Eight Favorite “American Dream Cars of the 1960s” from the 2017 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance
A worthy tribute to the ingenuity of American designers
While we love seeing all of the cars on display each year at the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance, we especially enjoy the special classes that change from year to year. This year, the most imaginative class was themed "American Dream Cars of the 1960s" and featured a variety of vehicles that shared a common theme: each vehicle was built in America and each was the product of an individual designer's own imagination. The class was curated by legendary automotive journalist, historian, and Pebble Beach class judge, Ken Gross.
We profiled two of these cars, the 1963 XR-6 Tex Smith Roadster and the 1964 Reactor by Gene Winfield, in our August 2017 issue, but we decided to show them to you again alongside some of their fellow class entrants on the 18th fairway at Pebble Beach Golf Course.
1963 XR-6 Tex Smith Roadster
Built as a glimpse at what could have been the future of hot rodding, the XR-6 was built by LeRoi "Tex" Smith during his stint at Hot Rod magazine. With a chassis cobbled together in Smith's garage, power from a Dodge "slant six" engine and only a whiff of the 1927 Ford Model T body used in the design, the XR-6 was about as unconventional as you could get in its day. It was a winner of the America's Most Beautiful Roadster award on its debut appearance.
1964 Reactor Gene Winfield Custom Coupe
Gene Winfield had already built quite a name for himself as a car customizer by the time he started work on the Reactor. Using aluminum shaping skills that he honed on the XR-6, he created this show car on the chassis of a Citroen ID with a turbocharged engine from a Chevrolet Corvair. It would later star in three 1960s television shows: "Batman," "Star Trek," and "Bewitched."
1966 Bosley Mark II Interstate Coupe
A follow up to Richard Bosley's homebuilt Bosley Mark I, a car that not only captivated the hearts of enthusiasts, but was also used by its creator as a daily driver, the Mark II Interstate was based on a Corvette chassis. Under the hood sits a 345-hp Pontiac V-8 paired to a Corvette transmission. The car's Interstate moniker comes from its intended use to explore the myriad American freeways that were being developed by this time.
1965 Bugatti Type 101C Virgil Exner Ghia Roadster
Many brands, especially in Europe, struggled to return to their pre-war strength in the wake of the devastation caused by World War II. Bugatti was one of those brands and after numerous attempts to relaunch the company with several custom bodied, pre-war Type 57 chassis, the Bugatti marque was still floundering. This car's exterior was designed by superstar designer Virgil Exner using the final chassis produced, while the interior was designed by his son, Virgil Jr. Exner kept the car for several years after its made its debut at the 1965 Turin motor show, but drove it rarely.
1969 Farago CF 428 Carrozzeria Coggiola Coupe
A joint project by former Ghia designers Paul Farago and Sergio Coggiola, the Farago CF 428 was built for John Z. DeLorean while he was head of Pontiac. Farago and Coggliola had formed their own carrozzeria (coachbuilding shop) in Turin in 1966 and were developing concepts for various automakers in an attempt to drum up some business. This car was supposed to convince Pontiac that an Italian-designed model would be good for its bottom line-an ill-fated effort, for the most part.
1967 Gyro-X Alex Tremulis Prototype
Alex Tremulis is perhaps best known for his work to make the Tucker 48's design production-ready, but this Gyro-X is at least as interesting a design. Gyro Transport Systems in California asked Tremulis to design this prototype using a hydraulically driven gyroscope to keep the car upright. Drive power came from a 1.3-liter Mini engine and while the concept worked, it never went into production. The training wheels on either side keep the primarily two-wheeled vehicle from falling over while the gyroscope is warming up.
1965 Pontiac Vivant Herb Adams Roadster
A Herb Adams creation while an engineer at Pontiac, the Vivant was inspired by the trio of Alfa Romeo/Bertone B.A.T. concepts and uses a space frame chassis and hand-formed sheet metal. A 370-cubic-inch Pontiac V-8 development engine provides forward momentum and after the cars numerous show appearances in the 1960s, the Vivant dropped out of the public eye. It was discovered in 2009 and subsequently restored.
1960 DiDia 150 "Bobby Darin" Coupe
Andrew DiDia was a clothing designer, but that didn't stop him from wanting his very own dream car. In 1953, he decided to build this striking coupe, using help from Chrysler designer Edward V. Francoise and Detroit-based concept car builder, Clarkaiser. The project would take until 1960 to complete at a total cost of approximately $94,000. Fortunately for DiDia, none other than crooner Bobby Darin took a liking to the outrageous machine and bought it for $150,000, keeping it until his death. It currently resides in the St. Louis Museum of Transportation.