Editor’s Note: One of the nicest classic cars in our state belongs to Rep. Jerry Sexton of Bean Station in Claiborne County, Tennessee. Jerry purchased it a few years ago at the estate sale of the late Senator Howard Baker. Jerry represents the 35th District for the 109th Tennessee General Assembly.
Baker spent 18 years in the U.S. Senate — the last four as majority leader. The Tennessee Republican then served as President Ronald Reagan’s chief of staff and later as U.S. ambassador to Japan.
Some of the world’s most well-designed cars came from the sixties. The bulk of today’s vehicles are boring and lack character compared to the sixties, which was a high point in regards to outstanding car designs.
The era brought many significant changes in automaking. Not only did muscle cars, economy vehicles, and pony cars make their way into the auto scene, but a number of luxury cars were developed. These models would help redefine the decade and the meaning behind owning a car.
1969 Chevrolet Camaro
The ’60 Camaro is known for not only being fast, but also being overwhelmingly powerful. Conceived by drag racer Dick Harrell, it was made specifically for drag racing. Plus, it came with a 427 cu in a big-block V8 engine called the ZL1.
1961 Lincoln Continental Convertible
The ’61 Lincoln Continental Convertible featured its trademark suicide doors to go with a convertible top, making it one of the most distinct cars on the market.
1963 Buick Electra 225
The Buick Electra received a major restyling in 1962. Just about the only thing that stayed the same was the company’s signature “ventiports.” Under the hood, Buick equipped the car with a 401 cubic-inch V8 that provided a major power upgrade. And with gas costing about 31 cents a gallon, no one seemed to mind the decreased MPG.
1966 Ford Thunderbird Convertible
The Thunderbird was first introduced in 1955. But to any car lover’s eye, the best they ever made is the ’66 version. The rear turn signals were incorporated with the rear lighting scheme, which all worked to compliment the car’s “low-slung styling.”
The Thunderbird was never marketed as a sporty car. Instead, the car was one of the first personal luxury cars. The car was so luxurious that the convertible was featured in the 1991 Ridley Scott film Thelma & Louise.
1968 Plymouth Roadrunner Hemi
It may have a name that’s inspired by the Looney Tunes character, but the Road Hemi is all business. The ’68 Plymouth became a popular choice for a muscle car in the late sixties since it offered customers a back-to-basics package that provided everything people wanted in a muscle car.
Plymouth put emphasis on the car’s performance, leaving all the styling intricacies behind, including the interior where “added options” became a foreign concept. On a side note, Plymouth actually paid Warner Bros. $50,000 for the rights to use the name.
1967 & 70 Chevy Chevelle
Hardcore Chevy enthusiasts typically prefer two model years of the Chevelle, 1967 and 1970 (pictured). The car got a revamped look in 1967, with its sales brochure boasting: “What you’ll see inside will probably bring on a severe compulsion to go driving.”
The year a new dual master cylinder brake system, with front disc brakes available on all models. 14″ wheels and a redesigned rear completed the look. The epitome of a muscle car, the 1967 Chevelle is the kind of car that will stop traffic with its good looks.
1969 Ford Mustang 428 Cobra Jet
In 1969, Ford introduced a new, more powerful version of the Mustang; the Mustang Cobra Jet. It’s regarded as the model that took the fight to the big-block Camaros and Firebirds of the time. With a 428-cid V8 engine, it featured larger valve heads than the standard Mustang.
The Mustang Cobra Jet was capable of reaching 410 horsepower. This figure was notable since it brought in a new wave of interest for the Ford Mustang. With the release of the 428 Cobra Jet, the tables finally turned for the company.
1965 Shelby GT350
All 1965 GT350’s were painted Wimbledon White with Guardsman Blue rocker stripes. Initially, the batter for this car was placed in the trunk. When consumers began to complain about disconcerting smells of fumes, it was moved.
There was only one transmission available, which was a four-speed Borg-Warner T10 manual. The exhaust system in the 65 GT350 was a side-exit dual exhaust with glass pack mufflers. It is rare today to find a fully equipped GT350 on the market or on the road.
1960 Ferrari 250 PF Cabriolet
With the release of the Ferarri 250 PF Cabriolet in 1960, the luxury automaker continued its mission to offer something special to consumers that they couldn’t buy from another brand.
It served as the perfect car for touring and emerged as a car for those who wanted to go on a road trip. The 250 series cars are characterized by their use of 3.0 liters with a Colombo V12 engine, designed by Gioacchino Colombo. When the car was discontinued, the 275 and 330 series replaced it.
1965 GT K-code Fastback
This was the car everyone would want to have in their garage. It came with a high performance engine that left other autos in the dust, so it was no surprise why people wanted this car.
Interestingly enough, Ford did a deal for buyers to remove nine months off the warranty. The company must have known that whoever got behind the wheel of this car was going to drive fast and hard for good measure. On the Mustang order form, the K-code was a $276 option package.
1967 Chevrolet Camaro Z/28
The first pony car in GM’s stock was introduced in 1966. Almost as fast as it became a hit, GM was offered to qualify the Camaro for the sports car Club of America’s TransAm racing series.
1967 Shelby Cobra 427 Super Snake
Despite its sports-looks, the Super Snake had the pulse of American muscle coursing through its veins. Essentially, it was a race that was modified to be driven on the street as it holds acclaim as the most popular cars Cobra has ever made.
Not only was it powered by the V8 Shelby engine, but it has a pair of Paxton superchargers to the mix, doubling its output from 427 to 800 horsepower. It shouldn’t be surprising that this is the most powerful Shelby to ever but built, as it has the title of being one of the rarest American muscle cars ever.
1971 AMC Javelin
Javelins were one of the more unusual muscle cars. There were two generations of the Javelin. On was introduced in 1968, while the other replaced it in 1971.
The biggest engine option was the 390 cu inch, 6.4 liter with four-speed manual transmission. This made the 315 horsepower go from zero to 60 miles per hour at 6.6 seconds, and reach at a top speed of 122 miles per hours. The total production for the 1968 AMC was a healthy 6725 cars.
1968 BMW 2002
The BMW 2002 laid the company’s groundwork as a builder of compact sporting sedans. It paved the way for the contemporary BMW 3 and 4 Series cars. To this very day, anytime BMW offers a new small two-door coupe, it resurrects the memory of the 2002 vehicle.
Since the car was introduced in 1962, it wasn’t until 1966 that BMW finally applied the formula to a two-door coupe, with the result being the two-door sedan becoming the basis of the sporting 02 Series.
1963 Chevrolet Corvette Sting Ray Coupe
The ’63 Sting Ray was the first production Corvette coupe ever offered. The split rear window ensures its instant icon status as it marked the first time hideaway headlights were applied to the Corvette.
The Sting Ray, with its acceleration horsepower, acted like a lighter version of a Corvette. Over 20,000 unites were built for the 1963, which doubled how many were produced for the year prior. The second generation of the Chevy Corvette sports car was produced for the 1963-1967 model years.
1960 Chrysler 300F Convertible
The ’60 300F was perhaps the most dynamic iteration of Chrysler’s “Letter Series.” As the first of the 300 models to use unibody construction, it was both lighter and more rigid than its predecessors. Additionally, the car also featured a four-place seating with a full-length center console, which contained the switches for the power window.
What’s more interesting is that the front seats swiveled outwards when the doors were opened to make it easier to get in and out.
1969 Dodge Charger Daytona
The ’69 Dodge was the first car to break the 200MPH mark in NASCAR history. Thanks to its popularity, the car was available to be sold to the public, but it was only produced for a year.
The reason is because of its successor, the 1970 Plymouth Superbird, was even more notorious. In reality, the Superbird was just Daytona Charger in a not so clever disguise. The cars were so fast that NASCAR eventually banned them from competition.
1961 Jaguar E-Type
Enzo Ferrari proclaimed this to be the most beautiful car ever made. This car is so special, that it’s one of only six vehicle models on display at the New York City Museum of Modern Art.
Production on this particular car lasted as long as 14 years, a span which lasted from 1961-1975. When the car was first introduced, the E-Type Jaguar was powered by a 268 horsepower 3.8-liter with a six-cylinder engine. That gave the car a top speed of 150 miles per hour.
1967 Lamborghini Miura
Historians will agree that the car that put Lambo on the map was the ’67 Miura. The world’s first mid-engine exotic sports car was also the first Lambo to feature the fighting bull logo.
Built by Lambo engineers in their free time, the Miura was first shown to the world at the 1966 Geneva Auto Show. It was given a powerful 3.9 liter, 350-horsepower V12 engine. Although impressive, the car had a short run, and was only manufactured between 1966 and 1973.
1962 Morris Garages (MG) MGB
The MG was released in 1962 as the follow up model to the MGA. It was light, fast, and, and affordable, making it very desirable at the time. Although seemingly under powered being rated at 95-horsepower, the 1.8-liter, four cylinder engine provided plenty of torque.
The four-speed manual transmission came with an optical electric overdrive feeding the rear wheels. This is easily one of the most popular sports cars ever made, and it’s no surprise why the MGB is a certified icon to this day.
1963 Porsche 911
In 1963, Porsche gave the world its first look at what would become one of the most successful sports cars of all-time. Today, the 911 have evolved through seven different model generations and remains as popular as ever.
Porsche worked to improve some aspects of the car every year, altering it only to improve the performance of the model. The overall mechanical layout of the Porsche 911 is essentially the same as it was in the first Type 911 introduced in 1963. Additionally, the profile of today’s car mimics the original to near perfection.
1969 Triumph TR6
The ’69 Triumph is seen as more of a success globally than it was in its home country. Only a small fraction of its total sales came from the United Kingdom, while the rest came from across the globe.
The power of the vehicle came from a 2.5-liter six-cylinder engine producing 104 horsepower in the United States. The English market versions of the car provided 150 horsepower. A four-speed all-synchronous manual transmission feeds the engine’s output to the rear wheels.
1961 Chrysler 300G Coupe
As the decade turned, so did the look of the Chrysler 300G Coupe. Its grille become wider at the top, and the headlights were angled inward at the bottom. The fins got sharper and the rear lights were moved to be under them.
From a mechanics standpoint, the cross-ram “short ram” and “long ram” engines remained the same, although, the expensive French manual transmission was dropped, replaced by a more expensive Chrysler racing manual transmission.
1963 Studebaker Avanti
When it was released, the Studebaker Corporation sold their Avanti as “America’s only four passenger high-performance personal car.” The best part of the car was how it combined performance with safety. At the Bonnesville Salt Flats, it broke 29 records.
Unfortunately, Studebaker had a problem delivering quality versions of the car to showroom floors. By December of 1963, the the car was discontinued and Studebaker closed its factory doors a few years. By the time they returned, other automakers made the market impossible to get back into.
1964 Aston Martin DB5 Vantage Coupe
One of the most popular James Bond cars ever made, the 1964 DB5 Vantage Coupe is also one of our favorites on this list. Released in 1963, it was a beautiful reimagining of the DB4 Series 5.
The car’s first spy mission came in Goldfinger. The movie studio, along with the automaker, put two cars on display at the New York World’s Fair to help promote the film. The tactic worked, and the movie went on to become one of the highest-grossing films in the franchise.
1966 Oldsmobile Toronado
The personal luxury car was manufactured from 1966 to 1992 over four generations. To fit into the tight space, Oldsmobile adopted torsion bars for the front suspension. As with many coupes, the Toronado featured elongated doors to allow easier access for passengers entering the rear seats.
The Toronado sold reasonably well at introduction, with 40,963 produced for 1966. Some television commercials featured former NASA Project Mercury public affairs officer John “Shorty” Powers, Oldsmobile’s commercial spokesperson of the era.}
1963 Buick Riviera
The 63 model has a distinctive body shell that’s unique to the marque, unusual for a GM product. The Riviera was introduced on October 4, 1962, as a 1963 model. It has the standard Buick V8 engines with a unique variable design twin turbine automatic transmission.
The suspension used Buick’s standard design, with double wishbones up front and a live axle located by trailing arms. The crisply styled, ground-up design that debuted in 1963 was Buick’s first unique Riveria model.
1962 Cadillac Coupe De Ville
In the 1960s, no luxury car was more popular in the United States than Cadillac, and the Coupe De Ville was the cream of the crop. It was a neon sign that signaled that an executive or businessman had arrived at a particular station in life.
Most of the major convenience options that we’re familiar with today were available in the De Ville. This included radio, dimming headlights, air conditioning, and power seats. It truly was a vehicle ahead of its time.
1964 Pontiac GTO
The 1964 Pontiac GTO helped make muscle cars relevant. Originally sold as an option package for the Tempest, the GTO became its very own model in a few years. The top of the line GTO was rated at 360-horsepower with 438 ft-lbs of torque.
In 1968, the GTO won the Motor Trend Car o the Year award. Sadly, it couldn’t maintain popularity into the 1970s and was discontinued. The company briefly revived it in 2004, making it capable of going nearly 200 miles per hour.
1965 Chevrolet Impala
The 1965 Chevrolet Impala was completely redesigned in 1965, leading to sales breaking records of more than 1 million units in the United States. The vehicle sported rounded sides and a sharper-angled windshield. There were options in regard to transmissions with a two-range Powerglide, Synchro-Mesh 3- and 4-speed manual transmissions were available as well.
The engines also available were the inline six-cylinder and both the small-block and big-block V8s. Those who opted for the automatic transmission also had the option of the new three-range Turbo Hydra-Matic for the new Mark IV big-block engine.
1966 Buick Wildcat
From 1963 to 1970, the Buick Wildcat was no longer part of the Invicta subseries and became a series of its own. In 1966, Buick released a one-year-only Wildcat Gran Sport Performance Group package which could be ordered by selecting the “A8/Y48” option.
There were also two engines available, the with the 425 CID/340 hp V8 being the most basic engine although buyers could upgrade to a 360 hp (268 kW) dual-carb set-up for a higher price. Of the 1,244 Wildcat GSs built during that year only 242 of them were convertible with the rest being hardtops.
1969 Yenko Super Camaro
The Yenko Super Camaro was a modified Camaro that was developed by racer and dealership owner Don Yenko. When the original Camaro was first released, it was restricted from having an engine bigger than 400 in³ (6.6 L) V8, which put it behind many of its competitors.
So, they constructed the Yenko Super Camaro and found ways around the GM engine limit. The 1969 model had L72 engines installed with buyers having the option of either the M-21 four speed or the Turbo Hydramatic 400 automatic transmission. 201 of the 1969 models were sold that year with the majority of them being four speed transmissions.
1964 Chevrolet Bel Air
The Bel Air was a a vehicle produced by Chevrolet that were made between 1950 and 1981. Over the years, the car changed drastically, although very few changes were made to the 1964 model in the car’s fifth generation.
The car was 209.9 inches in length with two different 327 CID engines being offered. However, there were some renovations made to the sheet metal and the trim, adding a chrome belt line and an exterior difference that could be added for an extra $100.
1967 Oldsmobile 442
The Oldsmobile 442 is a muscle car made by Oldsmobile that was produced between 1964 and 1980. Although originally an option package, the car became its own model from 1968 to 1971. The name 442 comes from the original car’s four-barrel carburetor, four-speed manual transmission, and dual exhausts.
For the 1968 model, the car had a top speed of 115 MPH with all standard 1968 442 engines painted bronze-copper and topped with a red air cleaner. 1968 was also the last year for the car having vent windows on both hardtops and convertibles.
1966 Toyota 2000GT
The Toyota 2000GT is a front-engine, limited edition, two-seat, hardtop designed by Toyota and a collaboration with Yamaha. The car was first revealed to the public in 1965 at the Toyota Motor Show and were manufactured in 1967 and 1970. The car changed the way that the world saw Japan’s automotive industry which was originally looked down upon.
The 2000GT proved that Japan could produce sports cars on par with those in Europe and was even compared to the Porsche 911. During the years of production, only slight changes were made to the original model.
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