There are certain things that define a period in time and, alongside fashion, cars are one of the big ones.
In this series, we’re looking at the cars that really stood out from around the world from the 1950s to the 1990s. The 1960s were a decade of fashion, cool and hippy culture – and the car manufacturers tapped into it big time.
It was a decade that arguably saw some of the coolest cars ever built – and it made some legends as well. If you’re in the market for a 1960s classic, check out our for sale section.
The Corvette was first launched in 1953, but few would think of that first generation car when you mention the name. The iconic one is the 1960s
car, which introduced the legendary Sting Ray name to the range. It was built from 1963 until 1967, with power at first a hefty 360bhp – this was a bit of a muscle car.
It only got more powerful, with 375bhp in 1964, and in 1965 a big 6.5L V8 was introduced, putting out 425bhp. As the years went on the engines got bigger and the power outputs with them. With its slick styling and hearty howl, the Corvette came to help define a generation of American
cars alongside the likes of the Ford Mustang
A nice 1960s example will set you back £20,000 to £40,000 these days.
If American cars of the 1960s were all about being big and brash, British marque Lotus had the opposite idea. The original Elan
– it was resurrected in the 1980s – was introduced in 1962 as a roadster, with an optional hardtop to follow the next year and a coupe in 1965.
Lotus founder Colin Chapman was all about innovation and the Elan was the first road car to use a steel backbone chassis and a fibreglass body. It weighed just 726kg, embodying Chapman’s ‘add lightness’ philosophy. Early versions were even available as a kit car.
It came to sum up British 1960s cool
, finding fame on the TV series The Avengers. At the moment, £10,000 will buy you a project car, while £50,000 will get you a mint example.
This one needs little introduction, but how could we look at the 1960s without it? The Mini, as it became known
, was the product of social and political circumstances.
It came about because of the Suez Crisis in 1956, which saw petrol shortages in the UK and large cars suddenly became somewhat undesirable. So company boss Leonard Lord set down some requirements from the Morris designers – the new little car had to fit in a box measuring 10ft by 4ft by 4ft.
The passenger accommodation should get six of the 10ft length, he said, and the engine had to be one already in production to keep costs down. What designer Sir Alec Issigonis and his team came up – first known as the Austin Seven – with was to go down as an icon of British motoring.
In fact, it became an icon of 1960s Britain, being adopted by a host of cool celebs, and became the car to have. Values of the Mini have been going up for years and a good 1960s car will cost around £10,000 for starters.
Many people will know that the VW Beetle
started life long before the 1960s. In fact, it was conceived by Adolf Hitler in the 1930s – he wanted a cheap people’s car; ‘Volks Wagen’ in German.
That didn’t go so well, but the design of one Ferdinand Porsche was to go on to achieve worldwide fame and become the most widely produced car of all time in terms of both length of production and volume – 21.5 million were made.
Mass production of the Beetle didn’t start until after World War Two and the car did eventually become the people’s car, but in a totally different way to what Herr Hitler imagined.
By the 1960s it was a symbol of freedom for young hippies everywhere. It became inextricably linked with the hippie movement and surf culture thanks to its unique design and its low price. But that price might not be so low now, with a good £8,000 at least needed for a good one.
Aston Martin DB6
A real British beauty to finish with, the DB6 was introduced at the London Motor Show in 1965 and doesn’t look dissimilar to its predecessor, the DB5
. But it was longer, had a different side profile and that lovely tail at the back.
It had a top end of 148mph, which was pretty tidy for the mid-1960s. A 4.0-litre straight six provided the power – and the soundtrack – with power peaking at 325bhp in the Vantage version. It just summed up luxury 1960s cool sports cars in every way.
Sadly, most of us will never own one, with a good £350,000 not unusual.