Article: The Definitive List of the Most Beautiful Cars Made in the ’60s: Did We Get It Right?: HowStuffWorks
The Definitive List of the Most Beautiful Cars Made in the ’60s: Did We Get It Right?
Image: Wiki Commons by Rex Gray
About This Article
Automaking reached stunning new heights in the 1960s. No longer were cars merely utilitarian machines that served to take someone from Point A to Point B or lug junk around a farmstead. In the '50s, automakers started experimenting with designs that were artistic and beautiful, and by the 1960s, there were no holds barred. This was the decade that gave rise to the idea of the personal luxury car, when muscle cars came into their own and when pony cars rolled off the lines to the streets, mixing style and performance like nothing else.
This was the decade of the Mustang, the Corvette, the GTO and the Barracuda. Anyone who considers themselves to be a serious fan of automotive history has a favorite car from the '60s and probably wishes they could get behind the wheel of one or two as well, if only for a test drive.
With so many beautiful cars to choose from, it's probably hard to pick just one that stands out — maybe even impossible. Luckily, you don't need to pick only one. We have a full 25 of the most beautiful cars of the decade here for you to check out. Now take a look and see which one you think is the best! Don't forget to tell us how we did!
1964½ Ford Mustang Convertible
How does a car get a half year? When you roll it out four months before the start of the production year. That's what happened with the first-generation Ford Mustang. Most were still tagged as '65s, but they also had a slightly different engine than the proper '65s. It wasn't just what was under the hood that caught people's eyes, though. The Mustang design was sporty, inspired by the Ferrari, with sleek and powerful lines and a bit of European flair. It was the first pony car on the market, starting a trend that has lasted over half a century. What do you think? Thumbs up or thumbs down?
1967 Chevrolet Corvette Sting Ray
The final model of Chevy's second generation of Corvettes, the '67 Sting Ray was no joke. Aside from the standard and already monstrous 427 Big Block V8 engine, there was an upgrade to the L88 Big Block, just this side of a full racing engine that could outperform anything else on the road. The upgrade was pricey, and only 20 people in America opted for it — but have no doubt those people looked amazing, tearing up the highway. Did we get it right, or did we get it right?
1969 Pontiac GTO
One of the ultimate muscle cars of the '60s, the GTO rocked off the production line in 1964. By 1968 it was chosen Motor Trend Car of the Year, so Pontiac had a lot to live up to, leading into 1969. So what happened? The Judge! In 1969, for about $330, you could upgrade your GTO to "The Judge," named for a comedy bit from "Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In." The Judge had a T-shaped shifter, a rear spoiler, Ram Air III engine, Rally II wheels and (at first) one single paint color — Carousel Red. It was pristine and gorgeous. Judge this one!
1967 Jaguar E-Type Series 1
The E-Type was based on the D-Type from Jaguar, which had won the 24 Hours of Le Mans race from 1955 to 1957. It was a mix of sporty racing power and comfortable elegance that set the tone for British cars in the '60s. How beautiful was the E-Type? Enzo Ferrari himself, the man who started the Ferrari empire, called this "the most beautiful car ever made." And it's not hard to see why he thought that. What do you think?
1965 Aston Martin DB5 Vantage Convertible
If the Aston Martin DB5 looks familiar to you, but you're not sure why, then perhaps you need your memory shaken, not stirred. The DB5 is the iconic car driven by James Bond himself. But Bond was just a super-spy, so he drove a standard DB5, not the Vantage Convertible. And why? Because they only made a handful of these gorgeous cars with the Vantage engine. You don't need spy gadgets with something that looks this good. We know we got this one right, but let us know what you think!
1962 Ferrari 250 GTO V12
If you wanted to get a Ferrari 250 GTO back in 1962, you had to literally be approved by Enzo Ferrari himself. They made three dozen of these cars in three years, and '62 was the first off the line. With a savage V12 engine, this was a performance vehicle that looked like art. They cost $18,000 brand new, and if you want one today, get ready to pay for it. In 2018 a '62 sold at auction for a mind-boggling $70 million.
1968 Chevrolet Camaro SS
Chevy introduced the Camaro as a response to Ford's Mustang in the pony car category. It was introduced in the 1967 model year and was all about the perfect blend of style and performance. The SS had the option of a 396 6.5L V8 engine, some sleek stripes and improved handling, as well as air inlets on the hood that were purely stylistic since they didn't actually function.
1966 AC Shelby Cobra 427 Roadster
The AC Shelby Cobra has been inextricably linked up with Ford since 1961, with Ford supplying the V8 engine. The 427 version has wider fenders and a larger radiator opening. Despite the fact that these cars were a bit of a financial failure for Ford, they proved that Carroll Shelby could design a car that looked amazing and performed like a beast.
1967 Lamborghini Miura P400
The Miura P400 was the first Miura model off the line back in 1967; it proved Lamborghini was a force to be reckoned with. Why did Lamborghini even start making cars like this? To spite Enzo Ferrari. Word is that Ferruccio Lamborghini used to make tractors and noticed the clutch in his tractors was the same as in Ferraris. He met Enzo Ferrari and suggested an upgrade, but Ferrari brushed him off and told him to stick to what he knows. So he used what he knew to make the first Lamborghini in 1963.
1969 Porsche 911
In production since 1963, the Porsche 911 is one of the few cars in existence that has had almost no major design changes to the body in its entire history. They rolled it off the line looking like art and didn't want to change it. The major change, if major is the right word, for 1969's B series was a slightly lengthened vehicle with an increased wheelbase to improve handling.
1964 Studebaker Avanti
It's a shame that the Avanti didn't last longer than it did — it only lived from the 1963 to 1964 model years. This car was a personal luxury beast, unlike anything previously produced. It included safety features like a roll bar and interior padding. But more importantly, the car was totally unique in style when everyone was trying to pull European designs. The engine was a performance monster, able to reach up to 196 miles per hour, shattering 29 records at the Bonneville Salt Flats.
1960 Chevrolet Impala Convertible
Just look at those fins! The Chevy Impala convertible is the kind of car that draws all eyes when it rolls past on the road, and how could it not? That smooth 1950s styling was evolving into the '60s, chromed out with flat fins to the side rather than straight up. 1960 also brought back the trio of round taillights to replace the teardrop design of 1959, not to mention a "speed minder" that would buzz if the thrill of driving got too intense and you started going over a certain predetermined speed.
1969 Toyota 2000GT
Only 351 2000GTs were ever produced across three production years, making this an extremely rare piece of machinery. It's also an icon worthy of some praise for absolutely transforming the Japanese auto market. Before the 2000GT, Japan was known for making boxes on wheels — they produced efficient vehicles that were never known for style. Then look at this thing. Clearly inspired by European designs like the Jaguar, with a sleek Japanese twist, this thing was only 45.7 inches to the highest point off the ground!
1963 Lotus Elan 1600 S1
Weighing only 1,500 pounds, the Lotus Elan debuted in 1962 and was the pinnacle of '60s European racing style, with a fiberglass body on a steel chassis. Why did they call it the 1600? For the Ford 1600cc four-cylinder engine that had this thing going from 0 to 60 in less than eight seconds. You could buy this car fully assembled or, to save your wallet a little stress around tax time in the U.K., you could get it as a kit to assemble yourself.
1963 Buick Riviera
The Riviera was Buick's first bite at the luxury car apple, and they did it with aplomb. The body style was unique to the model and made use of what was known as "Coke bottle styling," meant to evoke the same sense of smooth lines as an old-school Coke bottle. Despite looking a little beastly, it was also a performer, able to do 0 to 60 in under eight seconds. It was decked to the nines on the inside, with options like leather upholstery, walnut insets and remote-controlled mirrors.
1960 Lincoln Continental Landau Hardtop Sedan
When it comes to style, there's a reason people remember the name "Lincoln Continental." The Mark V, introduced in 1960, made use of those prominent chrome bumpers with Dagmars that had been lacking in the previous year, as well as chrome strakes on the front fenders, plus a restyled grille. Reggie Jackson of the New York Yankees used to own one of these cars, and you could get one yourself for about $40,000 if you're lucky.
1964 Chevrolet Chevelle Malibu Sport Coupe
Before the Malibu was its own model, it was the top of the line Chevelle, and it was stunning. Introduced to compete with Ford's Fairlane, the Chevelle was a mid-sized vehicle, while the Malibu sport coupe was a two-door hardtop designed for people who didn't want a compact car but weren't interested in a full-sized monster, either. The Malibu proved to be so popular it ended up replacing the Chevelle nameplate by 1978.
1960 Volkswagen Beetle 1200 Cabriolet
While the 1960s conjure up a lot of images of luxury cars, sports cars and muscle cars, they tend to all look pretty similar in one way or another. But one car that has always stood out as its own unique and unmistakable design is the Volkswagen Beetle. It may not be synonymous with sport and muscle styling of the '60s, but it is the '60s nonetheless, and the convertible Cabriolet was as cool as it got.
1960 Ford Thunderbird
Ford ushered in the '60s with the final model of its second-generation Thunderbird. A manually-operated sunroof, Impala-inspired triple taillights and a dominance over the newly created personal luxury segment, which it basically created, made the Thunderbird a memorable and desirable automobile. Nearly 93,000 Thunderbirds were sold in 1960 alone.
1967 Plymouth Barracuda Formula S Fastback
Not a lot of cars can live up to the reputation of the Plymouth Barracuda. This car became so iconic it's actually known by the "Cuda" nickname more so than its actual name, and that doesn't even take into account the 7.0L 426-Hemi engine that made it famous. 1967 marked the introduction of the second generation of the Barracuda, with streamlined, Coke-bottle contours, S-curved roof pillars and curved side glass. It was a beautiful car that has stood the test of time.
1967 Chevrolet Corvair Monza
Car Life magazine called the Corvair Monza "the phantom" in their 1968 review. It was a compact, sporty little car that was designed to compete with other cars like the Volkswagen Beetle and the Rambler American. Unfortunately for the Corvair, it took a huge reputation blow when it was criticized for poor handling, though it was later proven to be no less safe than most other cars on the road.
1963 Austin Mini 850 Mk1
Few cars represent what most people think of as Great Britain in the 1960s quite like the Austin Mini. This little car could still somehow seat four people, thanks to a transversely-mounted engine and a gearbox that was part of the engine's sump, greatly saving space. The whole thing was created to be economical in both space and fuel consumption, in response to the oil crisis. The result was an iconic car that everyone can recognize at a glance.
1969 Plymouth Road Runner
How could a car named after a cartoon character not be awesome? Plymouth paid a licensing fee to Warner Bros. for the use of the Road Runner name on their lower-cost muscle car, and it lived up to its namesake. The '69 model was available with a 426 7.0L Hemi engine that would have given any cartoon coyote a run for its money. In fact, the air cleaner lid had a decal featuring Wile E. Coyote that said, "Coyote Duster."
1968 Ford GT40 Mk1
If you've never seen a Ferrari-killer, well, now you have. Ford's legendary GT40 was designed with the assistance of the legendary Carroll Shelby, the man behind the Shelby Cobra, to defeat Ferrari at the 24 Hours of Le Mans race after Ferrari had won the race several years in a row. The GT40 Mk 1 won the Le Mans in 1968 and again in 1969, destroying Ferrari and proving itself to be a remarkable piece of engineering.
1969 Jensen Interceptor
1969 marked the beginning of the second generation of the Jensen Interceptor, a short-lived vehicle that never made it out of the '70s. This car was hand-built in England, with a steel body shell that offered a full-on Euro-style trip like few other cars of the era. And with a 383-cubic-inch 6.3L Golden Commando V8 engine, it could tear up the road.
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