Ever wondered what the best-selling cars of the 1960s were?

Well here are the top 10 most popular motors - some of which you’ll recognise; others you probably won’t.

There are some surprising entries here - but most odd of all, perhaps, is that every single one was built in Britain.

BMC 1300Credit: nakhon100, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

BMC 1100/1300

The brainchild of the legendary car designers Alec Issigonis, the British Motor Corporation's 1100/1300 ranges were in many ways enlarged Minis, boasting a similar transverse engine layout.

The final styling work on this 12 foot saloon was carried out by Italian design house Pininfarina.

Other versions of the 1100 were introduced under different BMC-owned badges - including MG, Riley and Austin. The most opulent version was the Vanden Plas Princess 1100.

Progressing naturally from the 1000 was the 1300. This was a success for BMC but the design was not updated sufficiently to keep up with the competition. However, there’s no denying it was the best selling car in the UK throughout this decade.


1968 Ford CortinaCredit: Riley from Christchurch, New Zealand, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Ford Cortina

The Ford Cortina was unique: never had a full-sized family saloon been available at such an affordable price. The four-door Cortina De Luxe (£687) was £8 cheaper than the four-door 1100 De Luxe (£695).

While the rear-wheel drive setup was hardly revolutionary, the budget price-point was.

Ford correctly recognised that as people became better off, they wanted to upgrade to bigger, better cars. That's why the Cortina Mk 2, launched in 1966, came with either 1300cc or 1500cc engines, and was considerably more spacious than its predecessor.


Red MiniCredit: Morio, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons


The Mini harps back to the days when BMC could adapt to market conditions with relative speed. The Suez Crisis caused higher fuel prices and resulted in drivers opting for more fuel-efficient vehicles - such as so-called bubble cars like the Trojan 200.

But BMC Chairman, Leonard Lord, was no fan of these odd-looking runabouts, so enlisted Alec Issigonis created a four-person car that was considerably smaller than the Morris Minor.

The result was the Mini - although it wasn't called this initially.

After being named the Austin Seven and Morris Mini Minor, it became the Mini.

The first version of the Mini was basic: sliding windows, rubber mats on the floor, and no heater. But the public soon warmed to the Mini, and more elaborate models soon followed - with things like wind-down windows and carpets!

With its crossways east-west engine arrangement, as opposed to north-south (front-back), the Mini freed up more space in the cabin - and was for this reason considered revolutionary. Arguably the most iconic of 60s British cars.


1964 Vauxhall Viva

Credit: Vauxford, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Vauxhall Viva

The diminutive HA Viva was a progression from the medium-sized Victor in 1957.

Larger than the Mini, the Vauxhall Viva competed with the Morris Minor and Ford Anglia.

It was a rather boxy, uninspiring vehicle, considered a logical progression for those who previously owned motorbikes and sidecars.

Despite its puritanical looks it could still carry four people.

In 1966 the HB Viva was launched - a much prettier, bigger version of the HA. It was one of the first 'coke bottle' style cars, and saw Viva sales double in just a couple of years.


Classic Blue Ford AngliaCredit: harlequin9 - stock.adobe.com

Ford Anglia and Escort

The initial Ford Anglia 105E was resplendent in chrome, fins and other 1950s elements. But this styling was somewhat dated as the 60s drew to a close, so Ford replaced the Anglia with the Escort in 1968.

Ford Escort MK1Credit: Calreyn88, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Escort was pitched perfectly to meet the needs of all kinds of owners - from families to those who wanted a little luxury (DeLuxe and Super variants), and drivers who needed a bit more speed (the Escort Twin-Cam could reach 113mph).


Hillman Hunter

Hillman Hunter

Replacing the Super MInx, the Hillman Hunter roared onto the scene in 1966.

With its updated 'Arrow' body, it kissed goodbye to 1950s styling and replaced it with more minimalist looks.

The 'Arrow' body style was rolled out across the Roots line-up, and proved well-attuned to what the public were looking for.

While the outgoing models are considered comfortable, compared to the new Rootes models they were slow and guzzled fuel.

Interestingly, it was built in Iran until 2005.


Vauxhall Victor

Credit: harlequin9 - stock.adobe.com 

Vauxhall Victor

The Victor was a slimmed-down version of the Chevrolet saloon from 1956 (Vauxhall being US-owned since 1925). But the Chevy-type design was not well suited to the British weather - poor sealing and water traps gave it a reputation for rust.

However in 1962 the updated FB rolled off the production lines and was far better: it was elegantly designed and more importantly, rust-proof!

Over time Vauxhall improved the Victor and expanded its range. The ranger-topper was a 2000cc variant.


Classic red Hillman Imp

Hillman Imp

Rootes recognised the success of the MIni, and developed the Imp in response.

While not as iconic as the Mini, the Hillman Imp was small but spacious. 

Rootes' other marques added a touch of glamour to the Imp - particularly the Singer Chamois and the nippy Sunbeam Stiletto.


1963 Morris OxfordRiley from Christchurch, New Zealand, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

BMC Farina

BMC once again enlisted Italy's Pininfarina to design its new medium-sized saloon body. The result was comparable to the Peugeot 404 - also designed by Pininfarina.

The basic Farina was customised by different BMC badges for their various customer bases: Austin and Morris were basic models; Wolseley added class with walnut facia; and Riley and MG upped the performance and luxury levels.

A 1961 facelift saw it become one of the best-selling cars of the 60s, but they fell off by the end of the decade.

Its replacement, the Austin/Morris 1800, did not meet market needs, and the Morris Marina was hurriedly developed to replace the Farina.


1963 Ford CorsairCredit: Sicnag, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Ford Corsair

The Corsair was what you bought when the Ford Cortina didn't quite cut it. It had more audacious styling, was of better build quality and was available in a variety of engines.

While it was viewed as a completely different model for a different demographic, it actually shared many of the Cortina's components - making it efficient to build.

The Corsair was one of the Ford’s best selling cars of the 60s in the UK.