In 1967, the famous Dustin Hoffman film "The Graduate" gave worldwide unforgettable celebrity to the
Spider, also known by its Italian nickname Duetto and its unique shape. These 1960s foreign cars were designed
by Battista Pininfarina - his last collaboration with Alfa Romeo, and which was the result of several years of design
studies dating to the late '50's.
Alfa Romeo (now owned by Fiat
), is an Italian automobile manufacturer founded in 1910. Alfa Romeo has been a part of the Fiat Group since
1986. Before being bought by , Alfa Romeo always had a bold commercial policy, constantly experimenting with new
solutions and using them in its series production, even at the risk of losing market share. These 1960s foreign cars often
used controversial and unorthodox styling too, which often challenged assumptions about styling.
In the 1960s Alfa Romeo became famous for its small cars and models specifically designed for the Italian police - "Panthers"
and Carabinieri; among them the glorious "Giulia Super" or the 2600 Sprint GT, which acquired the expressive nickname
These 1960s foreign cars sold well as attested by the February 1961 production of the 100,001st Giulietta.
1966 is an important date for the Alfa spiders which came with its very own unique Italian styling. Alfa Romeo launches a
competition to find a name for the 1600 Spider. A certain Mr. Giudobaldo Trionfi of Brescia wins, with his suggestion of the
name "Duetto". The "Duetto" Spider's success even stretched globally.
The Alfa Romeo Spider is a roadster widely regarded as a design classic. These 1960s foreign cars remained in production for
almost three decades with only minor aesthetic and mechanical changes. Coming with a monocoque construction (designed with
the relatively new principles of crumple zones incorporated into the front and rear), the engine was a 1570 cc variant of the
Alfa Romeo twin cam four cylinder engine, and produced 109 hp. Sparsely fitted inside, it came with independent front
suspension, five speed transmission and disc brakes.
The original Duetto was in production from 1966-1967. It was replaced in 1969 by the 1750 Spider Veloce, powered by a
118 hp 1779 cc engine. In Europe this was fitted with two twin carburettors, whereas models for the North American market had
SPICA mechanical fuel injection. Modifications were also made to the suspension, brakes, electrics and wheels and tires
though the car looked essentially the same. Visible differences were limited to the rear-view mirror repositioned to the
door, and different badging on the tail. The car's official title was 1750 Spider Veloce, the name Duetto being dropped from
this point on.
During the 1960s, Alfa Romeo concentrated on competition using production-based cars, including the GTA (standing for
Gran Turismo Allegerita), an aluminium-bodied version of the Bertone-designed coupe with a powerful twin-plug engine. These
fast 1960s foreign cars won the inaugural Sports Car Club of America's Trans-Am championship in 1966.
1966 Alfa Romeo Spider
These 1960s foreign cars were also called "Duetto" and were well known for their classic design.
Alfa Romeo Spider Veloce
In 1969, Veloce replaced the Duetto.The Veloce had 118 hp 1779 cc engine.
Renault is a French vehicle manufacturer producing cars, vans, buses, tractors, and trucks. Producing cars since late 1898,
the Renault corporation was founded in 1899. The company is well known for numerous revolutionary designs, security technologies and motor racing. Its cars were exported to the United States during the 1950s and 1960s.
The rear engine 4CV model, which was launched in 1946, proved itself a capable rival for 1960s foreign cars such as
the Morris Minor and Volkswagen Beetle, its success (more than half a million sold) making sure it remained in
production until 1961. There was also a large mechanically conventional 2-litre 4-cylinder car, the Renault Fregate,
from 1951 to 1960.
The 4CV's replacement, the Dauphine, sold extremely well as the company expanded production and sales further abroad,
including Africa and North America. However, 1960s foreign cars did not sell well in North America and it was outdated by
the start of the 1960s.
In an attempt to rebound from those failures, Renault launched two cars which were to become phenomenally successful – the
Renault 4 and Renault 8 in 1961 and 1962 respectively. R4 was world's first car with hermetically sealed cooling-system. The
R4 in particular was to continue in production until 1992. R8 was the first-ever mass produced car with disc brakes all round.
R8 made its entry to the US in 1962.These 1960s foreign cars continued Renault's motor racing traditions with great success
in rallying, a tradition which was further upheld by collaborations with the Alpine company (which most famously produced the Renault-powered Alpine A110).
The company achieved success with the more upmarket Renault 16 launched in 1966, which continued Renault's reputation for
innovation by being the world's first hatchback larger than subcompact size. R16 was also the first Renault-model to gain the
title "The car of the year".
In 1969, over 1 million Renault vehicles were built and more than 500,000 were exported proving once and for all the drawing
power of these 1960s foreign cars.
1960s Renault 4
R4 was world's first car with hermetically sealed cooling-system. The
R4 in particular was to continue in production until 1992.
R8 was the first-ever mass produced car with disc brakes all round.
R8 made its entry to the US in 1962.
1969 Renault 16
The world's first hatchback larger than subcompact size, R16 was also the first Renault-model to gain the
title "The Car of the Year".
The Hillman Imp
The Hillman Imp was a compact, rear-engined saloon (US: sedan) automobile manufactured under the Hillman marque by the Rootes
Group (later Chrysler Europe) from 1963 to 1976. An estate version known as the Hillman Husky was produced from 1967.
The Imp was intended as a rival to the Mini.
The original Saloon was
introduced in 1963 with an opening rear hatch and ran through to the end
of production in 1976. A coupe was introduced in 1965 that had a
non-opening rear window that was more steeply raked than the saloon
hatch, and a roofline 2 inches lower. In
1965 the Van was introduced and the same pressings were used to create
the estate, badged as a Husky in 1967.
Both of these 1960s foreign cars were retired in 1970. In true Rootes (and British) tradition,
there were also some badge-engineered derivatives, such as the luxury
Singer Chamois, and the Sunbeam Sport with a more powerful
twin-carburetor engine. The coupe body shell was used to create the Imp
Californian and Sunbeam Stiletto variants.
The daring design of the Imp was also somewhat underdeveloped,
and mechanical problems were common in these 1960s foreign
cars. In 1966 a major revision of the Imp was released - Mk I and Mk II cars. Although the car was
constantly improved over its life there was no single change as big as
that in 1966. Despite the initial problems, the car
itself was relatively popular, thanks to its competitive price,
distinctive styling and cheap running costs.
1968 Hillman Imp
Intended as a rival to the Mini, the Hillman Imp was nonetheless popular, thanks to its competitive price,
distinctive styling and cheap running costs.
1960 British Hillman Minx IIIA Convertible
The 1960s Foreign Cars Got Into America Just Like the Beatles Did
The British Motor Corporation (BMC) was a UK vehicle company, formed by the merger of the Austin Motor Company and the
Nuffield Organisation (parent of the Morris car company, MG, Riley and Wolseley) in 1952. BMC was the largest British car company of its day, with (in 1952) 39 percent of British output, producing a wide range of cars under brand names including Austin, Morris, MG, Austin-Healey, Wolseley as well as commercial vehicles and agricultural tractors.
A 1963 Austin Mini Super-Deluxe The Mini was BMC's all time best seller . The Mini is the most popular British-made car and it has since been replaced by the New MINI which was launched in 2001. The original is considered one of the cream of the 1960s foreign cars, and its space-saving front-wheel-drive layout influenced a generation of carmakers.
. In the international poll for the award of the world's most influential car of the twentieth century the Mini came second only to the Ford Model T.
The Mini Mk I had three major updates: the Mk II, the Clubman and the Mk III. Within these was a series of variations
including an estate car, a pickup truck, a van and the Mini Moke — a jeep-like buggy. The Mini Cooper and Cooper "S" were sportier versions that were successful as rally cars, winning the Monte Carlo Rally three times.
In 1956 as a result of the Suez Crisis, which reduced oil supplies, the United Kingdom saw the re-introduction of petrol
rationing. Sales of large cars slowed down, and there was a huge demand in the market for so called Bubble cars, which were
mainly German in origin. BMC engineers that designed the Mini had designed and built an original prototype by October 1957.
The production version of the Mini was demonstrated to the press in April 1959, and by August several thousand of these 1960s
foreign cars had been produced ready for the first sales.
The name Mini did not appear by itself immediately — the first models being marketed under two of BMC's brand names, Austin
Until 1962 the cars appeared as the Austin 850 and Morris 850 in North America and France, and in Denmark as the Austin
Partner (until 1964) and Morris Mascot (until 1981). The name Mini was first used to name the car in 1961. October 1965 the
option of an Automotive Products (AP) designed four-speed automatic transmission became available.
Although they were slow at the outset, sales were strong across most of the model lines in the 1960s, with a total of
1,190,000 Mk I's being produced. The Mini etched its place into popular culture in the 1960s with well-publicised purchases
by film and music stars.
The Mk II Mini featured a redesigned front grille which remained with the car from that point on. Also, a larger rear window
and numerous cosmetic changes were introduced. 429,000 Mk II Minis were made.
Austin Mini Cooper S was one of the 1960s foreign cars that epitomized the '60's and which was the star of the original
Italian Job which features a car chase in which a gang of thieves drive three Minis down staircases, through storm drains,
over buildings and finally into the back of a moving bus. This film was remade in 2003 using the new MINI.
With it's front wheel drive and small size with terrific handling it put many larger and more powerful cars in their place and won the hearts of many from the Boomer Generation.
1968 Austin Mini Cooper S
In the international poll for the award of the world's most influential car of the twentieth century the Mini came second only to the Ford Model T.
The Mini was the star of the original Italian Job which features a car chase in which a gang of thieves drive three Minis down staircases, through storm drains,
over buildings and finally into the back of a moving bus. This film was remade in 2003 using the new MINI.
Morris Mini Minor Traveler
Mini is known as Morris 850 in North America and France
1969 Mark II Mini Cooper
Porsche, is a German sports car manufacturer, founded in 1931 by thenAustrian Ferdinand Porsche, the engineer who
also created the first Volkswagen.
In racing, Porsche's main rival has traditionally been Ferrari. In the daily-driver marketplace, Porsche's traditional rivals
are its fellow German automakers Mercedes-Benz, Audi, and BMW , as well as Lotus, Jaguar, and Maserati. Ferrari, on the other
hand, competes more directly with firms such as Lamborghini, Bugatti, TVR and Aston Martin.
In 1963, after some success in motor-racing, namely with the Porsche 550 Spyder, the company launched the Porsche 911,
another air-cooled, rear-engined sports car, this time with a 6-cylinder "boxer" engine. The 911 has become Porsche's most
well-known model, successful on the race-track, in rallies, and in terms of sales these 1960s foreign cars did well. Far more
than any other model, the Porsche brand is defined by the 911.
It remains in production; however, after several generations
of revision, current-model 911s share only the basic mechanical concept of a rear-engined, six-cylinder coupe, and basic
styling cues with the original car. A cost-reduced model with the same body, but 356-derived running gear (including its
four-cylinder engine), was sold as the 912.
1967 Porsche 911
The 911 has become Porsche's most
1960 Porsche 356 Super 90 Roadster
1960 Porsche RS Spyder
1960s Porsche Roadster
1968 Porsche 912
Jaguar Cars Limited is a luxury car manufacturer, originally with headquarters in Browns Lane, Coventry, England but now at
Whitley, Coventry. It was founded as SS Cars Ltd in 1922 and changed its name to Jaguar in 1945. The company has been
owned by Ford since 1989 and currently forms a part of Ford's Premier Automotive Group (PAG) with Land-Rover and Volvo. On 11
June 2007, Ford announced it planned to sell Jaguar along with Land Rover.
Jaguar's main competitors include Audi, BMW, Cadillac (part of GM), Acura (part of Honda Group
, Lexus (a marque of Toyota), Maserati (owned by Fiat
, and Porsche.
Jaguar made its name in the 1950s with a series of
elegantly-styled sports cars and luxury saloons. The company bought the
Daimler car company in 1960 from Birmingham Small Arms Company (BSA).
From the late 1960s, Daimler was used as a brand name for Jaguar's most
luxurious saloons (in the US: sedan).
The Mark X of 1961 was a completely new design of large saloon
with all round independent suspension and unibody construction. These
1960s foreign cars were descendants of Mark IVs which were developed
before the war.
The independent rear suspension from the Mark X was incorporated
in the 1963 S-Type which closely resembled the Mark 2, and in 1967 the
Mark 2 name was dropped when the small saloon became the 240/340 range.
The 420 of 1966, also sold as the Daimler
Sovereign, put a new front onto the S-type, although both cars continued
in parallel until the S-Type was dropped in 1968.
The Mark X became the 420G in 1966.
Jaguar Mark X
Mark X of 1961 was a completely new design of large saloon, a descendant of Mark IVs which were developed before the war.
Of the more recent saloons, the most significant is the XJ
(1968-present), still the definitive Jaguar saloon car for many.
Jaguar E Type is truly one of the great classic 1960s foreign cars. This
had to be one of the most recognised sports cars in
the world which came in Soft Roadster and Fixed Head Coupe versions. The
E-Type Jaguar captured the needs of the male driver
in 1961 - a streamlined body with the fastest speed of any production
car - up to 150 mph. These 1960s foreign cars caused a
stir when it was unveiled at the Geneva car show - The audience were
greatly surprised by the £2,196 price tag, making it about half the cost
of its competitors.
Jaguar as well as Land Rover are now owned by Tata Motors, India's biggest automaker.
Jaguar XJ6 Series 1 MWK 28G - The oldest Jaguar XJ in existence
By World's Oldest XJ - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link
1960s Japanese Cars
The Japanese automakers like Toyota had a different strategy up their sleeves. These 1960s foreign cars differentiated themselves from Detroit cars, which at the time are big heavy cars loaded with horsepower and options. Toyota’s pricing is geared towards lower to middle class customers, not the customers who are buying cars loaded with expensive options.
However, during that time reputation of Japanese cars as low quality cars was one barrier to entry into the U.S. market. It
won't take long for the 1960s Japanese cars to prove the American buyers wrong by consistently improving their products.
Starting in 1955, Toyota produced its first luxury car, the Crown, powered by a four cylinder, 1.5-liter engine with a
three-speed column shift, followed by the 1-liter Corona. However only 700 cars per month were made in 1955, but this rose to
11,750 in 1958, and 50,000 per month in 1964.
These 1960s foreign cars started selling in the United States in 1958, importing the Land Cruiser and Toyopet.
While neither sold well, the margins on the Land Cruiser were better, and the Toyopet was withdrawn while Toyota designed a
car specifically modified for the ordinary American car buyers – a strategy which later gave us the Avalon and Camry.
The first Americanized Toyota — the Tiara, otherwise known as the Toyota Corona PT20 — came out in 1964. These
six-passenger 1960s foreign cars had a 90 gross-horsepower engine which could reach 90 miles per hour, and was comfortable
inside. In 1965, the Corona was added at under $2,000; it offered an automatic and factory air as options, very unusual in
imported small cars at the time. Sales hit 6,400 in 1965, and reached 71,000 by 1968, nearly doubling each year until by 1971
these 1960s foreign cars were selling over 300,000 vehicles per year, a far cry from 1964's 2,000.
Toyota itself was very small in the late 1950s by world standards but it would steadily move up to the #3 position and will
soon challenge Ford for #2). In 1967, the Corona sold for a reasonable $1,760 - a little below the smallest Big Three sedans
— with a good balance of performance, gas mileage, and comfort.
By 1967, these 1960s foreign cars had become well established in the United States - as a niche player. The Corona four-door
sedan was seen as competing mainly against the Volkswagen Beetle even though the Corona has larger interior. The Corona was
known from its early days for quality as well as a low price though rust was a serious problem until the late 1970s.
Toyota introduced another new car to the US in 1967: the Crown, available as a wagon or a sedan. The Crown was noted for its road manners, smooth ride, and quiet interior.
1967 Toyota Crown Deluxe 4-Speed
First introduced in the US in 1967, the Crown was noted for its road manners, smooth ride, and quiet interior.
Soon, Toyota brought to the US the famous but rare 2000GT, which resembled a British sports car with a massive hood
and nearly no cabin or trunk. The car had set 16 world speed and endurance records by 1966, with a dual overhead cam
six-cylinder engine (150 hp, 121 cid) and five-speed manual transmission. A specially made convertible version was featured
in the movie You only live twice. The 2000 GT had surprisingly
slow 0-60 times of over 10 seconds, but cornering
apparently made up for it, and the quarter-mile went by in a decent
enough 15.9 seconds (about the same as a 1995 Neon). Not
quite a muscle car, but it probably handled better than the best Detroit
had to offer. Toyota also had a variety of trucks for sale in the late
The 200 GT was a rare but famous car, a convertible of which was featured in the James Bond movie You only live twice.
Honda began developing prototypes for road cars in the early 1960s , mostly intended for the Japanese market. The first
production vehicle by Honda was the 1963 T360, a tiny pickup truck featuring 4 different body styles (including a
traditional truck bed and a panel van) and a 360cc, 30hp engine. This was followed two months later by Honda's first production automobile, the S500. The S500 was a 2 door roadster featuring a 492cc engine capable of 44 hp with a high
9,500 RPM redline. It was fitted to a 4-speed transmission with the rear wheels being chain driven. Soichiro Honda,
founder of Honda took his extensive knowledge of motorcycles and applied it to making these 1960s foreign cars, of which the
chain drive and high redline are evidence.
At the time, nearly all of the Japanese automakers were associated with the former zaibatsu, or keiretsu--Japanese business conglomerates. These large companies had close ties with the government who urged them to absorb smaller autobuilders into
large brands that could be marketed internationally. Since the government had extensive control over the industry, it was
unheard of for a small, independent company to mass produce vehicles, thus making Honda's success historical in the Japanese
Though participating in international motorsport, Honda was having difficulty selling its automobiles in the United States.
Built for Japanese buyers, American buyers were not buying Honda's small cars. Honda's first automobile
imported to the United States was the N600, sold in Hawaii in 1969. In 1970, the car was imported to California and
beyond, but its tiny 600 cc engine and minuscule dimensions made it very unpopular with the American public.
Datsun was a small company that had visions of greatness. In the early 1960s Nissan had partnered with Yamaha
and famous car designer Albrecht Graf von Goertz to design a new sports car prototype. No strangers to the sports car
game, company executives rightfully saw it as a halo car that would improve its image in the minds of consumers. By 1964
Nissan realized that Yamaha's DOHC 2.0 Liter engine was not meeting Nissan's expectations and the project was scrapped.
Yamaha then later finished a prototype and took their design to Toyota, and the result was the building of the Toyota 2000GT.
Yutaka Katayama president of Nissan USA at the time, had realized the importance of an affordable sports car. Nissan had
already produced the successful series of Fairlady roadsters and these 1960s foreign cars competed against English roadsters, and product
planners envisioned a new line of GT cars that would be stylish, innovative, fast, and relatively inexpensive by sharing parts among other vehicles.
Production of the 240Z started on October 1969, with 2 separate versions: one for the Japanese market and one for the
US market. The Japanese 240Z featured a SOHC L20 inline-6 producing 130 hp, while the US 240Z had a L24 inline-6 with twin SU carburetors that produced 151 hp. A third Z, the 432Z(PS30) shared a performance version of the S20 engine with the Skyline
GT-R. The US 240Z's engine was not designed with racing in mind as was the Japanese engine, as the Japanese did not think
anybody in America would seriously race these 1960s foreign cars there.
In Japan, the car was still known as the Fairlady to keep in line with past Nissan sports cars; Katayama fought furiously to
have all American badging replaced with "240Z" and refused all dealers to receive cars until he had done so.
The 240Z was released in America on October 22, 1969, and became one of the best-selling 1960s foreign cars. Combining good
looks, powerful performance, and luxury features, it sold over 30,000 units in 1971 and over 50,000 and 40,000 in 1972 and
The Datsun Fairlady is a good example of how the Japanese car makers adapted and improved. When when 1960s foreign cars came
out, it was under powered compared with the MGB and other 1960s foreign cars but after a number of years the Datsun Fairlady
improved beyond recognition into a reasonable machine. The Datsun automobile introduced in the United States by Japan's
Nissan Motors is underpowered, hard to start and stop, but will rank sixth among 1960s foreign cars by 1966, third by 1970.
Nissan will use the name Datsun in America until the early 1980s and until now, some people still call these 1960s foreign cars with the old name.
1969 Datsun 240Z (Fairlady Z)
The Datsun is a Japanese coupe launched in 1969 with 2.4-liter straight-six and rear-wheel-drive. The 'Z' was one of Japan's first successful sports cars and certainly one of the best looking cars to come out of the Orient.