An Account of 1960s Cars' Development

    The average 1960s cars costs about $2,752, and a gallon of gas was around 31 cents. The 1960's were a time of change: the Civil Rights movement as led by Martin Luther King Jr., the Women's Movement with its demand for equal rights, Russia beat the US into outer space, Elvis hits the UK, the Beatles hit world big time, the advent of the counterculture when hair grew longer and beards became common and reaching its zenith in August 1969 at Woodstock, and later in the decade, man set foot on the moon.

    Man on the Moon 1969

      The 1960's automobiles belonged to a distinct decade of automobile history with the advent of economy, muscle. and pony cars.

    The 1960s Cars Were More Economical

      The 1960's saw the American automobile industry consolidating into the Big Three: General Motors, FordChrysler and American Motors. These firms not only dominated the domestic market with the sales of the 1960s cars, but the global market as well. In 1960 American companies built 93 percent of the autos sold in the United States and 48 percent of world .

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      In the mid 1950s, however,led by Volkswagen and soon followed by Fiat, Renault, Datsun (Nissan), and Hillman, imports began to nibble their way into the rich American market. The growing presence of imports disturbed Detroit, and the Big Three responded with their own small 1960s cars. GM produced the Corvair, Ford the Falcon, and Chrysler the Valiant.

      Chevy Corvair

      Ford Falcon

      Chrysler Valiant

      1963 Buick Riviera

      1962 Buick Special

      1961 Oldsmobile F-85

      1961 Pontiac Tempest

      GM introduced three new smaller cars in the U.S. as 1961 models: the Buick Special, Oldsmobile F-85 and Pontiac Tempest.

      Oldsmobile F-85 was a compact sedan, coupe and station wagon powered which had a V8 engine from 1961 to 1963. In 1964 the F-85 was upgraded to an intermediate sized car. The Cutlass was initially the top model of the F-85 line but became a separate model by 1964 with the F-85 nameplate continued only on the lowest priced models through the 1972 model year. Subsequently, all Oldsmobile intermediate 1960s cars were Cutlasses.

      1964 Oldsmobile F-85

      1964 Oldsmobile Cutlass Custom 2-Door Coupe

      1966 Chevrolet Corvair 500

      The Corvair would represent several production firsts for Chevy including: their first (only) rear air cooled engine, first unitized body, first production car turbo, and fully independent suspension for each wheel-front and rear.

      Chevrolet introduced the radical Corvair which featured an aluminum 6 cylinder rear engine layout. The 1960 Chevrolet Corvair 500 Deluxe came with a Basic Corvair Engine , one-barrel carburetor, and three-speed manual transmission Chevy may not have "copied" the VW 1960s cars but many of the basics of the air cooled rear engine, compact transaxle and suspension were similar with the main difference that the Corvair was larger, inside and outside and was an "American size compact". The Corvair would represent several production firsts for Chevy including: their first (only) rear air cooled engine, first unitized body, first production car turbo, and fully independent suspension for each wheel-front and rear.

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      1965 Chevrolet Corvair Monza

      The "poor man's Porsche"

      Early in the year of 1960 a "sporty" Monza model was offered with bucket seats, full wheel covers and full vinyl interior. This sporty 1960s cars were to really "drive" Corvair sales and attract the interest of enthusiasts in the coming years.

      Even during this early period the Corvair was developing a following and was considered one of the "sportier" compacts, sometimes being referred to as a "poor man's Porsche".

      As part of the 1962 model year, Chevrolet introduced a new line of 1960s, the Chevy II. The initial Corvair had been positioned as an economy car, but it was much more successful with the plusher trim and sportier image of the Monza model which sold well in 1961.

      1966 Chevy II Nova SS

        1964 Plymouth Valiant

        Chrysler had its Valiant. It was conventional in layout, but actually was extraordinary in its new features. The Valiant was sold as separate brand in the first year, but subsequently displayed Plymouth logos. The first generation was launched in 1960 and lasted until 1962. It consisted of a unibody car. It was restyled in 1963 then totally redesigned in a style reminding of European cars of the time. From 1963, Dodge used the Valiant as a base for its Dart models.

        Only survivor of the Detroit compacts, the Valiant lived up to 1976 when it was replaced by the Volare and its Dodge clone the Aspen. From its creation the Valiant and its various immitations had found a market, but although profitable, did not suffice to stop Plymouth from its share of 1960s cars.

        In fact, the paradox is that the success of the Valiant led Plymouth to make another costly mistake. Assuming the mood for smaller 1960s cars, it downsized its whole fleet. Unfortunately, the majority of customers still wanted larger cars, and Plymouth lost more market shares.

        The Mercury Comet was the everything car for Mercury. Introduced in 1960 on a stretched Falcon frame, the Comet had to be Mercury's compact, intermediate, and pony car entry at the same time. The planned 1961 Edsel Comet compact car was relabeled the Mercury Comet and sold more cars in its first year than all models of Edsel ever produced.

        The Comet was developed as a compact car for the Edsel line. But with the Edsel brand eliminated before the 1960 model year, Ford released the Comet as a separate model, that was sold by Lincoln-Mercury dealers.

        1962 Mercury Comet

        The Mercury Comet was the everything car for Mercury

        Fewer than 6,000 Edsels survive and today they are considered collectors’ items, with convertibles sometimes selling for over US$20,000 if in good condition.

        Rambler - An interesting But Sad Story

        Cheap and easy to repair, the new Rambler was a hit in the recession-racked year of 1958, when American Motors was the only domestic car manufacturer to show a profit. In 1960, Rambler produced over 450,000 cars, and became number three in sales among domestic brands.

        Ramblers were the first cars to use Unibody construction throughout their model lineup. The primary advantage of this technology was a stronger structure without the need for a separate chassis. With less squeaks and rattles, the overwhelming majority of contemporary automobiles, with the exception of trucks and some SUV’s, owe their design to some form of this 1960s cars' original unitized body construction innovation.

        1964 Rambler Classic 770

        In another safety milestone, Rambler was the first to offer seat belts as an option in 1950, and the first to provide them as standard equipment by the end of the decade.

        By 1962, the introduction of compact cars by the big three automakers had decreased Rambler’s market share.

        Rambler introduced some of the most attractive designs of any manufacturer during the mid 1960's. AMC Rambler Limited Edition Extra puts added emphasis on this period with tests of the again redesigned Classic and Ambassador series for 1966, and the introduction of the Classic-based Marlin for 1965.

        1960 Rambler Ambassador

        1965-67 Rambler Marlin

        The unsophisticated Marlin was an attempt to capture a piece of the “personal car” market dominated by the Ford Thunderbird, and Buick Riviera. Unfortunately, Rambler’s attempt to compete with the “Big Three” met with limited success. Their 1960s cars were not selling well. The Rambler name was falling out of favor in a market dominated by flashiness and horsepower. A new image was in the works, and by 1968 the Rambler name, for years a symbol of economy, was shown the door - ending a saga of 1960s cars known for gas saving.

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        Some Good Looking 1960s Cars

        1960 Rambler Ambassador

        1960s Ford Galaxie 500

        1963 Corvette Sting Ray

        1966 Pontiac GTO Convertible

        1967 Shelby GT500

        1966 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray

        1967 Ford Shelby Mustang GT500 Eleanor

        1969 Dodge Charger

        1968 COPO Camaro

        1968 Plymouth Road Runner

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          More 1960's Cars:

          1960's Economy Cars

          1962 Ford Falcon
          1966 Corvair Monza

          1960's Muscle Cars

          Dodge Charger Daytona
          Dodge Charger R/T
          1966 Pontiac GTO

          1960's Pony Cars

          1964 Ford Mustang
          1967 Shelby GT500
          1967 Camaro Convertible
          1964 Plymouth Barracuda
          1968 Mercury Cougar

          1960's Foreign Cars

          1963 Austin Mini Cooper
          1966 AC Cobra 427
          1967 Alfa Romeo Spider
          1960 Aston Martin DB4

          Classic 60's American Cars

          1963 Buick Riviera
          Dodge Charger Daytona
          Dodge Charger R/T
          1962 Ford Falcon
          1962 Ford Galaxie 500XL
          1964 Ford Mustang
          1967 Shelby GT500
          1963 Corvette Sting Ray
          1966 Corvair Monza
          1967 Camaro Convertible
          1964 Oldsmobile Starfire
          1964 Plymouth Barracuda
          1968 Mercury Cougar
          1966 Pontiac GTO
          1969 Corvette Stingray

        More about 1960s cars

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