The 1960s was an exciting time of growth, prosperity and proliferation of new technologies. It was also a big era for transportation. Pan-am jumbo jet took its first flight in the USA, changing the way people travel forever. The obsession with space flight reached its peak, with the USA landing on the moon.
Advancements didn’t stop there. The bulbous cars from the 1960s transformed to be sleeker, cleaner and faster. It was also the first decade where there were compact, full and mid-sized car options. Drag racing had a significant influence on car design and brought on a newfound war based on who could make the most horsepower. Let’s take a closer look at the top 10 coolest cars from the 1960s we wish we could drive today.
10 Renault 16
This car inspired a legacy of hatchback fans. What makes the Renault 16 so special is, it's considered to be the very first hatchback. With front-wheel drive and two-box configuration compared to the normal three, the modern hatchback was born.
Considered a symbol of practicality, it has a 1.6-liter motor with 93 horsepower and reaches a top speed of 170/km/h. Miraculously, it sold over 1 million units and didn't have any competition until the end of the century. Plus the interior allowed for 7 different variations of positions. Optimizing for driving, storage, resting and even sleeping. Cars today can't even do that.
9 Volkswagen Mini Cooper
When you think of Britain, you probably think of the Beatles and the Mini Cooper. Famous clothing designer Mary Quant even named the miniskirt after it. It was considered an economy car with a space-saving transverse engine and a front-wheel-drive layout. It was built with luggage in mind. Throughout the '60s, a number of various models were created, including the minivan, mini traveler and min pic-up.
Despite the line-up, the highest-selling and most popular continued to be the Mini. It was even voted the second most influential car of the 20th century. Most excitedly, the performance versions Mini Cooper and Mini Cooper "S" were successful as race and rally cars. More modern days, you have probably seen it in the opening sequence of the movie Italian Job, where it stole the spotlight from the Lamborghini Miura.
8 Toyota 2000GT
Back in the day, Road & Track magazine called the 1965 Toyota 2000GT “One of the most exciting and enjoyable cars we’ve ever driven” and compared it to the Porsche 911. Toyota may forever be synonymous with the old-dependable Corolla, but the limited-production sports car is the thing of motor-head dreams. Only 351 models were ever made, with 60 units shipped to North America. The 2.0-liter engine and five-speed manual gearbox, back when most cars weren't even 4-speed.
A very special edition was fitted with a 2.3-liter engine that was capable of 150mph, which won the 1966 Japanese Grand Prix and also set several FIA world records and endurance tests. You may have spotted a version on James Bond film You Only Live Twice, which were completely custom versions. The likes of which never made it into production. Mr. Bond, Daniel Craig, even voted it his favorite Bond car of all time.
7 Porsche 911
While the trend in the 1960s was lightweight roadsters and mid-engine sports cars, Porsche went in a slightly different direction. The infamous Porsche 911 was first introduced in 1963 with a rear engine and was air-cooled. Introduced as a replacement for the Porsche 356, it was faster, more powerful and more comfortable.
It came standard with a 2.0-liter engine that reached 130 horsepower. As one of the most modified cars on the market at the time, it was used in races and rallying alike and is often cited as the most successful competition car ever.
One of the most recognizable pop culture cars in history is the BatMobile. What started out as a concept car called the Lincoln Futura in 1955, was brought to life as the Batmobile in 1965.
It had turbines and huge flames coming out of the exhaust. It was one of the first cars to incorporate interesting sci-fi technologies, including the Bat-Ray Projector, Phone, and BatScope. It also had a remote control function so you could call it to you in a rush, which could be the inspiration behind Tesla's 'Summon' Feature. To the Batmobile!
5 Jeston's Car
When the Jetson's cartoon came to TV in 1962, it spurred an entirely new way to think about transportation and the classic car. Set in 2062, the sci-fi futuristic family had a robot butler, a house with the latest flat screen and video call communication and a flying jet car. In response to the family wanting to get a new car, the Jetson's mechanic said: "The way they build them today, you'd be lucky to get 2 million miles out of one."
Using advanced technology and features, the car could expand if you needed more seating, molecularize so you could park it more easily, and had a mechanism to automatically brake, instead of smashing into objects. Sure to become a classic when it finally comes to market. One day!
4 Chevrolet Impala
What is said to have started with decking out horses in a game of one-upmanship, turned into a mainstream lowriding phenomenon loved all around the world. The Chevy Impala was released in 1961 and became a fan favorite in the low rider community. With its x-shaped frame, it was possible to circumvent a law against driving a car with any part lower than the bottom half of the wheel's rims.
It was no slouch either with its 4-speed manual, 360 horsepower, and V-8 iron block and heads. Besides lowriding, it also became a huge contender in the drag racing space.
3 1968 Plymouth Road Runner
The 1960s were considered a golden time for American car manufacturing. Chevy, Ford, and Oldsmobile were the car equivalent of today's Apple, Samsung and Huawei phone wars. In 1968 Plymouth released the Road Runner into the wild, which was Plymouth's attempt at throwing its hat into the ring of muscle cars. The namesake is based on the Warner Brothers popular cartoon Road Runner. Plymouth paid $50,000 to use the name for the car and the popular "beep beep" sound for the horn.
Unlike it's larger competitions, Plymouth made their 3.5-Liter V-8 engine a standard, which pumped out 335 horsepower. Rather than lower-end models, they offered more higher-end models, including a 7.0-liter Hemi. No wonder they purchased the rights for the name.
2 1967 Chevy Camaro
The first-generation Chevy Camaro was released in 1966 and was considered a direct response to Ford's popular Mustang, which was the muscle car to beat. Camaro went with three engine options ranging from a 140 horsepower model to a V-8 engine pumping out 295 horsepower.
The top-end model was designed to compete in the Trans-Am Series, an automobile racing series held in North America. Chevy only offered the Camaro for sale as they were required to have a road-legal version of the car available for the public to in order to join the race. Well played Camaro!
1 Ford Mustang
Mustang was one of the first cars to be labeled as a muscle car. It spurred a generation of competitors in the 'Pony Car' class of American cars. Designer John Najjar modeled the original Mustang off of a P-51 Mustang fighter jet. This is where the namesake is said to be from. The very first Mustang was produced in 1964. The popular GA 390 version of 1967 had a V-8 engine and hit 335 horsepower.
It’s one of the only cars to remain in uninterrupted production for over five decades. Ford has produced over 10 million Mustangs. For collector enthusiasts with big pockets, the original Mustang came in a wide selection of 17 colors, including Vintage Burgundy, Poppy Red, Arcadian Blue, and Tropical Turquoise.