We continue our coverage of the National Street Rod Association’s (NSRA) Western Street Rod Nationals. This is part three of our three-part coverage of the event. Part one featured the pre-war vehicles, part two focused on the 1950’s vehicles. In this part, we take a look at some of the best cars representing the swinging 1960s from the NSRA show.
The 1960s began where the golden age of the 1950s left off. Kennedy’s Camelot turned into upheaval and a split nation. Despite the civil rights battles and the Viet Nam war, music and new car design helped most Americans get through the worst of it.
Cars Of The Sixties
Along with Camelot, racial and campus unrest, there was space exploration and the New Frontier that helped define automobile design. The manufacturers were not restrained by as many federal regulations, emissions laws, or fuel economy issues. The end result was a slew of fantastic-looking and performing cars from the decade.
Here are a few of the noteworthy standouts at the NSRA Western Nationals at Bakersfield.
1961 Rambler American
Sold under the Rambler name – it was the last Rambler named automobile marketed in the United States – the American was an AMC through and through. 1961 launched the second generation Rambler American with heavy restyling by AMC’s Edmund Anderson. Anderson would retire to Mexico in December of 1961, making this one of his last designs for AMC.
This particular Rambler American is owned by Juston Peloquin of Simi Valley, California. The two-door sedan has been kept very clean and mostly original-looking. Considering the reviews when the car hit the market in late 1960, it is a pleasure to see one without major modifications.
The automotive press tore up the second-generation Rambler for having wheels that were too big and not centered in the wheel openings. Many cited the boxy design of the car with an oddly shaped and square cabin. Worst of all, it had a 195 cubic-inch inline-six AMC engine under the hood.
Justin seems to have figured out to solve most of those issues. Modern wheel and tire swap that fits the car better and what appears to be a later AMC V8 engine with loads of aftermarket goodies. We’ve grown to love the “breadbox” design of the 60s American and are thankful for the ones that have not been “re-imagined.” There is a lot to love about this early compact car.
1964 Chevrolet Corvair
The Corvair is well known in the industry as the car that Ralph Nader hated. While it is true that Nader began his consumer protection career by naming the Corvair “Unsafe at any Speed,” enthusiasts thought differently of the rear-engine compact. For Brad Giggy, the Corvair was special. The first car he owned was a Corvair that was given to him when he was 15. He had a year to make it road-worthy if he wanted to drive anywhere.
A couple of decades later and Brad stumbled into a wrecked Corvair with a salvage title. Along with a donor parts car, he was back in familiar territory making a Corvair road-worthy again. Looks like he did a great job.
The Corvair was an air-cooled rear-engine passenger car for the working man. Manufactured and sold four-door sedan, two-door coupe/convertible, four-door station wagon, passenger van, commercial van, and pickup truck body styles in its first generation (1960–1964).
The 1964 model experienced several significant engineering changes, included an engine with increased displacement. Despite the improvements, sales for the Corvair declined in ’64. The convertible models were even less in demand at the time. In the current market – 57 years later – the scarcity of this car makes it far more valuable today than it was new. This is a genuine treat to see one on the road.
1968 Camaro Coupe
It may seem cliche’ but … you can’t talk about 1960s cars without including a first-generation Camaro in the conversation. The same is true of a car show. We spotted Milan Morovich’s ’68 big-block Camaro across the fairgrounds. They are as iconic at car shows as a red ’32 Ford Coupe.
It is difficult to label any Camaro from this year a “sleeper” but Milan’s Camaro coupe is heavily modified with giving itself away too much. You can catch a glimpse of the roll cage inside the car. Combine that with the big-block engine packed with performance parts and you can bet it sees action on the track. It doesn’t scream at the adoring car fans either … until you fire it up.
1969 Chevrolet Nova
The Chevy II line stepped out of the shadows in 1969 by dropping the Chevy II portion of the name. It was Nova from that moment on. We found Nick Hastin’s ’68 Nova with an SS badge and a modified fuel system. The FAST fuel injection system with a full-flow air cleaner looks like a solid match for this performance engine.
We could tell by the VIN listed on the firewall data plate, this was originally an inline four-cylinder car. Only V8s were used in SS models so this one is a clone, but a well-built car nevertheless. The flawless body is what stole our hearts.
This two-door sedan was likely the very base model when sold from the factory, but there has been a lot of love and care put into it since then. If the hood was closed, my car enthusiasts might pass this by as just another ’69 Nova – but it is anything but that.
Stay Tuned For More
We have plans to cover the NSRA season finale at Tampa’s Southeast Street Rod Nationals next month. The dates for the event are December 3-5, 2021. Look for more information on that event coming soon.
For more information about the NSRA and their schedule, please visit them online at nsra-usa.com.