Top 7 fastest cars of the 1960s
Today we start a special series of articles about fast cars. Before we hit the road let’s find out the real definition of a fast car. In modern days, even a modest family saloon car can go with 100 mph, but this is not fast. When I think of a fast car I imagine a model that was designed with the sole purpose of going fast and being fun to drive.
Back in 1901, Daimler unveils the 60bhp Mercedes, a car capable of doing 60 mph. Today we consider that model the first sports car of the world. And things just got better from the onwards, with more and more manufacturers jumping on the power bandwagon. In this first article we will say a few things about the fastest cars of the 60s.
7. Jensen FF (1966)
The 1966 Jensen FF was named “The World’s most advanced car” and this was for a good reason. It was the four wheel drive version of the Interceptor and the FF stood for “Ferguson Four” after the tractor company that made the transmission system. In those days, the four wheel drive system was preserved only for off-road cars, but the Jensen FF was the first sports car with this principle. After 11 years it will be done again by Audi with the Quattro legend.
The engineers told that the four wheel drive system helped the car to get the power without spinning the wheels. The handling on the slippery surfaces was also improved but the complex transmission was heavy, expensive and sapped power.
More than that, the 1966 Jensen FF featured a Dunlop anti-lock braking system. Many years after, this technology had become a norm. In these conditions, this car really was ahead of its time. Under the hood, Jensen FF has a V8 unit signed by Chrysler. It developed 325 bhp at 4.600 rpm and 576 Nm peek of torque at 2.800 rpm. The engine resources are put to the ground via a three speed automatic gear box and the sprint from stand still to 60 mph was done in 8.5 seconds, a good time considering the heavy all wheel drive system.
6. Aston Martin DB5 (1964)
The 1964 Aston Martin DB5 is one of the famous cars of all time. With this car, a legend was borne. To understand that, I will tell you a special story written by Ian Flaming. The British author imagined James Bond behind the wheels of an Aston Martin MkIII. When Sean Connery went on stage and the directors approached Aston Martin for a car, the British manufacturer offered the brand new DB5. In that day, the legend was borne. As you probably imagine, the DB5 was an evolution of the DB4.
The 1964 Aston Martin DB5 had covered headlamps, a more powerful engine and a five speed gear box. The 4.0 liter six cylinder unit featured three SU carburetors and was able to deliver 282 horsepower at 5.500 rpm and 390 Nm peek of torque at 3.850 rpm. Thanks to these resources the 1964 Aston Martin DB5 was able to run with a top speed of 148 mph.
But you don’t have to forget that we are talking about Aston Martin, a car manufacturer with sport pedigree. After the DB5, they have released the Vantage version and the Volante. The first one managed to develop 314 bhp, while the convertible version was very rare. Another special variant was the shooting brake built for company boss, David Brown.
But now, let’s go back a little at the James Bond movie. The car used by Sean Connery had front and rear rams, machine guns, tyre slashers, bulletproof screen, revolving number plates and a passenger ejector seat. In a few words, Bond was so Astons were cool too.
The 1964 Aston Martin DB5 had 4.572 millimeters long, 1.676 millimeters width and the weight was measured at 1.564 kilograms. Even in these conditions, the car could sprint from stand still to 60 mph in 8.6 seconds. Even though the DB5 was a real success, it was produced only for two years in 1.000 units. In 1966, the DB6 was launched on the market.
5. Chevrolet Corvette Sting Ray (1963)
In the early 50s, the Americans were mad about British sports car. In these conditions, General Motors has decided to build its own sport car. It was named Chevrolet Corvette and the first generation sees the light in 1953. After ten years of struggling, Chevrolet unveils the legend: Corvette Sting Ray.
The 1963 Chevrolet Corvette Sting Ray looked astonishing. It featured a long bonnet, flowing wings and a fast-back rear with a distinctive split back window. The design was inspired by Jaguar E-Type, but the Corvette Sting Ray looked fast from every angle. Under the long and sleek bonnet, General Motors mounted a V8 5.3 liter unit with a compression ratio of 10.5:1. The petrol engine managed to deliver 250 bhp at 4.400 rpm and 474 Nm peek of torque at 2.800 rpm.
The resources were put to the ground via a two speed automatic transmission or a three speed manual gear box. In these conditions, the 1963 Chevrolet Corvette Sting Ray was able to run from stand still to 60 mph in 5.9 seconds while the top speed was clocked at 142 mph.
After this version, GM improved the car every year and in 1967, it was replaced by a new generation. However, these early Sting Ray remain the most striking and memorable of all C’vetts.
4. Jaguar E-Type (1961)
The Jaguar E-Type can be named the quintessential British sports car of the 1960s. The British car had a long, long bonnet that suggested speed and power. The E-Type was available in the hardtop version (with a hatchback rear window for luggage) and in open-top roadster variant. Under the sleek hood Jaguar fitted a 3.8 liter straight six triple carburetor engine.
It was able to develop 265 bhp at 5.500 rpm and 349 Nm peek of torque at 4.000 rpm. In these conditions, the 1961 Jaguar E-Type was able to run from stand still to 60 mph in 7.0 seconds while the top speed was clocked at 150 mph. In the next few years, the straight six engine was enlarged to 4.2 liter in 1966, than in 1971 a 5.3 liter V12 power plant was installed.
3. Lamborghini Miura (1966)
The birth of the Lamborghini supercars era is very interesting. Ferruccio Lamborghini was a tractor manufacturer who loved to drive fast cars, especially Ferraris. In one day, Lamborghini went to see Enzo and tell him that he is disappointed about the quality of the cars. Enzo turned Ferruccio’s back and told him to stick to building tractors and leave him to worry about cars. This is the legend of the Lamborghini supercars.
In 1963, Ferruccio has launched the GTV, a front-engined car with notable performances. But in 1966, the Italian has come on the market with the Miura, a piece of art of its time. The 1966 Lamborghini Miura had a mid-mounted engine that offers a near-perfect weight distribution. More than that, Ferruccio decided to mount his engine transversally, which meant it, could fit behind the seats and in front of the rear axle without the car being overly long.
The V12 4.0 liter petrol unit was capable of developing 350 bhp at 7.000 rpm and 369 Nm peek of torque at 3.850 rpm. The engine resources were put to the ground via a five speed manual transmission. In these conditions, the 1966 Lamborghini Miura was able to sprint from stand still to 60 mph in 6.0 seconds, while the top speed was clocked at 171 mph.
2. Ferrari 250 GTO (1962)
Now we are moving to Italy in 1962. In those days, every Italian car manufacturer wanted to develop fast cars but only Ferrari was able to really do this. In 1962, Ferrari unveiled the 250 GTO (Grand Turismo Omologado), a model that was built in only 39 units. With this car, Ferrari will go into completions even thought the racing rules stipulated that 100 examples of a model be built for it to qualify. But Enzo Ferrari was a smart guy. He said in the front of the commission that his car is based on an old one.
After this big wining, the car went on the race track. In 1962, 1963 and 1964, Ferrari 250 GTO won the 3-liter GT World Championship. One unit also managed to come in second place in 1962 Le Mans 24 hours race.
Under the hood of the 1962 Ferrari GTO was a 3.0 liter V12 unit. Its power output was of 290 bhp at 7.400 rpm and 339 Nm peek of torque at 8.000 rpm. The engine resources were put to the ground via a five speed manual gear box. The sprint from not to 60 mph was done in 5.8 seconds, while the top speed was clocked at 185 mph.
Thanks to a dry-sump lubrication system the engine sit low in the car to reduce the center of gravity. The engine was fed by six Weber 38DCN twin carburetors. But the Italian sports car had some problems with the suspensions. For homologation purposes, it had to have live rear axle and leaf springs of the older GT.
1. Ford GT40 (1964)
The 1964 Ford GT40 was build only because Henry Ford II wanted a fast car to win the Le Mans. First of all, the company tried to buy the Ferrari but the plan failed so, Henry decided to build its own car in the Slought facility in England with some help from Lola, a racecar specialist.
The result was astonishing. A car with a mid-mounted 4.2 liter V8 unit that was able to deliver 425 horsepower at 6.000 rpm and 540 Nm peek of torque at 4.750 rpm. The sprint from stand still to 60 mph was done in 4.1 seconds, while the top speed was clocked at 211 mph.
The design was inspired by the Lola GT, the model who had run at Le Mans 24-hours race in 1963. An interesting fact is that the GT40 name came because the car stood just 40 inches high. In 1964, three GT40s ran at the Le Mans. The cars were fast but not good enought to finish the race. Next year, Henry comes with the MkII version. It featured a 7.0 liter Shelby engine, but the cars were unable to complete the demanding race. In 1966, Ford got found the perfect formula to won at Le Mans. More than that, all its three cars placed in first, second and third place. With this big performance, the Ford GT40 took a place in the motoring history.