MAY 3 2010: THE BEST OF THE BIG 3 HARDTOP DESIGNS OF THE 1960S-WE PICK ‘EM

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2 dr ht in the headlights

2 dr ht in the headlightsWe hated this competition for one simple reason: We really liked all of our competitors- a lot. But we had to find a winner in a field of winners with our choice. Hardtops have always been the matinee idols of car world. The concept was put into North American production by the General in 1949 with its two door hardtop versions from Cadillac, Buick and Oldsmobile.

Hardtops marked a departure from a practical post-war look for Detroit as a new look in cars marked a different attitude that included fun. Hardtops got their name from the lack of a pillar between the front and back seat. The idea was a convertible with a roof, thus the hardtop name.

The hardtop look defined the sexy look from Detroit from that year onward. Hardtops evolved as Detroit changed its look through the years and that brings us to the question: Which hardtop from Detroit’s Big Three deserves to be labeled the best of the bunch from the 60s?

Read on for our choice.

Number three in our picks is the 19631/2 Ford Galaxie two door hardtop. The Blue Oval boys nailed the hardtop look with the long and sweeping hardtop on the ’63. This mid-year roofline made the car look fast in a parking lot. But Ford had enough horsepower muscle in its cupboard to make this car lightning fast on the road. It was a beautiful marriage between form and function when Ford put a big block under the hood and dared the competition to catch them if they could.

Ford knew if you looked fast, you should be even faster, and the 1963 Ford Galaxie two door hardtop covered that philosophy-and then some.

63 ford ht imgp1660-1

Number two on our list was the 1966 and ‘67 Chevelle two door hardtop models. Chevy has many great rooflines on their Impalas in the 60s, and a strong case could be made for any of the 1962-64 Impala models in our opinion.

But the sheer muscled-out look of the 1966-67 Chevelle two door hardtop was the critical factor in our choice. This hardtop screams macho and, when you throw a 396 into the mix, you have an alpha car that can walk the walk in a street fight.

Chevy wanted a car that intimidated the competition the first time they saw the Chevelle. Its take-no-prisoners look was all of that and more with the 1966-7 Chevelle two door hardtop. You want balance and power in any fighter, and these cars had plenty of that in their two door street thugs.

67 chevellle ht imgp6428

We said that our choices were difficult. A convincing case could be made for any of these hardtops and a host of others from 1960s Detroit.

But we picked the 1966 Plymouth Belvedere as our best two door hardtop line.

Chrysler had used the basic design of their two door hardtops for most of the 60s, but 1966 was the perfect blend of car lines and hardtop roof lines for the Plymouth Belvedere models. Dress it up as a Satellite or GTX; it looked great in any package.

A 1966 Plymouth Belvedere was a fairly squared-off car model-more right angles than curves. The hardtop models played to the strength of this angular package. It just worked for the car and gave it a sporty look. Throw an elephant under the hood and nobody could touch this Plymouth in a one on one street battle.

A Hemi-powered Plymouth Belvedere two door hardtop meant only one thing: Looks sometimes are not deceiving. This car looked sporty and ran roughshod over the competition.

It was the perfect combination of looks and brawn, so it gets our vote as the best hardtop design from 60s Detroit.

66 belv imgp0654

COMMENTS

BERNIE:””As you know I have a favorite that I would suggest, but these are excellent picks, especially the Chevelle.  There is an orange & black Belvedere cruising Whyte Avenue this season.”

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