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Executive Saloons

The styling excesses of the 1950s gave way to a more conservative, more tasteful era in the 1960s. The change was most noticeable in premium saloon cars, with crisp and well-honed influences from Italian designers taking over from the brash styles pioneered in America. The vehicles were gradually becoming more technically sophisticated, too. Disc brakes, which had been the preserve of racing cars just a few years earlier, were starting to become a standard feature. Live axles and leaf springs were giving way to independent suspension using coil springs. Under the bonnets, overhead-cam engines were now common.

Rover 3.5-liter P5B, 1967


Engine3,528 cc, V8
Top speed108 mph (174 km/h)

Rover’s successful P5 started with a 3-liter, six-cylinder engine but acquired a smooth, gutsy V8 in 1967. This coupe version still had four doors, but with a lower roofline. More than 20,000 were made by the end of production in 1973.

Ministerial favorite

The P5B was regularly employed as an official car by UK government ministers. Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher used one long after more modern Rovers were available.

Old-fashioned appeal

In contrast to the very modern interior of the smaller P6 model, the P5B offered more traditional appointments with a wooden dashboard, leather trim, and chrome highlights. A picnic tray slid out from under the dash, and hid a toolkit inside.

American power

Rover bought the design for this all-alloy V8 engine from Buick when the General Motors company switched to thin-walled, iron-block engines. Rover fitted twin SU carburettors which were much better suited to European driving conditions.

Ford Zephyr 6 Mk III, 1962


Engine2,553 cc, straight-six
Top speed95 mph (153 km/h)

Ford offered four- and six-cylinder engines in its biggest British saloon. This car came with front disc brakes, an all-synchromesh gearbox, and the option of automatic transmission. With big rear fins and lashings of chrome, it was the closest the UK got to an American-style car.

Vauxhall Cresta PB, 1962


Engine3,294 cc, straight-six
Top speed93 mph (150 km/h)

The Cresta was a large, comfortable car from the British branch of General Motors, with more conservative styling than its 1950s’ predecessor. Front disc brakes were standard, and from 1965 automatic transmission was available. There was also a conversion to an estate car by coach-builder Martin Walter.

Triumph 2000, 1963


Engine1,998 cc, straight-six
Top speed93 mph (150 km/h)

A stylish car, well-liked among business executives of the 1960s, the 2000 featured a smooth, six-cylinder engine, all-round independent suspension, front disc brakes, and attractive Italian styling by Giovanni Michelotti. Later models adopted a 2.5-liter engine, initially with Lucas fuel injection.

Jaguar XJ6, 1968


Engine4,235 cc, straight-six
Top speed124 mph (200 km/h)

Jaguar gambled by replacing its entire range of cars in 1968 with just one model—the XJ6. Widely hailed as the finest saloon car in the world at its launch, it offered a superb blend of performance, refinement, ride comfort, and roadholding.


It is a quote. The Classic Car Book – The Definitive Visual History 2016

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