While the bestselling cars of the 60s in the UK were the Ford Cortina, Austin/Morris 1100 and the Mini, our television screens were filled with cars of a somewhat cooler style. From the Batmobile (a 1955 Lincoln Futura concept car) and the Munster's Munster Koach (a Model-T hot rod/hearse hybrid), to the Saint's sporty Volvo P1800 S and Emma Peel's Lotus Elan in The Avengers, our screens were brimming with characterful chrome.
Combine these incredible cars with a memorable theme and you've got the makings of an iconic TV opening. Here are some of our absolute favourite cars from the opening of 60s TV shows:
Car: Ford Zephyr
Broadcast date: 1962-1978
Emerging from the Stygian damp and gloom of the fictional Seaport, comes Z-Victor 1 (crewed by Brian Blessed and Joseph Brady as PCs Fancy Smith and Jock Weir), or quite possibly Z-Victor 2 (James Ellis and Jeremy Kemp as Bert Lynch and Bob Steele).
A white swan of a car, The Ford Zephyr was the standard police patrol car of the early 1960s, and the sweep of the car and its flashing headlights only - no star name credits - reflect the fast pace, the new realism of the modern TV copper, rather than the reassuring PC Plod of the Dixon of Dock Green era.
The show wasn't named after the cars, by the way, but the fictional call-signs into control centre, BD.
Car: Lotus 7
Broadcast date: 1967-1968
The bonkers but cool Patrick McGoohan zips around an almost deserted London in a Lotus 7 kit car as the credits roll for the amazing in a baffling sort of way, top cult viewing The Prisoner.
Apparently McGoohan had wanted to feature a Lotus Elan (as driven by Emma Peel in The Avengers) but the quirkiness of the Lotus 7, a product of legendary racing car designer Colin Chapman’s fertile imagination, appealed to him. It was different.
The disaffected agent’s number was 6, the 7‘s was KAR 120C.
Car: Pontiac GTO (customised)
Broadcast date: 1966-1968
A mobile bath, a bed on wheels, a bike, a scooter – all feature in the opening credits of the faux fab four Monkees show.
But the real transport of delight, of which we get only a tantalising glimpse, is the Monkeemobile.
A souped-up, bastardised Pontiac GTO convertible was customised to look like some groovy four-seat hotrod.
Even in a city as car obsessed as LA, it was a real stand-out.
But to experience real Monkee mobility…
Car: E-type Jaguar
Broadcast date: 1967-1969
The closing credits of the ground-breaking Saturday night Dee Time, saw the matching shirt-and-tie Simon Dee, the Jonathan Ross of his day, leaving the high rise car park in his oh-so-cool E-type Jag.
A mini-skirted leggy lovely just manages to jump into the car, before Simon zooms off, lurching backwards as he does so. What’s edited out is that she fell out of the car when they did the original shoot.
Dee drove an Aston Martin DB5, the show pony car of the late 60s. He wasn’t too lucky with that, either, crashing on his way to the Montreux TV Festival in 1968, an act which set the precedent for the rest of his career - and life.