SPORTS CARS OF THE 60's

2456789

Comments

  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    I dunno...the 280SL is kind of a girlie car (you don't see many guys driving them). Solid as a rock, and they can perform if you really stuff your foot into them and if you have a 280. Also the standard shifter is no great shakes to use.

    On the serious downside, they are wound up so tight at 70 mph it is really annoying to drive them. The axle ratio must be like 4:56 or something.

    Fitting a 5-speed from a European model would be a great idea for this car.

    The P1800 is another rock solid sporty car from the 60s, and with fuel injection and some good IPD performance components they can move out nicely. Bone stock they are kind of a slug, with heavy steering.

    Major downside on this car is the seating position. Next time you see one go by, look at the driver and you tell me if he doesn't look like a groundhog popping his head up from his hole.
  • jrosasmcjrosasmc Member Posts: 1,711
    I saw Irv Gordon (million mile man) drive by in my town with his P1800. I only saw his head, nothing else. He was sitting super-low.
  • andys120andys120 Member Posts: 23,340
    Girlie car?, that hurt! I don't recall ever seeing a majority of these cars driven by women,
    350/450/500 SLs absolutely, but not the 230/250/280SLs, not then and certainly not now when the majority of owners are middle aged professional MEN.
    To me the earlier cars were very strong looking with their wide track and squared corners. I am aware that they are not sports cars the way 911s or Lotus Elans are sports cars, more like a, ahem,
    gentlemen's express.
    The 350/450/560SLs are certainly favored by the ladies. I don't think I know a single female that doesn't like those, I'm relatively unimpressed.

    2001 BMW 330ci/E46, 2008 BMW 335i conv/E93

  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    Well, no pain intended. Maybe it's my geographical location. I have never seen a guy driving one.

    If you sit in a 280SL, it really has some femininetouches. Very dainty gearshift, that big but oh so dainty Martha Stewart steering wheel. Little tiny heat and air levers, that pagoda roof letting the sun in. It's so romantic, isn't it?

    I always feel when I'm driving one that I'm for sure going to break something.

    Of course, one could argue that the neck-snapping automatic is a man's trans, that's for sure...LOL!
  • ghuletghulet Member Posts: 2,564
    I do know a gay guy (rather effeminate, even as gay guys go) who owns a 250SL automatic, though I don't know if, or how, this adds or detracts from the argument here (-;
  • dpwestlakedpwestlake Member Posts: 207
    I haven't visited this thread in a while. I do have a comment on the Datsun Z cars. Here in the northeast they are getting pretty rare. I imagine they are more plentiful in California or the southwest where there is very little moisture and NO SALT.

    In my experience Z's tend to turn into a pile of iron oxide with an engine in the middle.

    Other than the rust problem they were great cars. The 260 and 73 240 were dogs in stock form but a few mods made them perform well. The introduction of the 280ZX pretty much took it out of the sports car category.
  • iinsiciinsic Member Posts: 9
    260/289 Ford power. Cheaper alternative to some noted above with as much or more power. Shelby lineage. Great compromise.
  • andys120andys120 Member Posts: 23,340
    because Chrysler corp bought the Rootes Group and didn't have a small V-8 suitable to replace the K-code from Ford. The Tiger was quite the little rocket but it must have had problems getting power down with a live axle on such a short, light car.

    2001 BMW 330ci/E46, 2008 BMW 335i conv/E93

  • dpwestlakedpwestlake Member Posts: 207
    A friend had one, He said it was really easy to smoke the tires. He also said that driving it on a wet road required a gentle right foot.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    They are a handful, but fun to drive if you aren't careless and dumb. Very tight cockpit, lots of engine heat, so there's room for modifications.
  • andys120andys120 Member Posts: 23,340
    The Shelby GT-350, a Mustang so extensively reworked it was sometimes capable of winning B-production races against Corvettes, Alfas and even Porsches.
    This may have been the original "segment-buster".
    Was it a Sportscar, Pony car or Sedan?
    Any other nominees?

    2001 BMW 330ci/E46, 2008 BMW 335i conv/E93

  • ghuletghulet Member Posts: 2,564
    There was a '69 Shelby GT-350 convertible at the Chicago Auto Show (it was in a funky aqua with white interior, definitely not my choice color combo). Nice car, though. I have to say I was much more fond of the '61 Chrysler 300 convertible there, though.
  • andys120andys120 Member Posts: 23,340
    not to bust your chops but to stay on topic. After '67 the GT-350 was not campaigned in any serious racing, it had ceased to be any kind of sports car, alas. Very nice looking though.

    2001 BMW 330ci/E46, 2008 BMW 335i conv/E93

  • speedshiftspeedshift Member Posts: 1,598
    I saw a '69 or '70 GT-350 convertible in Madrid in 1972. It really stood out, needless to say. They still hadn't recovered from their civil war and you were lucky to be driving a SEAT 600. I guess by that time the GT-350 had a warmed over 351W. Even less of a sportscar than the '67s but I think they look good. The '71-73 Mustang borrowed heavily from the last Shelby Mustangs but didn't look nearly as good.
  • andys120andys120 Member Posts: 23,340
    was the Austin-Healey 3000, then known as the "big Healey" to distinguish it from the little Sprite.
    It wasn't the fastest, best-handling or even best looking but there's something about them that for me captures the essence of what 60s sports cars were all about. I came lose to buying a '65 Mk. III in 1967 and I still regret that I didn't (I was afraid that NYC potholes would wreak havoc on that low-hanging exhaust system).
    The emissions and crash testing laws of 1968 doomed the 3000 and it's replacement in the '70s,the Jensen-Healey was a huge disappointment, utterly lacking the style and presence of the 3000 but not lacking the design flaws that plagued all British cars of the era.

    2001 BMW 330ci/E46, 2008 BMW 335i conv/E93

  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    Big inline sixes really epitomize, for me, a "classic" sports car. This is probably why I like BMW engines and not most V6s or V8s today. I say "most" because there is the Alfa sohc and dohc V-6 that is a sweet engine. There is a smoothness and a rev-ability to a well-done I6 that I don't think any other type of engine can capture.
  • sundaydriver3sundaydriver3 Member Posts: 8
    The Corvair, with a stick. Its a sports car. In the touring sense, the same as any BMW, or Alfa coupe, or Mercedes SL.
    While not as refined as a Mercedes, the Corvair handles great, sounds great. The flat six is smooth...no vibration. I have a late model (65) turbo. Bone stock, 265 ftlbs gross torque. Goes like scat. More of a sports car than the Mustang, Camaro.
  • andys120andys120 Member Posts: 23,340

    2001 BMW 330ci/E46, 2008 BMW 335i conv/E93

  • speedshiftspeedshift Member Posts: 1,598
    I had one of those, a '65 Turbo in what I think was called Danube Blue. A few weeks ago I saw another '65 Turbo, very clean, dark green. They still look great and the idea was good. I think the hot set up was the big valve 140-hp with an aftermarket four barrel.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    Whoa, I hope you don't mind a very strong disagreement on this one! I wouldn't say it's anything like a sports car. A Corvair is very American in handling. Lots of body roll, very slow steering, terrible shifter. Alfa, Mercedes or BMW of the 60s had it beat by a mile....no ten miles. A Corvair might have "looked" like a sports car with the top down and those nice red bucket seats and floor shifter showing off, but it drove like a 1936 Buick. Proof is in the pudding as they say. Go drive a Corvair then hop in a BMW or Alfa, and the case is settled IMO.

    However, as clumsy as it was, it did have a few commendable features in my opinion. The brakes, while only drums, where as good as any import of the time, and the ride on the highway was extremely comfortable. Also, for the price, build quality was much better than Falcon or Valiant.

    Also to the car's credit--a clever owner could, in fact, make it steer and handle like a sports car with only a few modifications--modifications that GM could easily have done. Stiffer roll bars, good radial tires, Koni shocks, a quicker steering ratior using different track rods, etc., and a short-shifter kit. John Fitch, racing car driver of renown, actually did this to Corvairs and called them "Fitch Corvairs".

    If you like Corvairs and you want to see what the car COULD have been, you should drive a Fitch someday.
  • sundaydriver3sundaydriver3 Member Posts: 8
    I have driven / ridden in alot of foreign cars. These cars had great highway feel but did not necessarily "handle" great. They roll in the turns. So does a brand new VW Golf GTi. Just like my Corvair.
    The Mercedes W112 300SE (1967), which my Dad owned had swing axles in the back. I also owned a '72 Pugeout 504, with a trailing arm rear suspension. Rivals a Mercedes on the highway. I know these are not sports cars, but the suspension techology is the same.
    Lotus I think built the best handling cars, but the Corvair is a better touring-transportation vehicle. No way does it handle like a typical American car. Also, in '66 the trans switched from Saginaw to Muncie (?). American cars can shift pretty well. MAy examples here

    The W112 300SE (1967), a 280SEL4.5.
  • badtoybadtoy Member Posts: 343
    Allow me to disagree with YOU, shifty (as usual!).

    First, Car and Driver defined the gen2 Corvair as the best-handling American of the time, vesting even the Corvette. And before I get a knee-jerk reaction about THAT assessment, allow me to say that it was the very time I was in the midst of Alfa ownership.

    In fact, the local Alfa dealer in Chicago, where I lived at the time and bought my first two Alfas, was very taken with the Corvair. The VP of the company raced a Stage Two Yenko Stinger that he further modified, and cleaned the track with.

    These cars, however imperfect, were powerful, handled extremely well for the time, and were just flat beautiful, styling-wise. The proportions were perfect, and it had the usual understated Chevy detailing that most of us have come to know and love. That GM abandoned this car is just one more nail in the coffin of my disdain for that stupid corporation.
  • speedshiftspeedshift Member Posts: 1,598
    At least Shifty didn't call it a girlie car ;-).

    Much as I hate to defend GM, they dropped it because it wasn't selling, and it wasn't selling because it wasn't what the market wanted by 1966. Maybe if GM had taken the Corvair to Fitch Corvair levels there would have been a very small "tea bagger" market for it. But it was both ahead of its time and behind the times to have much appeal to the mainstream market. In fact, the Corvair might not have lasted as long as it did if it hadn't been for the '62 Monza psuedo-sportscar that virtually created a new market niche. The Mustang took that formula and ran with it, right over the Corvair.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    Ah, c'mon, guys, how can you explain or deny the Corvair's incredibly slow steering (my god, how many turns lock to lock?) and the awful, awful shifter? And the weird power band of the engine, the support-less bucket seats (or a bench seat), and the bizarre gear ratios?

    I really, really want to spit coffee up my nose when you use the term "sportscar" and "Corvair" in the same breath. It's a perfectly nice little harmless passenger car, and I LOVE the styling of this car, but I simply cannot see even the remotest connection to the precise handling, shifting and steering of an Alfa Romeo of the 60s. As for a Mercedes of the 60s, they aren't sports cars either, so if you wish to compare handling, I have no problem with that. The 230-25-280SL was also a pretty clunky handler with a terrible shifter and weird power curve. BMW had the snappy 1602 at the time of the Corvair, but I'm sure it would run rings around a Corvair even today, if for no other reason that it would outbrake it in the turns and certainly steer much faster.

    You go out in a stock 1965 Coprvair and push it hard and you are in deep kim-chee. Do be careful! Remember, Car and Driver is comparing it to 1965 Buicks and Ford Galaxies. Your mom's sofa could handle better than those cars.
    This is why Fitch and Yenko and others did the modifications, isn't it?. They were sorely needed. The Corvair needed better tires, a better shifter, quicker steering, firmer shocks and springs, different carburation to improve response, and ideally, different gear ratios. And this is exactly what the pros did to make it a really nice handling and driving car.

    GM should have done this out of the box, but they didn't. And Mustang stole the show with a far less technically interesting car. Goodbye American Porsche, it coulda been in 5 more years.
  • sundaydriver3sundaydriver3 Member Posts: 8
    The sports car nature is in the manual steering, mechanical brakes, and rear wheel drive and rear engine. A few posts above said it very well..ahead of its time in looks, and behind in the mechanicals. If I could guess, I'd say the handling / ride is equivalent to an early XK Jaguar.

    But 5 turns on the huge steering wheel makes the car very forgiving in fast highway sweepers.
    The brake setup works pretty well.
    And, the shifter well it doesn't take to downshifts very well but that is not a great necessity with the flat-6.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    Nah, an XK would clean a Corvair's clock on a track or on the street. Geez, just trying to fling a stock Corvair around a turn could make you weak in the knees, what with your arms and elbows all tangled up trying to crank that wheel like it was a boat avoiding an iceberg.

    And remember, the XK chassis and basic running gear won Lemans any number of times. I can't imagine a Corvair doing that no matter what the modifications. If nothing else, it would not endure.

    I drove a Fitch Corvair many times, and as good as it was, even that wouldn't qualify as a sports car in my definition, because it was simply too big and the engine just didn't have the revability and "heart" of a sportscar. The Fitch was more of a modest muscle car in look and feel.

    But I loved that car and I wish I had one. It was tail-happy, though, you had to respect it.
  • badtoybadtoy Member Posts: 343
    with your criticims of the gen2 Corvair, but once again, things have to be taken in historical perspective.

    I imagine one reason GM slowed up the steering in the gen2 was in response to criticisms of the gen1, whose steering was so quick and the chassis so unbalanced it led to Nader's crusdae against it (and GM's gutless defense).

    As for slow sales, I have a feeling they were do much more to Detroit's lack of commitment to small cars than anything else. Detroit has ALWAYS been half-hearted about small cars, and their ambivalence rubs off in their products, marketing and reception by the car-buying public. Somehow, in the midst of Detroit's hand-wringing over Americans' lack of desire for smaller cars, the lowly and primitive VW bug stole their hearts and paved the way for the Japanese invasion of the 70s.

    Fact is, the Corvair was, at least potentially, a far more attractive propostion than the cars that followed. The car was small, but it didn't look cheap, and the potential for awesome levels of performance and handling was there from the beginning. That GM chose to abandon it and start over again (as they do repeatedly, when things don't go they're way instantly) just shows their lack of vision and commitment to product.
  • badtoybadtoy Member Posts: 343
    more typos and grammatical errors in that last post than you can shake a stick at! Amazing how when you try to type as fast as you think, spelling becomes phonetic! (Or maybe my brains are just mush this morning!)
  • speedshiftspeedshift Member Posts: 1,598
    I'm not sure the basic platform had much staying power. Rear engine was obsolete by the mid-'60s. VW stayed with it for a while and Porsche still uses it, but that says more about tradition and engineering than basic design.

    I had forgotten about the slow steering--it's been thirty years since I've driven a Corvair--but they had a few of the essential ingredients of a "sporty" car. For one thing, Corvairs were fun. They were involving, especially if you drove an early one hard. And with their oversteer Corvairs could hold their own with more powerful machinery on a tight winding road, as long as you drove like you wouldn't mind going over a cliff tail first.
  • andys120andys120 Member Posts: 23,340
    A Corvair (not even a Fitch or a Yenko) wasn't a sports car as the term was understood then. It was as close to a sports sedan (in Monza Turbo form) as anything coming out of Detroit. They didn't call it the "poor man's Porsche" for nothing and it's worth noting that they had a blown flat-6 way before Porsche did.

    2001 BMW 330ci/E46, 2008 BMW 335i conv/E93

  • speedshiftspeedshift Member Posts: 1,598
    What would have been interesting is if GM had gone with the Crown conversion to mid-engine Chevy V8. Something like that from the factory with say a 327/350, the '66-up Muncie and front discs might have extended its life a bit, although the market would be miniscule and buyers might just see it as a rodded Corvair. But it would have been great bang for the buck and an interesting alternative to a Z-28--and I think then you could have called it a sportscar.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    Yes, it was a "pioneer car" in turbocharging, no doubt about it, and interesting for that reason. Unfortunately, GM "blew" the blower, pardon the pun, on three important counts.

    One, They set it up to give a small amount of boost up way, way up on the rpm band, for a motor that hated to rev in the first place. What were they thinking on this one? Maybe they thought that with the same CID as a Porsche it would run like one? Pushrods, hydraulic lifters and low compression didn't make it a very lively powerplant.

    Two, the engineering for the turbo was not very refined, as it was designed so that the turbo drew air/fuel mixture into itself from a single carburator (turbo between carb and engine). Modern designs of course ram the turbo air into the intake prior to introduction of fuel.

    Three, The intake geometry was not very efficient by modern standards (well, pioneers often make mistakes, that's a given, there was no textbook to go by.

    Top speed was 100 mph and 0-60 was 10 seconds. Not a fast car, but considerably faster than a stock Corvair and as good as most inexpensive sportscars of the day.

    To GMs credit, Porsche didn't figure out a good turbo system until 1976, and Saab until around 1979, so maybe automotive science needed to catch up a bit, and 1962 was too soon for this innovation.
  • speedshiftspeedshift Member Posts: 1,598
    What was the first turbo application? I've heard it was on WWII planes. I wonder how they handled that setup? Maybe that's what GM based their setup on.
  • badgerpaulbadgerpaul Member Posts: 219
    I know they were playing with turbocharging/supercharging airplanes in the 1920's. Both the Duesenberg and Auburn were supercharged in the 1930's.
  • badtoybadtoy Member Posts: 343
    to refine new concepts -- and to GM's credit, it seems to have no problem getting new ideas thru corporate channels. Unfortunately, their culture also appears to have zero tolerance for failure (probably because of the clams who resist the new technology in the first place saying "Ah hah!!!! We TOLD you it wouldn't work!!!"). So they come out with these neat ideas, fumble around with them for a few years, then abandon them.

    As for Porsche, they have managed to take a wickedly treacherous car and refine it over the years in such a way that the inherent weaknesses of the concept have been completely neutralized. That's called "commitment" (although, to be fair to GM, Porsche tried to move away from the rear-engine concept themselves, and were only prevented from doing so by their legions of crazed American fans).
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    I don't think Porches were ever "treacherous", unless maybe you meant pre-production cars in the 1940s? or the first 930s? I've driven all kinds of old Porsches and they handle pretty darn good for their time. Evidence of their good manners is that they still race them a lot.

    However, the first 930s could really bite you if you got silly. The problem, as I understand it, was the turbo lag on these early cars. The cars had a lot of power and if you put power down while the car was unstable or turning, you'd go from nothing to everything and suddenly tons of power on the rear wheels. Well, you can imagine. On the bright side, it was a good way to get rid of obnoxious drug dealers.

    If you want treacherous, there are some good candidates. The Tatra V-8, the first VWs, the first Corvairs, the first Kawasaki 750 motorcycle. I've driven all of them, and I would say I got some bad feelings while underway. (front fork shimmy at 80 mph often requires new underwear) Generally, it is under-engineered suspension that causes problems, and that takes testing, development and a few years on the road of experience.
  • badtoybadtoy Member Posts: 343
    to raise your adrenaline level! LOL
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    The first 911s were too light in the nose, for instance (as speed increases, the steering got too light), so they actually put weights under the front bumpers. Once they lengthened the wheelbase and did some other suspension tricks, the cars were pretty nicely sorted by the early 70s.

    Most sports cars of the 60s are still really fun to drive. Without power steering and fat tires, and if the steering mechanism are good and tight, you get a sensation that modern cars cannot duplicate. There is a kind of "feedback" from these older 60s sportscars that has been completely lost in the modern car, along with a lot of the fun. In a sense, the modern driver is getting more and more isolated from the road, even though his car is putting up some great handling numbers.
  • badtoybadtoy Member Posts: 343
    As absolute roadholding increases, fun decreases. The limits become so high that in order to explore them, you have to be traveling at antisocial (and sometimes suicidal) speeds. That's what the whole drift movement is about (which I'm sending you an article on, by the way!).

    Some of the most fun I ever had was coming down the mountain from Big Bear in my TRD-suspensioned 96 Tercel. You could put that car into a perfect drift and just dance all the way down. Lovely.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    Yeah, it is really too bad more people don't recognize this and encourage manufacturers to put back these characteristics into cars.

    I was watching a World Rally Cup race. The TV camera was mounted in the car, and you got to experience a lot of slippin' and sliddin' around icy turns. While WRC cars have AWD and tenacious grip, the visual experience was much the same as an old Austin Healey Bugeye Sprite driven on skinny tires at 10/10th.
  • andys120andys120 Member Posts: 23,340

    2001 BMW 330ci/E46, 2008 BMW 335i conv/E93

  • badtoybadtoy Member Posts: 343
    FWD cars tend to understeer at the limit, but once you break them loose they can be quite entertaining. Obviously RWD is easier, but even FWD can be fun. You just have to keep them on the boil, and have wide enough tires to catch them.
  • andys120andys120 Member Posts: 23,340
    what you're talking about is more of a front slide than a classic 4 wheel drift.

    2001 BMW 330ci/E46, 2008 BMW 335i conv/E93

  • badtoybadtoy Member Posts: 343
    "Front slide" it is (although the rear end would come around too, so call it what you will).

    Still fun, and something that little Tercel did really well...
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    Too much work. I found my arms really got tired hustling the Saab Turbo around miles of twisties. With the Alfa Spyder, I could rotate the car so easily with a little trail-braking. It's really tough to trail-brake a FWD, so you have to strong arm it around. Maybe these nutso Swedish iceracers can do it, but on dry pavement I found it too much effort for long periods.
  • badtoybadtoy Member Posts: 343
    in a 1900 pound car makes it a little easier! Just don't let that little puppy get away from you, or you'll be checking out the scenery on the way down....
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    been there, done that LOL!
  • timz58timz58 Member Posts: 44
    If I may digress a bit.............Look out old timer nostalgia here. My first sports car was a black 59 Austin Healy 100-6 two seater. This car had been blessed with an engine from a 62 3000 series Healy and a set of dual throat webers. Also Cobra chrome wires, Pirelli radials, Abarth exhaust and Koni shocks. The cylinder head had been planed, ported and polished. The car weighed less than 2500 lbs and the engine was good for 7000 RPM and about 120 MPH with a proper carb adjustment and tune up. Lots to ask of a Nash 6 cylinder. It was surprisingly quick, giving may small block chevys a surprise in the nightly Gran Prix de Stoplight. Weak points in the car were a lack of syncromesh on lst gear, a horrible electrical system, inadequate drum brakes, leaked like a sieve. Biggest plusses . . . looked really cool, chicks loved it and was just a kick in the [non-permissible content removed] to drive.
  • andys120andys120 Member Posts: 23,340
    for a car like that, still would!

    2001 BMW 330ci/E46, 2008 BMW 335i conv/E93

  • andys120andys120 Member Posts: 23,340
    Some '60s Sports cars still live on:

    The Morgan-You could argue it's really a 1930s car but today's Morgan Plus 4/4 is pretty close to the Morgan V-8 that debuted in the late '60s(if I remember correctly.

    The Lotus 7-lives on as the Caterham Seven and it looks and goes pretty much like the Lotus original.

    The 911-sure it's changed a lot what with the water-cooling and all but spiritually it's close to the original Type 901/911.

    2001 BMW 330ci/E46, 2008 BMW 335i conv/E93

Sign In or Register to comment.