The 1960s were a wild and tumultuous time, not only for the United States but for the whole world. Culture, fashion, art, technology, and almost every other facet of life were altered in some way in this decade. The Civil Rights Movement, the Summer of Love, Woodstock, and the Moon Landing created a drastic alteration that changed society. However, a key defining aspect of the 1960s was the cars.
The culture of the 60s greatly affected the cars, they became more curvy and flamboyant and kicked off the muscle car revolution. Consumers finally got the chance to drive fast and in style. Here are some of the most classic cars that we wish we could still drive today.
By the 1960s, Jeep had successfully transformed itself from a contractor for the United States Army to a consumer car company in their own right. Finding there to be a new surge of competition in the off-road vehicle market, Jeep introduced the Jeepster Commando, and it quickly became one of their most classic makes.
Although the Commando is a classic, it is also a very strange vehicle for Jeep, being half normal Jeep and half pick-up truck. Jeep was trying to out-do their competition, creating the perfect off-road/work vehicle, and the odd design only drew more toward the strange contraption. These truck/SUV hybrids have mostly been grabbed by collectors, so finding one in good condition is quite an endeavor.
Nothing quite says 60s muscle car like the classic Ford Mustang. Beginning production in the mid-1960s, the Mustang has built a reputation as the quintessential muscle car, with production being constant to this day. However, something must be said of the beauty and pure badass nature of the original Mustang. Its shape was mean and imposing, with a twist of 60s futurism.
These cars have become such classics that they retain a loyal fan base, with many modding their 'Stangs into the 21st century. Being in such high demand and holding such cultural significance, it is no surprise these cars are hard to find.
In the 1960s, the United Kingdom released a slew of slimmed down, sleek cars, which sharply contrasted America's bulky output. Out of this British invasion, one car became firmly lodged into popular culture as a symbol of cool and suave, mostly because of its secret agent driver. Yes, James Bond –– in the legendary film Goldfinger –– drove an Aston Martin DB5, imbuing the automobile with all of Sean Connery's cool, thus making it a must-have for Bond and cinematic car enthusiasts the world over.
To many people, the DB5 will always be that car: the car so out of reach that it's basically impossible not to always be thinking about.
Few car companies were able to rival the legendary output of Jaguar's 1960s run. During this period, Jaguar came out with classic after classic, making some of the most iconic cars to ever be built. The crown jewel of this period has to be the E-Type. The E-Type was Jaguar's prominent sportscar at the time, hiding immense power and speed inside its slim frame. However, the looks are what drew most people to this car.
The E-Type is smooth, elegant, and bar none one of the most beautiful cars ever put to production. Collectors have bought up most E-Type, giving the car an even grander sense of awe and importance. Even the British Royal Family has a soft spot for this sporty little beast.
The name Lamborghini holds a certain place in the hearts’ of car enthusiasts and collectors the world over. The Italian brand has made its name creating cars of envy: beautiful, sexy, fast, expensive and extremely rare cars. The Miura is one of Lamborghini's finest cars, setting the standard for road-legal cars, and being the fastest production car upon release. Although there are kits and restoration projects, finding a quality Miura is like finding the holy grail.
This is not that surprising, for, in its seven-year (1966-1973) production window, only 764 Miuras were ever made. Even to collectors, the Miura is one of the hardest to attain sportscars, yet its iconic look, history, legacy, and speed keeps everyone constantly looking.
It must be noted that purchasing an authentic, working 1960s Volkswagen Beetle isn't that far off from a low-end consumer car, hovering below $20,000. While the Beetle may not be as elusive as most of the cars on this list, it must be included for its legendary status in American culture. Most of the Beetle's legend stems from its place in the past, but this car has an extremely loyal fanbase.
The Beetle will always be tied to the Summer of Love and the Hippy Movement as an affordable car for students and musicians. Not only this but the film The Love Bug, with its white VW Beetle, made the little car an ever-present part of pop culture.
Beginning production in 1964, Chevrolet's Chevelle is the epitome of the mid-century American muscle car: big, loud, mean, and very fast. When the Chevelle appeared on showroom floors across the nation, no one had quite seen a car like it. The Chevelle is huge and boxy, but the curved back end and long hood make it even look fast. This design principle has been implemented by most sports car manufacturers since, influencing the shape of high-performance automobiles to this day.
It’s now-iconic look has made the Chevelle quite the collector's car, with good condition models selling for a pretty penny. But, who can blame them? Who wouldn't want their very own piece of American automotive history?
Ferrari is a name that sends chills down most car lovers’ backs. The brand is legendary for making the most lusted-after cars in history. However, few cars (even Ferraris) are as rare, stunning, and expensive as the Ferrari 250 GTO. Produced between 1962 to 1964, only 36 250 GTOs were ever made, with buyers having to be personally approved by Enzo Ferarri.
This created a perfect storm for the 250 GTO to become one of the rarest cars of all time. In 2018, 1963 250 GTO set the world record for the most expensive car to ever be sold at auction, selling for $70 million.
Of this entire list, the Plymouth Barracuda is a bit of a dark horse. Unless in the know, the Barracuda is often forgotten in the conversation of the best cars of the 1960s. This, for the moment, has left Barracudas at a slightly more reasonable price than most 1960s muscle, however, this car will only gain value with time.
The Barracuda hit roads in 1964 on the leading edge of muscle car futurism, seen in the first generation's visually distinct wraparound back glass. When Plymouth folded in 2001 after 70 years in business, it was up to fans to rebuild and restore Barracudas to their past glory, keeping the legacy of this forgotten car alive.
The Charger has been a part of the Dodge brand for more than 60 years, only going out of production twice. Even today, the Charger is one of Dodge's best-known cars, and one of their best-selling cars as well. However, today's Charger does not hold a candle to the timeless design of the original 1960s run.
The original Charger is emblematic of American design principles of the 1960s, possessing all the traits of the muscle car movement. The Charger is huge, built like a boat to sail on asphalt, with a rumbling engine and a desire to speed away. Nothing quite contains the 1960s feeling of freedom and escape like the Charger, blaring away as it flies down the highway.