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SPORTS CARS OF THE 60's

andys120andys120 Loudon NHPosts: 16,388
Cobras, Porsche 911S, A-H 300s, GT-350s, Stingrays, Elites, E-Types...the list goes on and on. This board is to discuss those great and not so great sports cars and GTs of the 60's. Tell us which ones you liked or didn't, which one's you experienced personally or wish you had, which were "real" sports cars and which were not. Those wishing to discuss racing and rally cars of the era are welcome too.
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Comments

  • The nice thing about sports cars of the 60s is that they were so different from regular cars. You left your Pontiac or Chevrolet or even Volvo and got into a real 60s sports car and it was like being in a different universe. A shocking contrast!

    Today you don't get that feeling, which is too bad. Now you can go from a sedan to the most ferocious of sports cars and the seats, dashboard, controls, engines, all feel the same as sedans. From the driver's seat, being in a Corvette or a Cavalier isn't much different (until you step on the gas, of course).
  • kinleykinley Posts: 854
    Even the factory steel hardtop wouldn't keep the rain out. It was the beautiful beast about as fast as a pregnant nun goes to confession. It was replaced by a 66 Mustang GT Cpe which is still in the garage.
  • jrosasmcjrosasmc Posts: 1,704
    They were all junk and had shoddy quality. Exceptions were the Alfa Duetto/Spider, Mercedes SL series, all Porsches, Volvo P1800s, and Karmann-Ghias.
  • andys120andys120 Loudon NHPosts: 16,388
    they were identical mechanically to Beetles. Handled no better, went no faster. You could make the same argument about the Volvo P1800, a mechanical clone of the Volvo sedan (544? I've forgotten the number).
  • And the 190SL was a very heavy car based on an ordinary 180 sedan. But at least the 190SL looked like a sports car even if it really wasn't one. More of what we call a "boulevardier".

    The Ghia was evil-handling at best.

    Porsches of course acquited themselves very well on road or track, Alfas were also very competent for their time.

    Volvo P1800--oh, what to make of it? Slow, heavy, steered like a truck, but a sturdy car and (some think) attractive enough. I'd call it more of a Swedish idea of a GT car, especially with the overdrive.

    One of the nicest sportscars of the 60s was, of course, the MGB, especially after the five main engine and 1st gear synchro trans were introduced. These cars were cheap, plentiful, pretty darn good if you gave them any care at all, and well-built although primitive by German standards.
  • andys120andys120 Loudon NHPosts: 16,388
    I got it because I thought it was prettier than an MGB but over time I've come to believe that the MGs were sturdier and tighter, I still think that the TRs are better looking. (except vs.MGB-GTs)
    Your comment about being totally different from a sedan certainly applies, primitive but fun.
  • andys120andys120 Loudon NHPosts: 16,388
    Jrosasmc, I was taken aback by your comments because, to be fair it is largely true (I can tell you from experience) that many sports cars of the '60s were poorly made, even for the times. I guess it's a case of the whole being greater than the sum of the parts. If those cars failed as automobiles, they succeeded as experiences. Most of us wouldn't have missed one for the world.
    Things have worked out so that we can enjoy the superiority of today's cars and yet lament that we've lost something along the way.
    To me and all those who enjoyed those exasperating yet characterful
    cars that's a win-win. We learned much about cars and a lot about life. That concludes today's philosophy lesson.
  • Some people have called today's cars "impersonal perfection" and that's not a bad description.
    Heavy on reliability and performance, but light on "character".

    Of course "character" can be annoying both in people and in cars.

    Some 60s sports cars were very well built. The Mercedes 280SL is a rock solid car, the Porsches are extremely well built, and the Alfas somewhere between the Brits and the Germans.

    The Corvettes were pretty sturdy, although until they got disc brakes and power steering, they were a chore to drive. Some would even challenge that those big beasts were true sportscars. I never regarded them as such, because they were too big and too overpowered. More like two seater muscle cars.
  • jrosasmcjrosasmc Posts: 1,704
    I'll take this opportunity to sincerely apologize for my comments in the earlier post. Yes, they were uncalled for, and I regret it.
  • speedshiftspeedshift Posts: 1,598
    Kinley's comment about a '63 Fiat Spider reminds me of my brother's '65(?) 1500 cabriolet. We found it in a junkyard, solid and complete but not running. We were told the previous owner had driven it there from across the Bay with a broken crank. We didn't know what it was but bought it anyway. My brother faithfully went through it, including a rebuilt engine with a reground cam, and got it back on the road. A pleasant cruiser but it didn't hold a candle to my MGB. Of course, after his 850 Spider it felt pretty plush. I remember the shifter had apparently been borrowed from a bus.
  • The 289 would definately be a sports car. The 427 (the car I LUST after), is really a race/muscle/sports car mix. Not enough were made to really call it a production car though. The interesting thing is the kit cars that are out there. The better quality ones are actually a better car than the original (performance and reliability). Hmmmmmmmmm. Maybe I'll have to build one.
  • speedshiftspeedshift Posts: 1,598
    After reading Peter Egan's story in Road & Track I think I'd go for the small block, even in a repro. I'd go with the 289/302 over the slightly heavier 351 for better balance. 250 net horsepower should be plenty in a car like that.

    Somewhere else here I told the story of my wife's experience with a 289 Cobra. She's a long way from being a gearhead and of course she's the one in the family with the Cobra story, such is life. Back in the '60s she drove her previous husband's Cobra to work one day...not knowing how to drive a stick...and with the parking brake on. She tells me it seemed to have good power.

    If anyone out there has a 289 Cobra they're not using right now, I promise I'll take off the parking brake. I'll even name my first-born son after you.
  • andys120andys120 Loudon NHPosts: 16,388
    were and still are the small block cars which had this incredible sleekness about them. It's amazing to me that almost none of the replicas are of the small block cars except for some with the FIA (Racing) bodywork.

    Worth noting-- the racing successes of the Shelby American factory racing teams were almost all achieved with 289-engined cars, roadsters and coupes.
    And lets not forget that Saturday, Feb. 2 is the 40th Anniversary of the day that Shelby's team inserted the 260 Fairlane block into what had been the AC Bristol and created the Cobra.
    Long live Carroll Shelby!
  • Shelby used the AC Ace. Essentially the same as an AC Bristol, but the "Bristol" part comes from the Bristol engine, so you take the engine out of an Ace-Bristol or AC Bristol, and it can't be a Bristol anymore.
  • andys120andys120 Loudon NHPosts: 16,388
    I'm sure you're right but its in the back of my mind somewhere that the AC Ace was a coupe.
  • Hmmm....I thought the Aceca was the coupe. Lemme check here....

    Okay, according to Mike Lawrence's A to Z of Sports Cars (great book), the Ace was the convertible, made from a knock-off of the Ferrari 166 Barchetta body. The Aceca is a fastback Ace, and the Cobra 260 is of course a 4-liter Ford V8 stuffed into an Ace by Shelby. The Mark II Shelby Cobra kept the old Ace chassis but had rack and pinion steering. The Cobra Mark III starts to change the chassis, has American design influences as well as AC people working on it, and of course offers the 289 and 427 engines.

    The Ace is a very nice car in its own right, and I personally think it is most unfortunate whenever an original Ace is made into a phony Cobra.
  • I am researching Cobra kits right now. Most of them are using small blocks (302 or 351). Some people are still using the 427, 428, and 460. But most of them freely admit the small block is much better when you hit the track.

    You can get an FAI 289 body. But the overwhelming amount of replicas have the 427 body.

    Also Carrol Shelby is trying to sue the replica makers. This is after 30+ years. For a car he no longer produces. He didn't design the thing anyway, just modified it. Ford owns the name "Cobra". And he has stated many times over the years that he didn't care if people were copying "his" car. What a jerk he has turned out to be!!!
  • On this issue, as well as his using leftover chassis to make additional cars, he has not been popular, that is true.
  • jaserbjaserb Posts: 858
    Actually, Carrol Shelby does have a company making Cobra replica kits - check them out at

    http://www.shelbyamerican.com/cobra/


    -Jason

  • andys120andys120 Loudon NHPosts: 16,388
    I guess my knowledge of AC cars is a little vague.
    Speaking of Cobras has anyone ever heard the story of the multiplying Cobra. It seems that the first true Cobra (CSX-2002?) was shown to the automotive press in a different color each time it was tested by a different magazine, they'd paint it blue for one magazine, yellow for the next and so on in an apparent effort to make it seem is if more cars had already been produced (sounds like Enron).
    I don't have a Cobra, probably never will but I do have the original Road & Track and Mechanics Illustrated (Tom McCahill) road tests and the original factory sales brochure (with Shelby's secty on the cover). "Buy it or watch it go by".
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