1968 was a big year for many reasons because of the events that shook the world during that monumental year.
However, MyStarCollectorCar is obsessed with old vehicles so we have chosen to stick to our knitting when it comes to 1968 and run with the car news that shook the world 50 years ago.
One of the big changes was the introduction of side marker lights in ’68. Our best guess is a herd of bureaucrats held many meetings about car safety and implemented a side marker light largely to justify their expensive positions in the food chain.
The good news is they got it right this time (in that famous blind squirrel sense) because side marker lights were a great way for other drivers to see other cars at night. Plus they identified the cars as brand new in ’68.
MyStarCollectorCar also acknowledges that many of Detroit’s finest also had brand new sheet metal in 1968. Our second example was the 1968 Pontiac GTO because this car was a completely different muscle car from the 1967 version. For example, the headlights on a ’68 Goat were horizontal while a ’67 GTO had stacked vertical headlights.
The GM body style changes were also extended to many models in 1968, including the Chevelle, thus our third change was this mid-sized Chevy because it got curvier new sheet metal in ’68. The ’67 Chevelle was an old design and its squared-off style no longer fit into the GM stable.
Ford also had a better style idea in 1968 because they also wanted to move forward with the times that year. The era of stacked vertical headlights was over at Ford and they moved them to a horizontal position on many of their models.
However, the most famous Ford in 1968 was the Bullitt Mustang so our third addition to the list has to be this ultra-popular pony car from the movies because of its legendary fame. The car was involved in a lengthy car chase through the hilly streets of San Francisco and made Steve McQueen into an even cooler movie star.
The other side of the equation was the ’68 Dodge Charger involved in the ‘Bullitt’ movie chase scene because this car has also become a legend in car guy circles. The 1968 Charger is an easy choice for our fourth addition to the list because it wore a completely different body style from the Coronet-based ’67 Charger.
The Dodge Charger forged its own identity in a big way in 1968 and a cool chase movie like ‘Bullitt’ made this car even more popular.
The fifth and final addition to our list is actually a tie between the 1968 Corvette and the 1968 Plymouth Road Runner. Both cars were worthy warriors in the muscle car wars for different reasons.
The ’68 Corvette had undergone a complete body style transformation from the 1967 ‘Vette and owed its updated look to GM’s experimental Mako Shark models that preceded the introduction of the curvy 1968 Stingrays.
The 1968 Corvette was a beast that offered serious horsepower options under its hood for adventurous/reckless owners.
The 1968 Plymouth Road Runner was an affordable choice for young buyers and offered the promise of road misadventures to under-capitalized buyers who were likely also under-skilled drivers.
The cars were equipped with a factory 383 and upped the ante with even more big block options if the buyers were flush enough to check off these choices.
However, a 383 engine in a ’68 Road Runner provided more than enough horsepower to get young car guys into more than enough trouble 50 years ago when it debuted in Plymouth dealerships.
1968 was a fascinating year for many reasons-not the least of which were the five new roads taken by the fine people at the Big Three car companies and the NHTSA.
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.