The greatest cars of the 1960s
Besides cultural, social, and political revolution, the 1960s also provided some of the greatest cars known to man. Here’s our top 10 classics to emerge from the swinging decade of free love.
1961 Jaguar E-type
This choice may seem a bit obvious. Groundbreaking in both aesthetics and performance, the Jaguar E-type brought vibrant colour to an otherwise black-and-white world. Yet, while William Lyon’s sleek sportscar could crack 150 miles per hour and reduce grown men to approving moans, it’s behind the headlines that the Jag’s true legacy is revealed.
The third generation vehicle may still rub E-type aficionados the wrong way, but its mantra – like the first and second incarnations – is firm – desirability. The svelte roadster and drop-dead gorgeous coupé can lay claim as the catalyst for most enthusiasts setting a foundation for automotive appreciation.
There are many cars that epitomise success and flare. But the E-type doesn’t only embody the swinging '60s, it represents the pinnacle of design and prestige. We all want one – which is why demand and values remain steadfast.
Fancy buying one? Loads of Jaguar E-types for sale here!
1964 Pontiac GTO
Fast and charismatic, the 1964 Pontiac GTO opened the floodgates as a pioneering muscle car during a golden age of American motoring. The premise behind the GTO was simple – find the largest engine possible and shoehorn it within the engine bay of the lightest frame imaginable.
Power oozed from a 325bhp, 389-cubic inch, 6.4-litre V8. Churning tyres well beyond 5000rpm, the GTO punched a 0-60mph time of 5.8 seconds (in Tri-Power form) and cracked 99mph over a quarter of a mile. No production car of the time could so much as hold a candle to the GTO’s grunt and ability.
The concept originated from John DeLorean, Bill Collins, and Russell Gee's ideas after General Motors issued an outright ban on factory-sponsored racing. Reportedly named after the Ferrari GTO, company bigwigs expected the vehicle to flop. Rather, it grabbed the market with enough force to dominate forecourt sales and now resides as one of the most legendary vehicles of the 20th century.
Looking to buy a Pontiac GTO? Step this way...
1967 Toyota 2000GT
Forget about the James Bond connection, the Toyota 2000GT boasts enough clout to wipe the floor with most rivals on its own merit. The sleek Japanese take on a sports coupé revolutionised the way drivers perceived exotic vehicles from abroad, with Japan previously viewed as producers of imitative yet practical vehicles. The 2000GT changed all that.
Demonstrating high-performance attributes mated to captivating style cues, the Toyota showcased an ability for Japanese car manufacturers to create a genuine rival to the most established European marques. The 2000GT even found favour with those who originally set out to purchase a Porsche 911.
However, while popularity found Toyota enjoying a heightened reputation, only 351 regular production units rolled off the factory line. This may have been intentional to keep build figures along the same format as contemporary and elite Italian supercars. The 2000GT was far more expensive to buy in the U.S.A than any Jaguar and successfully created a ‘halo effect’ that Toyota still thrives on today.
Get a slice of the action and buy a Toyota 2000GT here!
1969 Ford Mustang Cobra Jet
While the Mustang stable houses a number of duds from resulting decades of free love, if ever you need to reaffirm your appreciation for Ford’s ultimate pony car, seek out the tarmac-snorting Mustang 428 Cobra Jet.
While the original 1964 genesis model remains worshipped by enthusiasts as an automotive god, the Cobra Jet is regarded as the variant that took big-block Camaros, Firebirds, and Chargers outside for a brawl and emerged victorious. Boasting a 428-cubic inch V8 engine churning out 410bhp, the Cobra Jet sent lesser muscle cars diving for the nearest hedgerow.
Bullitt may have ensured the Mustang Fastback claimed celluloid immortality, but the Cobra Jet ushered in a new wave of enthusiasts and interest, which by that point had been stagnant when compared to the fan scene enjoyed by rival manufacturers. For asserting the Mustang as a market leader and warranting legendary status, the Cobra Jet must surely reign as the most important Mustang from the 1960s.
These beasts don't come up for sale very often, but you can find Mustang Cobra Jets for sale with AutoClassics!
1962 BMW 2000
Reviving the Bavarian brand from its near-death experience during the latter half of the 1950s, the ‘neu klasse’ was an all-new four-door saloon offering a monocoque design and fully independent suspension. Just to really show off, the innovate sedan also featured front disc brakes and a front-mounted, 1.5-litre, four-cylinder M10 engine – in 1962!
By 1965 a 2.0-litre variant was snapping up sales and defining the style later to be pursued by Germany’s middle classes. Packing 135bhp in fuel-injected tii form, the BMW 2000 set new standards and broadcast a fresh tone that largely dictated the direction for Europe’s next generation of engineers.
The survival rate outside of Europe is frighteningly low, with the tin worm dispatching most to an early appointment with the crusher. If you are seriously pursuing Europe’s cutting-edge 1960’s saloon, head out to Germany and acquire one before it’s too late.
You can find healthy examples of BMW's 2000 range for sale here.
1969 Dodge Charger R/T
Embedded in the mind of ‘Generation X’ due largely to reruns of The Dukes of Hazzard and its ominous role in 1968 film classic Bullitt, the Dodge Charger R/T) remains one of Americana’s largest automotive role models.
Sporting an overly aggressive stance, timeless design, and boasting 425bhp (with the 426 Hemi option) while lesser vehicles were suffering befallen reputations, the belligerent member of an ever-increasing Dodge family has weathered the challenges of time like no other muscle car.
Proving to clientele and designers that sweeping haunches and dynamic profiles couldn’t offer the same old-school, white-knuckle ride we secretly longed for, the Charger R/T demonstrated that innovative V12s and delicate European offerings may have more provenance, but they simply couldn’t compete as an entire package.
After a Dodge Charger R/T? You'll find plenty for sale with AutoClassics!
1964 Aston Martin DB5
You know the name. You know the number. You know the Aston Martin DB5’s cultural impact. Recognised as ‘the most famous car in the world’ due to an association with one not-so-secretive secret agent, Aston’s highly regarded fifth incarnation of the DB lineage remains the ultimate classic car posterchild.
However, the DB5 deserves recognition on its own assets. Here we have what is arguably the best proportioned, finest looking, and most desired production classic in the world. Blending curvy aesthetics with a throaty exhaust note, lashings of hairy-chested torque and opulent luxury, Aston’s apex of class has it all.
Today, the marque’s heritage and 007’s enduring success has pushed asking prices beyond the realms of mortal sanity, but that doesn’t take away from the DB5’s achievements. Head and shoulders above the rest, David Brown’s stylish cultural icon remains the pinnacle of '60s-era classic cars.
Hunting down your perfect Aston Martin DB5? You'll want to check these out...
1962 Shelby Cobra
Despite the elegant British curves and Albion heritage, the Shelby Cobra beats with an American heart. Harbouring a red-hot ambition to create the meanest road-going machine possible, Carroll Shelby wrote to AC of England in September 1961 asking if they would build him a modified Cobra employing V8 power. AC agreed, providing a suitable eight-cylinder could be found.
Chevrolet turned Shelby’s request down. However, Ford jumped at the opportunity to compete with Chevy’s all-conquering Corvette and just happened to have an all-new V8 engine kicking about – a lightweight, thin-wall cast small-block V8. Acquiring two engines for his endeavour, Shelby was set for the history books as an automotive legend.
The Cobra has been produced intermittently on both sides of the Atlantic ever since 1962, with knockdown kits and replicas cluttering up the classifieds to an undying degree. However, if you happen to yearn for an original Cobra, seek out the legendary 427 for a true taste of manly handling not for the faint-hearted.
Have a browse of our Shelby Cobras for sale
1964 Mini Cooper
Every country has their people’s car. Germany has the Volkswagen Beetle, France cherishes the idiosyncratic Citroën 2CV, and Britain trumpets the original Mini. Launched in 1959, Alec Issigonis rocked the world with his transversely mounted drivetrain and ingenious cabin design. However, it wasn’t until the Mini Cooper 1275SS of 1964 that the humble family vehicle entered the cultural status chamber.
Winning the Monte Carlo rally on three occasions, the long-stroke powertrain – quickly adapted by British Leyland across their vehicle range – whipped up 76bhp, allowing the dinky shape to crack 100mph. This may not sound like much by contemporary standards, but back in the day such an achievement was remarkable and duly celebrated.
Preserved in the minds of petrolheads and film buffs alike, thanks largely to The Italian Job and The Bourne Identity, the Mini Cooper and resulting successors remain highly regarded and sought after. The definitive Mini? You betcha, and therefore Britain’s finest offering from the decade of free love.
Invest in a slice of British heritage with a Mini Cooper for sale
1962 Ferrari 250 GTO
Tailored to compete in Group 3 GT racing, the Ferrari 250 GTO was also fast, capable and – whisper this quietly – the ultimate sports racing car. Period. End of. Bar none. The V12 engine and aerodynamic design complimented each other to a degree where 170mph was easily achievable and therefore it racked up victories during the Sebring 12-hour, Targa Florio, Spa 1000km and Le Mans – where the 250 GTO also finished second overall in both 1962 and 1963.
Designed by Giotto Bizzarrinni and Sergio Scaglietti, only 36 examples were crafted by Ferrari. Thusly, these vehicles attract record-breaking asking prices, culminating in the $48.4 million achieved by chassis number 3413GT at auction in August of 2018.
Scarcity and high prices have resulted in the creation of various replicas, some of which are based on more common Ferrari chassis. This has attracted no end of misrepresentation of the original cars, offered for full market value. However, such activity hasn’t tarnished the 250 GTOs legendary status. Not only is it the greatest Ferrari of all time, the hottest racing car of all time, and most influential 1960s vehicle, but the Ferrari 250 GTO is the greatest automobile. Ever.
They are incredibly rare, but we have a Ferrari 250 GTO for sale here...
More great cars from the 1960s!
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