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35 1960s Dream Cars That Just Weren’t That Good

Cameron EittreimNovember 18, 2020

1960 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Roadster
Photo Credit: RM Sotherby

26: 1960 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Roadster

Nowadays expensive and exotic roadsters are all the rage if you have the money to plunk down on one. But back in the ’60s, these cars were still a novelty and the 1960 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Roadster was one of the first. The sleek design was as eye-catching back then as it is now, and partly the reason for the high valuation of the car. Although the looks were absolutely beautiful the performance was not that impressive. For a car of this caliber, you’d expect more to get up and go but that wasn’t the case.

1960 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Roadster
Photo Credit: RM Sotherby

Instead, you had the sleek and comfortable interior and exterior which was the start of the SL roadster line. The 240bhp of the engine wasn’t a horrible amount of power and as time went on the SL line was refined and has evolved. But the hype that surrounded the first generation was more than the car brought to the table.

BMW 2002 Tii
Photo Credit: Car Domain

25: BMW 2002

The BMW 2002 was the first German automobile that embraced the American method of thinking. Cram a large engine into a small package and watch performance shine. Although the 2002 would not outpace a GTO off the line, the car handled twists and turns like nothing else. In addition to that, BMW had cultivated an interior that catered to the driver and was focused on usability.

BMW 2002
Photo Credit: BMW

The suspension was far ahead of its time and the 2002 was perhaps the best performing sports coupe in the slalom. Unfortunately, there were a lot of drawbacks with 2002 as well, the first of which was its small size. The car just wasn’t suitable for anyone with a family, and this left a lot of potential enthusiasts in the dark. The 2002 had a stellar reputation although the final result was not as good as you may have been told.

Ford GT40
Photo Credit: Ford

24: Ford GT40

The GT40’s hype has stood out about the model since its unveiling. Sure, the GT40 was an amazingly fast racecar that put Ford and America on a world stage. Overall, it is one of the most revered dream cars out there. But when it comes down to it, the GT40 isn’t actually that special. The Ford GT was actually a mixture of recycled Ford technology that was already available. True, the design was revolutionary at the time, especially considering the aerodynamics of the vehicle.

GT 40
Photo Credit: Ford

But what Ford was trying to do was simply proving relevance in the worldwide racing circuit. The GT40 did just that, hence all of the positive press it received. The actual genetics of the car were still debatable and other supercars proved more potent. Today there’s a modern variation of the GT40 that you can purchase, albeit a different setup entirely from the original.

MG B Roadster
Photo Credit: Classic Cars Inc.

23: MG B

Although lightweight convertibles took off with the Mazda Miata there was actually one that was available long before. The MG B, a notable British roadster that still has a cult following today. The first thing you’ll notice about the car is the lightweight design. The mechanics of the MG B were also very easy to work on, which was appealing to new enthusiasts of the brand. The car handled well around twists and turns and performed better than you’d expect.

MG B
Photo Credit: MG B

As it turns out the MG B has managed to find success in the secondary life, but the car had a lot of shortcomings. Shoddy build quality made these cars a pain to live with while they were new, much less used. The small stature of the vehicle can be downright terrifying in urban driving conditions or in between towering SUVs. In addition, there is a scarce supply of parts still available.

Alfa Romeo Giulia Carabineri
via: Alfa

22: Alfa Romeo Giulia

No, we aren’t talking about the current Giulia, a well-rounded sedan. We’re talking about the earlier model sold decades ago. The car was a surprise in design, but performance didn’t live up to the hype. While Alfa Romeo can build an incredibly beautiful car, reliability has always been brought into question. With such a small dealership network and very few familiar technicians, these cars are a pain to own.

Alfa Romeo Giulia
Photo Credit: Alfa Romeo

Nevertheless, the styling was far ahead of its time. The beauty of the car often overruled the logic of owning one, and that’s why the Giulia has a cult following. The handling was also incredibly on point for the time period, and the car did perform well when it was running correctly. But there are other options from this time period that are easier to work on and more reliable to own.

Alfa Romeo 33 Stradale
Photo Credit: Alfa Romeo

21: Alfa Romeo 33 Stradale

Another interesting offering from Alfa was the 33 Stradale. If the car looks familiar it’s because the design esthetic was very similar to the profile of one of the most hyped dreams cars out there, the GT40. Alfa Romeo wanted to create a consumer supercar, something that could rival the best of Italy. Its design was there but the rest of the car was lacking. Looking from the outside in, the 33 Stradale was luxurious for the time period.

Alfa Romeo 33 Stradale
Photo Credit: Alfa

Sadly, once you drove the car it was a downhill feeling from there. The quality just wasn’t on par with dream cars the rest of the industry was offering. The look and feel of the car were not what you’d expect out of a supposed supercar and consumers reacted as such. There were far better offerings on the market then the Stradale.

Aston Martin DB5
Photo Credit: Aston

20: Aston Martin DB5

When you think of iconic cars, the DB5 was among them for one reason, and it was of course James Bond. The DB5 looked the part of an exotic sports car, and it managed to garner the attention of the media as one of the more hyped dream cars of the decade. Driving a DB5 however was not as exciting, and the luster quickly wore off for the car. There were a few aspects that stood out such as the exterior styling, but we all know that you don’t buy a sports car for only looks.

Aston Martin DB5
Photo Credit: Aston Martin

Had the DB5 had been put together a little better, the result could have been great. You can still find these from time to time but they are rare. The DB5 was not as popular as later offerings that would come out of Aston Martin. With a penchant for design, the DB5 was a rather lackluster offering.

Lotus Elan
Photo Credit: Lotus

19: Lotus Elan

The original Elan, not that modern one that came out in the 1990s, was an excellent sports car to take around corners. But the rest of the car fell flat on its face, so what happened? Well, for starters the powerplant was not up to par, especially for a car of this caliber. Then you had the fact that the Elan failed in just about every reliability test at the time. These things were difficult to keep on the roadways. They were far from the reliable dream cars Lotus hoped they’d be.

Lotus Elan
Photo Credit: Lotus

Lotus parts are extremely difficult to come by, and as such, you can expect to have trouble repairing an original Elan. The car was highly regarded for its exceptional road manners and design, but the driving aspects of the car fell short. Nevertheless, the Elan will still go down as one of the more hyped sports cars of this era.

Mini Cooper
Photo Credit: Mini

18: Mini Cooper

The Mini Cooper is perhaps one of the most iconic cars on the road, which is notable since it is also one of the smallest. But while the original Mini Cooper had an iconic look to it, the performance was almost nonexistent. This has much to do with the minuscule powertrain. In addition to the lack of power the Mini was also low on features. The car was about as barebones as you could get, so why include it in a list of sports cars?

Mini Cooper
Photo Credit: Mini

Well, the Mini had a few special editions that added to the car’s performance. These special-edition cars are notable and rare, but turned the Mini Cooper into one of the original “hot hatches” of its era. There is a lot about the Mini Cooper that’s worth noting, but the car just fell short in a lot of aspects.

Toyota 2000GT
Photo Credit: Auto Trader

17: Toyota 2000GT

Although the Nissan Z car gets all of the credit when it comes to the original Japanese sports car, Toyota also had one. The 2000GT was sleek, sexy, and performed admirably. Why the car didn’t make it to American shores is beyond us, but the car had a lot of potential. This was one of the first cars to break the $1 million mark at an auction, and to this day these cars are quite rare. You could say this was the precursor to the Supra that we know and love.

Toyota 2000GT
Photo Credit: Toyota

But the 2000GT also had some shortcomings worth noting. The first of which was the hanging design of the doors. It was incredibly difficult for a tall driver to get in and out of this thing, and that was a problem. Another issue is visibility, which is very difficult in the rear of the car where there are blind spots.

toyota_2000gt_shelby_1
Photo Credit: Jaguar

16: Jaguar E-Type

It wasn’t the first electric car, but the E-Type was incredibly fun to drive. When you took the E-Type out on the road you knew that you were driving something special. But the E-Type had some design flaws which aggravated consumers. Visibility was almost nonexistent in this car, and the convertible top was cheap. In addition to that, the engine required constant maintenance.

Jaguar E-Type
Photo Credit: Jaguar

The E-Type is highly sought after as a collector’s item overseas. Yet let’s face the facts – it wasn’t that great. The design could have been a lot more fluid and the reliability of the car makes it a pain to work on. Classic cars should be fun to drive and not a headache to own, which the E-Type is.

Pontiac GTO
Photo Credit: GM

15: Pontiac GTO

The GTO had a lot that made it stand out, from the powerful engine to the styling. But the GTO in a lot of aspects was more hype than performance, and this was a letdown. The GTO had a lot of performance advances at the time, but these fell in comparison to the other cars that were on the market at the time. The resale value of the GTO is tremendous, but when you look at it the car is lacking in a lot of places.

Pontiac GTO
Photo Credit: Hot Rod

There was room for improvement both in terms of interior quality and features, and that made the GTO a notable exception. The car has had a long track record for being one of the most iconic muscle cars on the road, but every car has some shortcomings. The GTO wasn’t exempt from this either.

Ferrari 250 GT Lusso
Photo Credit: Ferrari

14: Ferrari 250 GTO

Another “GTO” that had some shortcomings was the Ferrari 250, which lacked the fundamentals that make a Ferrari stand out. The 250 GTO didn’t have the performance that traditional Ferrari enthusiasts had hoped for, and thus it didn’t stand out as much from the crowd. Although the styling was modern, driving characteristics were slim. The car was more popular overseas than it was in America, which had benefits and drawbacks.

Ferrari 250 GT Lusso
Photo Credit: Classic Car

The 250 GTO will go down in history as one of the failures of the Ferrari brand. While other models came after it the GTO was just lackluster at best. You still see these come across the auction block from time to time, but they’re few and far between. The car just didn’t have that special touch consumers were looking for.

Ferrari 250 GTE 2+2
Photo Credit: RM Sotherby

13: Ferrari 275 GTB

Few cars have the distinction of being powered by a V-12 engine and the Ferrari 275 GTB is one of them. At the time, these engines were still being perfected and as such, the Ferrari 275 GTB was not at all a hit like you’d expect. The 275 GTB had a striking design, which was well noted by the automotive press at the time. Likewise, there were high hopes the 275 would perform much better than its predecessor did.

Ferrari 250 GTE 2+2
Photo Credit: Rm Sotherby

Sadly, the car fell short in a lot of aspects, and this caused frustration in the enthusiast community. The 275 GTB was incredibly fun to drive when it was running right, but repair costs were just too much to live with. The 275 GTB fell short in a lot of aspects and thus the market for these has gone away.

Dastun 240Z
Photo Credit: RM Sotherby

12: Datsun 240Z

Along with other Japanese cars at the time, the 240Z was carving a niche in the marketplace for itself. Although highly regarded as one of the best sports cars to ever hit the road, the 240Z had a lot of shortcomings as well. For starters, the car was prone to rust and a lot of it. This set buyers off early on because they would have to pay to get the rust repaired, oftentimes being too late.

Dastun 240Z
Photo Credit: RM Sotherby

The small dealer network of Datsun was also a problem when it came to getting repairs. Still, the Nissan 240 Z managed to become one of the most iconic sports cars on the road. There was a lot to love about the car and shoppers were willing to put up with the shortcomings.

Chevrolet Corvette Stingray
Photo Credit: RM Sotherby

11: Chevrolet Corvette Stingray

The Corvette has always managed to be a piece of American history, constantly innovating the sports car market during its tenure. The Stingray took things one step further with a sweeping redesign and top-notch performance. The Stingray had a lot of aspects that made it great, such as its curvy lines and the modern interior. However, performance was a bit of a let down when you considered how lightweight the car was.

Corvette Stingray
Photo Credit: Hot Rod

Chevrolet managed to add a lot of upgrades to the car that you could get from the factory. Sadly, this wasn’t enough to increase the performance to a great degree. Maintenance was also a pain to take care of on these things. Nevertheless, the Corvette Stingray is one of the most highly regarded sports cars mainly because of its appearance.

Mazda Cosmo
Photo Credit: RMSotherby

10: Mazda Cosmo

You’ve heard of the RX-7. But have you driven a Cosmo? This was the original Rotary-powered Mazda sports car and there was a lot to like about it. The Rotary engine of course was one of the best powerplants around, but there was also the design of the car, which was ahead of its time. Sadly, many of the downfalls of the Cosmo were because of rust issues and a lack of quality.

Mazda Cosmo
Photo Credit: RM Sotherby

Mazda attempted to reinvigorate the Cosmo to no avail as the car just couldn’t connect with consumers on a meaningful level. The Cosmo will be remembered for being the first mass-produced rotary sports car on the market.

Shelby Cobra
Photo Credit: Hot Rod

9: Shelby Cobra

When drivers think of overhyped dream cars that have been played out, the Cobra always comes to mind. You always hear about how great it is and one of the top dreams cars to this day, but there are other options on the market. For starters, you can get a Cobra kit car for a lot less than the original and no one can tell the difference. Then you have the fact that parts for them are also quite expensive, a drawback to owning one.

Shelby Cobra
Photo Credit: Hot Rod

Yes, the Cobra is a highly-regarded classic and one of the most desired dream cars of the ’60s, but the drawbacks of the car just make it worth avoiding for the most part. You can find better cars than this one on the market and you’ll have a lot more fun with them.

https://st.automobilemag.com/uploads/sites/11/2016/03/Lamborghini-Miura-SV-at-Amelia-Island-20.jpg
Photo Credit: Lamborghini

8: Lamborghini Miura

Lambo is not to be left out of the failed sports car race, and the Miura was a miserable failure. The styling of the car was obscene and elongated, which didn’t work with what the company was trying to go for. Of course, all Lambos are overly stretched and look kind of weird so this wasn’t a surprise. But the Miura had a lot of unique features to it, such as a transversely mounted V-12 engine.

dream cars
Photo Credit: Lamborghini

Still, all the technological advancements in the world weren’t enough to make the car a hit. The high price tag and polarizing looks turned most buyers off. This was at a time when the automotive industry was shifting in design, and this specific Lambo just didn’t add up in terms of desired dream cars.

Dodge Charger
Photo Credit: Hot Rod

7: Dodge Charger

Chrysler was throwing anything at the wall and trying to get it to stick around this time period. The Charger was a lot heavier than its competition and performance wasn’t as good but it managed to gain popularity. The rise of the Hemi V8 was instrumental in the marketing of this car and it worked.

Dodge Charger
Photo Credit: Hot Rod

People flocked to the high-performance Dodge and its stablemates at a time when the Mustang was still new. The Charger definitely helped to define the muscle car era. There were a lot of quality shortcomings with the Charger as well as reliability issues. These contributed to negative press for the car in the long run. Overall, it found it difficult to maintain status as one of the most desired dream cars.

Porsche 911
Photo Credit: RM Sotherbys

6: Porsche 911

It’s hard to believe that the 911 has maintained the same exterior styling since the 1960s, but it has. It has remained one of the most desired dream cars, but not all is perfect. The original design of the car was not to be mocked, although its performance fell flat in a lot of aspects. The 911 was a superb sports car when you took it on twists and turns, but its drawbacks were a cramped interior and a rough ride. It was only recently that Porsche began to change the way their cars ride.

Porsche 911
Photo Credit: DuPont

The handling was strong though and this is what many enthusiasts were looking for. The sharp handling and quick driving of the 911 made it fun to drive, even if a lot of aspects were left behind in the design of the car.

Jensen Interceptor
Photo Credit: Jensen

5: Jensen Interceptor

A unique car that failed to catch on was the Interceptor. The car had a V8 powerplant but that wasn’t enough to justify the price. There was a lot of hype that surrounded this car, and that was a good thing for the company. You’ll note that a lot of the design cues were very similar to other muscle cars that were on the market. The noteworthy design of the interior stood out for sure.

Jensen Interceptor
Photo Credit: Hot Rod

But the Interceptor only ever managed to captivate a very limited audience, sadly these cars just didn’t catch on. Still, for what it, was the Interceptor was a pretty unique car with a lot of potential for upgrades and personalization. It failed to become one of the top dreams cars of the ’60s, however.

Ford Mustang
Photo Credit: Ford

4: Ford Mustang

Few cars have changed an industry as the Ford Mustang did. The car was compact and fun to drive at a time when cars were waterlogged land yachts. The Mustang had a lot of hype behind it and it became the king among 1960s dream cars. However, the original design was not all that good. The car was prone to rust and the reliability was not all there as the car got older. Step into the V6 variation of the car and things tended to get a lot worse.

Photo Credit: Ford

Still, there are some noteworthy features you could point to. For starters, the Mustang was the original pony car and it came in the iconic convertible version. The Mustang was also iconic with a new generation of drivers who appreciated the freewheeling design of the car. It remains one of the auto industry’s most desired dream cars.

Chevy Camaro
Photo Credit: Chevy

3: Chevrolet Camaro

It doesn’t take a lot to tell that the Camaro has become iconic as one of the most loved dreams cars of the automotive market, but the car wasn’t all that great. Chevy was quick to throw something together on the heels of the Mustang debut, but the Camaro was not well-planned. You could say that the Mustang caught GM off-guard because of the entirely new market segment. Pony cars had not been produced yet and this was a first of its kind car.

1967 Camaro Indy 500 Pace Car via RM Sotherbys
Photo Credit: RM Sotheby’s

There are a lot of things that make the Chevrolet Camaro stand out, the first of which being the noteworthy design. You don’t get more iconic than the original design of the Camaro; step into the SS and it stood out even more. But the Camaro had a lot of work that needed to be done and the second generation was even worse.

Plymouth Duster
Photo Credit: Hot Rod

2: Plymouth Duster

For Chrysler, finding a car that could captivate the market was never an easy thing to do. The Duster had a lot going for it, but it also had a lot of drawbacks to it. Chrysler didn’t plan out the design the way that the company should have, and as such the car suffered for this. The Duster had the Hemi V8 but reliability was scarce at best. A lot of what you can get with the Duster was found on other sports cars at the time.

Plymouth Duster
Photo Credit: Hot Rod

Sales managed to meet expectations but the Duster was never the massive hit that the Camaro or the Mustang was. Hence why those two models are still here today and the Duster and Plymouth have become dream cars that are merely relics of the past.

Chrysler 300F
Photo Credit: Hot Rod

1: Chrysler 300F

The big sedan Chrysler released in the ’60s was supposed to incite excitement with potential buyers. A string of styling changes made the 300F look a lot different than anything else on the market. But this wasn’t enough to propel the oversized thing to a sales success. Marketed as a sports sedan, the 300F had a lot of hype in the media, and its performance was great on paper.

Chrysler 300F
Photo Credit: Hot Rod

The car also had some innovative interior advances which made it easier to live with. Yet sadly this was not enough to sell the 300F. Consumers were looking for something more out of a vehicle, and what this one brought to the table wasn’t enough to justify the price. Decades later, the 300C became a smash hit for the company.

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