The 1960s remain iconic and imprinted upon our collective memory. It was a decade of constant change, but the styles are both retro and strangely timeless.
People are fascinated by 1960s fashion and culture and one area where that continuing interest is particularly strong is that of cars. The best cars of the decade are still regarded as beautiful and good to drive.
Classic Decade in Car Design
The 1960s was an era of optimism and that is reflected in its cars. People had money to spend and they wanted cars that were aesthetically pleasing.
A combination of design quality and beauty has made the finest ones sought after classics. Of course, in some ways things have progressed in vehicle design since then.
For example, tire design has advanced. A typical 1960s car was designed to run with bias-ply tires that have overlapping diagonal layers of cords known as ‘plies’ within their rubber.
By contrast modern car tires are radial ones. The cords are steel instead of nylon and set at an angle of 90 degrees, with belts of steel fitted between them and the rubber.
This makes the state-of-the-art tires from brands like Mastercraft more flexible and better able to grip road surfaces.
The top 1960s cars are still very desirable though, such as these models.
- E-Type Jaguar
This is a legend and that is largely down to its appealing design. It was launched in 1961 and its sleek aerodynamic body looked like something from another planet.
There are faster 1960s cars but few that look better.
- Ford Mustang
This 1964 car combined a unique straight body, with an open-top for cruising. The original V4 engine meant it was not the fastest, but it was reliable, and later models with the V8 improved its speed.
- Chevy Corvette
The C3 model has the Apollo astronaut connections, but the C2 is the real classic. It boasts a slinky design, while the independent rear suspension makes it a stable and reliable drive.
- Mini Cooper
This became an iconic 1960s vehicle following the the 1969 film The Italian Job and it summed up the classless ideals of the decade. It is reliable to drive and attractive to look at.
- Jaguar Mk II
The Mk II is probably the defining 1960s saloon car. It was an aesthetic upgrade on the Mk I and oozes class, but is also fast and dependable thanks to its XK 3.9-litre engine.
- VW Beetle
The Beetle was the main small car rival to the Mini and is as famous. It was actually launched in 1938 but achieved widespread popularity in the 1960s and it offers unique design coupled with reliability.
- Lincoln Continental
Another car instantly recognizable by name alone, this giant vehicle boasts an unusual ‘slab’ shape. It also has opulent interiors and a reliable engine, which ensured major sales.
- Renault 4
Unlike the other cars featured here, the Renault 4 was never glamorous. However it was dependable on the road and had a striking look plus rear seats that could be taken out to increase space.
- Aston Martin DB5
Famous as the James Bond car, this is sleek and elegant, with a fast and consistent six-cylinder 4.0-litre engine, ensuring class all the way.
- Pontiac GTO
This achieved 1960s-star car status thanks to its ultra-potent V8 engine that provided over 100 greater hp than rival cars. It also looks great, with a streamlined sloping body.
- Lotus Elan
Considered one of the finest sports cars ever designed, this 1962 model has a small and lightweight body that counteracts the relatively low hp engine. It is remembered as the car Emma Peel drove in The Avengers.
These are the greatest cars of the 1960s and have never gone out of fashion even if they cannot accommodate state-of-the-art tires.