendary Beatles member, John Lennon.
The regal-looking Phantom V was a large, four-door limousine that was produced by the Rolls-Royce company between 1959 and 1968. This exclusive luxury vehicle had a V8 engine and a Hydra-Matic automatic gearbox made by General Motors. The Phantom V’s low gear gave the car a walking speed that was ideal for ceremonies, which is probably why it was the British monarchy’s vehicle of choice for so many years.
1965 Chrysler Imperial
The famous Imperial line was Chrysler’s luxury auto brand produced from 1955 to 1975 and then from 1981 to 1983. The name ‘Imperial’ certainly suited these vehicles well, as they were top-of-the-line cars made with V8 engines and automatic transmissions.
The 1965 model was wide and spacious, and Chrysler had replaced the push-button automatic transmission gear with a steering column-mounted shift. The grille was replaced by a prominent chromed crossbar and the headlights were incorporated into the grill covered by glass. It was a very large and powerful-looking car that was the ride of choice for many celebrities and musicians, including Marky Ramone, the drummer for famous punk rock band, The Ramones.
1960 Fiat 500
Manufactured by famous car empire, Fiat Automobiles, the Fiat 500 was the first ever purpose-designed city car to hit the market. Produced from 1957 to 1975, the Fiat 500 Giardiniera was a small, practical and inexpensive car that everybody could afford.
It was the Fiat 500’s longest-running model, and it had the engine under the floor of the boot, a roof that stretched to the rear of the car, and was the only car to still feature doors that were hinged at the rear rather than the front. There were 327,000 Fiat Giardinieras produced, and people loved the little car.
1960 Austin-Healey Bugeye Sprite
Produced in the UK between 1958 and 1971, the Austin-Healey Sprite was a small, beautiful sports car that was done as a collaboration between the British car manufacturer, Austin Motor Company Limited, and the Donald Healey Motor Company. The 1960’s Bugeye Sprite was built with the massive parts bin of the British Motor Corporation, and was intended to be an affordable sports car model that still looked luxurious.
The car had a modern body, a 948cc A-series overhead valve engine and a manual transmission of the top three gears. The vehicle’s smiling grille and bulging headlamps earned it its nickname “bugeye”. The Sprite was used as a racing car for many decades to come, with over 50,000 models being sold.
1962 Ford Galaxie 500
The Ford Galaxie 500 was a model built by Ford between 1959 and 1974. The name ‘Galaxie’ was used as a marketing strategy for Ford’s cars produced between 1958 and 1962, since there was a nationwide excitement about the Space Race. The “500” or “500/XL” numbers were used to mark the higher series.
Designed as a competitor to the famous Chevrolet Impala, the Ford Galaxie 500 had plush interiors, a chrome trim, and additional luxury features that really made the model stand out. The 1962 model was a four-door sedan that had a “Mileage Maker” 6-cylinder base engine and a sportier-looking body that didn’t include the tailfins that were present in previous models.
1966 Ford GT40
Perhaps one of the most legendary cars on this list, the famous Ford GT40 was specifically built to compete against Ferrari at the famous 24 Hours of Le Mans race. The GT40 model is known around the world for being the Ford Motor Company’s first high-performance endurance racing car, and its legacy lives to this day.
With custom-built Ford V8 engines, this unique model was nothing short of incredible. The Ford GT40 competed in the Le Mans race from 1966 to 1969, and won four consecutive times, including an unprecedented 1-2-3 finish in 1966, its first year competing against the Italian racing beast: Ferrari.
1962 Alfa Romeo Giulia (Type 105)
Italian luxury car manufacturer Alfa Romeo has a worldwide reputation for producing some of history’s most beautiful and powerful cars, and its 1962 Giulia model is one of their most stunning. The Type 105, produced between 1962 and 1978, was a four-door executive car with a compact and sporty look.
It’s practical size and a powerful four-cylinder engine made it an instant favorite. These small little sedans were known for their easy handling and unexpectedly powerful acceleration speed of up to 106 mph, and it could reach from 0 to 62 mph in under 12 seconds.
1967 Alfa Romeo 33 Stradale
Another beauty produced by the Alfa Romeo empire was their 33 Stradale, manufactured from 1967 to 1969. With only 18 units ever produced, the 33 Stradale was one of the world’s first supercars, and the fastest publicly available car for the standing kilometre when it first came out.
This gorgeous, curvy sports car has a tiny 2.0-liter V8 engine that reaches nearly 10,000 RPM, making a unique and intoxicating noise that is bound to make any car enthusiast fall to their knees. Not to mention its impressive 227 horsepower.
1964 Ferrari 275 GTB
Ferrari needs no introduction, whether you’re a car enthusiast or not, but their exclusive 275 GTB series certainly deserves one. Between 1964 and 1968, Ferrari produced their 275 series, which were front-engined V12-powered, two-seater automobiles with spider and coupé bodies designed by Pininfarina.
The 275 series were the first commercially available Ferraris with a transaxle and independent rear suspension. The 275 GTB was ranked as No. 3 on Motor Trend Classic’s ‘Greatest Ferraris of All Time’, and No. 7 on Sports Car International’s ‘Top Sports Cars of the 1960s’.
1969 Datsun 240Z
The 1969 Datsun 240Z is considered to be the most iconic sports car ever designed by Nissan. Originally produced as a competitor against British sports car, the Datsun 240Z looked very luxurious and expensive, but it was actually quite affordable, which made it all the more attractive.
The Datsun 240Z had an L24 2.4-liter engine with a manual, four-speed choke, a chrome ‘240Z’ badge, and two vents on the car’s rear hatch that provided flow through ventilation. The gorgeous model was introduced to the American public by the president of Nissan Motors USA, Yutaka Katayama, otherwise known as “Mister K”.
1967 Mazda Cosmo
Mazda is another car manufacturer that has stood the test of time, and their 1967 Mazda Cosmo was a weird, tiny sports car that was the first ever mass produced vehicle to feature a rotary engine. The Japanese car manufacturer’s first ever sports car, the Mazda Cosmo was a feat of engineering that previewed what was to come from the legendary Mazda Motor Corporation.
The Cosmo launched the famous Mazda Wankel engine, and its name was chosen by the company to leverage the decade’s fascination with the Space Race.
1968 Jensen Interceptor
British car manufacturer Jensen Motors released their grand touring model, Jensen Interceptor, from 1966 to 1976. The custom, hand-built Interceptor was produced at the prestigious Kelvin Way Factory in Birmingham, England, and it had a classic steel body-shell designed by Carrozzeria Touring, an outside Italian design firm.
The powerful V8 engine and overall cool design of the Jensen Interceptor made this two-door fastback wildly popular back in the ’60s, and it still has a devoted cult-following up until this day.
1964 Bizzarrini Strada 5300 GT
Former Alfa Romeo, Ferrari and Iso engineer, Giotto Bizzarrini, founded the Bizzarrini Automotive Manufacturer company in 1964. Starting design in 1963, Bizzarrini’s 1964 Strada 5300 GT was a marvelous gran turismo vehicle that proved to be the company’s most sought-after model.
A low-slung two-seater coupe, this gorgeous automobile had a small-block, 327 Corvette engine and could accelerate from 0 to 62 mph in under seven seconds. The Strada 5300 GT reached speeds of up to 174 mph, had four-wheel disc brakes, a four-speed manual transmission and great rear suspension. Only 133 units were produced, and the Strada 5300 GT remains a coveted collectible even to this day.
1960 Jaguar XK150
Produced by the legendary Jaguar company from 1957 to 1961, the Jaguar XK150 is an engineering masterpiece. This stunning sports car was designed by Jaguar as a response to the Mercedes-Benz’s 300 SL Roadster, and its 250 bhp “S” configuration made it much faster than the previous XK models.
It’s comfortable design, D-type racer disc brakes and weather-tight features made it an instant favorite among car connoisseurs. The XK150 had a dashboard trimmed in leather, thinner doors that allowed for more interior space, and came in a variety of colors that had drivers going crazy over the small Jaguar.
1965 Iso Grifo A3/C
The 1965 Iso Grifo A3/C was a classic beauty produced by Iso Autoveicoli, a prominent Italian car manufacturer. The Iso Grifo was designed as a response to the Ferrari and Maserati GTs, and it featured many components from the Ford and Chevrolet companies. Iso wanted a car with a luxurious Italian look and a sturdy, reliable American performance.
The mechanics were built by revered designer and Bizzarrini company owner, Giotto Bizzarrini. The 1965 Iso Grifo had a 327 V8 engine and a Borg-Warner four-speed manual transmission. This stunning piece of machinery could hit 68 mph in first gear.
1969 TVR Vixen 1600 S1
The 1969 TVR Vixen was produced by British automaker, TVR, between 1967 and 1973. The Vixen was a hand-built sports car that used a four-cylinder Ford engine, and weighs a little over 1600 pounds. The trusted little car can reach 60 mph in under 10 seconds, and has a maximum speed of 110 mph.
Even though it features a 1950’s chassis, the fiberglass Vixen S1 can be handled quite easily, which is why it became a favorite British sports car back in the day.
1969 Rambler SC/Rambler
The unique 1969 Rambler was designed by American Motors, and was an affordable, $3,000 muscle car that featured a 390 cu inch V8 engine with a manual four-speed gearbox that made driving it an absolute pleasure. The all-American Rambler had a stiff suspension, dual exhausts, a heavy-duty clutch, great cooling system, quick and easy steering, cool-air induction and Goodyear Polyglas tires.
As for the aesthetics, the 1969 Rambler had chrome hood tiedowns, teardrop=shaped rearview mirrors, a woodgrain steering wheel, reclining front seats, special body paint, and a gorgeous, all-vinyl upholstery. The car was a beautiful piece of machinery, to say the least.
1964 Sunbeam Tiger
In 1964, the Rootes Group, a British automobile manufacturer, released the Sunbeam Tiger. The Tiger was a high-performance, V8 engine version of their Sunbeam Alpine roadster, and it was partly designed by famous American car designer and racer, Carroll Shelby.
The Sunbeam Tiger was produced from 1964 to 1967, with two major versions: the Mark I, which had a 260 cu in V8 engine, and the Mark II, which featured a larger, 289 cu in engine. Two modified versions of the Sunbeam Tiger Mark I were designed to compete in the 1964 24 Hours of LeMans race, but neither finished the race. Once the Rootes Group was purchased by Chrysler in 1967, production of the Tiger ended soon after.
1961 Lancia Flaminia Convertible
Another prestigious Italian automobile manufacturer was Lancia, and their 1961 Flaminia Convertible was stunning and powerful. Produced from 1957 to 1970, the Flaminia was a coachbuilt cars that had a classic look, making them ideal to use for official state occasions and events.
The Flaminia Convertible was a two-door, four-headlight model that had a decreased wheelbase, which meant there was only space for two seats. This convertible model was produced until 1964, with 847 units sold in total.
1964 Pontiac Tempest LeMans GTO
The legendary 1964 Pontiac Tempest was the first commercially available muscle car, marketed toward younger generations that wanted a vehicle to “look cool in”. Its 215 cu inch six-cylinder engine made it roar like a beast, which was obviously a huge hit among young people.
For those who decided to upgrade their Pontiac Tempest LeMans to the GTO option, they got high-performance 389 CID V8 engines, special GTO nameplates, dual exhausts, dual hood scoops and dash panel inserts.
1962 Bentley S2 Continental
Bentley Motors is a world-known, long-standing luxury cars manufacturer, and its 1962 S2 Continental model was an absolute beauty. Produced between 1959 and 1962, the S2 featured an extremely powerful Rolls-Royce/Bentley L Series V8 engine that allowed for improved air conditioning.
A brand-new steering wheel and dashboard were also introduced to the high-performance S2 Continental series, which became a Bentley favorite among high-end car collectors.