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36 Classic American Luxury Cars From The ’60s and ’70s

Vukasin HerbezMay 29, 2019

The ’60s and ‘70s were strange decades in the automotive world. For good or bad, the ’60s and ‘70s left a deep mark on car history. In fact, the American automotive landscape vastly changed between 1960 and 1979.

During that time, most car manufacturers changed their philosophies. Most downsized and introduced numerous innovative models and classes. But one of the trends that became apparent during the time were rising numbers of luxury models. It looked like car manufacturers were offering more convenience and interior features since their cars lacked power and performance. Here are the most memorable American luxury models from the ’60s and ‘70s.

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36. Chevrolet Monte Carlo

In 1970, Chevrolet presented the Monte Carlo as a personal luxury coupe. It was built on a modified Chevelle platform. The Monte Carlo was a handsome, coupe-only car with a V8 engine, nice interior, and decent performance. Although most Monte Carlos came with the smaller V8 engine and only people who wanted luxury bought it, there was one crazy muscle option.

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It came in the form of the SS 454 package. However, since Chevrolet produced the Monte Carlo, it was affordable and popular. The Monte Carlo was the car that showed other manufacturers that the car market wanted luxury, not just performance. This car offered almost Cadillac levels of luxury and comfort for the working-class market.

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35. Ford Mustang Grande

Although late ‘60s and early ‘70s Mustangs are all about muscle, performance, and looks, Ford introduced an interesting new version. It became popular, showing the market’s interest in luxury. That car was the infamous Mustang Grande.

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Available from 1969 to 1973, Ford sold the Mustang Grande only as a coupe with a V8 engine and vinyl roof. The Mustang Grande also had several exclusive colors, trim options, and interior decals. Ford aimed it at the customers who wanted Mustang excitement, but with Lincoln comfort. With Ford selling over 22,000 examples in the first year alone, it was clear the industry had to produce more luxury-oriented vehicles. And it was also apparent that the muscle car era was slowly fading away.

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34. Mercury Cougar

Mercury unveiled the third-generation Cougar in 1974. Interestingly, it marked the departure from the athletic and performance models before it. They no longer based the car on the Mustang. Instead, they moved to a heavier, bigger chassis. That meant that Cougars were more personal luxury cruisers than muscle cars, even though Mercury tried to present them as such.

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Even with the optional 460 V8 with 220 HP, the acceleration times were disappointing. So Mercury moved the Cougar to the personal luxury segment and away from its muscle car roots. Cougars were cars for middle-aged Mercury buyers who wanted something sportier than a Thunderbird but with the same level of comfort and equipment.

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33. Stutz Blackhawk

The early ‘70s saw the return of one of the most famous classic American brands, Stutz. New York banker James O’Donnell resurrected the company and invested heavily in marketing, design, and bespoke production. They designed the Blackhawk on a Pontiac Grand Prix chassis using its drivetrain and 455 V8. Then Stutz commissioned various Italian coachwork companies to produce unique, retro-inspired bodies.

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The Blackhawk entered production in late 1970. Due to its unique style, strong marketing, and celebrity endorsements, the Stutz Blackhawk soon became one of the most exclusive and in-demand American cars. Although it cost over $20,000 in 1971, which was close to the price of a new Rolls Royce, O’Donnell found many customers. That is what kept his company in business for almost 20 years.

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32. Pontiac Grand Ville

The early ‘70s were good times for the Pontiac Motor Division. During the ‘60s, the company reimagined itself, proving to be a leader in several segments with high annual production numbers. So for the early ‘70s, the Pontiac management decided to enter the luxury car segment. They did that in 1971 by introducing a new top-of-the-line model called the Grand Ville. Although the Bonneville sold reasonably well, and most consumers considered it a wise choice in the luxury field, Pontiac wanted more. They imagined something closer to a Cadillac or Oldsmobile than to a Chevrolet Caprice.

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So they produced the Grand Ville using a Bonneville platform and most of the sheet metal. Pontiac decided to offer the 400 V8 engine as standard and the 455 as an optional engine, as well as a high level of equipment. But for those who wanted something extra, Pontiac offered a leather interior, climate control, and heavy-duty suspension. The Grand Ville came as either a two or four-door hardtop or luxury convertible but the market didn’t respond well, so sales figures were low. At the same time, the energy crisis hit the USA, so big gas-guzzlers fell out of favor with most customers.

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31. Lincoln Continental

After the popular, influential 1961-1969 Continental models, Lincoln presented the upgraded and elegant 1970 model. It was on market for a full nine years until 1979. Lincoln designed it to be similar to their other models, yet it still retained several unique features like the details and trim.

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They mounted the front headlights under the automatically operated cover, which was a nice touch. Under the hood, the 460 V8 was present but gradually it lost power due to tightening emissions standards. However, the Continental retained its signature comfort, luxury, and high level of equipment. In fact, it sold well despite a heavy price tag.

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30. Buick Riviera

Buick offered the original Riviera as a 1963 model. But in 1971, the Riviera became a design classic with the introduction of the iconic boat tail design. It was in production for only three years but left a big mark on the industry with its unusual yet elegant styling.

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With its powerful engines, decent performance, and overall uniqueness, the 1971-73 Riviera was one of the best personal luxury coupes. And it was a true ‘70s classic. Buick continued to produce Rivieras until 1997, but never repeated the success of this generation.

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29. Ford Thunderbird

The Thunderbird is the ultimate classic of the personal luxury coupe genre. In fact, it’s the model that singlehandedly created the segment. However, its sixth generation, which they produced from 1972 to 1976 is the typical ‘70s luxury cruiser. That’s what makes it the perfect candidate for this list.

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The reasons are many. First, this Thunderbird was similar to the Lincoln Continental Mark IV coupe. Second, it was a top-of-the-line Ford that offered all the imaginable luxury items. Third, it was also the heaviest and biggest Thunderbird ever, topping the scale at over 5,000 pounds. With a big 460 V8 and just 220 HP, this model wasn’t exactly fast or agile. However, car buyers loved its presence and comfort, so Ford sold almost 300,000 examples.

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28. Cadillac Seville

The 1975 Seville may have been shocking to some Cadillac purists as the first downsized Caddy and affordable luxury car ever. But it was an extremely smart move by the company. It was one of the best U.S. sedans of the late ‘70s. After the 1970 to 1977 period full of big land yachts and heavy cruisers, Cadillac realized the market had changed.

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Consumers wanted those more nimble and precise foreign cars such as the Mercedes W116 S Class. They decided to introduce a smaller, more modern car, but it would be every bit a Cadillac so the market would accept it as such. The 1975 Seville turned out to be the perfect car for the time and sales went beyond the company’s expectations. The Seville was elegant, perfectly sized, and reasonably powerful, too. Also, it came with a long list of options and trim choices, including the interesting Slantback body style and even a Gucci-themed trim package.

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27. Imperial LeBaron

Despite once being a respectable luxury brand, by the mid-’70s, Imperial had faded away. In fact, their cars were reduced to rebadged Chryslers with different details, trims, and names. Under the hood was a big 440 V8 that produced just 215 HP.

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So sadly, the 1975 model year was the last for those classic Imperials. There wouldn’t be another Imperial for several years. Even then, it would once again be just a rebadged Chrysler.

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26. Cadillac Eldorado

The 1976 Eldorado was an automotive dinosaur in many ways. It was the last Cadillac produced with the enormous 500 CID V8 engine, one of the biggest car engines ever. It was the last Cadillac convertible for over 10 years since late ‘70s safety laws almost killed the convertible class. Also, it was the last of truly big land yachts that dominated the domestic car industry in the ‘70s.

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Even during the production of this generation of the Eldorado, it was obvious the industry was changing. Cadillac knew they had to rethink their strategy to stay on top of the game. However, the glorious 1976 Eldorado was the perfect way to end the era of excess, monstrous engines, chrome trim, soft rides, and plush interiors.

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25. Cadillac Fleetwood Talisman

Many people remember the famous Fleetwood models of the ‘70s. With their enormous size, 500 CID V8 engines, and every conceivable option, these were the biggest, most luxurious automobiles Detroit ever mass-produced. However, the Talisman option for 1974, 1975, and 1976 that took things a step further.

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If you opted for the Talisman package, you would get a special interior with a center console running all the way to the back. And there were two comfortable armchairs instead of a rear bench seat. From the outside, Talismans weren’t that much different than the regular Fleetwood 60 Series. However, the script on the back and side revealed its true nature.

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24. Ford LTD

Ford’s main full-size offering in the mid-70s was the LTD. It was a big sedan, wagon, or two-door coupe marketed as an affordable luxury sedan. Drawing design cues from Mercury and Lincoln, LTD buyers got everything they needed, but for less money.

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But for 1977, Ford redesigned the LTD line and it sold well although the end for luxury cruisers was in sight. The standard engine was 351 V8. A lot of customers opted for the 400 and 460 V8, although the latter engine only delivered 197 HP.

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23. Lincoln Continental Mark V Coupe

After the successful Mark III and IV models, Lincoln presented the ultimate luxury coupe of the late ‘70s, the Mark V in 1977. Although a bit smaller than its predecessor, the Mark V was still a big car with a long hood and massive bumpers and grilles.

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Powered by standard 400 V8 and optional 460 V8, it wasn’t the fastest car on the road. But it was comfortable and good looking. Also, it had cool Opera-style windows on the back and a signature spare wheel bump on the trunk lid. Lincoln offered several special versions made in cooperation with various fashion houses popular with car buyers.

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22. Jeep Wagoneer Limited

Before the Grand Wagoneer, Grand Cherokee, and luxury SUV models of today, there was the Wagoneer and its Limited version, which Jeep introduced in 1978. The Wagoneer was already a premium off-roader with a high level of interior features for an all-terrain vehicle, but in the Limited package, it stepped towards the luxury field.

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With its signature woodgrain side panels, leather interior, climate control, V8 engine, and other details, buyers could spec their Jeeps like any other luxury car on the market. The public loved that and despite the hefty price, Wagoneer remained in strong demand.

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21. Chrysler New Yorker Brougham

Chrysler was always famous as the competitor to Buick, Oldsmobile, Mercury, and even Cadillac. Their lineup consisted of full-size models with plush appointments, big engines, and lots of chrome.

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However, in 1978, they offered the last of the classic New Yorker Broughams with the big 440 V8, a comfortable interior, and a long list of optional extras. Those last big Chryslers were handsome models with elegant styling, a vinyl roof, and a big “waterfall” grille.

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20. Mercury Bobcat

Since downsizing was the name of the game in the mid-’70s, Mercury decided to go a step further. They decided to introduce their own model they would base on the ill-fated Ford Pinto. They named it the Bobcat, unveiling it in 1974 and selling it until 1980.

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The idea was to present a luxurious compact and offer more upscale features in this cost-oriented segment. The Bobcat was not a luxury car per se, but it was the luxury version of an economy model. The car was practically the same as the Pinto. However, there was one interesting version they called the Bobcat Wagon. It was a compact three-door station wagon with upscale features, better equipment, and a woodgrain panel option. The Bobcat Wagon was the perfect little urban runabout with compact dimensions but lots of usable space.

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19. Oldsmobile Toronado

Nearly mechanically identical to the Cadillac Eldorado, they dramatically restyled the Oldsmobile Toronado for 1979. In a downsizing effort that affected all GM products, the new Toronado featured a chassis that was 22 inches shorter.

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Also, it had a different body and engine choices. The downsizing was not just simply shortening the last year model though. In fact, the Toronado was well engineered and produced. The result was a much more compact, efficient car, but with the same level of comfort and driving dynamics. Retaining its signature front-wheel-drive layout, the Toronado now featured the 350 V8, as well as an interesting and innovative but not exactly durable diesel version. Due to its unique front and rear end as well as some other options, the Toronado kept its identity compared to the similar Eldorado.

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18. 1960 Chrysler

Chrysler had a great year in 1957 with successful designs and powerful engines. But, after that, the sales were declining mostly because of reports of poor quality and questionable styling. So, for 1960, the Chrysler engineers and designers tried to offer one of the best, most elegant sedans on the market. They offered it in three trim levels, the Saratoga, the Windsor and the New Yorker. The 1960 Chrysler featured a new engineering achievement they called unibody construction.

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Back in the day, most new cars featured a classic body on frame construction. It was rugged but heavy and had limited development potential. Chrysler was one of the first companies to introduce innovative solutions that became the industry standard. The prices started just above $3,000 and topped at $4,500 for the top of the line New Yorker models. Customers could get V8 engines with the power between 305 and 350 HP.

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17. 1961 Lincoln Continental

Back in the late ’50s, Ford’s luxury division Lincoln was way behind Cadillac in sales numbers, popularity and style. Despite building big luxury cruisers with powerful engines, those late ’50s Lincolns just weren’t as nice looking as the Cadillac. Ford decided that had to change, so the 1961 Lincoln Continental was born. When Lincoln showed the new model, the automotive public was stunned. The beautiful styling, elegance, conservative use of chrome, straight lines, and futuristic design transformed the four-door luxury model into a work of modern art.

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All of a sudden, sales doubled and the new Continental became the official car of the White House because of its stately appearance and restrained elegance. The best exterior feature was the suicide doors with the rear doors opening towards the traffic. This wasn’t the best solution, but it only added to the charm of the Continental. Interestingly, Lincoln offered a cool-looking four-door convertible model which proved to be popular and unique on the market.

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16. 1963 Mercury Monterey Breezeway

Although Mercury is now gone, for decades it was Ford’s affordable luxury division. They placed Mercury between their inexpensive Ford products and high-class Lincolns. During the 1960s, this brand offered class and style for reasonable prices, making it a formidable opponent to Oldsmobile, Buick, and Chrysler. Learning from the Continental, Mercury decided to offer something new to customers, hoping to raise the sales numbers.

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So in 1963, they introduced the innovative, interesting Breezeway option as their top model. Mercury used a reverse C pillar design for the concave profile of the car and a retractable tilted rear glass window. It was an innovative solution resulting in more space in the interior and a cool design. However, it proved to be somewhat of an impractical feature since the passengers could smell the exhaust fumes at low speeds. Mercury kept the Breezeway option for selected models up to the 1968 model year when they retired it. Despite being not so popular or influential, the Breezeway still is one of the coolest U.S. sedans of the ’60s.

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15. Pontiac Grand Prix

Back in the ’60s, Pontiac was GM’s performance brand, so it is no coincidence that they conceived the GTO. The allure of powerful engines and aggressive designs was Pontiac’s trademark. However, their management wanted to widen their appeal beyond regular muscle cars like the GTO and the Firebird. To enter the world of luxury muscle cars, Pontiac had a perfect candidate in form of the Grand Prix. The Grand Prix was a personal luxury car they introduced in 1962 in a coupe body style with powerful engines and a long list of options. This model was put against the Ford Thunderbird and Oldsmobile 98 as a so-called gentleman’s express. However, with the restyling of the Grand Prix for the 1969 model year, Pontiac introduced a special car. First, there was a cool-looking new design with a long hood and short rear end and an interesting, driver-oriented dashboard.

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The 1969 Grand Prix looked different than the competitors, so sales immediately jumped. Second, there was a cool trim option they called the SJ which featured a high output 428 V8 engine delivering 390 HP and a host of other performance options. They borrowed the moniker, “SJ” from the legendary Duesenberg brand. The SJ insignia was on the most powerful Duesenberg cars back then so Pontiac wanted to get a piece of that legend with the Grand Prix SJ. This personal luxury car was popular with the automotive press and car fans, so the Grand Prix sold well. The powerful V8 propelled this big coupe to some respectable acceleration times and despite being an executive transport, the Grand Prix SJ was a respectable street machine.

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14. 1966 Pontiac Bonneville

The success of the GTO affected the whole Pontiac range. Suddenly, Pontiacs became sportier and more powerful and aggressive. Even the four-door sedans became performance machines. The biggest, most luxurious Bonneville is the best example. Pontiac restyled the Bonneville for 1965, but in 1966 the design matured.

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The Bonneville evolved into an elegant, low, sleek form, which was perfect for this performance sedan. Bonneville came as a hardtop with Pontiac’s signature wide-track design, split grille and nine bolt wheels. Customers could get lots of optional equipment and powerful engines, too. The 389 V8 with 325 HP was standard, but you could also get a mighty 421 V8 with the famed Tri-Power option delivering 360 HP.

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13. 1967 Ford Thunderbird Landau

You’re probably wondering why the Ford Thunderbird is on this list of the best ’60s sedans. The T-Bird is a two-door coupe, but for a few years starting in 1967, Ford offered it as a four-door sedan. It came with Lincoln-style suicide rear doors. The success of the Mustang forced the Thunderbird to move upscale as a luxury car rather than a sporty coupe.

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This change meant Ford had to attract a whole new sector of buyers looking for comfort. So, to do that, Ford had to offer a four-door alternative. They gave the Thunderbird the interesting four-door coupe variant. Under the hood, the standard engine was 390 V8 but the buyers could opt for the mighty 428 V8. This 428 was a standard engine and not to be confused with 428 Cobra Jet which was reserved for Mustang and other muscle cars.

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12. 1968 Imperial

Chrysler’s luxury division Imperial always offered a quality alternative to the Cadillac and Lincoln models. With powerful engines, plush interiors, and upscale styling, Imperials were a good choice if you were looking for an exclusive sedan or a two-door coupe. However, by the late ’60s, it looked like the Imperial was losing the race against its competitors. So 1968 was the last year this brand featured a significantly different design than the rest of Chrysler’s lineup with its unique interior styling and appointments.

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In 1967, Imperial switched to the unibody construction in a cost-cutting measure from Chrysler. This didn’t affect the comfort, but it saved some money during production. For 1968, they made some slight changes to the Imperial, but no major changes to its mechanics. The 440 V8 was standard and delivered 350 HP. After 1968, Imperial continued to be the top of Chrysler’s model lineup, but it lost its exclusivity and uniqueness.

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11. Lincoln Continental Mark III

The Lincoln division of the Ford Motor Company was enjoying considerable success during the ’60s. This was mostly thanks to the Continental sedan, which they introduced in 1961. It was a landmark model in many aspects. With healthy sales numbers, Lincoln turned to the personal luxury market with the innovative, advanced 1969 Mark III Coupe. It proved to be one of the best personal luxury cars Ford Motor Company ever made.

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Ford introduced the Continental in late 1968, Mark III, building it on a Thunderbird chassis. It also had a new and powerful 460 V8 engine. Since the new model used most of the existing mechanics, Lincoln concentrated on the design and equipment. The front had a big chrome grille, reminiscent of Rolls Royce models and hideaway headlights. The trunk had a cool-looking spare wheel hump with Continental lettering. In combination with the vinyl top, the wheel hump made the Mark III’s design unique and special. Buyers had a long list of optional extras to choose from, too. This was also the first U.S.-made car with standard radial tires. Ford replaced the Mark III with the Mark IV in 1972. It remains one of the finest personal luxury automobiles of the period.

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10. 1968 Cadillac DeVille

Back in the late ’60s, Cadillac was on top of its game. Their sales figures were high and their model lineup was full of interesting, luxurious cars. They had the new front-wheel-drive Eldorado, and their reputation was second to none. However, Cadillac was always improving its products. So, in 1968 they introduced one of their best engines as the standard for all of their models. The new 472 V8 was the final piece of the puzzle.

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The Cadillac DeVille was the best luxury sedan of the late ’60s. It had 375 HP under the hood and unmatched style and presence. Cadillac also improved the design they first introduced in 1965, adding stacked headlights and a big grille. Along with the new 472 V8, the 1967 Cadillac DeVille was the perfect luxury car.

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9. 1968 Oldsmobile 98

Most car fans tend to forget how good and respected the Oldsmobile models were back in the day. This company, which is now unfortunately long gone, was one of General Motors’ most valuable brands in the ’60s. Oldsmobile models were always conservative in luxury but came at a reasonable price with high quality and powerful engines.

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So, it is natural Oldsmobile had many good sedans, and the 98 was at the top of the range. The Oldsmobile 98 was always the most popular Olds available. They had the power, style, and luxury to rival even the Cadillacs. But the 1968 Oldsmobile 98 was the best year since it featured a new design, numerous creature comforts, and a big 455 Rocket engine. The power output of this big block was 365 HP, which guaranteed an impressive performance.

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8. Studebaker Avanti

In the early ’60s, the Studebaker management decided to invest in a luxury coupe to fight poor sales. They thought that a new, fancy upscale model would attract more customers and turn the attention of the automotive public back to Studebaker. So, in 1962, they presented the sleek and modern-looking Avanti.

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The innovative design, construction, and technology were interesting, so the car received praises from the motoring press. The base version was not all that powerful, but soon Studebaker introduced a supercharged R2 option delivering 289 HP. Unfortunately, the Avanti was not a strong seller, which forced Studebaker to close its doors just four years later.

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7. 1969 AMC Ambassador

AMC was an economy car manufacturer that produced inexpensive yet dull models. They also constantly flirted with bankruptcy. In the late ’60s, AMC was in one of their better periods with solid sales and a relatively big market share in the economy class. They offered some interesting, exciting cars like the Javelin and AMX.

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So they decided to enter the full-size sedan market with a new for Ambassador for 1969. The new AMC Ambassador was one of AMCs better attempts to attract car consumer’s attention in 1969. It had new, improved styling, comfort and space.

It also had an air condition system as standard, which was a new, impressive feature by the standards of the day. The engine lineup started with the modest 283 straight six-unit, but it went all the way to 401 V8 engine.

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6. 1969 Buick Wildcat

The Buick Wildcat is one of the most interesting yet almost forgotten models popular back in the day. Buick introduced the Wildcat back in 1963. The Wildcat was something between a personal luxury model and a muscle car. It featured restrained and elegant styling like the rest of Buick’s lineup.

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But it also had powerful engines, sporty trim, and an impressive performance. In 1967, Buick offered the Wildcat as a four-door, boosting its appeal and improving sales numbers. For 1969, the Wildcat got a new look and a powerful new 455 V8 with 370 HP. This helped transform the Wildcat into a hidden performance car with room for six adults.

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5. 1960 Cadillac Eldorado Brougham

Even though most enthusiasts recognize the 1957 to 58 Eldorado Broughams, Cadillac made some exclusive 1959 to 60 models car fans consider the finest Cadillacs they ever built. The production wasn’t performed by Cadillac at all, but by Italy’s famous Pininfarina coachbuilder.

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But the price was three times the price of a standard Cadillac. So in its two-year production run, they only built 200 cars. The 1959 to 60 Eldorado Brougham featured updated equipment, an air suspension, and a 389 V8 engine. It had styling similar to the regular Cadillacs, but with some different details.

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4. 1965 Chevrolet Caprice

When Chevrolet introduced the Caprice model in late 1965 and early 1966, nobody expected it would be so successful. In fact, it spanned five generations and millions of cars. They designed the Caprice as a luxury version of the Impala with more powerful engines, luxury, and a few distinctive external differences.

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For example, in the 1966 model, the base engine was a V8, and not the standard straight six. Also, all models had a vinyl roof as standard. For performance lovers, Chevrolet offered their 396 and 400 V8 models in the Caprice four-door hardtop.

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3. 1969 Chrysler New Yorker

Chrysler ended the ’60s on a high note with the brand new and influential “Fuselage” styling. The rounded sides and lower, sleeker profile looked modern in comparison to other models. In fact, they used “Fuselage” styling throughout the Chrysler range. So all new full-size Mopars, including Dodge, Plymouth, and Imperial had this look.

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The mechanics on the 1969 to 1971 New Yorker weren’t exactly new. But they improved the suspension, chassis, and drivetrain. The biggest engine you could get was the 440 V8, which moved this big sedan down the road with authority.

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2. Mercury Park Lane Brougham

As a luxury division of Ford Motor Company, Mercury offered upscale features, elegant designs, and powerful engines. But the Park Lane Brougham was the most luxurious Mercury. In fact, it was close to Lincoln in terms of prestige and elegance.

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They introduced it in 1967 and sold it through 1968. The Park Lane Brougham had a plush interior and vinyl roof. It also came with leather seats along with a special list of optional extras.

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1. 1967 Cadillac Eldorado

One important year was 1967 when the Eldorado received a new design, technology and drivetrain. For years, the Eldorado served as a top of the line personal luxury model from Cadillac. But by the mid-60s, almost all GM brands developed similar cars to compete with the Eldorado on the market. So, Cadillac needed a new model to make a statement.

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But they still wanted to keep the Eldorado on top of the segment. The 1967 model featured gorgeous new coupe styling with hide-away headlights. Also, it had a long hood and an elegant rear end. Car fans thought the new Eldorado looked gorgeous. So, even when they discontinued the convertible option, sales still went through the roof.

The biggest change was the switch to front-wheel drive (FWD). In those days, FWD was only in those rare foreign models. So, when Oldsmobile introduced front-wheel drive on its 1966 Toronado, Cadillac improved it for use on the Eldorado. With this feature, the Eldorado had nearly perfect handling and driving dynamics. However, it still retained the mighty 340 HP engine and all the Cadillac characteristics.

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