The 1960s were undoubtedly one of the best decades in automotive history. The world was blessed with tens of legendary cars, including the first-ever supercar.
Take a look at the most influential automobiles of the ’60s from around the world. Virtually all of these machines have become priceless classics that are still desired by wealthy collectors worldwide.
The Chevrolet Corvette was a game-changer pretty much from its ’53 debut. Sure, the first units were far from perfect, as the car was rushed into production and nearly ended up being discontinued because of various serious issues. As the years went by, America’s first sports car continued getting better.
Chevrolet unveiled the all-new Corvette C2 for the 1963 model year. The car’s handling and performance were improved dramatically. The ’63 model also featured a split window in the rear, making the ones built that year one of the most valuable Corvettes to date.
Porsche 356 C
This German sports car surely looks familiar, doesn’t it? It was eventually replaced by the iconic 911, which preserved much of its distinctive styling. However, the 356 is unarguably just as legendary as its younger brother.
The 356 first hit the market in the late 1940s. Porsche perfected the model throughout its production run, hence the final 356 C can be considered the most advanced variant. It was built for just two years starting in 1964.
This is yet another icon of the automobile world, and arguably the most legendary British sports car of all time. The Jaguar E-Type features the perfect combination of gorgeous design paired with exceptional performance.
At first, the British automaker offered the E-Type only with a flat-six motor. In the early 70s, the powerplant was eventually replaced with a more powerful 12-cylinder engine. Naturally, units powered by a V12 have become more desired over the years.
Dodge Charger Daytona
Shortly after unveiling the Dodge Charger, the American automaker created a souped-up high-performance variant named the Charger Daytona. Its aerodynamic front end and large wing are unmistakable. The Charger Daytona also packed a monstrous 440-cubic inch V8 beneath the hood.
A Dodge Charger Daytona, driven by Buddy Baker, was the first race car in NASCAR history to pass 200 miles per hour. Today, this piece of automotive history is among the most desired American vehicles of all time.
Ferrari 250 GTO
This Italian beauty dates back to the early 1960s. The 250 GTO, a legendary Italian race car, was built between 1962 and 1964. It packed a screaming V12 under the hood. The 250 GTO has gone down in history as one of the last successful front-engined race cars in its class.
Today, the 250 GTO is the most valuable car on the planet. Units sold in recent years were auctioned off for tens of millions of dollars. This should come as no surprise, given that Ferrari only made 36 250 GTOs.
The 1960s saw the birth of the Ford Mustang, which was the first pony car of all time. The vehicle was a huge hit among buyers and quickly became an icon of the 60s and the US as a whole.
The original Mustang premiered for the ’65 model year. The automaker sold a whopping 22 000 units on the first day, followed by nearly 1.3 million examples by the end of 1967.
Aston Martin DB5
You don’t need to be a petrolhead to recognize this beautiful grand tourer. The DB5 has accumulated a cult following after being James Bond’s car in Goldfinger. This absolutely gorgeous machine has remained the go-to automobile for Agent 007 to this day, making constant appearances in the franchise ever since.
The DB5 was designed by an Italian coachbuilder. Its distinctive styling can truly be considered a work of art, much like its straight-six engine rated at up to 325 horsepower. Back in the ’60s, classy sports cars did not get much better than this.
Ford released the Thunderbird to compete with the Chevrolet Corvette. In fact, the two vehicles were unveiled just months apart! Following its initial success, Ford released the all-new third generation of the Thunderbird for the 1961 model year.
The new Thunderbird received a total makeover, as well as a brand new 6.4L V8 beneath the hood. The 300-horsepower motor was the only engine offered in the Thunderbird at the time.
This list would not have possibly been complete without Germany’s best sports car, the Porsche 911. This legendary moniker first appeared on the market in late 1964, it is still a vital part of the automaker’s lineup today. The millionth 911 rolled off the assembly line in 2017.
The original 911 featured an air-cooled six-cylinder boxer motor fitted in the rear of the car, similar to the drivetrain found in the VW Beetle. In fact, the two cars shared many of the same underpinnings.
The idea behind the Plymouth Road Runner was simple. Plymouth wanted to create a more affordable alternative to the GTX, an upscale muscle car that was a major hit back in the late 60s.
The Road Runner debuted for the ’68 model year, packing a 335-horsepower V8 under the hood as standard. Buyers also had the option to upgrade to an enormous 426-cubic inch Hemi V8 for just $714 over the sticker price.
Pontiac GTO Judge
This legendary high-performance muscle car was built for a little over a decade starting in 1963. Although Pontiac sold over 30,000 units of the first-gen, it was nowhere near as popular as its direct successor.
The revised second-generation GTO Judge debuted in 1968. The car came with a 6.6L V8 as standard, rated at 350 horses. Sales passed 87,000 examples that year, only to be followed by over 72,000 in 1969.
Dodge Coronet R/T 440
Dodge first introduced the Coronet nameplate back in the late 40s. However, it’s the fifth generation of the car that has gone down in automotive history. It was sold between 1965 and 1970.
The fifth-gen Coronet used the same B-Body platform as the legendary Charger. Dodge even offered this two-door muscle car with a 440-cubic inch big-block V8 under the hood, as well as a 426 Hemi. Muscle car fans were spoilt for choice in the 1960s, that’s for sure.
The ’60s were one of the best decades in automotive history, and this legendary American race car is another prime example. It was developed with the help of Carroll Shelby to beat Ferrari at the infamous 24 Hours of Le Mans endurance race.
The GT40 was an absolute beast, to say the least. Its rear-mounted V8 motor peaked at 350 horses. As a result, Ford managed to beat Ferrari at the ’66 Le Mans endurance race. The American automaker then went on a four-year winning streak with the GT40.
Chevrolet Chevelle SS
The Chevelle SS was introduced on the market in early 1964. It was a major milestone for both General Motors as well as automotive history as a whole. That’s because the original Chevelle SS was Chevrolet’s first entry into the world of muscle cars.
Under the hood, the Chevelle SS packed a 327-cubic inch V8 motor as standard, though buyers could upgrade to a bigger 396-cubic inch powerplant. Naturally, the 396 remains a lot more desired by collectors today.
The Lamborghini Miura needs no introduction. After all, this beauty is considered to be the first-ever supercar. It debuted back in 1966 and instantly made headlines as one of the fastest cars in the world at the time.
The Miura initially packed a 345-horsepower V12 mounted behind the driver. However, the P400SV variant saw a power output increase to 380 horses. In effect, the car could shoot up to 60 miles per hour in under 7 seconds.
Although this priceless race car only won the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1970, it had been in development since 1969. The Porsche 917 is one of the most significant Porsches of all time, as it earned the automaker’s first-ever Le Mans victory and dethroned the previously mentioned Ford GT40.
Following the unbelievable success of the Porsche 917, the German manufacturer went on to dominate the 24-hour endurance race for almost two decades. However, the 917 race car was retired after 1971.
Ford Mustang Shelby GT500
The Shelby Mustang was introduced as a high-performance variant of Ford’s flagship pony car back in 1965. The manufacturer initially offered the GT350, and then added the more powerful GT500 version to the lineup for ’67.
The 1967 Shelby Mustang GT500 packed a roaring 426-cubic inch V8 beneath the hood. The powerplant is capable of producing up to 355 horsepower! The American automaker only built 2050 units that year, hence they’re very sought-after by collectors today.
Chevrolet Corvette C3
The third generation of the Chevrolet Corvette may just be the most iconic one, at least in terms of styling. Its design inside and out is simply spot-on. The Corvette C3 hit the market in ’68 and remained in production until the early 1980s.
Like every other Corvette, the C3 came powered by a V8 motor as standard. General Motors even offered a powerful big-block C3 fitted with a 427-cubic inch powerplant for a couple of years.
The AC Cobra is yet another vehicle that was developed by Carroll Shelby himself. This high-performance sports car is said to be responsible for introducing a 70-mile per hour speed limit in the United Kingdom in ’65.
Shelby reached out to the UK-based AC Motors to commission a small sports car that would be powered by a V8 motor. Ford agreed to supply the powerplant, which was originally a 289-cubic inch eight-cylinder. Later on, the Cobra received a monstrous 427-cubic inch V8. With a weight of only around 2300 pounds and a 425-horsepower motor, the AC Cobra is insanely quick even by today’s standards.
The Riviera was Buick’s answer to the growing demand for luxury cars in the early 60s. The model debuted for the 1963 model year and remained on the market for over 3 decades.
The original first-gen Buick Riviera was in production for just three years. The car packed a big-block 6.6L V8 motor as standard, as well as a lavish interior. Today, it may not be as iconic as the ’73 Boat Tail Riviera. Nonetheless, the first generation is an equally stunning automobile that ideally represents the 1960s.
The mighty Volkswagen Beetle is one of the best-selling automobiles of all time. It entered production back in the late 1930s and remained on the market for nearly 7 decades, before being pulled from the market in 2003.
The Beetle was slightly refreshed in 1960. Models built after ’59 received a front anti-roll bar, followed by a 40hp power bump in 1961. Then, in 1965, the VW Beetle saw its biggest visual makeover to date.
General Motors quickly noticed the success of the Ford Mustang. Naturally, the manufacturer wanted a slice of the action. The Chevy Monza, which was originally meant to be a sporty variant of the Corvair, simply didn’t cut it. GM had to introduce a brand new model.
The first Camaro was born for the ’67 model year and remained in production through 1969. The car was obviously a massive hit. Chevrolet sold over 220 000 units before introducing the all-new second-gen for 1970.
When it comes to legendary Ferraris, the 365 GTB/4 commonly known as the Daytona is criminally overlooked. Sure, it may not have been as groundbreaking as the 250 GTO. However, the Daytona was still an exceptional vehicle back in the day!
The Daytona debuted shortly after the Lamborghini Miura. Unlike its competitor, the Ferrari featured a pretty traditional front-engine layout. The car’s V12 motor produced 347 horsepower, which was plentiful given its lightweight body. The Daytona can reach 60 miles per hour in just 5.4 seconds.
The first-ever Firebird appeared on the market back in 1967. It shared the same platform as the previously mentioned Chevrolet Camaro, as well as most of its underpinnings.
The base model came fitted with a weak flat-six Pontiac motor. Luckily, buyers had the option to choose a V8 motor that raised the power output by at least 100 horses, depending on the production year. The Firebird was an instant hit, nearly 90,000 units were sold within the first year.
The Porsche 911 was pretty much an instant hit, with sales skyrocketing from the get-go. However, there was one issue that stopped many potential buyers from owning one- the price tag. That’s why Porsche developed the 912 shortly after the debut of the 911.
The 912 was intended to be a less powerful, more budget-friendly alternative to Porsche’s flagship sports car. The 912 still featured an air-cooled rear-engine layout, though the powerplant was a small 102-horsepower flat-four.
Cadillac Coupe de Ville
The Cadillac de Ville Series was on the market for nearly half a century. The nameplate first arrived in the late 50s and remained in production all the way until 2005. The second generation of the de Ville hit the market in 1961 and quickly became one of the most legendary versions to date.
Under the hood, the second-gen Cadillac de Ville packed a 6.4L V8 as standard. Buyers had the option to choose from different two or four-door body styles, as well as convertibles. This luxurious machine became a status symbol desired by the rich and famous.
Ferrari 275 GTB
As legendary as the Ferrari 250 was, it was getting a little outdated by the early 1960s. The Italian carmaker released the 275, a successor to the 250 series of grand tourers, in 1964. Just like its predecessors, the Ferrari 275 was designed by none other than Pininfarina.
A screaming 3.3L V12 motor delivers up to 280 horsepower to the rear wheels of this beast. The 275 series stole the hearts of buyers and the general public alike. In fact, it was dubbed the most satisfying sports car in the world by Road&Track in ’67.
Buick Gran Sport
General Motors realized that there was somewhat of a gap in their lineup. In the early 60s, buyers could either purchase performance-oriented cars or luxury ones. There wasn’t a single model that would combine luxury with high performance. The Buick Gran Sport was developed to fill that gap.
The nameplate first appeared in 1965. The first-ever Gran Sport was essentially a Buick Skylark, except it came fitted with a gigantic 400-cubic inch V8 under the hood.
The 904 is the underrated Porsche sports car you have never heard of. Despite its exceptional performance, the 904 always seemed to be overshadowed by the 911 that was released the same year. This, along with many other factors, forced Porsche to discontinue the model after just two years on the market.
The 904 was one of the most advanced sports cars of its time. Its 2.0L flat-four motor could even be considered over-engineered. Sadly, most enthusiasts seem to forget that this car had ever even existed.
Volkswagen Type 2
Volkswagen released the first-ever Type 2 van back in 1950. What started off as a regular utility vehicle has turned into one of the biggest icons of German automobiles. The Volkswagen Type 2 also became a symbol of the global hippie movement.
The German automaker improved the Type 2 throughout the early 60s. The bus saw an increase in cargo capacity, as well as a bump in horsepower. It remained on the market until the end of 1975, though US sales were discontinued after 1967.
Chevrolet Impala SS
1964 remains the most desired production year for the Chevrolet Impala. It was made just a year before being replaced by the fourth generation. Naturally, the performance SS version is what everyone is after.
The third-gen Chevy Impala SS was offered with a 427-cubic inch motor rated at an astounding 385 horsepower. By 1969, the power output was raised to a whopping 245 horses. The SS variant was eventually discontinued after 1969, though it had made a brief comeback in the 1990s.
Chrysler quickly noticed the success of the Ford Mustang pony car, as well as the Chevrolet Camaro. The American manufacturer decided to release their very own Chrysler pony car. The Plymouth Barracuda entered production in ’64, the same year as the Ford Mustang.
The base model came powered by a flat-six. However, it could be upgraded to the optional 273-cubic inch eight-cylinder engine that made nearly twice as much power.
Aston Martin DB4 Zagato
This beautiful grand tourer is a lighter, better-performing version of the regular Aston Martin DB4 GT. It was improved by Zagato, a legendary Italian manufacturer.
Today, the DB4 Zagato is one of the most sought-after Aston Martin products of all time. This is largely because the British automaker only managed to build 25 examples. We all wish they had made more.
The beginning of the 1960s marked the launch of the all-new fourth generation Continental, Lincoln’s flagship land yacht. This car is truly enormous! It measures anywhere between212 and 224 inches in length, depending on the production year.
A big-block V8 was offered as standard. Gas was dirt cheap back then, hence fuel efficiency was pretty much unheard of in the United States. The fourth-gen Continental was replaced by the fifth-gen by 1970.
Ford Mustang Shelby GT350
The Shelby GT350 was the ultimate high-performance version of the Mustang prior to the debut of the previously mentioned GT500 in ’67. Ford unveiled the first-ever high-performance GT350, developed together with Carroll Shelby, for the 1965 model year.
The original GT350 was available with just one engine option- a 289-cubic inch Windsor V8 that could be found in the K-Code Mustangs. However, that same powerplant was modified to make over 300 horsepower, as opposed to the 271hp motor in the K-Code.
Shelby Daytona Coupe
Most petrolheads will never be lucky enough to even see one of these rare beauties. That’s because Shelby only made 6 examples during a two-year production run. Today, a Shelby Daytona Coupe is virtually priceless.
This unique sports car was powered by the same 289-cubic inch Windsor V8 that can be found in the original Ford Mustang Shelby GT350. It saw major success in motorsport and remains the only American-made car to win the World Manufacturer’s Championship for Grand Touring Racecars. Quite frankly, the Daytona Coupe truly revolutionized motorsports.
The Cougar is the best-selling vehicle made by the Mercury division of Ford to date. It’s also the runner-up in terms of the brand’s longest production run, surpassed only by the Grand Marquis. With nearly 3 million units sold in total, there is no denying that the Mercury Cougar was an absolute hit.
The first Cougar was essentially a restyled Ford Mustang. Most of the undercarriage remained the same. However, the Cougar was only offered with V8 motors.
To be honest, it must have been difficult to keep up with the Cadillac Eldorado back in the 60s. That’s because the American automaker kept introducing new generations of the car every couple of years. In fact, there were 5 different generations of the Eldorado sold throughout the 1960s.
Every generation of the Eldorado made in the 60s shared one thing in common- an enormous gas-guzzling big-block V8 under the gigantic hood. Oh, all of the cars were at least 220 inches in length, too.
Chevrolet Nova SS
The Chevrolet Nova was a compact sold by General Motors for over 25 years. It was just like any other boring compact offered at the time. Until the American automaker unveiled the SS high-performance version, that is.
The third-gen Chevrolet Nova SS packed a 295-horsepower V8 as standard, though buyers could upgrade to a monstrous big-block rated at 375 horses. The Nova SS even saw some motorsport action. The car competed in the Trans-Am series in 1969.
The 442 nameplate was first introduced by Oldsmobile in 1964. Initially, it was used to on a high-performance variant of the Oldsmobile Cutlass. The automaker noticed that sales figures for the 442 package were skyrocketing, and it eventually became an all-new separate model by 1968.
Buyers could pick between a 400-cubic inch V8 rated at 295 horsepower, or a 455 that produced a whopping 380 horses. Anyone who owned one of these could rightfully be considered the king of the road.