: The 1960's were a peak of American automotive design.



I~LUV~Caddys8792
08-14-10, 09:59 AM
While working yesterday, I stopped by an account on the east side of Rochester, it's a real small shop, owned and ran by a retired 30 year Corvette specialist at the local Chevrolet/Cadillac/Subaru dealership. When I walked into his shop, I saw he was working on the most beautiful '66 Corvette Convertible I've seen in a while. It was that beautiful, bright, Rally Red with the black hood stripe and black vinyl interior.

While he was working on it, I was examining the car, looking at it from all angles and checking out all the details in it's design. It only furthered my belief that the '60s were a high point in American automotive design. The way the fenders and bumpers curved and flowed so nicely and it's not something you'll see nowadays. It definitely has a warm "designed by humans to look sexy" look to it, not the modern day "designed by humans and computers to look nice, be aerodynamic, safe, fuel efficent and stable". Car design as a whole was much more unrestrained "function follows form" back then, but now they've gotta meet all sorts of regulations and rules to abide by, so the design in it's self takes a backseat.

Anyways, there were so many beautiful cars designed in the 1960s, that saw designs that were unparalleled in later decades...

1961-64 Lincoln Continental (later versions got bigger, fatter & less stylistically pure)
1963-65 Buick Riviera (Arguably the best looking Buick of all time)
1966-67 Buick Riviera (The '66 Riviera is my favorite Buick of all time)
1966 Oldsmobile Toronado (arguably the best looking Oldsmobile of all time)
1967-68 Cadillac Eldorado (they looked great until '70, but the 67-68's were best with their hideaway headlights)
1963-67 Corvette Sting Ray (what hasn't been said about these?)
1968-72 Corvette Sting Ray (I love how muscular, long lean and low these are)
1968-70 Dodge Charger (best looking Mopar & muscle car of all time?)
1962-64 Pontiac Grand Prix
1969-70 Mustang


There are so many more others as well. What do you think?

93DevilleUSMC
08-14-10, 11:16 AM
1964 1/2-1968 Ford Mustang. The first of the ponycars, and quite possibly the last to emphasize simplicity of design. Most pony cars over the following decades look embellished in comparison.

1967-1968 Chevrolet Camaro. Clean, simple, rugged lines here, with a curve from the c-pillar to the rear fenders that looks like a Coke bottle or a gorgeous woman's hip.

1969 Chevrolet Camaro. Essentially the same design as above, but with a slightly more pointed front end and more emphasized "coke bottle".

gdwriter
08-14-10, 02:43 PM
I heartily agree, especially in the case of GM with Bill Mitchell in charge. In a commercial highlighting the Car of the Year award for the '68 GTO, there's a line that went "Seems like everything those Pontiac engineers turns to great." Substitute GM designers, and it would be just as accurate. Agree with all of the cars mentioned before, and will add:

1961-69 Chevrolet Impala, my favorites of which are of course 1964, but also '62, '65 and '69
1964-69 Pontiac Bonneville, especially a '65 four-door hardtop
1964-69 Pontiac GTO
1969 Pontiac Grand Prix
1967-69 Pontiac Firebird
1967-69 Oldsmobile Cutlass and 442
1965 Buick Electra 225
1967-69 Mercury Cougar
1960, 1963-65 and 1969 Chrysler 300
1965-69 Chevrolet Corvair
1961-66 Ford Thunderbird
1961-69 Cadillac DeVille and Fleetwood, especially a '64 Sedan de Ville or Fleetwood, but I also love the '69 DeVille convertible with was sadly driven into San Francisco Bay at the end of the car chase in What's Up, Doc?

http://www.imcdb.org/images/000/649.jpg

As you can see, I clearly have a GM bias. Chrysler had some standouts, but they also had some hideous creations like the '62 full-size Dodge and Plymouth. And with the exception of the Connie, Mustangs, Cougars and some Thunderbirds, I always thought a lot of Fords were frumpy. Maybe it's just because I'm an Impala fan, but I always thought the bread-and-butter Galaxie 500s and LTDs — with the exception of 1968 — were boxy, bland and had fussy detailing compared to the sleek Impalas.

orconn
08-14-10, 03:33 PM
I agree that the sixties were the high point for American car design. There were some really classic designs in the seventies, like the Seville and Camaro and Firebird, but nothing like the numerous great designs of the sixties.

The sixties were also the high point for Italian design. The beautiful Berlinettas from Ferrari, the Miura and Espada from Lamborghini, the Maserati Ghibli were all high points of auto design. The Italians lost something when they became addicted to the "exoticar" look of the Countach and other mid-engined toy cars. When the true GT cars took a back seat to the cars suitable only for recreational driving the Italians, despite designing a few nice sedans and coupes, really lost their relevance to the real car world.

hueterm
08-14-10, 03:56 PM
There is a '68 baby blue CDV convertible that some young guy drives around here all the time. It's got to be his DD, as you see it all the time. Really looks awesome -- Gary's photo on that '69 made me think of it.

I'm especially fond of very late '60s/early '70s before the smog era. Pretty much any premium GM car is incredible from that time frame. Early '60s don't do as much for me -- but I prefer those to the '50s -- where except for the '59 Deville and '57 Eldo Brougham, I'm not too interested.

I like T-Birds and Mark III/IV as well, from that era -- but I'm also partial to GM.

gdwriter
08-14-10, 06:38 PM
I agree that the sixties were the high point for American car design. There were some really classic designs in the seventies, like the Seville and Camaro and Firebird, but nothing like the numerous great designs of the sixties.

The sixties were also the high point for Italian design. The beautiful Berlinettas from Ferrari, the Miura and Espada from Lamborghini, the Maserati Ghibli were all high points of auto design. The Italians lost something when they became addicted to the "exoticar" look of the Countach and other mid-engined toy cars. When the true GT cars took a back seat to the cars suitable only for recreational driving the Italians, despite designing a few nice sedans and coupes, really lost their relevance to the real car world.I agree on the second-generation Camaro and Firebird and the original Seville. I especially like the early Camaro RS with the split bumper. I don't remember who it was, but somebody once said the second-generation Camaro looked like it had been designed by an Italian on a good day.

I don't have Orconn's knowledge of Italian cars of the era, but on the subject of Europeans, I've always liked the 1963-71 Mercedes SL W113, especially with the Pagoda top. It looks so light and delicate, very much unlike today's M-Bs. And then there's the Jaguar E-Type, which is probably the sexiest car ever made. And having done an inspection of a '67 convertible in the proper British Racing Green, I can say with confidence that it is as much a thrill to drive as it is to look at.

orconn
08-14-10, 07:49 PM
Tne second generation Camaro/Firebirds were a direct take off of the Italian "Berlinetta" style coupes of the 1960's. The mid-sixties Mercedes models were also a good looking group with the SL and 280SE Cabrilet/coupe being real classics. Even good old Citroen, which could always be counted on for weird designs, produced the SM and the CX. And ofcourse the Jaguar XJ6 came out in 1969 and was proclaimed the "Best Car in the World" for a few years!

Granted the in the '70's designers had to cope with new headlight height and bumper height and crash resilience regs and a great deal of money had to go into making the cars comply with smog laws and new gas mileage objectives, but I think only GM can be said to have come up with cars that not only complied with new regulations but set new standards of handling, if not straight line performance.

bjv
08-14-10, 09:21 PM
I owned one of those 1966 Corvette convertibles! Mine was red, with red interior and black top. It didn't have a stripe on the hood, it was the 1967's that had the hood scoop and sometimes black paint. 1965 and 1966 had a bulge over the air cleaner with a chrome grille on each side. I should add that the big block motor cars of those 3 years are the ones with the hood scoops/bulges.

My father was not a real sports car fan but his brother was. We bought the car in 1970 and at that time it wasn't in real high demand. My Father's shop bought batteries from XCel, a truck came by once a week to restock our little inventory. One day the driver mentioned to my dad that his daughter was getting married and wanted to sell her 1966 Corvette, so we drove to Dallas the next weekend and picked it up. This was my first stick shift so I drove it around a little bit Sunday night to get used to it, but my dad insisted that I leave it home Monday for him to drive, rather than letting me drive it to school. I only found out much later that he drove it to my uncle's office to show it off.

I drove the car a little over 2 years, through the end of high school and into college. My dad ended up buying me a newer Corvette (1972) that he bought crashed and rebuilt in his body shop. The 1966 was basically a motor and chassis, it had no A/C, and you couldn't hear the radio. The 1972 was also a 4-speed, only a 350, but it had an A/C and a good radio, and it was almost new, so I traded. Actually when my dad first called to tell me about it I asked him what if I wanted to keep my car and he told me that it was already sold. Well he had sold the 1966 to his brother. I liked the 1972 but I've thought many times how awesome it would be to still have the 1966 now.

I grew up in the musclecar era and there were a lot of awesome cars back then. However I think right now we are in another era of great automotive design, despite all of the pickups, SUV's and look-alike foreign cars. I've watched car programs on TV and attended car shows for quite awhile, thinking all the time how neat it would be to have bought some of the more awesome musclecars back then and kept them until today. Well recently I realized that we have a chance NOW to buy some very awesome musclecars. It started with Charger, then Pontiac G8 GT and GXP came up, and the new versions of Challenger and Camaro, and of course Mustang has been here for awhile but the 2010 version is one of the best yet. I decided that the Pontiac G8 GXP was what I wanted and needed, and I better figure out how to grab one while I still could. I wanted a 4-door sedan, the G8 looked goo and with an LS engine and 6-speed, what could be better. Well, until Pontiac pulled the plug on them. I decided I might not want to buy one with manufacturer support gone. I looked for alternatives- the Charger didn't have a 6-speed, that didn't leave much. I thought I might have to get a Mustang and I'm not quite a Mustang guy. My wife thought she would like to see me driving a Cadillac and then I realized that I had overlooked the CTS-V. It had everything I was looking for, so I searched until I found the right one and bought it! (2007 model).

77CDV
08-14-10, 10:48 PM
Each decade's cars reflect the design aesthetic and priorities of the society that created them. The 1930s and 1940s were all about Art Deco, streamling, bright chrome and highly polished wood vaneers. The 1950s featured bright colors and voluptuous, curvy, increasingly jet and rocket inspired designs, lots more chrome, and almost no wood. The 1960s were more tailored, less chrome but more shiny wood vaneers again. It's no coincidence that car ads of the period showed the cars with models (usually female) who were dressed in the latest fashions and were pictured at the most fashionable places to see and be seen. The cars were an extention of the fashions and the whole lifestyle to which they refered. A Cadillac wasn't just a luxury car, it was very much a fashion accessory!

The advent of government regulations, along with a fracturing of society, produced cars which had equally confused and stifled design. Cars today once again reflect people's overwhelming desire for a trouble-free appliance that serves as little more than an extension for whatever miniaturized electronic gizmo du jour has the majority's limited attention span at the moment.

Aron9000
08-15-10, 02:44 AM
I'd actually argue that the peak of American automotive design should be extended to the 1972 model year. 1973 saw the implemination of the federal goverment huge bumper regulations, and things were never quite the same.

Although the late 40's/50's models also have their charm and it could be argued the penultimate era of Detroit. Just depends on how much you like chrome and vulgarity in your automotive design. Personally I think Cadillac until 1957 had the best looking cars, along with the 55-57 Chevrolets. 57-58 were all Chrysler and Plymouth, 1959 was the year of the Cadillac.

Bro-Ham
08-15-10, 07:39 PM
One thing I miss about the 1960's era cars is the annual sheet metal redesign of every American car. By the 1970's the cars changed a little bit less but things like the grilles and taillights and interior fabrics still changed every year. By the 1980's the car makers must have figured out how expensive these changes were and pretty much made the same car year in and year out with few noticeable changes. This is when American car buyers started to abandon American cars also. It's the same today and I think when the car makers spend a dollar or two to add excitement to the new cars every year that we will see a rebirth of excitement for American cars and a whole cascade of invigorated buyers.

jayoldschool
08-18-10, 02:16 PM
I'm biased, of course, but let's not forget the 1965 Impala. IMO, the best styling of the 60s Chevys.