Big year, 1962. Decca failed to sign The Beatles, The Tornados released Telstar, the first
Wal-Mart store opened, BMC launched the 1100/1300, Arch Hall Sr wrote, produced, directed and appeared in Eegah (‘The crazed love of a prehistoric giant for a ravishing teenage girl!’), and there was a starchy situation involving some nuclear weapons in the Caribbean. But lots of good things happened too.
Very good things indeed. Take a look at the picture on the left. This quartet represents the most coveted, the most copied, the most popular and one of the most technically advanced sports cars of the 1960s. They were launched within months of each other. And they captured a kind of genius that’s rare even in the world of Octane.
Don’t expect a comparison test: we’re not about to criticise the handling of the MGB while eulogising about that of the Ferrari 250GTO. Yes, we know, they have a very different appeal. So different, in fact, that you could buy 2000 very nice MGB roadsters for the price of a single GTO. They built only 39 of those.
Meanwhile, the Lotus Elan looked forward to a future of high-revving plastic-bodied sports cars, while the Cobra saw a 1950s body and chassis transformed by cramming in a huge V8. Job done. Different kind of genius.
Exactly half a century has passed since, so it’s time for a big 50th birthday celebration.