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Classic Driver Motor Show 1964: The most important cars of the year

Nineteen sixty-four. In the year of Beatlemania and Mary Poppins, some seriously significant cars were launched to the world. We’ve cherry-picked the most important from Geneva, New York, Paris and Turin to star at the hypothetical Classic Driver Motor Show ’64…

Spring awakening in Geneva

The automotive year kicked off in Geneva with a flurry of activity from the Italian manufacturers, all keen to make an impression. Lamborghini debuted its first ever production car, the Touring-bodied 350GT, in a bid to beat Ferrari at its own game. Naturally, Ferrari retaliated, showing its new 330 GT 2+2 and the perhaps contradictory track-honed 250 GT Lusso Competizione. Meanwhile, over on the Pininfarina stand, motor show-goers were treated to a glimpse of the super-exclusive 500 Superfast. One of just 36 produced, not only was (and still is) the Superfast one of the rarest Ferraris ever built, at £10,932 it was also one of the most expensive. Our favourite from the Geneva Salon, though, was the stunning Fiat 2300 S ‘Lausanne’: a distinctly styled special-edition coupé built by the Pininfarina brothers in homage to Switzerland – how appropriate.

Two Ford legends in New York

Although not strictly a motor show, the 1964 New York World’s Fair played host to one of the most popular and influential cars ever made: the Ford Mustang. Within 12 months of the car being introduced at the fair (by Henry Ford II, no less), a staggering 400,000 cars had been produced, over three times what had originally been forecast. Also presented at the World’s Fair was the futuristic Chrysler Turbine Car. The Ghia-penned coupé was designed to do away with the traditional piston engine and could run on pretty much anything: diesel, vegetable oil, even Chanel No.5 if you so desired. The New York Auto Show was held shortly before the fair, where the very first Ford GT prototype was shown to the world.

Porsche, Pininfarina's Pagoda and a special Ferrari in Paris

Later in the year, Paris and Turin were equally eventful; and again, the European manufacturers took centre stage. Renault launched its more powerful 8 Gordini, available exclusively in ‘bleu de France’, while Mercedes-Benz debuted its latest collaboration with Pininfarina, the 230 SL Coupé. Sadly, it wasn’t convincing enough to make production and the tin-topped Pagoda remained a one-off. Porsche had a successful show, too, displaying the production-ready 901 alongside the new 904 Carrera GTS. Soon after Paris, however, Peugeot complained that the model name 901 infringed its copyright and the name was promptly changed… to 911. Ferrari also chose Paris to display its latest car, the 275 GTB, alongside its convertible sister, the GTS. One of the truly great GT designs, the 275 embraced Ferrari’s competition pedigree, encompassing technology pioneered on the racetrack.

Turin visionaries

Come Turin it was, perhaps appropriately, Alfa Romeo’s turn to grab the headlines. The sleek Bertone-designed Canguro (Italian for kangaroo) was a showstopper, while the beautiful 2600 Sprint Zagato was equally well received. Compatriot De Tomaso also tested the Turinese waters with the Vallelunga concept. As we’re sure you’ll agree, our 1964 motor show would be quite a sensation; and judging by the value of many of these cars today, 1964 was a true highlight in automotive history. 

Classic cars from 1964 can be found in the Classic Driver Market.