Showing posts with label 1960s Classic Sports Cars. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 1960s Classic Sports Cars. Show all posts

MGB

MGB 1960s British classic sports car

Among other cars, footballer George Best drove an MGB. A man synonymous with style - in both the Sixties and Seventies - he doubtless took the odd Miss World or two out for a spin in it. He would have needed to watch out, though, for his glamorous passengers. The MGB's handling was no match for Best's dynamic dribbling! Suspension and steering parts - as well as its live axle - were stock BMC items. In other words - manoeuvrability-wise - they were nothing to write home about. In a straight line, however, things MGB were much improved. Top speed was a creditable 106mph. With the top down, Best - and his busty companions - would certainly have felt the breeze blowing through their Vidal Sassoon-sorted locks. At one point, more than 50,000 MGBs per annum were passing through the Abingdon factory gates. Add another nought to that figure, and you have total sales for the MGB. More than half a million were shifted - between '62 and '80. Numbers like that make it one of the best-selling sports cars ever!

Safe to say, then, the MGB's success was due mainly to its lithe good looks. Technically, it was no great shakes. Nonetheless, it was an improvement on its predecessor. The MGA's hefty separate chassis had been ditched - hopefully, not literally - for a lighter unit-construction item. The MGB scored well, too, in terms of torque. There was a rip-roaring 110lb/ft of the stuff - and at just 3,000rpm.

It was in the design department, though, that the MGB shone. Its seductively low lines were drawn with stunning simplicity. The car was inherently aerodynamic. Were it not for its smallish four-cylinder engine, it could have gone a lot quicker. For a sports car - even in the '60s - 95bhp was pretty mediocre. That said - taken in the round - the MGB embodied the best of British motoring. Obviously, Georgie thought so - or, he would not have spent his hard-earned money on one. Hey - if it was good enough for the Belfast boy - well, it really must have been the best!

Sunbeam Tiger

Sunbeam Tiger 1960s British classic sports car

The Sunbeam Tiger was an Anglo-American hybrid. Built in West Bromwich, England, its roots were in Detroit, Michigan. Aptly, then, Rootes was Sunbeam's parent company! At least, until Chrysler took it over. In essence, the Sunbeam Tiger was a Sunbeam Alpine - but with a Ford V8 fitted. Carroll Shelby - he of AC Cobra fame - did early development work on the Tiger. Shelby then passed it to Rootes. The car's 4.2-litre engine was hooked up to a 'top loader' 4-speed gearbox. In turn, a more substantial final drive was installed. The body shell, too, was beefed up. But - with so much on its plate - Rootes was over-stretched. It still had the Sunbeam Alpine in production, too. Riding to Rootes' rescue came Jensen. Their premises were but a stone's throw away from Rootes' factory gates. It fell to Jensen to finish the Tiger project.

Power output for the Tiger was 164bhp. Top speed stood at 117mph. 0-60 came up in 9.5s. Torque - from the Ford V8 - was plentiful, to say the least. Care, though, was required in transferring it to the tarmac. Both steering and suspension were 'suspect'. But - all in all - the Tiger was good value for money. Americans bought it in their droves. British buyers did the same. However, they had to wait a year longer.

So, it was looking good for the Sunbeam Tiger. Until Chrysler's buy-out of Rootes! Chrysler's top brass took an immediate dislike to the car - mainly, on account of its V8 motor. It was, after all, made by Ford! Which would have been fine - had Chrysler had their own V8. Actually, they did. Unfortunately, it did not fit! Sadly, that was the writing on the Tiger's wall. But, all was not lost! Rootes had already built 571 MkII Tigers - complete with 4.7-litre Mustang motors. The Sunbeam Tiger was set to stroll into a few more sunsets yet!

Lamborghini 350 GT

Lamborghini 350 GT 1960s Italian classic sports car

The 350 GT was Lamborghini's first production car. It was launched in March, '64. Touring - Italian coachbuilders extraordinaire - were tasked with styling it. Headquartered in Milan, Touring's brief was based on the Lamborghini 350 GTV prototype. Bodywork comprised alloy panels. They were hung on a Superleggera steel frame. The 350 GT's light body was key to its top speed of 152mph. The solid round-tube chassis was supported by coil spring and tubular wishbone suspension. Girling disc brakes stopped the plot.

Gian Paulo Dallara - alongside Giotto Bizzarini - engineered the GT. Power was supplied by the trusty Lamborghini V12. The crankshaft of the quad-cam 60° motor was machined from a single billet. 280bhp was duly produced. The V12 was fed by side-draught carburettors. That, in turn, led to a rakishly low bonnet line. Capacity was 3,464cc. The 5-speed transmission - and steering box - were by ZF. The rear diff' was by Salisbury. Fast, smooth and tractable, the 350 GT handled superbly. So - with both the form and function of their first model sorted - it seemed Lamborghini was off to a flyer!

The 350 GT was eminently user-friendly. There was, for example, a synchro-mesh reverse gear. The cabin was a chic and comfortable place to be. Just 143 cars were built. Exclusivity, then, was part of the package. Of course - in terms of sheer glamour - the 350 GT falls short of Lamborghini's supercars. But - as an opening sports car shot - it had all the allure and panache that would become so synonymous with the marque.

Iso Grifo

Iso Grifo 1960s Italian classic car

The Iso Grifo was exclusive. In ten years, a mere 504 were built. Styled by Bertone, the Grifo was rooted in the Rivolta GT. Giotto Bizzarrini - ex-Ferrari engineer - shortened the latter's chassis. That added agility to the base model. It was then passed on to Bertone. With that sort of pedigree, Iso were ready to take on Ferrari!

Time, then, to add some speed to the mix. Enter the Chevrolet Corvette. Well, its engine, anyway. The American V8 imparted some serious 'grunt' to the Grifo proceedings. It probably did not please European purists. But, for drivers content with beautiful bodywork - plus muscle car oomph - things were bubbling up nicely. The top-spec Grifo came with the 7-litre version of the Chevy V8. That made it good for 170mph. It hit 70 in first gear alone. 390bhp was duly unleashed. Bizzarrini's reduced wheelbase helped transmit power to tarmac. Wisely, Iso had fitted a full set of disc brakes!

As it turned out, the Grifo did indeed go toe to toe with Ferrari - in the form of the Daytona. The Maserati Ghibli, too, was given a real run for its money. For a small outfit like Iso, that was some achievement. Sadly, financial woes would plague it, in years to come. The fuel crisis - in '74 - finally sealed the firm's fate. By then, though, the Iso Grifo had already established itself as a thoroughbred Italian sports car!