SPORTS CARS OF THE 60's

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  • andys120andys120 Member Posts: 23,349
    My cousin owned one of these ca.1969 and I drove it on a couple of occasions. TVR was one of a number of Low-volume British sports cars that found there way to the states during the 60's, others were Elva, Turner, Marcos, Morgan and Ginetta.
    The Vixen combined a stubby plastic coupe body, IRS and a Triumph in-line 6 (from the TR-250 or TR-6). The Vixen had good acceleration, a nice ride and outstanding handling for it's time.
    The most well-known TVR of the 60s was the Griffin, which packed the Ford HiPo 289. It was very quick and light.

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

  • jrosasmcjrosasmc Member Posts: 1,711
    Well, you couldn't beat MGBs, Triumph TR4s, or Fiat Spiders in those days.

    Saab Sonett? No way! A Corvette? Maybe.
  • badtoybadtoy Member Posts: 343
    trumped all of the ones you just mentioned (with the exception of the Corvette).
  • andys120andys120 Member Posts: 23,349
    I should know I had a TR-4 and a 124 spider, both nice cars but I shoulda bought the Austin-Healey.

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

  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    Corvettes didn't have brakes back then. You could beat them easily on a short track with a much smaller car by just going into the turns deeper. By lap 2 the Vettes were helpless.
  • andys120andys120 Member Posts: 23,349
    a race course that puts a premium on braking and cornering balance. You'd see Elans, 911s and Alfa GTAs pass Corvettes under braking all the time. Sometimes the 'Vettes would catch up on the
    Pit Straight, sometimes not.

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

  • speedshiftspeedshift Member Posts: 1,598
    Thought I'd refute a scurilous remark ;-) elsewhere about how the Sunbeam Alpine looks "femmey" by posting this link to the cars of James Bond:


    http://www.crackster.freeserve.co.uk/bond/cars/cars.htm


    In Dr. No Bond drives an Alpine briskly along Jamaican back roads to avoid being run off a cliff by a hearse. Great chase scene.


    The site reminded me of the Mach I Sean Connery drove in Diamonds Are Forever. Maybe the first really bad, really over-the-top Bond film but another good chase scene including going through a narrow alley on two wheels.


    The site also has a pic of his DB5 blowing a head gasket. No wait, that's just Bond shooting off the water cannons fitted to the car.

  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    The only reason Mr. Bond is driving an Alpine in that movie is that the director knew it was a cheap enough car to blow up.
  • speedshiftspeedshift Member Posts: 1,598
    Dr. No was filmed in the early '60s, before Alpines had descended to $50 sportscar territory.

    Shifty, I fear you and I will never see eye to eye on the Alpine. However, I think we'll agree that they look better without the wide whites that graced the earliest version.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    I'll ask history to back me up if it would be so kind, and leave it at that. The car was a flop then, and in my eyes is a flop now. The mobs of people who never bought one in the 60s were right about the looks and the performance. Ditto Triumph Heralds, Siata Springs, Fiat 850s and all the other second-rate sports cars of the 60s.
  • badtoybadtoy Member Posts: 343
    Fiat always had tremendous promise and disastrous execution. No one but themselves to blame. Ditto the others.
  • speedshiftspeedshift Member Posts: 1,598
    I thought the 850 was a pretty good seller? Not much performance but lots of fun. Easy to replace the head gasket. I think I've just defined what a sportscar is ;-).
  • andys120andys120 Member Posts: 23,349

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

  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    I've heard it said now and then. Mostly I bite my tongue.
  • andys120andys120 Member Posts: 23,349
    My brother owned one of these and all things considered it may have been the best sports car Triumph ever sent to the US. The TR-250 combined a
    TR-4A body and IRS (optional on the -4A) with an in line 6 displacing 2500cc (hence the "250"-it was known in Europe as the TR-5).

    The TR-250s six wasn't especially powerful but it produced bags of torque that would launch the light car very smartly.
    Handling was good for its day and the only big drawback of the suspension was a pronounced rearward squat under acceleration.

    The TR-6 that succeeded the 250 in '69 was mechanically identical
    but featured Karmann bodywork that to me didn't match the original
    Michelotti design of the TR-4/250.

    My brother's car gave him half a decade of good service before it was stolen in the mid-70s.

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

  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    I had a TR250 and liked it. I agree, it was one of the best products Triumph ever sent over here, that and the TR3B and that's about all you'd ever want to own from them. Maybe a well-sorted TR6 without the ugly bumpers.
  • jeffmust2jeffmust2 Member Posts: 811
    There's a 1966 TR4 IRS British Racing Green in our extended family that my sister bought new for $1900 or so.

    It came off the boat in '66, got "prepped" at the So. CA dealer, and then we made the mistake of thinking we could actually drive it home...5 miles later, on the freeway of course, we discovered We Had No Brakes.

    Apparently, the boat trip over the Pond was just long enough for rust to eat a hole into part of the braking system (or else the fittings were loose; it was a long time ago) and there went the brake fluid. Must of been an extensive prep service, eh? Welcome to the World of British Sports Cars.

    It's still running strong today - in fact, it just received a ground-up restoration, turning a $1900 investment into a $35k investment worth at least $9k! But it ain't getting sold so who cares...

    Original Michelins went 90k miles and had to be dumped because the ozone split the sidewalls. Very little heat, no matter if blower is at low OR hi setting. British engineering assures that many items work at 50% of desired level in the best of worlds.

    Old farm machine-derived 4-banger will be going strong when I'm long gone, and the usual "British engineering" (same problem with word juxtaposition as "giant shrimp"?) of course is humorous to say the least. Lucas electrics? - all-black bell wires would be improvements.

    As you can tell, this is a love story. And - the best part? You NEVER see another one in any kind of shape (outside a club event) because they got junked long ago! Thus making it a True Classic.
  • jrosasmcjrosasmc Member Posts: 1,711
    The first Corvette Sting Rays back in 1963? I drove a 327 4-speed example once for a brief time and let me tell you, that car was a chore to drive, with no power steering or brakes.

    I also got to hear a Fiat 850 Spider (probably '69) on the road one day. From what I heard, it looked like that little engine could be revved up to ridiculously high rpms. Same thing goes for the '66-'69 Alfa Duettos.
  • speedshiftspeedshift Member Posts: 1,598
    You'd rev the 850 engine to 4500 minimum just pulling away from a stop sign, without even realizing it. You had to. But at least it liked to rev. No OHC or anything remotely suggesting it could rev but with 850ccs or so there wasn't much reciprocating mass.
  • speedshiftspeedshift Member Posts: 1,598
    As for driving a Corvette with no power assists, my favorite drive of all time was driving a '68 Corvette with manual steering to the beach on back roads. To make matters worse the top half of the rubber steering wheel had gone floppy from sun exposure, but somehow I managed. To me that's a privilege, not a chore :-).
  • sebringjxisebringjxi Member Posts: 140
    When you talk about the potential of the Fiats, you have to remember that the 124 Spider from '67 to '86 outsold everything but the MG's, right? While I've had my fair share of odd ball and fun sports cars, my only Sunbeam Tiger experience came with my dad in the car with me. He lost all interest in buying it when I almost swapped ends with it on the 1st to 2nd shift! And though the much maligned MGC might not have been the darling BMC wanted it to be, I sure had fun in college sneaking up on 914 Porsches and TR-6s and blowing 'em into the weeds.... Now I have an '82 Fiat Spider and a '73 Jensen Healey that are more fun to drive than I ever dreamed!

    BUT, it all started on a warm summer night when I was about 12. A friend of my brother's in college took me for a ride in his Austin Healey 3000. Red/black, wire wheels, that glorious exhaust note.....I was hooked!
  • andys120andys120 Member Posts: 23,349

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

  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    Were you picking on 1.7 liter 914s instead of the 2.0 liters? Bully! My 914 would have led an MGC around by the nose, presuming of course you let me count to 5 before going from 1st to 2nd (the 914s weird shifting pattern was not an asset!). MGC with overdrive would probably top end a 914 2.0 however. Mine was exhausted at 115 mph.
  • sebringjxisebringjxi Member Posts: 140
    Check the History Channel web site today (4/12/02)! Along side the story of today is the birth of the founder of MG, there is a picture of the MGC-GT with the caption "Fastest MG ever made" I didn't know anyone outside the MG "family" would recognize a C if it ran over them!

    Yes, it was mostly 914-4's, there weren't too many of them, much less 914-6's in my neck of the woods. The C's torque was so much more than most of it's contemporaries, I usually could pull just about any of the other sports cars (in Western KY) off the line and then the overdrive gave me a top end most of them envied for..... I really enjoyed that old car! But, I never regret selling it. The '59 A, now that one, I regret not keeping. That's why I'm making such an effort to keep my sons' cars in good running shape.....

    Enjoy!
    Hal "C Man" Faulkner (C actually is my middle intiai!)
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    I think anyone who ever loved the MGB could never love the MGC, but if you had no idea of what an MG was supposed to be like, I could see it appealing to 3 or 4 people on the face of the earth, yes :)

    The MGC wanted to be a Big Healey but failed to impress anyone. Also, the media crawled all over it and tore it to shreds, probably due to my theory that they all knew the MGB and wondered what the hell the MGC was trying to do with 6 cylinders that the MGB did so well with 4.

    It really isn't as bad a car as the media thought it was, but it was very bad marketing and not a sound concept for the times. Another missed opportunity from the British. (And then they killed the MG for...for....the TR7! AIEEEEEEE!)
  • sebringjxisebringjxi Member Posts: 140
    What was that woman's name that went to work for them? Miss Management?

    Too bad they don't import the MGF, what a hoot that would be to drive! My son would possibly even give up the JH for one--since it carries his initials!

    Hal
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    Oh, god, yes Miss Management really did run the place!

    Well, I do hope whoever gets ahold of the MG name NEXT (Korea, Indonesia, the Klingons?), they have some respect for it.
  • sebringjxisebringjxi Member Posts: 140
    You wanted a classic sports car to use, maybe 2-3 days a week, depending on the weather for a commuter car. Let's say 100 miles a day, 50 each way.... All things considered--initial cost, maintainence, insurance, comfort, etc. What would you suggest? I'd prefer a convertible, but would consider a closed car. Let's keep it in the less than $10k range--about what you could get a good used Taurus for.... whaddaya think?

    Enjoy!

    Hal
  • jrosasmcjrosasmc Member Posts: 1,711
    For less than $10k, here's what I could think of:

    MGB Mark II
    Triumph TR4 or TR250
    A-H 3000 Series II
    Alfa Giulietta Spider or Duetto
    Fiat 124 Spider (early versions)
    Porsche 356 B & C
    Saab Sonett II
    Volvo P1800 (my personal pick)
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    Good list! Here's few of my thoughts on your picks...thanks for the inspiration.

    MGB Mark II -- excellent choice. Great aftermarket support, sturdy fun car.

    Triumph TR4 or TR250--the TR4 is really not a very good car. The TR250 has the benefit at least of a much better engine. But neither one of these cars is very pleasant to drive or keep running IMO.
    Your basic British rattle-trap/dog cart.

    A-H 3000 Series II--what's not to like? But you'll never find one under $10K that isn't a pile of trash.

    Alfa Giulietta Spider or Duetto --you might find a Duetto with some needs for $10K but I doubt you'll find any kind of decent Giulietta Spider for that price. Great little car, though and very civilized compared to a British car of the same period. Excellent choice. You'll stay warm and dry even!

    Fiat 124 Spider (early versions)--good choice if you can find one that hasn't been beat to hell. The last fuel injected ones would be nice, but be careful of the Turbo.

    Porsche 356 B & C -- probably nothing much to be had for $10K that doesn't have "needs", and you don't NEED a 356 with "needs". The engine rebuild alone can set you back $7,500. C model the best and most valuable because it has the strongest engine and disk brakes. The C coupes are punching over $20K now and the cheapest As and Bs are still in the low teens.

    Saab Sonett II -- woof! woof! The dog of dogs. Avoid at any cost.

    Volvo P1800--sturdy, well-built and reliable, but not really in the sports car class with these other cars. Also very weird and uncomfortable driving position that you'll somehow have to correct. Later "sport wagon" is the better choice and a more acceptable car. Parts are expensive and body trim pieces and interior parts nearly non-existant.
  • andys120andys120 Member Posts: 23,349
    For the part about TR-4s not being pleasant to drive. They are rattly compared to modern cars or even an MG-B (Unit bodies) but they have good steering, brakes and the highway ride is good on the IRS cars. They have good acceleration and torque as well but they are fussy (carbs get out of sync, wipers suck and such).

    A TR-250 or TR-6 would be better suited to commute in.

    Goods luck finding a good early 124 spider good ones are great cars but rust got most of them.

    How about a 914 or a 240Z?

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

  • jeffmust2jeffmust2 Member Posts: 811
    Have a 1966 TR4a with IRS, bought new, still in the extended family.

    It's more of a head-turner today than when it was new - I guess because it's so rare to find one still running! Hey, this was bought new for $1800 or so.

    But it's a lot of fun to drive, doesn't seem to rattle much now (never did from Day 1), and an unrestored one will easily go for less than the $10k price limit. Watch out for the Lucas/Smith electrics (yeck!) and you'll have to try hard to find a mechanic that knows what he's doing.

    Good luck!
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    914s with the 2.0 engine are a fun car and still pretty cheap. Basically this car has Porsche front end and transmission mated to VW engine punched out to 2 liters. When set up properly, a 914 will mop up most 60s sportscars on road or track. The 914 is still formidable in SCCA racing. Highly recommended car if you can live with the stupid gearshift (fixable) and weird styling.

    240Z--the Japanese Austin Healey! Nice car but unfortunately only a coupe. Not to be confused with the far less desirable 260Z and 280Z.

    TR4--okay, we'll agree to disagree on this one, but it's going to remain near the bottom of my British sports car list. I'd suggest that anyone buying one be sure to drive an MGB for comparison and then decide.
  • speedshiftspeedshift Member Posts: 1,598
    The only time I drove a 914 I couldn't keep the tranny from graunching going into first. I never had this problem before or since so I have to think it was the car.

    It's not a car with a whole lot of charm, however competant it may be.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    Yes, it's gauky at best. But the P1800 is no beauty queen, nor is the Sunbeam Alpine or Tiger--acquired tastes, both.

    The 914 has that impossible gearshift (can you imagine shifting an oar in a barrel full of potatoes?) and that weird shift pattern (first gear is by itself to the left and DOWN! I had two of these cars and both pretty solid and reliable
  • jrosasmcjrosasmc Member Posts: 1,711
    Why aren't the 260Z and 280Z desirable sports cars? Is it because of their horrible engines?
  • andys120andys120 Member Posts: 23,349
    that sapped power. It's a good idea to avoid cars from the pre-catlytic era ('73-'81/2) for that reason.

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

  • c43amg7c43amg7 Member Posts: 32
    The Datsun 1600/2000 was actually the Japanese Austin-Healey, rather than the later Z cars which were coupes. My brother had one in the early '70s -- fast (would easily do 80 in 3rd gear) and good handling, but rattled like he was towing several srings of tin cans after a wedding.
  • jeffmust2jeffmust2 Member Posts: 811
    It was a '70, I think the last year they were made as the 240Z was replacing it.

    Quirky, copycat MG styling effort (?), with pretty good mechanicals. Recall buying it in 1972 from a rich lady that had it under a tree for two years; under the bird crap and a bit of rust on the Bad OEM Chrome Job, it was in great shape.

    Unlike the 2000 model which was famous for blowing head gaskets - think it had to do with an aluminum head warpage problem, the 1600 was pretty bullet proof. Like a lot of stories here, had to let it go bec of a company car deal.

    Wish I had it today, rusting away under a tree..!
  • jrosasmcjrosasmc Member Posts: 1,711
    Yes, I recall reading somewhere that early examples of engines with aluminum heads were pretty notorious for blowing up and warping, the most famous being of course the infamous Vega. I'm pretty lucky that the all-aluminum engine in my '93 Volvo 850 is still intact and original.
  • avalanche325avalanche325 Member Posts: 116
    The Vega had a cast iron head. It had an aluminum block with very thin cylinder walls.

    The 240Z was a really cool car at the time, but I think they all have rusted into oblivion by now.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    The reason I called the 240Z the Japanese Austin Healey was because it had the big inline 6 cylinder. The 1600 and 2000 are four-cylinder cars and not particularly good high speed cruisers, which was the Healey's forte.

    The 1600 Fairlady was a decent little sports car but it's considered an odd duck today, and parts are hard to find as well. I agree, I'd stay away from the 2000s unless you were assured that someone had solved the head issues with specialized machining and gaskets.

    I've seen 2000s race in SCCA now and then, so I know you can square them away with some effort.

    The Datsun 260Z had some rather vicious fuel delivery issues and was quickly superceded by the heavier, uglier 280Z, which is just a used car, not a collectible and never will be.

    The 240Z is the car you want out of all the Datsun "sports cars" of the old days.
  • jeffmust2jeffmust2 Member Posts: 811
    ...but I never told anybody.

    Not very macho to be male, single, 22 yrs old, and driving a small sports car called the Fairlady!
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    Oh, yes, that WAS a problem. I heard it was named after the popular musical of the day.
  • jaserbjaserb Member Posts: 820
    The 260Z isn't all that bad once you get rid of the original carb setup and put in a set of SUs (including the manifold) from the early 240Z, or Webers if you're into that kind of thing. The '73 240 has the same carbs as the 260, so anything negative you say about 260s applies to the '73 240 as well. The infamous "flat top" carbs caused horrible vapor lock problems, as well as ruining the OHC 6's high revving nature.
    Oh - and keep in mind there were early 260s and late 260s, both from the 1974 model year. The early ones have the nice looking thin 240 bumpers, the late ones have the ugly 280 crash bumpers. If you find an early 260 with the carbs sorted, it's basically a 240 with a substantially lower price.
    280Z's (from 75-78) were stricken with the 70's bumper syndrome, but otherwise look nearly identical to the 240-260s. All the body panels are the same from 70-78, unless you get the ugly, vaguely station wagon looking 2+2 model (these actually started with the 260). I'm not sure they're really that much heavier than the 240s - maybe 100-200 extra pounds, but that's easily made up for with the extra displacement and fuel injection. My friend's automatic 280 would easily keep up with my 4-spd 260 (both nearly stock). They still handle quite well, also. Apparently I have fonder feelings for the 280 than our esteemed host: it's really just a bored, stroked 240Z with fuel injection. All the other mechanicals are basically identical.
    Now, the 280ZX (79-83) is a different animal, and one I don't like at all. This was when it was turned into a "Japanese Corvette", as the perjorative goes. Heavy, poor handing, and with every piece of luxo garbage they could throw onto it, from leather seats to t-tops to power windows. Interestingly, the '79 280ZX (the year they switched from sports car to luxo-GT barge) was and remains the best selling model year ever for the Z! Another case of a great car ruined by giving the Americans what they want.

    -Jason (whose latent Z knowledge is fast being replaced by Alfa facts...)
  • andys120andys120 Member Posts: 23,349
    I believe it's being used on the home market version of the 350Z

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

  • jeffmust2jeffmust2 Member Posts: 811
    ...how far Japanese sales & marketing has come in 32 years!

    Ah, the Fairlady memories...almost forgot the high point of my 1970 Datsun 1600 ownership period:

    - Needing a clutch replacement, I watched, in horror, as the ENTIRE ENGINE had to be pulled from the vehicle with a hoist to get at the clutch assembly.

    Now that's what I call ENGINEERING!...as in Mickey Mouse. Guess the design guys back in Japan never had to pull a clutch themselves.
  • im_brentwoodim_brentwood Member Posts: 4,883
    That's why I like my 356s :)

    If I have a lift (Thankfully I have access to one!) and the right tools.. I can have that engine out in like.. oh.. An hour or two.

    And that's usually because I am puttering around.. stepping outside for a smoke.. looking underneath..etc..

    Bill
  • im_brentwoodim_brentwood Member Posts: 4,883
    Speaking of the devils..

    Jrosas, a 356 for under $10K will most likely need a lot of work.

    I just bought a '57 1600N Coupe for $10K. Solid body, an Early "teardrop" car (#100301, Teardrop '57s started at 100001) aned it needs a total interior restoration save the headliner, which is new.

    The Interior parts alone that it needs, to do it "right" will probably be $3,000 easily.

    It also needs some chrome pieces.. and It just needed a $600+ Tune-Up.
    I will have $15K in it when I am done, and will have a nice coupe wth a fresh engine, a solid body and nice paint.

    Bill
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    There you go...Bill's got his numbers right before he starts on a project.

    I actually saw an engine fall right "out" of a Porsche 912 once. Some bunch of dummies at a body shop in LA forgot to securely bolt the rear engine mount. On those cars, it's those bolts that hold the entire engine in place, so it fell right down with the transmission attached. Very ugly looking, but we all chipped in and actually bolted it back up and it ran fine, aside from a few dinged up pieces that could be dealt with later.
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