The move towards more-fun-to-drive cars gathered pace through 1958 and 1959, as the big companies began to realise that brisk performance could be designed into a family saloon without much company design effort or expenditure and sell at a sensibly higher (and more profitable) price to add more appeal to their model ranges. While some companies managed this process with some success during the late fifties, other companies were less timely. However, a spate of promising new saloon car ranges introduced late in the decade promised well for the 1960s. And come the 1960s, with technically improved vehicles in their ranges, it was soon evident that the car companies were tuning in to the new market sector, with their advertisements changing to emphasise engine power, and vehicle dynamics like performance and handling rather than comfort and economy. Some of our advertisement pictures for the article reflect this change of emphasis. We’ll focus on British and European products in this survey, with just a sidelong glance or two at Japanese, Australian and US vehicles.
We’re Backing Britain
As the 1960s dawned, BMC/BLMC’s design effort now diverted to front-wheel drive (FWD) cars, the Mini and soon the 1100 ADO16 series, and then the bigger 1800; the performance potential of these cars was released in the Cooper and Cooper S, and the twin-carburettor MG, Riley and Wolseley versions of the ADO16. The 1800 handled well, and later in the decade a twin-carb 1800S could cover the miles quickly and safely, while from 1967 the 1300 engine, especially the twin-carb variants, lifted the performance of the ADO16 range into the GT class. Some motoring enthusiasts were disappointed that BMC’s RWD saloons were left without significant design development; not much could be done with the A60 Farina and its badge-engineered variants, or the A99/A110 sixes, but the Morris 1000, Riley 1.5 and A40 Farina, though older designs, all had some engine and handling development potential that BMC/BLMC never tapped in production variants.
To read this and other articles on the Classic Driver website please click here to sign up for a membership. Once a member and logged in, you'll be able to read all the articles on the site. If you are already a paid up member, please log in, using the Log In link in the menu at the top of the page.