Popular Convertible Cars of the Fifties, Sixties and Seventies

January 27, 2012

The open road and a convertible car is a common dream and common theme, and the convertible cars of the 60s and 70s can help you live that dream. Different car collectors are attracted to different cars, and even different eras of cars, but there are a good number of interesting convertibles that were manufactured in those decades.

Buick Electra
Coming from the Roadmaster (Electra) and Limited (Electra 225) models, 1961 was the final model year for the Electra. The Electra 225 continued beyond 1961, though. The Electra 225 was given that name because it had an overall length of 225 inches. That also earned it the nickname "deuce and a quarter."

Buick Wildcat
While Buick had used the name "Wildcat" for several cars over the years, they introduced the Wildcat in 1962 as style of their Invicta model. The 1963 version, though, was its own model line.

Cadillac DeVille
1965 was the first year that a Cadillac DeVille convertible was offered. That makes it especially interesting to collectors. Of course, the Cadillac name plate has an appeal all its own, too. There are those who are really attached to Cadillacs and this, then is an especially important and appealing specimen. Falling near the front end of the DeVille's 4th generation, the vehicle represented the luxury car. Convertible versions added a "top down cruising" sense of freedom.

The 1969 DeVille was a 225.0 inch long convertible which featured a 472 cu. inch V8 engine with 375 hp and 3-speed transmission. It had a wheelbase of 129.5 inches and sharp angled lines. It also complied to the new federal safety and emission legislation.

The 1970 DeVille was a very popular convertible model. With its 3-speed automatic transmission and an 8.0 Liter V8 engine power packed with 340 hp, it found many admirers and remained a pillar-less hard topped car until 1973. This is also a very popular classic car and is often seen at exhibitions and road shows.

Cadillac Eldorado
With a stylish exterior that was an improved version of its previous model and other changes made to comply with the then newly laid federal safety norms, the 1970 Eldorado introduced the 8.2 Liter V8 engine, power packed with 400 hp. The handling of this vehicle was praiseworthy. This was the most popular convertible in its time and the model remained in vogue until 1975.

The instrument cluster starting with the 1974 model had a modern redesign. The ultimate in American personal luxury car at the time, the Eldorado convertible combined that luxury sort of aesthetic and mindset with the freedom of top down driving.

Chevrolet Impala SS
This convertible had a 427 V8 engine, 390 bhp at 5,400 rpm, 460 lbs-ft at 3,600 rpm, and new pontoon bulge fender lines. In 1969, 2,455 copies were produced by Chevrolet.

Chevrolet Camaro
1967 was the first year that the Camaro was available, and that makes the 1967 Camaro convertible even more collectible than a lot of others. The 1968 Camaro convertible was still in the first generation of Camaros, making it more appealing for a lot of collectors.

The 1969 Camaro was a 2-door, rear wheel drive, front engine convertible which inspired the design of the fifth generation Camaro. The grille had deeply set headlights that gave the car an aggressive look.

The 1975 Camaro convertible was based on the 1970 redesign of the Camaro. Considered the second generation of the vehicle it was this design that persisted into the first part of the 1980s.

Chevrolet Chevelle
1966 saw a totally redesigned Chevelle. As is generally the case, first year models of a new style on a popular car have more lasting popularity than some of the other years, making this a definite collector's item.

While the 1967 Chevelle had only minor redesign changes from the previous year, it had the benefit of a number of new safety features. That makes it a popular model for collectors.

While the 1971 Chevelle—like all General Motors cars at the time—had lower compression than the earlier models (and therefore lower horsepower) to meet tightening emission requirements, the Chevelle SS convertible was still a popular model and remains popular with collectors today.

Chevrolet Corvair
Despite a campaign that was launched to label the Corvair as unsafe, enthusiasts still love the Corvair. It stands alone as a rear engine vehicle from a major American manufacturer. Many are still enraptured by the charms of the vehicle and it remains quite collectible.

Chevrolet Corvette
It doesn't really seem possible to separate the Corvette from the American consciousness or the concept of collectible cars. For that reason, no matter what the year, if there was a Corvette in production, it should make the list. The 1961 Corvette had a fully redesigned tail half. Redesign debut years of any car are generally more popular with collectors.

If you can find a 1966 convertible with the big block engine, you've got a real gem. That 427 cubic inch engine was introduced with the 1966 model, making this a collectible among collectibles.

1968 saw the introduction of the third design of Corvettes. Whenever you talk about the first year or the last year of a specific design, you know it will be more collectible than other years.

The 1967 model was the last year in the second style of Corvette. That makes this one even more attractive than some of the others.

The 1975 Corvette convertible is especially interesting because it was the last year they made a convertible model until the latter half of the 1980s.

For any year, Corvettes remain sought after collectors' items—and the convertibles in many ways are even more so.

Chevrolet Impala
Another car that had a full redesign with the 1961 model year, the Impala has always been popular with collectors.

In 1963 the Impala was Chevrolet's top of the line car. The most popular version of the Impala with collectors is the '63, but the 1964 Impala convertible is similar to that year's design, but has some cosmetic alterations here and there.

The 1965 model of Chevy Impala was a fully redesigned car. It also, to this day, holds an industry wide record of selling more units than any other. Of course, of that number, even fewer were convertibles—meaning that although this is a popular car it is still quite collectible.

The 1966 Impala was the last year before the new "Coke bottle styling" redesign, making it a more collectible version than some of the others.

The Chevrolet Impala was still GM's best selling car in 1967. The convertible was the second best selling one in the United States (just behind the Mustang).

The 1969 two-door convertible Impala SS was available only as a Z24 package, with a 427 cu. inch 7.0 L inline V8 engine. It's a collector's item and very rare to find. It had standard front wheel disc brakes and 15-inch wheels and was mechanically better than previous models.

Chrysler 300
The 1969 300 convertible had a 440Cl-350HP V8 engine, power steering, brakes and door locks, air conditioning, a power convertible top and 3-speed transmission. Only 1,933 such convertibles were produced by Chrysler.

Dodge Challenger
The Challenger (Dodge's answer to the Mustang and Camaro) was only offered as a convertible for two years—1970 and 1971—making these cars sought after collectibles.

Dodge Dart Convertible
The Dart was Dodge's compact vehicle. It had seen a redesign in 1963 and the 1964 version (like its predecessor) was available as a convertible.

Ford Falcon Convertible
The Ford Falcon was the predecessor of the Mustang and, in fact, the Mustang was designed on this car. It was a popular car in its day and while it didn't hold up in terms of sales compared the Mustang, it is still a prized find.

1964 saw a redesigned Ford Falcon, a style that was meant to be more modern, but it was quickly overshadowed by the Mustang.

Ford Mustang
The Ford Mustang is nearly as iconic as the Corvette. Technically, there is no 1964 Ford Mustang. First introduced with the 1964 ½ model year, the Ford Mustang had some minor changes in its first full year of production. It still shared a lot with both the Falcon and the Fairlane. These early Mustangs are some of the most highly sought. For many collectors, it is the only "real" Mustang.

By 1966 the Ford Mustang convertible had become the best selling convertible in the United States. These cars are still very collectible. The 1968 Ford Mustang was still within the prized first generation of Mustangs, making it stand taller than many.

The 1971 Mustang represented a redesign. It was definitely heavier than earlier models, a bone of contention for some Mustang fans, but it was still a popular car. The convertible was (and still is) perhaps even more popular than the hard top.

The new redesign of the Ford Mustang in 1974 had seen a return to a smaller version of the car, but new emission standards and a desire for fuel efficiency also brought a loss in power. Still, the 1975 convertible (the same design) is popular with collectors as all Mustangs are.

Ford Thunderbird
The first year to feature the new, bullet-like look, the 1961 Thunderbird also featured a 390 cubic inch eight-cylinder engine standard.

By 1963, the Thunderbird was at the end of its third generation, having been redesigned in 1961. All Thunderbirds have an appeal to classic car collectors—the convertible from the '63 model year being no exception.

The 1966 Thunderbird saw some fairly drastic design changes. These two things combine to lend more appeal to collectors.

Ford Torino GT
The Torino GT was one of the late comers in the convertible market in 1970, but went on to become one of the very popular convertible cars. These vehicles were sleek, spacious and provided a very comfortable drive. With a stylish linear style speedometer, the two door convertibles had the luxury of a "DirectAire" ventilation system. Bucket seats with high backs were a standard feature for all cars. The V8 models were also equipped with a ribbon style tachometer.

Mercury Comet
The Mercury Comet was originally planned as an Edsel and while that line had gone extinct, the Comet came out as a Mercury in 1960. Still, it didn't actually bear a Mercury name plate until 1962. 1963 was the first year in which they offered a convertible version, lending definite appeal for collectors.

A British car, the MGB was a roadster. The 1975 version, like the rest of the line has its fans and followers. It was definitely one of the smaller cars on US roads at the time. When you consider that there was a move underway at the time towards smaller cars that says a lot.

Oldsmobile 442
This muscle car made its debut in 1964. That makes the 1964 convertible one of the more collectible versions of the Oldsmobile 442. Originally an option package on two of Oldsmobile's popular vehicles, 1968 was the debut of the car as its own model. As always, first years of something new have a higher appeal to collectors.

Plymouth Barracuda
While the Barracuda was cut from the same cloth as the Ford Mustang (and actually predated it by a bit), it was never as popular as either that Ford or the Camaro. It had its share of aficionados and still does, though. The high performance model was called the 'Cuda and the convertible version of that one is probably the most popular of the barracudas.

In 1969, this two-door convertible had a 383 cu. inch B V8 engine capable of producing 330 hp and a Mod Top that was a vinyl roof covering with a floral motif. The seat and door panel inserts also had the same motif. In addition, it had rectangular side-marker reflectors without lights, to comply by Federal auto safety standards. Other features included wider wheel openings, and revised front and rear end styling.

The 1970-1971 Barracuda Convertibles are rare cars and are hence very valuable today if you're looking for classics and collectible vehicles. These cars were quite short lived and offered for only two years. They were the Plymouth Company's third generation of the ponycar line but were never popular and short lived. This was because there was a noticeable decrease in the Barracuda's performance, as the block engines had to be discontinued to meet up with the federal safety norms and emission standards.

Plymouth Fury
1964 was the final year for the second generation of Plymouth's Fury. First and last years of a specific design are often more collectible than the middle years.

Plymouth GTX
The Plymouth GTX debuted in 1967 as the "Belvedere GTX." It was billed as a "gentleman's muscle car." The GTX was the top of the line Plymouth upon its introduction.

Pontiac Firebird
The Pontiac Firebird shared a lot of parts and designs with the Camaro. It was always a popular vehicle, too. Debut years are nearly always popular with car collectors, and 1967 was the first year that the Pontiac Firebird was available.

Pontiac GTO
At first the GTO nameplate was an option package for the LeMans. Such was the case for the 1964 Pontiac convertible known as "GTO." It was the first year for that distinction, making it especially collectible. Part of the Tempest line, the GTO had some design revisions for the 1965 model year. GTO's (or "goats" as they are affectionately called) have always been popular with collectors.

The 1966 Pontiac GTO was redesigned from the previous year to bring in that "Coke bottle" look. That makes this a more collectible car than a lot of others.

The 1967 version of the GTO had several design changes from the previous year's model. That, and the fact that there were only about 10,000 convertibles manufactured, makes it a good choice for collectors.

Always a favorite among car enthusiasts, the 1968 GTO represented a design change from the previous year. As such the car (and especially the convertible version) is quite collectible.

The 1969 GTO Convertible was a powerhouse with a 400 cid OHV 16-Valve V8 engine, which generated 350 hp with automatic transmission. Other features included hideaway headlights, 4 speed gearbox, front power disc brakes and dual exhausts. Pontiac also introduced the "Judge" model in the same year. The Judge had a 400 cid RAM Air V8 engine, hood mounted tach, and black textured grills.

Although the 1971 GTO, like the rest of General Motors' offerings that year, had a lower compression (and therefore lower horse power), they made only a small number of GTO's. That makes it quite rare (especially the convertible) and quite collectible.

Pontiac LeMans
For the 1961 and 1962 model years, LeMans was the top of the line version of the Pontiac Tempest model. With the 1963 edition it became a model all its own. That, in a way, makes the '63 edition its debut outing. For that reason it generates quite a bit of interest for enthusiasts.

Pontiac Tempest
Perhaps not the high profile vehicle that the Firebird and GTO are, the Tempest has been a popular one with collectors, nonetheless. 1968 was a redesign year for the Tempest, bringing an added charm for enthusiasts.

Shelby Convertible
The 1961 Shelby Convertible is an extremely collectible car from the period. Also known as the "AC Cobra" or the "Shelby Cobra," the 1961 model was the first year this British sports car used an engine built using Chrysler engines.

Shelby Mustang GT500
Shelby after having terminated his contract with Ford, made an extensive modification in the years 1968 through '70 to manufacture the GT350 and the GT500 trim series. The GT500 convertibles had a longer body with a 7 Liter V8 engine and a 3-speed automatic or 4-speed manual transmission packed with 335 hp. The colors offered were pleasing to the consumers, white being the most popular.

The '69 was powered by a Super Cobra jet V8 engine capable of producing 335 bhp at 3,200 rpm and a torque of 440 lbs-ft at 3,400 rpm, this convertible could go from 0 to 62 mph in 6 seconds and had a fuel economy of 12 mpg.

Volkswagen Beetle
While the name "Beetle" wasn't actually used by Volkswagen until the 1967 model, it had already become popular by 1961. The company referred to it simply as "Type 1," but also as "Käfer" which is the German word for "beetle." The Beetle would see some fairly extensive redesigns by the late 1960s, but this version was a transition from the 1950s versions of the car.

Volkswagen Karmann Ghia
With its Italian styling on top of German engineering, the Karmann Ghia was Volkswagen's sports car, and the 1964 version was a popular one. The German manufacturer had been producing this Italian styled sports car since the 1950s and, while not nearly as popular as their Beetles, the Karmann Ghia definitely had made a lot of fans over the years.

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