It’s no secret the 1960s was a decade of innovation for domestic cars, although most car guys associate the Sensational Sixties with a generous supply of brute force horsepower potential and give little thought to the illumination on cars built during that time frame.
The major exception was the return of hidden headlights on many of Detroit’s finest, a style feature found on high end 1930s vehicles that was not a big factor in post war cars built on this side of the pond after the war.
Right up until 1963 when the new Corvette model hit the showrooms and changed the game for hideaway headlights.
1966 was a banner year for the wall-to-wall taillight concept because all three of Detroit’s big dogs offered taillight systems that stretched from one rear quarter to the other one in ‘66, so MyStarCollectorCar will give three examples from the Big Three.
Mother Mopar hit the ground running with the debut of the 1966 Dodge Charger, basically a wild-looking fastback version of the Coronet, but with wall-to-wall taillights that were designed to differentiate the Charger from the Coronet in the eyes of the public.
The ‘66 Charger’s unique taillight system was a brand-new concept for Dodge and helped draw attention to the car’s rear quarters, but Dodge built a standalone Charger model in 1968 and completely severed its style lineage with the Coronet. It was a wise decision to separate the two Mopar B-Bodies in overall style because the ’68 Charger is arguably the most popular model ever built by the Dodge Boys.
The second example of Detroit’s experimentation with elongated taillights was found on the back end of a 1966 Buick Electra 225 because this upscale land yacht also had a taillight system that extended from port to starboard on the aft section of the GM beauty.
A ’66 Buick Electra was built for people who wanted comfort and style in their cars-and were willing to pay for the privilege of ownership. A striking rear illumination system added to the car’s overall elegance.
The third member of our 1966 wall-to-wall taillight team is the Ford Thunderbird, a car that hit dealerships as a two-seater sports car in 1955 but had grown into a four-seater luxury model over the years.
The ’66 T-Bird offered some novel concepts for its upscale customer base, including a stylish rear deck that housed an elongated sequential taillight system that was a real eye-catcher for Ford products at the time.
Which brings us to the famous 1967 Mercury Cougar, a car also noteworthy for its elongated sequential taillights that extended to the licence plate on both sides of Mercury’s pony car alternative to Ford’s famous Mustang.
The ’67 Cougar’s long taillights may have been interrupted by the car’s license plate location, but the fact they were sequential made the taillights a very memorable feature on Mercury’s first pony car.
The fifth and final addition to MyStarCollectorCar’s list is the 1968 Imperial LeBaron, Chrysler’s answer to GM’s Cadillac and Ford’s Lincoln. The ’68 Impy was indeed the flagship in Chrysler’s fleet and had a large-and-in-charge vibe that was evident in every aspect, including its long taillights that were separated by a regal circular emblem that evoked style and a subsequent big price tag.
Automotive history suggests that imitation may well be a form of flattery, a fact not lost an observation the 1968 Imperial Le Baron’s taillights are eerily reminiscent of the ’66 Buick Electra’s in terms of rear end illumination style.
BY: Jim Sutherland
Jim Sutherland is a veteran automotive writer whose work has been published by many major print and online publications. The list includes Calgary Herald, The Truth About Cars, Red Deer Advocate, RPM Magazine, Edmonton Journal, Montreal Gazette, Windsor Star, Vancouver Province, and Post Media Wheels Section.
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