Top-Ten Best 1960s Supercars
The swinging 60s just brings up this roasted and muddy air of sex, sweat and drugs. Enough to intoxicate even the plastic hippies among us, the 1960s is rapidly becoming the most profitable segment of the classic supercar market.
And for good reason. Simple leather is mixed with gasoline until emotions boil. This list spans such greats as the Ferrari 250GT California Spider LWB Competizione to the 365 GTB/4 Daytona. And what a long, strange trip it was between those two masterpieces.
All of the cars from this era are rich in prose. Sean Connery’s name pops up repeatedly, and so does Steve McQueen and Sir Paul McCartney. These were mens’ men in a time of changing morals on a global scale.
But the coupes and ragtops these gents preferred are really fit for the ages. So throw on some Aviators and slip into your slimmest racing loafers.
Click past the jump for a sunny-Sunday donut run in the Top-Ten Best Supercars from the 1960s.
Ahh, the 1966 Miura and its 3,929 cc, V-12 engine with 350 horsepower and 262 pound-feet of torque. Even today, its delicate shapes can stop your heart. At the time, it stopped the world’s automakers in their tracks. Everything had to be redone in the face of this low and mid-engined supercar.
The twin surfaces broken by a central crease point would essentially become the new Italian car manufacturing method after only previous hand-beating the full body panel pieces in alloy. Breaking each shape into at least two parts gave the Miura its second claim to fame.
A completely clean and lean nose is undisturbed by a large grille or the rounded shape of traditional glass-shrouded lights. The Miura instantly became the Steve McQueen of the car world, with everybody who was anybody having owned at least a few.
The first layout of a mid-engine for a supercar brought its own developmental teething issues - particularly in aerodynamics and the handling calibration. Finally sorted for the Miura S, the Miura was really the key springboard to the Countach and Diablo, among today’s hits.
The Miura S had a certified 170 mph top speed. Such high speeds afforded by the sleek profile were accompanied by worrying lift from the front end and very little braking strength.
This is as close as most will recall to the unforgettable Spider driven by Ferris Bueller. Cameron Fry’s dad had a good eye for classics, and this 1960 beauty is up there with anything else in the Ferrari back catalog.
In the movie Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, they ostensibly used a 250GT California SWB Spider, and not this hotted-up LWB Competizione version in a deep crimson.
A thoroughbred from the start, the 250GT California Spider had a front-mounted, 3.0-liter, V-12 engine that pumped out 296 horsepower — not too bad for the era.
Its top speed was an estimated 145 mph, due mostly to short gearing.
The Ghibli Spyder is even rarer than the gorgeous fastback coupe that inspired the Daytona Ferrari below. Only twenty copies were made, and the difference in lightness and visual beauty is miraculous, at least versus the coupe below.
In terms of specs, the base model carried a 4,719 cc, V-8 engine with 335 horsepower, and the SS model had a 4,930 cc, V-8 powerplant with 350 horsepower.
The Ghibli has a top speed of 154 mph, which was the world’s best for such a luxurious grand tourer.
4. Porsche 911
This 911S was owned by the one and only cool himself, Steve McQueen.
Carrying the delicate chrome fender trims that were a special addition for the U.S. market, this 911S also benefits from Fuchs alloys and what were then very high-tech fog lamps.
The 911S has a top speed quite a bit slower than a few other exotics, topping out at approximately 125 mph for the first-gen cars. The 911S was introduced for 1966, bringing a big jump in power from the earlier car’s 2.0-liter flat six. The engine produced 158 horsepower, which was a big leap from the initial 128 and the 356’s 90 horsepower totals.
Sprint times of about 8.5 seconds to 60 mph were brisk and entertaining in this light package.
Another big name attached to this one: Sir Paul McCartney of The Beatles bought this car just a few weeks after making it big on Johnny Carson’s Late Night - their breakout introduction to U.S. audiences.
The leather inside the original car was delicately etched and embossed with musical notes by the factory in his honor, while the DB5 also included a record player for tunes on the move.
The Aston’s power was far ahead of the Porsche above, but the car was also much heavier. A 4.0-liter, straight-six produced 282 horsepower for a sprint time of about 7.5 seconds to 60 mph before topping out at 143 mph.
The origin of small-volume car-making from Toyota, who is forever known for absolutely the opposite: mass production of an efficiency the world still tries to emulate.
The 2000GT was a first shot at a front-mid-engined GT car from Japan, completed partly in an effort to showcase what good assembly and detail standards the company had for its mainstream models.
One of the coolest details (among many) for the 2000GT is that Sean Connery was scheduled to drive it upon arrival in Japan during You Only Live Twice.
However, Mr. Connery is a very tall man above 6-feet and simply did not fit in the hard-top 2000GT.
Showing ruthless ingenuity, Toyota retrieved the car, cut the roof off seamlessly, and made a convertible version with enough headroom for Sean Connery. It does not get much more authentic 1960s than that.
The 2000GT ran a 2.0-liter and then a 2.3-liter, in-line-six that delivered 150 horsepower. Sprint pace is pretty relaxed, with an estimated 12 seconds needed to hit 60 mph. With a special set of gear ratios through the five-speed manual transmission, the 2000GT had a top speed of 135 mph.
It was also built in a three-speed automatic, which is pretty impressive when considering how few were ever made.
If the Miura launched power-operated folding lights, the Ferrari went one better with completed hidden lamps on the nose of the Daytona. Doing so seems like no big thing these days, but at the time the idea of power-operated headlight covers was absolutely fresh.
The shutters were claimed to improve high-speed potential, for which the Daytona would be much more popular than the often-unstable Miura.
The Daytona Ferrari ran a 4.4-liter, V-12 for a claimed 5.5-second sprint to 60 mph. The engine made 352 horsepower in its top trim, for a claimed top speed of 174 mph.
This one is a personal favorite of ours. It does not technically count as a 1960s creation, but does wear a title from 1963 before being painstakingly-re-imagined into this low drag shell.
The E-type 2+2 coupe and two-seat cabrio are the best known and celebrated, but this Low Drag GT is the one to have if chasing a DB5, Daytona and Miura down an empty stretch of highway with a Walther PPK on your hip.
The Eagle Low Drag GT will hit 60 mph in about 4.9 seconds and a maximum velocity of at least 161 mph. It is powered by a totally redesigned version of the original E-type’s in-line-six, but now is up to 4.7 liters of displacement and roughly 340 horsepower - 30 more than the Eagle Speedster’s 310 horsepower.
9. Shelby Cobra
The Shelby Cobra arrived as a 1963 model in the subtle and trim English styling that made its huge V-8 soundtrack even more intoxicating in a lightweight and ultra-compact vehicle.
It was a project that began Ford’s (and briefly Chevy’s) orders from the top of each company: win Le Mans at any cost.
So spectacular was the Shelby Cobra that it very easily outlived its brief period on the world’s racing circuits. With more than a dozen legal battles already on the books, the Cobra generates a strong reaction wherever it goes.
This example is a real beauty, the 427 Super Snake, really epitomizes what this stunning car meant for American sports cars in the 1960s. This Shelby Cobra makes well over 500 horsepower from its 7.0-liter V-8 engine. This same giant motor would later appear in the mid-engine GT40 below.
In the mini Cobra, such power offers an estimated 4.0-second sprint time and a maximum velocity of 165 mph. The red example from the gallery below was the original Shelby Cobra.
10. Ford GT40
So, the GT40 was not a production supercar, officially. But in the hearts and minds of millions of car guys and future engineers, the GT40 was the end-all, be-all of 1960s metal.
Produced with a 4.7-liter, 4.9-liter and eventually a 7.0-liter, Ford Racing V-8, the GT40 maintained a 135 mph average on the long LeMans track. Lack of chicanes in the Mulsanne meant top speeds approched 230 mph, it is rumored. 60 mph was handled in just first gear in approximately 4 seconds.
A gurgling V-8 spat fire inches from drivers heads for hour after hour on LeMans, beating Ferrari four years in a row in 1966, 1967, 1968 and 1969.
So shamed was the prancing horse that Ferrari eventually withdrew factory teams from endurance racing all-together by 1972. This was a big defeat for Enzo after winning Le Mans overall for six years in a row between 1960 and 1965.
So you want to be rich? Nothing means money and class like a fire-snorting vintage supercar from the 1960s. Just try not to look too thrilled in your McQueen leather jacket while you roast even modern performance cars in the Stop Lights Gran Prix.