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This Is What a “Luxury Car” Looked Like 60 Years Ago

The high-end features in luxury cars from the 1960s looked a lot different than the luxury brands today, but one thing hasn't changed: these cars are reserved for the rich.

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1967 Chevrolet CorvetteCourtesy CSM Sports & Entertainment
1967 Chevrolet Corvette

The models

The top three models for luxury cars 60 years ago were Cadillac, Lincoln, and Mercedes, says Mark Moskowitz, an automotive journalist, and judge at the Manhattan Concours event at Brookfield Place. Other brands included Rolls Royce, Chrysler, Oldsmobile 98, Buick’s luxury line, and Thunderbird. The latter three don’t exist today, but new brands of luxury cars continue to come on the market, like Tesla.

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Courtesy CSM Sports & Entertainment
1965 Rolls Royce SC3

The cost

A luxury car in the ’60s would set you back about $8,000 USD. Moskowitz says that a top line 1969 Mercedes two-door would cost roughly $10,000, a Mercedes 280 SL luxury roadster about $7,200, and a 1969 Lincoln Continental around $6-$7,000. If you take inflation into account, a Mercedes two-door today would cost you around $69,000 USD. Today, some Mercedes luxury models will cost you six figures.

These classic cars are still being made today.

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Courtesy CSM Sports & Entertainment
1961 Fiat 1500S

The size

One of the main differences between luxury cars 60 years ago and luxury cars today is the size. Today, people put much more of an emphasis on SUVs. For example, Lincoln Navigators and Cadillac Escalades are currently popular luxury vehicles. Back in the ’60s, luxury cars were much smaller. Many only fit two people.

Check out these vintage trucks that never went out of style.

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Courtesy CSM Sports & Entertainment
1965 Rolls Royce SC3

The features

When people were shopping for a luxury vehicle 60 years ago they were looking for high-end features that weren’t typically added to regular cars. “They were looking for something that would appeal to their senses,” says Moskowitz. “Something that had style that separated it from the rest of the pack.” For example, luxury cars had leather seats instead of the typical vinyl used in less expensive vehicles. Other features in luxury cars from the ’60s included the addition of excess chrome on the exterior, plush carpets on the interior, four-wheel disc breaks, power steering, and power brakes, air conditioning, automatic headlight dimmers, and power windows that could be controlled from the driver’s seat.

Check out these new car features you didn’t realize you needed.

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Courtesy CSM Sports & Entertainment
1967 Chevrolet Corvette

Features we still see today

“Standards of luxury that transcend both eras have included leather seating, plush carpeting, and state of the art sound systems,” says Moskowitz. Due to incredible advances in technology, luxury cars today have a much longer list of features. Some of them include large touchscreens, self-driving capabilities, voice-controlled climate, and surround view cameras and warnings.

Next, find out the most popular car the year you were born.

Reader's Digest
Originally Published on Reader's Digest