The Swinging Sixties was a decade of groovy cool, perfectly illustrated by its cars. There were lots of manufacturers flying the British flag – Hillman, Morris, MG, Lotus, Austin, Aston Martin and Rolls-Royce – but we also looked further afield for awesome automobiles. Here is all you need to know about famous 1960s cars that made our jaws drop.
The Best 1960s British Cars
Britain’s best-selling car of the 1960s was the Austin/Morris 1100, though it didn’t make you stop and stare as it drove past. However these mighty motors did…
Enzo Ferrari once said of the E-Type that it was the most beautiful car ever made. One of the world’s truly iconic cars, it was the very embodiment of sixties glamour. Without rival, the coolest of all 1960s British cars. It was the car of choice for rock stars and Hollywood A-listers. It turned heads when it was launched and it turns heads today.
Aston Martin DB5
There are quicker Aston Martins, there are Aston Martins that have sold more but there are none as gorgeous or famous as the DB5. Immortalised by James Bond, this is the ultimate grand tourer and when it was launched in 1963, it cost just £4,175.
The Elan was an unapologetically beautiful and affordable two-seat roadster with impeccable handling and beautiful pop-up lights. One of the best 1960s sports cars, it may, possibly, have influenced the designers of the Mazda MX-5…
One of the best of the 1960s British cars, the Interceptor had it all. Stunning hand-built GT styling, raw V8 power, a silky-smooth automatic gearbox and – with the FF version – it was the first four-wheel drive road car in the world.
The Most Famous 1960s American Cars
The Americans were busy in the 1960s. In the middle of putting a man on the moon, they found the time to build some absolutely amazing automobiles.
Perhaps the most iconic of all 1960s American cars, the brilliantly named Mustang was more than just its component parts. It represented a new-found freedom of self-expression for post-war Americans. Described as the greatest car of the 1960s, it spawned a generation of affordable alternatives to European supercars like the Porsche 911 and Lamborghini Miura.
Chevrolet Corvette Stingray
One of the most jaw-droppingly beautiful cars ever made, the lightweight V8 rivalled Ferrari for handling and performance and was a benchmark by which many 1960s sports cars were judged.
The car that started the muscle car war, the Pontiac GTO put its money where its mouth was. It offered the perfect combination of seriously hardcore performance, with the poise and stability of the sports cars the European heavyweights were selling. It’s hard to underestimate the influence the GTO had on the car industry.
For all the wrong reasons, the Continental is one of the most famous cars in history. Massive in size and stature, the 60s Continental had rear-hinged doors, a luxuriously plush interior and full-scale gangster looks. Described by legendary Ford designer John Najjar as ‘an elegant lady in a simple black dress’, it was the car in which President John F Kennedy was riding on November 22nd, 1963.
1960s Sports Cars That Reinvented Driving
We’ve mentioned the Corvette Stingray, the Lotus Elan and the Jaguar E-Type but for some of the coolest sports cars in the coolest decade, we have to look further afield.
Nothing short of a legend, the 911 is a design classic and one of the only cars in the world that is easily identifiable by silhouette. The 911 is a rear-engined masterpiece that has changed very little in almost sixty years. Not only was it one of the most popular 1960s cars, it is perhaps one of the most popular cars ever.
When it launched in 1966, it was the fastest car on Earth and was subsequently heralded as the world’s first supercar. So eye-wateringly beautiful and a masterpiece of design and technology, it is the single most iconic car built in the 1960s.
Forty inches from ground to roof, the GT40 was designed and built to take on Ferrari at Le Mans. It gave the Italians a metaphorical slap around the face for four consecutive years. With a muscular, sculpted physique, brutal performance and playboy looks, the GT40 was the very definition of 1960s heavy metal.
Ferrari 250 GT California
As 1960s sports cars go, the 250 GT California is as beautiful as it is desirable. Designed by legendary coachbuilder Pininfarina and built by Carrozzeria Scaglietti, it is one of the most sought-after grand touring cars in the world and the epitome of 1960s sports cars.