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Sajeev
Community Manager

Community Question: The "worst" vehicle(s) of the 1960s?

Okay, we don't want to ruffle any feathers here, but it's time for us to discuss cars from the 1960s that were the worst. But being the "worst" means different things in the car business, for example it can mean: 

 

  • Poor Sales
  • Worst in class performance: acceleration, braking, handling, ride, etc.
  • Odd styling
  • Lack of reliability/durability/parts/service
  • Personal reasons for considering something "bad"  

Here's the thing about this question: just because they didn't perform/sell well (or weren't great for their time back in the 1960s) doesn't mean they are unworthy of owning, collecting, restoring and loving as a classic vehicle. Take it from someone who owns Malaise Era cars, my intention is not to put down any vehicle from the 1960s. 

1962 Plymouth Valiant Signet | Mecum Auctions1962 Plymouth Valiant Signet | Mecum Auctions

So with that in mind, what are the "worst" vehicles of the 1960s? 

58 REPLIES 58
Brandan
Hagerty Employee

The Valiant and Dart have too much going on in my book, but that greenhouse is pretty cool. 

Snailish
Gearhead

They look insane as a wagon.

 

PT Cruiser should have retro-fied that look instead...

Snailish
Gearhead

Plain jane 67-69 Camaros, particularly 6 cylinder bench seat in the blue, green, gold colours were clearly the worst as they all get changed into red or black SS/RS.

 

 

(I'm being sarcastic for those that don't pick that up  --I'd actually be more interested in the "granny spec" Camaro for myself. Dog dish hubcaps...)

DUB6
Specialist

Yeah, it'd be interesting to see if you could even find more than a half-dozen of those gennie 6-banger Camaros.  The secretary mother of friend of mine had one ('68 - the blue) and he was constantly trying to talk her out of it so he could do pretty much just what you said.

Ch2
Pit Crew

I had a 69 AMC Ambassador. Green on green. My friends hated that car, because that 290v8 unibody would smoke my friends Pontiac 326, 70 Dodge, 64 Chevy...everytime! I think they called it grandma's car

 

DUB6
Specialist

Grandma would've been SO proud!  😁

hyperv6
Racer

hat is funny is if you google up a list of ugly cars from the 60's the Valiant is on nearly every list.  

 

This is a difficult choice as to be honest being bad is why we remember these cars today and why some collect them. If they were just bla they would be forgotten. 

 

Even the cars like the Superbird were hated back then but turned into collectors dream today. 

 

I was never a fan of the Mercury Comet. The fins were a bit much but it originally was to have been a small Edsel till Ford Killed the Edsel. 

 

The First Gen Corvair was not a looker but the 65 was one of the best styled cars of the 60 especially in coupe form. 

 

Early Tempest were not that stylish. 

 

Now if you go global Japan and Europe had a number of abominations they sold that were ugly often unreliable. 

 

While the old Valiant makes these list the later one that was bla is often forgotten. 

 

 

Sajeev
Community Manager

The Valiant of that era is "ugly", but I both like and appreciate them in the same why I like the "ugly" Pontiac Aztek of the 2000s. 

jsmarsh
Intermediate Driver

My folks bought a red 1960 Valiant.  I was 18 and my brother 16.  I'm sure I remember that it was a 3 on the floor and I know it was the famous slant 6.  We didn't think it was ugly back then.    We lived on a dirt road near Ann Arbor, Mi and my brother and I drove that car as hard as you can possibly imagine.  It didn't get dinged up to bad but the drivetrain abuse was relentless.  Anyone from the Ann Arbor area may remember several switchback and washboard roads in the area including Hogback road.   I especially, learned to drive and drift on dirt in that car.   You know, it lasted at least 10 years or more and will never be forgotten.

Snailish
Gearhead

As a teen Valiants of that era might of been called ugly by peers, maybe even me. But that was immature looking back at it.

 

"Polarizing" styling for sure, but one that has aged very well. Though still love it hate it for most I would guess. They look insane as a wagon. They are memorable and stand out  --something many cars designers of the past 30 years can only dream of.

DUB6
Specialist

What I considered the worst cars in the '60s were anything that would outrun whatever I was driving (from stoplight-to-stoplight), and/or catch the attention of any young ladies that I was attempting to impress with my car.  As I'm sure you can imagine, the list was way too long to write out here... 😃

eurovin
Pit Crew

To me it was the '63 Rambler American my dad bought just before I got my driver's license.  My mom hated it too, but he told her he got it 'cause he wanted me driving the ugliest, dorkiest car he could find so I wouldn't be tempted to hot rod around.  Thanks, Dad.

That said, now in my 70s, Ramblers are pretty far up my list, but gimme a finned full-size wagon, please.

Studenorton
Instructor

But Dude, those *seats*...

miata93
Instructor

As the former owner of a 1965 AMC Rambler Classic 660 who envied those who could afford to drive a Maverick, I salute you. "But Dude, those *seats*..." made my day.

DUB6
Specialist

Yeah man.  Those seats.  I had a friend in high school that had what I think I remember as a '63 Classic.  Most of 'the guys' drove hot rods.  He pulled the "R"s off either end of the name plate and it became "The AMBLE" in honor of how slow it was.  But I remember the first time he showed me "those seats", and I was instantly jealous and constantly tried to find a set for my Chevy!  😂

MustangJim
Technician

That was one of the first cars I thought of when insane the title of this conversation

richard2
Intermediate Driver

It's interesting that this article kind of equates "worst" with "ugly". That's only one rating scale, and for every person who hates the "ugly" XXX, there are almost an equal (if not greater) number who love them.

 

No, worst in my books has to do with things that actually matter, like whether or not the thing was safe to drive, whether or not you can actually find parts for it to keep it running; things like that.

 

Not everyone has Jay Leno's garage and plethora of mechanics on call to keep old stuff running. I dare say even Jay has one or two autos in his collection that simply cannot be made driveable without extreme "custom fab" measures.

DUB6
Specialist

   In all fairness to Sajeev, I think it should be pointed out that he began the entire article with:

But being the "worst" means different things in the car business, for example it can mean: 

  • Poor Sales
  • Worst in class performance: acceleration, braking, handling, ride, etc.
  • Odd styling
  • Lack of reliability/durability/parts/service
  • Personal reasons for considering something "bad" 

Which to me does the exact opposite of equating "worst" with "ugly".  The closest he came to "ugly" was "poor styling", which isn't even very close at all.  He prefaced the whole thing on asking any responders to consider anything and everything in establishing their own parameters for mentioning what they would call "worst".

   The fact that many responders chose looks as their benchmark isn't the article's fault, now is it?

hydroCARbon
New Driver

ANYTHING with the word "Fiat" on it.

 

Jr1
Intermediate Driver

The FIAT X-19 usually was pointed out to people as "That big rust stain on my drive-way."  Driving behind one was sometimes getting a view of the car in front of it from the back.  They rusted through.  Another car was the early Honda.  The grill/radiator support would fall on the ground when you opened the hood.  My sister had an early Subaru that rusted so badly, the bottom third of all 4 doors was gone, and the rear differential howled like a Banshee.  The Hippies in Vermont loved the Subaru because the SAAB and Volvo were getting expensive.  They took to the ugliest cars so they could brag about their counter-culture feelings, but the Subaru didn't like salty roads at all and showed it by disappearing down the storm drains.

ScaryLarryPants
Instructor

That's okay, current Subarus are disappearing savings accounts whenever their CVT transmissions fail...and fail often.

JohnFuchs
New Driver

In 1968, when I worked for Chrysler in Detroit, I had a '61 Dodge Lancer (same as the Valiant), with a 225 ci six and three on the column, and a co-worker had a Valiant with the 170 ci six.  We would go out to Woodward Avenue and drag race, and no one noticed.

bjburnout
Intermediate Driver

Excellent John, one of the funniest lines I've heard.....thanx for the laugh.

JackVan
Detailer

You would have to see a couple Lancer/Valiant with the hipo 6 and a little tuning at the strip. They were faster than a 4 speed 383 B body.

68hotrod
New Driver

One of you two should have put a 340 ci. in one or both. They both looked like the Nasty big Dodge`s with the 440 commando`s that ruled Super Stock back in the 60`s What an eye opener that would be...........

 

sturg43
New Driver

John,

Did you live on Malden in Farmington when with Chrysler?  

Tom Sturgeon

JohnFuchs
New Driver

Yes, Tom, it's the same John Fuchs.  How are you?  What ever happened to your '67 Vette?

cassman66
Intermediate Driver

If a tree falls in a forest . . .

Alexsar
Pit Crew

First generation Corvair. It could have been the American Porsche. Too many production compromises made it "Unsafe At Any Speed."

Continental57
Pit Crew

I'll second that. Lots of questionable engineering, even though you have to at least say GM tried.  Ford went conventional and outsold em all. Boring but reliable. 

 

noah300g
Intermediate Driver

I'd take any of the 'worst' cars of the 60's over either one of the crap boxes in your lead article about 'attainable 80's classics from USA and Germany'.

Corvetteman
Pit Crew

British cars....MG, Austin, Morris, Hillman, Standard, anything with Lucas or Smiths electrics, SU carbs, Gerling shocks, Triumph, etc., etc., etc.....

MrKnowItAll
Advanced Driver

Anytime I see one of these "worst" lists, it's in a general information magazine, or website. Usually the "worst" vehicles are aging economy cars that have no status value.
The real worst cars are overpriced specialty and luxury imports (I'm sure you know what I'm talking about) that are ridiculously overpriced to begin with, impossible to own and service, and they're really only good to strut ones peacock feathers with.

Snailish
Gearhead

Sage response MrKnowItAll,

 

Chevy Caviliers got referred to as crapaliers around here. Yet how many people being honest, can say that a Cavalier was an important part of their success in life?

 

I would guess way more than all the luxury brands put together. Economy cars and the bottom of the market enable people to do things to improve their life. The people at the top of the market are already enabled independent of their vehicle selection.

qp
New Driver

65 Ford fairlane

hunternicholas
Detailer

The worst vehicle of the 1960's without doubt was just about anything foreign.

VW excepted, the biggest problem was getting parts.  Bear in mind no internet, and not much available for international shipping such as UPS and FedEx.  A dealership would help if the car was fairly new, if there was a dealership.  And if you did locate parts, there was always an astronomical cost associated with them.

Having lived through this period I can say that almost nobody wanted a foreign car back then.  Though if you lived in SoCal it would be easier obtaining parts because they had a bigger market out there.

As well, foreign cars didn't hold up very well here in the USA.  Their engines couldn't take the speeds and distances we drove here and that added to the cost of owning one.

Another reason people didn't want a foreign car is because they were considered dangerous.  And probably they were.  Even a Beetle was considered dubious on that aspect.  Most people, like my dad, wanted a full-size American car with an engine in front of them.  A car that lasted, and when it did need parts they cheap and plentiful.

eurovin
Pit Crew

But Mercedes?  Volvo?  I currently have two survivor 60s Volvos, and the 60's Mercedes was probably the safest car on the road then, until Volvo took over in the 70s.  Okay, I'm biased, but those cars were "over-engineered", and who came up with 3-point seatbelts?  In like, 1958?

Miketheump
Intermediate Driver

I had a 64 Valiant Signet with the 225 Slant 6, maybe mine was a freak but I was able to beat Mustangs with small V8's. Call me crazy but I loved that car.

DUB6
Specialist

I don't think you're crazy, @Miketheump.  Even in my current V-8 hot rod crowd, the Slanty is revered.  Not only a very reliable powerplant, but much more performance-worthy than most people realize.  In a lightweight car like a Valiant, I can easily imagine it as a formidable challenge for a 289 Mustang.

Alikat51
Intermediate Driver

'60 Edsel Ranger. Far and few around. Only 75 Convertibles made. I think it is almost as ugly as the '58! 

 

Jnick
Advanced Driver

Maybe I’m old school but all your worst cars I consider the best cars. Any 6 cylinder American vehicle just ran forever. I ran a 1957 Chevrolet with a 6 cylinder and it wasn’t fast but boy was it smooth no creaks or rattles, and the needed rebuild was cheap and simple.

Studenorton
Instructor

The 1960 Valiant was designed by Anne MacAdam, who was later Chrysler design VP and a  well-known painter, and died in March at age 91.  She was under 30 when she headed up the Valiant project, kind of a big deal for a woman in the industry at that time.  She also had worked on the Packard Predictor. 

red-on-red
Intermediate Driver

Interesting that you use a 62 Valiant as your poster child for ugly.

  The 1960 to 62 Plymouth Valiant were a sales and performance success. First years for the new slant six, first car with an alternator, fastback design, and available Hyper Pak performance upgrade. They handle and drive better than most cars of the era. As the first MOPAR "A body" platform, Valiants and Darts were built for the next 15 years. 

  In the new for 1960 NASCAR "compact car class", a 4 door 60 Valiant with the 170 CID Hyper Pak slant six with 13" wheels ran 128 MPH at the Daytona Beach oval. Compared to the race prepped Falcons and Corvairs running in the 90 MPH range.

   Yes, I own a 61 Valiant Hyper Pak, and a 62 Valiant slant six drag car. I love the cool Exner styling and great performance.

   If you are lucky, maybe you will get the chance to drive one someday.

DUB6
Specialist

@red-on-red with all due respect:

Where, in this entire article, do you even see the word "ugly", let alone think the author used it to describe the car?

Doug42
Intermediate Driver

Pinto and Yugo.

RBHatton
Pit Crew

Sorry Doug42,  but the Pinto and Yugo didn't come along until after the 60's.   

ScaryLarryPants
Instructor

Having worked on a few Yugos over the years, one might swear that it was built in the 1960's.

TLD
Pit Crew

Without a doubt the worse car of the '60's was the Corvair.

 

ScaryLarryPants
Instructor

The first gen/swing axle car, yes. 

The second generation...I think they were onto something, as I'm in love with that particular beast. It's just a pity that GM dropped the ball on doing anything further with the car, I think it could have been an impressive Porsche 911 killer had they stuck with the thing, especially if they ever went mid-engine with it.