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Open-Air Style

Open-top cars were a hit with pleasure-seeking motorists in the 1960s, and there was a wide range to choose from. Even drivers with limited budgets were well catered for, with cheeky beach cars like the Mini Moke, and pint-sized roadsters, such as the Austin-Healey Sprite and MG Midget, and their Italian cousin, the Innocenti Spider. Further up the range there were stylish two and four-seater dropheads built for touring or for more sporting pursuits. Big or small, slow or fast, they all offered the extra dose of excitement that only fresh-air motoring can deliver.

Citroen DS 21 Decapotable, 1961


Engine2,175 cc, straight-four
Top speed106 mph (171 km/h)

When launched in 1955 the DS was the most advanced car in the world, featuring a hydropneumatic system that powered the brakes, steering, automatic clutch, and its unique self-levelling suspension. A sleek convertible model was introduced in 1958, and with just over 1,000 sold they are highly desirable classics.

Sleek and space-saving

Unlike many contemporary cars, the DS did not have a conventional radiator grille. Instead it featured low-set air intakes positioned below the bonnet, giving it a sleek, aerodynamic profile.

Stability and structure

To provide structural rigidity, convertible DS models featured a reinforced frame beneath the body panels. Also, in order to combat understeer, the rear track was narrower than the front.

Safe and stylish

The car’s interior design reflected the futuristic appearance of the exterior, and brought all major controls within easy reach of the driver. The single-spoke steering wheel protected the driver in the event of a crash, and became a Citroen hallmark.

Daimler SP250, 1959


Engine2,548 cc, V8
Top speed120 mph (193 km/h)

The maker of staid luxury saloons had a new aluminum V8, and it was used in a fibreglass-bodied sports car with a chassis copied from Triumph. When Jaguar bought Daimler in 1960, the SP250 was rendered superfluous by the E-type, and production ended in 1964.

Innocenti Spider, 1961


Engine948 cc, straight-four
Top speed86 mph (138 km/h)

Innocenti of Milan commissioned Ghia to style a more upmarket body to go with the running gear of the British Austin-Healey Sprite. New features that the British car lacked included a boot lid, wind-up windows, and a heater. An S version with 1,098 cc engine, front disc brakes, and revised suspension was available from 1963.

Mini Moke, 1964


Engine848 cc, straight-four
Top speed84 mph (135 km/h)

The Mini Moke was originally designed for a serious purpose—as an off-road, light reconnaissance vehicle for the British Army. It eventually found popularity as a “fun” car, and was successful as a beach car, popular in Australia and Portugal. A twin-engined version with four-wheel drive was also developed.

Chevrolet Corvair Monza, 1965


Engine2,687 cc, flat-six
Top speed90 mph (145 km/h)

The rear-mounted aluminum engine and curious handling of the 1960 Corvair were too much for most Americans, but enthusiasts loved it. The second generation car of 1965 made useful improvements but Corvair was too expensive to build and faced stiff competition from Ford’s Mustang and Chevrolet’s own Camaro.


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

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