When asked to name the greatest decade in automotive history, many gearheads will say the 1960s, and it’s hard to argue with them. This wonderful decade will always be remembered for giving us some of the most beautiful car designs of all time, the first muscle cars, and better performance than had ever been seen before. This was also the period before the emission restrictions of the ’70s, which means automakers could make their cars as fast and powerful as possible without getting into trouble.
Trying to choose just ten sports cars to represent the wonderful ’60s decade can be a daunting task. However, these 10 icons were clearly a class above the rest.
10 1963 Chevrolet Corvette Sting Ray
In 1963, Chevy unveiled the second-generation Corvette and left everyone thoroughly impressed. The 1963 Corvette was an instant hit, thanks largely to its gorgeous design featuring a new body, a shark-like front end with hidden headlights, razor-sharp fender flares, and iconic split-window rear end. It’s still considered to be one of the most beautiful American cars ever.
The 1963 Corvette wasn’t just beautiful; it had the power to match. With an available fuel-injected, 360-hp V8 engine under the hood, the 1963 Corvette was no slouch.
9 Jaguar E Type
To many gearheads, the Italians make the most beautiful sports cars. However, the most beautiful sports car of all time isn’t even Italian, as it was built by Jaguar. Dubbed the E-Type, this car was so gorgeous that Enzo Ferrari himself said it was the most beautiful car he had ever seen.
Jaguar also wanted the E-Type to be fast, so they equipped it with a proper engine. Early models had a 265-hp inline-six engine, while later models had a massive V12.
8th Toyota 2000GT
Toyota is the largest car manufacturer in the world, but it’s mostly known for building affordable, reliable, everyday cars, not supercars. However, with the demand for sports cars exploding in the ’60s, Toyota decided to have a crack at making one of their own, resulting in the fantastic 2000GT.
From a looks perspective, Toyota hit the nail on the head. The 2000GT is a thing of beauty. Sadly, it wasn’t as powerful as many would have wanted, as it only had a 148-hp engine. However, that hasn’t stopped collectors from paying over $1 million whenever one of the rare examples goes on sale.
7 Ferrari 250 GTO
When asked to name the greatest Ferrari model of all time, most gearheads would say the 250 GTO, and it’s hard to argue with them. This fantastic supercar had everything – it had a beautiful design, a race-proven V12 under the hood generating 296 hp, and a reputation as one of the greatest race cars ever.
The 250 GTO is also extremely rare, as only 36 examples were ever built. With that said, it’s no surprise that the 250 GTO is currently the most expensive vehicle ever sold at an auction.
6 Ford GT40
In the early ’60s, Henry Ford tried to buy Ferrari. Enzo Ferrari agreed to sell at first, but later pulled out of the deal as he didn’t want Ford to handle Ferrari’s racing program. Unsurprisingly, Ford wasn’t happy and vowed to build a race car that would destroy Ferrari at Le Mans. The result was the GT40.
The GT40 project worked like a charm, as Ford famously ended Ferrari’s winning streak at the 1966 Le Mans.
5 Shelby Cobra
The story of the Shelby Cobra is a perfect example of the good things that can happen when Brits and Americans collaborate on a project. The Cobra’s story started when American automotive designer and retired racecar driver Carroll Shelby asked British automaker AC to build him a car that could accept an American V8 engine. Coincidentally, AC was in need of a new engine, so they agreed.
Shelby first went to Chevrolet, but they said no, as they didn’t want to help build a Corvette competitor. However, Ford needed a new car to compete with the Corvette, so they gave Shelby the then-new 260 ci (4.3-liter) V8. That’s how the iconic Shelby Cobra was born.
4 Porsche 911
The Porsche 911 needs no introduction, as it’s one of the greatest German sports cars ever made. Since its introduction in the mid-60s, the 911 has been incredibly popular thanks to its instantly recognizable design, powerful engine, advanced engineering, and fantastic driving feel. It’s no surprise that the 911 has been in continuous production since.
Interestingly, the 911 wasn’t even supposed to be named that way, as it was initially known as the 901. However, Peugeot had a patent on car names with a “0” in the middle, so Porsche changed it to 911.
3 Aston Martin DB5
James Bond is known for driving some of the greatest British cars. However, one stands out from the pack, and that’s the Aston Martin DB5. The DB5 is widely considered to be one of the greatest movie cars, as it was featured in Sean Connery’s gold fingers.
The production DB5 didn’t have the missile launchers, retractable machine guns, smoke screens, and other gadgets in the movie car, but it was still a joy to drive. That’s because it had an all-aluminum straight-six engine generating 282 hp.
2 Lamborghini Miura
In 1963, Ferruccio Lamborghini founded Lamborghini with one goal in mind – to produce the best sports cars. Three years later, Lamborghini showed it meant business when it unveiled its first-ever supercar at the Geneva Auto Show – the Miura.
The Miura stole every gearhead’s heart with its gorgeous design and exciting two-seat, mid-engine layout. The Miura also had lots of power to play with, thanks to a massive V12 engine producing 350 hp.
1 Datsun 240Z
Although Nissan-owned Datsun no longer builds cars these days, it will always be remembered for starting one of the greatest sports car series ever – the Z car. The first car in the series was the 240Z.
Developed as Nissan/Datsun’s response to the Toyota 2000GT, the Datsun 240Z was an instant hit thanks to its striking looks, peppy 151-hp six-cylinder engine, and affordability compared to European sports cars.