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Luxury Sports Cars

In the 1960s, if you wanted the epitome of speed and style, these exotic (and expensive) sports cars provided it. The established Italian firms, Ferrari and Maserati, made the cars everyone aspired to, and later in the decade they were joined by a third Italian super-sports manufacturer, Lamborghini. American Corvettes were too brash and British Jaguars just too affordable to be considered alternatives by the super-rich. Bentleys too were staid, but the UK countered with the bespoke sporting coupes from Aston Martin. And if none of those appealed, there was the elegance and surefootedness of Mercedes’ latest SL—wealthy buyers had plenty of choice.

Mercedes-Benz 280SL, 1963


Engine2,778 cc, straight-six
Top speed124 mph (200 km/h)

The “pagoda roof” 230SL of 1963 was followed by the larger-engined 250SL and 280SL. It’s wide track, which aided handling, was the result of sharing running gear with the 1959 Fintail saloon. This car was also the first sports car with “crumple zone” safety technology.

SL grows up

The 280SL was more of a touring car than its predecessors. The smoother, seven-bearing engine had a more flexible power delivery, and the revised suspension gave a quieter and more comfortable ride.

Driver safety

The SL evolved with the times, and later models incorporated the latest safety features, including a padded steering wheel hub and a collapsible, energy-absorbing steering column. The SL’s interior appeared pared back, with its simple painted dashboard. Standard equipment included vinyl seats and a manual gearbox.

Ferrari 250 California Spider, 1959


Engine2,953 cc, V12
Top speed145 mph (233 km/h)

One of the most beautiful and desirable Ferraris ever made, the California Spider was a car of film stars—famous owners included James Coburn and Alain Delon. The V12 engine was shared with other Ferrari 250 models and delivered 276 bhp. Disc brakes and radial tyres were other features.

Aston Martin DB5, 1963


Engine3,995 cc, straight-six
Top speed148 mph (238 km/h)

Numerous detail improvements turned the 1958 DB4 into the 1963 DB5, most notably an enlarged 4.0-liter engine. A higher roofline and distinctive cowled headlamps were shared with the last DB4s. The car was made famous by its appearances in James Bond films, starting with Goldfinger in 1964.

Maserati Mistral Spider, 1963


Engine3,692 cc, straight-six
Top speed145 mph (233 km/h)

Maserati fuel-injected its engine to get Jaguar-level performance, and commissioned Frua to design this understated and sophisticated, two-seat body in coupé and open spyder formats. The next generation of Maseratis used V8 engines, making this the last six-cylinder model from Modena until the V6 Merak of 1972.

Monteverdi 375C, 1967


Engine6,974 cc, V8
Top speed150 mph (241 km/h)

Peter Monteverdi was a Swiss prestige car importer who began building cars under his own name in 1967. The 375C was the convertible version, with body by Fissore and Chrysler V8 power. These cars were only ever made in tiny numbers, and production ended in 1977.


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

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