the view through the windshield car blog

1960 Philadelphia Auto Show

In recent years, I have bemoaned the lack of exciting new cars. This got me thinking back to many years ago - the 1960 model year.

While there was no GM Motorama that year and not many concept or dream cars from other makers (the Valiant-based Plymouth XNR asymmetrical roadster was the only one I remember), there were some completely new models to inspect and examine at dealerships and auto shows. As high school Juniors, my car buddies and I toured the 1960 Philly Auto Show in November 1959.

The big news for '60 was the introduction of compact models by the Big Three. The Chevy Corvair was a radical departure for Detroit - a rear-engined, air-cooled compact car with a host of aluminum components to save weight. It was full of technical novelties.

The Ford Falcon was a pleasantly-styled - if a bland-looking - downsized Ford, in every way. Its entire powertrain was simply a smaller version of its larger brother's. But it offered proven technology for the less adventurous small car buyer. Period ads claimed the car had "three years and three million miles" behind it and that it was "the world's most experienced new car." Ford also reminded prospects that the Falcon provided "nearly four times more luggage space than the most popular imported new car."

The Falcon outsold the Corvair by almost twofold in 1960 - 429,676 to 250,007.

Introduced a bit later than its competition, the Plymouth Valiant offered a unique, pseudo-European look, different than other Chrysler Corp. offerings, and was larger than either the Falcon or Corvair. It had a more powerful engine, too. An all-new overhead-valve slant-six replaced the ancient flathead six which had powered Plymouths since the 1930s.

While compacts were the big story, Ford's large cars - Ford, Mercury and Edsel had all-new bodies and completely different styling than the 1959 models. All Chrysler cars got new unibodies (except Imperial, which continued to use body on frame construction). All of Chrysler's big V8s got Ram Induction manifolds for '60.

General Motors cars had been vastly redesigned in 1957; they received softened restyling for 1960. Buick ads touted finned aluminum drum brakes and a Turbine Drive transmission.

The 1960 Buick was described in ads as "Buick's All-Time Best" - a car with major advances in transmission, brakes, engines and ride ... a solid, substantial car ... an investment in quality worthy of your consideration.

In 1959, the Guide Lamp Division of General Motors (now a separate company known as Guide Corp.) developed the Twilight Sentinel - a sensor system which automatically turned the headlights off and/or on at dusk/sunrise. It was first offered as an option on 1960 Buick models.

Not to be outdone in the compact car frenzy by anyone, Buick ran ads for its Opel Rekord: 'German Made. American Style'. Meanwhile Pontiac dealer ads promoted the Vauxhall Victor: 'A Quality Product of England since 1904.'

Sherlock car blog
car blogging

Above and below: Full-page ads from the 1960 Philadelphia Auto Show souvenir program

Ramblers were mostly carry-overs from the '59 models with a light restyling but AMC advertising pointed out that their compact offerings were "the most imitated cars of the year." Every American Motors Corporation product now featured a "ceramic armored muffler and tailpipe."

The ad should read 'Nothing says rarity like the '60 DeSoto'. Only 26,000 examples were produced for the 1960 model year compared with almost 254,000 '60 Buicks. After a brief production run of 3,034 '61 models, DeSoto was discontinued.
The Plymouth XNR was one of the few memorable dream cars for 1960; it was not displayed at that year's Philadelphia Auto Show. The ex-Motorama 1959 Cadillac Cyclone show car was displayed at the '60 Philly Show, but I don't remember seeing it:

Photos from various 1960 auto shows:
Three girls, one Benz

If my memory serves me correctly, also on exhibit was a scale model of the first successful self-propelled road vehicle - the 1769-70 Cugnot steam carriage. This three-wheeled French machine was constructed by inventor Nicolas-Joseph Cugnot. The display model was well detailed and fairly large: three to four feet in length.

In 1960, there was much exciting stuff to see at auto shows. Less so these days. (posted 10/16/14)


Other Pages Of Interest

| blog: 'The View Through The Windshield' |
| greatest hits: index of essays & articles | blog archives | '39 Plymouth |
| model train layout | about me | about the blog
| e-mail |

copyright 2014-16 - Joseph M. Sherlock - All applicable rights reserved


Disclaimer

The facts presented in this blog are based on my best guesses and my substantially faulty geezer memory. The opinions expressed herein are strictly those of the author and are protected by the U.S. Constitution. Probably.

Spelling, punctuation and syntax errors are cheerfully repaired when I find them; grudgingly fixed when you do.

If I have slandered any brands of automobiles, either expressly or inadvertently, they're most likely crap cars and deserve it. Automobile manufacturers should be aware that they always have the option of trying to change my mind by providing me with vehicles to test drive.

If I have slandered any people or corporations in this blog, either expressly or inadvertently, they should buy me strong drinks (and an expensive meal) and try to prove to me that they're not the jerks I've portrayed them to be. If you're buying, I'm willing to listen.

Don't be shy - try a bribe. It might help.


2580