Filed under: Art & Inspiration
This is it, fellas. The last chapter of our “Most Beautiful” series on US automotive design. I hope you’ve had as much fun as I have looking back at the car shapes that have best stood the test of time. We are cutting this one off at ’64, and despite a slew of killer choices, we’ll play by the same rules: 5 cars for 5 model years from 1960 to pre-muscle 1964. Pick your stand out vehicles from the first half of this decade of rapid (and often declining) style change. I had no problem coming up with lots of drool-worthy choices, and indeed had a difficult time trimming it down to only five. Any one of these gems could be be simply lowered, maybe remove the door handles, and they are instant cool custom. The entire GM line for 1961 was flat out amazing (Chevy, Buick, Olds, all of ‘em!), and there are plenty of nice designs from FoMoCo (and a few from Mopar) over these years as well. Jump in with your favorites, please. Here’s what I managed to limit my picks down to:
1960 Ford Galaxie/ Starliner. What a cool car! The space race era had arrived in full force, and this baby shouted ‘lunar launch’ from every angle. Scalloped side panels, curved tailfins, and an inset grille were some of the stellar design cues.
1961 Pontiac (the entire line). I’m really a sucker for all big Poncho’s from 1959-1964, but 1961 is a particularly sweet spot in my book: Return of the split grille, a bubbletop roof, and a nice balance of minimal brightwork and impactful body sculpting makes one beautiful ride.
1961-62 Cadillac Coupe deVille. I love these two particular years of Caddy mainly for the nice proportions and unique designs. They aren’t crazy-huge like ’59 & ’60s or overly slab-sided like the 63 and later cars… And to be honest, the lower body tail fins are just plain cool.
1963-64 Buick Riviera. Do I really need to justify this one? Bill Mitchell’s dream boat that put Buick on the map. A beautiful mix of soft curves and razor sharp edges all wrapped in a long hood, short deck classic. The toughest part is really picking out your favorite year. I actually dig the ’65 hide away headlamp model best, but for this exercise, 1963 gets the nod as the clean original.
1961-63 Lincoln Continental. Still one of the most beautiful 4 door cars ever built, in my opinion. A very successful exercise in trim-restraint and perfect, compact proportions all buttoned up with those iconic suicide doors. Beauty, luxury, and quality oozed from every perfect panel.