These Were The ‘It’ Cars That Everyone Wanted In The 1960s
The groovy whirlwind of the 1960s forever changed the face of the world as we know it. The era had an aesthetic all its own, and ’60s cars are no exception. These ‘it’ cars of yesteryear are bound to take folks on a nostalgic journey to a time when it was cool to cruise and show off your hot rod.
1. Jeepster Commando
When Jeeps first hit the scene, these vehicles were strictly used by the United States Army. However, by the time the 1960s rolled around, they broke into the consumer market and became one of the trendiest vehicles on the road. The ’60s was a hot time for off-road vehicles, and seeing this trend, Jeep introduced the world to the Jeepster Commando in 1966.
It was an instant classic, standing out for being somewhat of a hybrid between a pickup truck and a conventional jeep. The Jeepster Commando’s look was unique for its era, immediately crushing the competition. Collectors on the hunt for one of these bad boys today will definitely be in for a tough time.
2. Ford Mustang
Muscle cars reigned supreme in the 1960s, and upon its release in 1964, the Ford Mustang quickly established itself as the essential must-have muscle car on the market. While it is still being produced today, the original model has never been trumped in design and overall feel.
The muscle car completely encapsulates its era by sporting a futuristic design that was common with most cars of the decade. However, it stood out by being bulky and intimidating even amid other muscle cars. Today, the original model still has a strong following. Many people have introduced their old Mustangs to the future by giving them a sleek modification.
3. Aston Martin DB5
While America was raving about muscle cars in the 1960s, things were looking quite different across the Pond. English cars left the bulk behind, and aimed for a slimmed-down and smooth look. Amid the British Invasion that sparked in the mid-’60s, one car became an international treasure and a staple for the era.
That car was the Aston Martin DB5. It made an appearance in the classic 007 film Goldfinger and immediately made waves. The Aston Martin immediately became associated with Sean Connery’s cool and suave demeanor, exemplifying the masculine ideal. If someone wanted to capture that cool, they had to get behind the wheel of an Aston Martin DB5.
4. Jaguar E-Type
Jaguar cars started being produced as far back as the 1930s. However, it can be argued that they peaked in the 1960s, as the company continuously released classic car after classic car. The most beloved was perhaps the Jaguar E-Type. With some very distinct features, this Jag was very much ahead of its time.
Although its frame was slim and elegant, the car packed one hell of a punch in terms of how fast it could tear down a highway. Given its beauty and limited availability, this car has reached gem status as of today. Even the British Royal Family owns one of these classic ’60s cars, and most of the Jaguar E-Types have been scooped up by now.
5. Lamborghini Miura
Ears perk up the world over when one mentions the Lamborghini Miura. Lamborghini has been known for producing sports cars that are seductive, sleek, and beautiful, but none have ever been quite so revered as the Lamborghini Miura. The car first hit the market back in 1966 and stayed in production until 1973.
Despite being on the production line for seven years, there are very few in circulation today. This probably has something to do with the fact that only 764 models were ever made. However, the iconic look, the feel of its engine, and sweet memories have car fanatics looking for the Lamborgini Miura to this very day.
6. Volkswagen Beetle
When the Volkswagen Beetle first hit the scene, it quickly garnered the reputation of being a car for the everyday man. While few could cough up enough cash to purchase a Lamborghini, the Volkswagen Beetle was one of the highest-selling cars of its era. It made a perfect starter car for young people who were getting behind the wheel for the first time.
According to the website Hot Cars, the Beetle was unique for being an air-cooled vehicle, meaning it didn’t need a coolant tank or traditional radiator. Being air-cooled made the car especially easy to repair in auto shops. Despite how much time has flown by since the heyday of ’60s cars, the Beetle is still popular today. In fact, according to Hot Car, an original Beetle can be picked up for as little as $20,000.
7. Chevy Chevelle
The Chevy Chevelle was heavy, loud, and looked like it was fast enough to tear through anything that came into its path. When this car first hit the market in 1964, it was a piece of action that everyone wanted a part of. Due to its unique appearance, the vehicle was displayed at car shows the world over.
According to the website HHClassic, the car has managed to become such a sensation that it has appeared in over 1,600 television shows and movies over the years. Seeing what a splash the car made, a number of other car companies immediately began making their latest car models in the Chevy’s image.
8. Ferrari 250 GTO
While the Ferrari 250 GTO was produced between 1962 and 1964, it had enough power and beauty to continue sending shivers down our spine for over half a century. Out of the many Ferraris out there, the 250 GTO is still the talk of the town.
During its time on the production line, 36,250 of these cars were made in total. And not just anyone could have bought one at the dealership. Enzo Ferrari, the founder of Ferrari, had to approve the buyer. Today, the low number of 250 GTOs in circulation make this car one of the rarest and expensive cars in the world.
NEXT: These cars are highly overlooked when it comes to muscle cars.
9. Plymouth Barracuda
When it comes to the popularity of muscle cars during the ’60s, the Plymouth Barracuda didn’t seem to have the lasting impact that a Chevy or Ford had. However, when these bad boys first came tearing down the highway back in 1964, they were like no other cars on the road.
According to Hot Cars, the Plymouth Barracuda was the first muscle car ever released. However, just 16 mere days after the car’s release, the Ford Mustang hit dealerships and stole the Barracuda’s thunder. Sadly, in 2001, Plymouth collapsed after 70 years of producing cars. This pretty much sealed the Barracuda’s fate.
10. Dodge Charger
When the Dodge Charger was first released back in 1966, it really took the Dodge company’s prestige to a whole new level. For over half a century, the Charger has remained Dodge’s most popular and best-selling car on the line. Despite the success of the new models, many people still hold the original Charger on an unreachable pedestal.
The 1964 Dodge Charger didn’t hold back when it came to giving a proper presentation emblematic of the period in which it was designed. It was sleek, intense, and sported a futuristic flair. The car was also built big and had an engine that really rumbled when it zipped down the street.
Back in 1960s England, a car much different from a Dodge or Barracuda was introduced: British Motor Corporation’s MGB. The car’s development began back in the late ’50s and was released to the British public by 1963. The MGB was one of the first cars to feature a crumple zone, which was designed to protect the passengers and driver during a crash.
The car didn’t fail to make an impact in the United States. It was regarded as a car that was simple to work on and very affordable. Even today, an MGB can be bought at a very low price. A used MGB was recently sold on eBay for just $6,950.
12. Alfa Romeo Giulia
The Italian car company Alfa Romeo showed the world that automobiles could be more than just tools for transport. They helped the public realize that cars could be beautiful and fashionable while still being modern. Out of every car that came out in the ’60s, the Alfi Romeo Giulia is perhaps the most picturesque.
According to Auto Guide, in the days of muscle cars, automobiles by Alfa Romeo had the reputation for being lighter cars. In fact, the Italian models were often used in Formula 1 races. That being said, the Giulia wasn’t just a pretty sight; it could also fire on down the highway at a very impressive speed.
13. Lotus Elan
Another gem amid English cars in the 1960s was Lotus Cars’ Lotus Elan. Even today, the vehicle is regarded by automobile fanatics as being the finest handled sports car to ever hit the dealerships. Automotive specialty site The Truth About Cars backs this up, calling the little two-seaters the most influential sports car ever be released.
Despite just 16,000 of these cars being produced, they are still talked about and sought after. While the car wasn’t exactly a speed demon, few vehicles could take on a road full of twists and turns like the Lotus Elan. This beauty left an impact on all who drove it.
NEXT: Which vehicles were the biggest staples of the decade?
14. Volkswagen Microbus Type 2
The Volkswagen Microbus Type 2 drove onto the scene in 1967 and instantly became a major staple and even symbol of 1960s counterculture. Even today, most people will see this van driving down the street and immediately associate it with the hippie movement and the long begone Summer of Love.
The Microbus shared a lot of similarities with the equally popular Volkswagen Beetle. It also came equipped with an air-cooled engine and rear-wheel drive. However, many would claim that the high seating made it less fun to drive than a Beetle. According to Forbes, a chicken tax imposed by Lyndon B. Johnson took major effect in the early ’70s and the van’s sales quickly fell.
15. Lincoln Continental
The fourth-generation Lincoln Continental was the Lincoln of the entire 1960s, as it was produced between 1961 and 1969. Unlike its predecessors, the fourth-generation Continental’s design was unique in many ways. While it had the same massive size in common with others, it was much more sleek and smooth.
It also rocked rear-hinged suicide doors. Despite being quite expensive, the car sold extremely well. Everybody wanted to get their hands on one of these beauties. By the time 1963 rolled around, the Lincoln Continental became infamous for being the last car that John F. Kennedy ever drove in on one fateful November day in Dallas.
16. Shelby Cobra
Sports cars began to take off in the years that followed the Second World War. By the 1960s, these cars had become huge international sensations. One of the more beloved sports cars of the decade was the Shelby Cobra, which was sold between 1962 and 1967. The mastermind behind its creation was American race car driver named Carroll Shelby.
The famed speed demon wanted to make a vehicle that was both powerful and very lightweight. With that in mind, he took the body of an AC Ace, V8 from a Ford, put them together, and the end result was the new Shelby Cobra. The car packed quite a punch and had a traction limited 0-60 run of 4.5 seconds.
17. Ford GT40
Competition was the driving force between leading car companies’ decisions back in the old days. As the 1960s rolled around, Henry Ford II wanted to produce a car that would put Enzo Ferrari to shame in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, an endurance race that Ferrari had won consecutively between 1960 and 1965.
When Ford released the GT40, the car endeavored to represent all the promise and potential in the world. The car looked decades ahead of its time, and you can believe Ferrari himself was nervous when he saw this hot rod, and he had all the reason to be. The Ford GT40 proved itself dominant on the track and won the 24 Hours of Le Mans throughout the rest of the decade.
NEXT: These cars may scream ’60s, but they were way ahead of their time.
18. Alfa Romeo 33 Stradale
While Alfa Romeo’s Giulia was a really cute car, the 33 Stradale took things to the next level. Due to it being in production from 1967 to 1969, only 18 cars were put on the market. Despite its extremely low availability, the car made some waves. It was even featured in the Italian movie Un Bellissimo Novembre, starring iconic leading lady Gina Lollobrigida.
Back in the 1960s, the 33 Stradale definitely looked like a product taken straight out of the future. In fact, it was considered by many to be one of the most gorgeous cars on the market at the time of its release. That said, few people have even seen one cruising on down the streets with their own eyes.
19. Mini Cooper
In terms of automobiles, bigger was always considered better back in the 1940s and 1950s. However, attitudes changed forever when people got a load of the Mini Cooper at the beginning of the ’60s. The Morris Company in England aimed to create a car that was fuel-efficient, yet could still manage to carry four fully-grown adults.
Years of work would result in the beloved Mini Cooper. The car quickly became a car for everyone. Everyday people from milkmen to mods and beatniks would enjoy these little cars. One of the car’s most appreciated traits was its speed, as the car’s light weight gave it an advantage over some of the bigger cars on the road.
20. Datsun 240Z
Nissan’s Datsun 240Z first hit the highway on October 22, 1969. While the decade was just about to be over, the Datsun still has a lot of traits that could be found with other ’60s cars. However, it did rock some of the flair that would come to be seen with cars created during the following decade.
The Datsun was Japan’s way of making a name for itself within the American and European car markets. According to Hagerty, the Datsun actually proved to be more reliable then its Western competition. The car was also very inexpensive in the ’70s. Even today, people with a desire to own a classic car can always turn to a used Datsun.
21. Mazda Cosmo
1967 was the year that the average man’s car driving experience changed forever. This can fully be attributed to the release of the Mazda Cosmo. It was the first mass-produced car to boast a rotary engine. It was also considerably less bulky than a lot of muscle cars on the market. Designers took the slick and smooth route, and gave folks a look into the future of automobiles.
According to Mazda’s website, when the Mazda Cosmo was first released to the public it cost about $13,522. Taking into consideration the era’s average income, the car was decently expensive. Today, 1967’s $13,522 would translate to about $133,000. You had to save up for quite some time to get your paws on one of these bad boys.
22. Jensen Interceptor
In a time when cars were either too sporty or 100% muscle and intimidation, the Jensen Interceptor brought on the elegance. If in the ’60s you knew an old grandfather figure keen on drinking hot cocoa by the fireplace, chances are he probably drove around town in this most classy of ’60s cars.
It was first produced in 1966, staying in circulation for a whole decade. With a wooden and English leather interior entrapped by a fishbowl hatchback and sleek metallic body, the car was an instant hit with people. Its success came despite selling for $8,124 upon its release. That price translates as roughly $60,000 today.
23. BMW 02 Series
The ‘it’ cars of the BMW 02 Series have been described as powerful, agile, the model that truly launched an entire aesthetic. It didn’t take long after its 1966 release for it to gain a following and become a successful favorite when it came to car races.
A major part of its popularity had to do with how many times it was modified during its time on the market. The car was so hot upon its release that it stayed in production for nearly a decade before finally making way for 1975’s BMW 3 Series. Today, the 02 Series is looked upon as a car that made history.
24. Chevy Corvette
When it comes to muscle car fanatics, the Chevy Corvette is often pointed out as the best. Amid the many other muscle cars available in its era, this one truly achieved legendary status. However, oddly enough, the Chevy Corvette wasn’t an instant hit when it was first introduced to the masses back in 1964.
This could have something to do with it only having 220 hp. Things changed as competition called for it to be modified to 350 hp. While the car picked up popularity throughout the decade alongside other classic ’60s cars, it peaked in popularity in the early 1970s, when folks started realizing what a gem the car actually was.
25. Porsche 911
By the time the 1960s rolled around, the Porsche company was in dire need of an upgrade from their 356 series, which had spent the previous decade making waves. Ferdinand Porsche began making sketches for a car that would be larger, more powerful, and serve as a more comfortable replacement to its predecessor.
While it was originally designed to be named the 901, by the time of its 1963 release it had taken on the name 911. The original Porsche could boast popularity, but this is the car that truly put the company on the map. Its beauty and secure handling ability gave way for decades worth of new models to be put on the market.
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