The 1960s was a decade responsible for a lot of today’s motoring icons. Here are ten of the most interesting, important and iconic classic cars to emerge from the Swinging Sixties.
The 1950s was the decade that saw people start to enjoy aspirational cars again, and by the time the Swinging Sixties came along, major auto manufacturers were pulling out all the stops when it came to speed, prestige and power.
Some of our most recognisable and established auto manufacturers were just getting into their stride in, with Porsche transitioning from the 356 to the 911 and Lamborghini moving from tractors to V12-engined supercars. Others like Ferrari and Ford already had well-established identities and traditions.
With new technologies constantly being developed, there was a huge variation on what was considered to be the best approach – meaning a huge variety of interesting engineering solutions. We focus here on a mix of established ‘60s performance classics, as well as a few different eclectic offerings typifying the fantastically diverse period.
Regularly cited as one of the most beautiful cars ever made, the Miura was a direct competitor to Ferrari's top offerings of the time. The two companies may have differed on their philosophy of what constituted a sports car but they both agreed that a big V12 whether mounted up front or mid-ship was the only way to go for world beating performance. The Miura may not have been without its flaws, frightening front-end lift at high speed being the biggest criticism, but its searing straight-line pace and the ability render passers by speechless more than made up for it. Rare and expensive to buy and maintain, the Miura was Lamborghini's first supercar masterpiece and is coveted by collectors today.Read the buying guide, and browse the Lamborghini Miuras for sale here
While there have been many excellent mid-engined V8 Ferraris over the years, in the 1960s a front mounted V12 was the only choice for the GT-driving man. The Daytona with its big V12 under its bonnet and heavy-shifting transmission also required a fair amount of muscle to operate. Beautifully styled, whether in coupe or extremely rare Spider form, it was capable of over 170mph – laying the groundwork for future seminal Ferrari road cars. Values now reach into the millions.Read the buying guide, and browse the Ferrari Daytonas for sale here
Launched 1959, the original Issigonis Mini changed affordable motoring forever. Perfectly packaged and proportioned, the original cars became desirable icons transcending social status. With their light weight and nimble handling characteristics it was not long before more powerful models were introduced such as the 1275GT. Factory and aftermarket modifications were common, and these Mini’s proved themselves in a range of motoring disciplines, beating much larger capacity cars on road, track and gravel regularly. Today original 1275GTs are rare, however despite the rarity factor, values are still in the £10,000-£15,000 region for this British motoring icon.Read the buying guide, and browse the classic Minis for sale here
One of the first mass-produced rotary engined cars, the Ro80 was ahead of its time on many levels, and introduced a generation of drivers to smooth high-revving engines, and sadly some pretty dismal reliability. Early versions suffered from catastrophic engine failures and many cars were converted to the Ford V4 power plants. Later NSUs had many of their issues resolved and over the years many modified NSUs have been converted back to their original state, as demand for these flawed but technologically intriguing cars has been steadily climbing. A mint condition original spec Ro80 is still a steal at around £10,000, but not for long…Take a look at classic NSUs for sale
While the western world was focussing on massive multi-cylinder powerplants and flamboyant styling for their sports cars, the Japanese interpretation was far more subdued, but no less effective. The 2000GT, with its 150bhp two-litre straight-six powerplant, might have seemed outgunned right from the start but its light weight and small size allowed it to cover ground deceptively quickly. Two custom-made 2000GT convertibles were even commissioned for James Bond's You Only Live Twice. Well-maintained 2000GTs today are highly sought after, and are also extremely rare with only 351 built. Auction prices reflect this, as some 2000GTs have been sold for over £700,000.Take a look at Toyota 2000GTs for sale in the classifieds
The original pony car that became an American institution, with many iterations produced through the years. The current Mustangs may be trying to emulate the Europeans in the refinement and handling stakes, but there were no such concerns in the 60s. The Mustangs of that era offered power, looks and comfort that was typically American. The convertibles and fastbacks with the large V8s are the ones to have, but prices for well cared for examples start at a very reasonable £12,000 rising to over £50,000 for rarer versions. Read the buying guide, and take a look at Ford Mustangs for sale
Henry Ford II's Ferrari-trouncing Le Mans escapades of the 1960s have long been the stuff of automotive legend. Thanks to Enzo Ferrari pulling out of a Ford buyout at the last minute, we were ultimately treated to the fabulous GT40, which was created to take Ferrari on and beat it at its own game. Thanks to the originals’ rarity and high value, an entire industry sprang up offering GT40 replicas for those without the means to acquire one of the originals. Even so, well-built replicas can go for over £100,000, which is still well short of the many millions you would have to find for a ‘60s original. Read the buying guide, and view both original and replica GT40s in the classifieds
Combining big American power with a British body has yielded some very successful cars over the years. The Jensen Interceptor, with its Chevrolet-sourced V8s – ranging from 5.9 to 7.2 litres – was one of the most intriguing. Not necessarily a huge commercial success, it was nevertheless a characterful, handsomely styled sports car with one of the best names ever to grace a four-wheeled automobile. Whether in the more common shooting brake body style, or the rarer convertible and coupes, the Interceptor was an undeniably classy car. The FF was also one of the first four-wheel drive production cars, and today good Interceptors can command up to £80,000.
With only 1023 cars produced in the short three year production run, Aston Martin's DB5 is as rare as it is desirable. Using updated DB4 running gear while looking better proportioned than the heavier DB6 the DB5 was the perfectly balanced 60s British sports tourer. Another car that debuted in a James Bond film, the DB5’s appearance in Goldfinger threatened to steal the show.
Vantage and Convertible models add open air and additional power respectively with a substantial hike in values. Originality and traceable history are key factors in determining a DB5's price, however such is the popularity of these cars at the moment that even a rusty barn find can command eye an watering price.Browse the classifieds, and read the Aston Martin DB5 buying guide here
The 911 is arguably the most recognisable sports car name around. Every true car enthusiast has considered owning one, and even the most ardent car hater will recognise its distinctive shape and unique flat-six exhaust note. Refined, honed, optimised and modified for over 50 years, the stubbornly positioned rear engine, slopping roofline and driver centric focus has remained a common thread throughout. For those yearning for the multi layered steering feedback steering and communicative chassis of the original 911, a late 60s 2.4s has few equals. What these early 911s lacked in ultimate horsepower they made up for in lightweight and torquey power delivery.
Words: John Tallodi