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Automobiles in 1960
The 1960 model year was loaded with compact cars, with every American manufacturer marketing at least one compact model.
For 1960 the U.S. retail buyer had a choice of 266 different models, almost all of which offered a variety of engines, body styles, interiors, etc. Base prices ranged from $1,795 for the Rambler American sedan to $13,075 for the Cadillac Eldorado Brougham. The most popular body style in 1960 was the 4-door sedan, followed by the station wagon.
For the 1960 model year, the Rambler American line added a four-door sedan body style and a third trim level, a top-of-the line Custom. The new four-door rode on the same 100-inch wheelbase as the other models and was meant to battle the newly introduced Ford Falcon, Chevrolet Corvair, and Plymouth Valiant.
Powered by a rear-mounted Turbo Air 6 engine and three-speed manual or optional two-speed Powerglide automatic transmission, the Corvair was designed to have comparable acceleration to the six-cylinder full-size Chevrolet Biscayne. The Corvair's unique design included the "Quadri-Flex" independent suspension and "Unipack Power Team" of engine, transmission and rear axle combined into a single unit. Specially designed 6.5-by-13-inch 4-ply tires mounted on 13-inch wheels were standard equipment.
The Dodge Dart was introduced as a smaller (but still big) Dodge, with a wheelbase four inches smaller than the standard Dodge, 118 rather than 122 inches. It marked the first time in quite a while that Dodge fielded a car to compete against Ford, Chevrolet, and, by extension, Plymouth. The Dart was originally offered in three models -- Seneca, Pioneer, and Phoenix. Styling was designed to resemble other Dodges, but with a grille that featured vertical bars that curved down and forward from the hood. Side trim, ornamentation, medallions and nameplates were exclusive.
This was Ford's entry into the compact car market. To make it as cheap as possible to build, Ford minimized the Falcon's weight by engineering a new unit-construction body and a short-stroke inline six engine of only 144 cubic inches. Body styles included two- and four-door sedans, two- or four-door station wagons, and the Ranchero car-based pickup, transferred onto the Falcon platform for 1960 from the Fairlane.
Due to the demise of Edsel, the Comet was initially released with only "Comet" badges (no Ford, Lincoln, or Mercury nameplate), but was sold through Mercury dealers. Introduced in March 1960, initial body styles were 2-door coupes, 4-door sedans, and 2- and 4-door station wagons. Two trim levels were available, standard and "Custom", with the custom package including badging, additional chrome trim and all-vinyl interiors. In 1960, the only engine available was the 144 Thriftpower straight six with a single-barrel Holley carburetor which produced 90 hp. Transmission options were a column-shifted 3-speed manual and a 2-speed Merc-O-Matic automatic transmission (unique to the Comet, despite sharing a name with the Merc-O-Matic installed in other Mercurys).
For this year only, Chrysler management brought the Valiant to market as its own brand, but eventually settled on Plymouth even though the car was actually built by Dodge. The Valiant had the smallest wheelbase of any Plymouth produced since the 1930's, at 106.5 inches, but it also had a long body for a compact at 184 inches. The grille was a mix between the Chrysler 300 and 1959 Studebaker Lark (coincidental). It was available as a four-door sedan or station wagon, with optional third row seating for up to nine passengers in the wagon. Production was divided into the low-line V-100 series and the high-line V-200, although the differences were minimal. All V-100 cars came with gray cloth upholstery, whereas V-200 cars had a choice of interiors and some extra chrome on the outside.
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This page was last updated on April 19, 2017.