Continuing our journey through the decades, let’s take a look at a quintet of iconic road cars from the 1960s, when hem lines rose, flower power blossomed and some memorable automotive creations arrived.
The modern day Mini is owned and manufactured by the BMW company, but this brilliant car began its original life many years ago and as a noticeably smaller vehicle. The first Mini was designed by Sir Alec Issigonis for the British Motor Corporation as a cheap and fuel efficient city car and became a sales success in the 60s following the production of the first car in 1959. Its compact dimensions and innovative features quickly assured it a place in social as well as motoring history.
At the other end of the speed spectrum the sleek and oh so desirable Jaguar E-Type was unveiled to the public at the 1961 Geneva Motor Show. Available as a coupé or a convertible, its low lines and impressive performance for a competitive price made it an instant classic. One of the greatest memories of my youth was being taken for a test drive in a light blue hardtop version, which was the pride and joy of a family friend.
Back to more modest offerings, the Ford Cortina was introduced in 1962 and over five generations sold in vast numbers until 1982 when it was replaced by the Sierra. It was named after the Italian ski resort Cortina d’Ampezzo, the site of the 1956 Winter Olympics, and racing versions of the Mk1 achieved fame when driven on the edge by the likes of double Formula 1 world champion Jim Clark.
Aston Martin launched its famous DB5 luxury grand tourer in 1963 and achieved a major marketing coup when secret agent James Bond used it as his preferred transport in the film “Goldfinger” which was released in 1964. The car then reappeared a year later in “Thunderball” and in five subsequent 007 films.
Porsche revealed its iconic 911 sports car in 1963 when it was air-cooled and rear-engined, but the performance of the car and weight distribution made it tricky to handle and it acquired the unenviable nickname of “the widow maker”. However, the 911 has been constantly evolved with ever more sophisticated technology and far more predictable handling despite retaining its mighty performance. The 911 is still very popular 54 years after its inception and features heavily in world motorsport.
By Graham Read