Hooniverse Weekend Edition: Indy Pace Cars from 1960 – 1969

In observance of the annual Indianapolis 500 Race that took place over the weekend (and was historically run on Memorial Day) I thought I would dive into a pictorial history of the cars that paced this once great race. We have already discovered the Pace Cars of the 50s, so its onto the venerable 1960s.

The late 1950s Indy Pace Cars were some of the largest cars to ever pace the field, and the 1960 Oldsmobile 98 looked to continue that trend, with a full sized convertible, and a 315 HP 394 CID V-8 under the hood. However, the full sized convertible pacing the Indianapolis 500 was nearing its end.

In 1961, the newly restyled Ford Thunderbird was selected to pace the field at Indy. This is the first year for the “Rocket Bird” and it packed a 300 HP 390 CID V-8 under the hood. It was in a remarkably striking Gold color as well.

1962 was a strange year for Indianapolis. The committee selected the new Studebaker Avanti to pace the field, but the company was unable to furnish the car in time for the 1962 event, so they substituted a 1962 Lark Daytona Convertible, with styling that was at least 4 years old by this time. The Lark was equipped with a 289 CID V-8 producing 210 HP. This was the last car from an independent car-maker ever selected to pace the event.

Remember I said that the full sized convertible pacing the Indianapolis field was near its end? Here it is, the 1963 Chrysler 300 Convertible was selected to pace the 47th annual event, with a 413 CID “Wedge Head” V-8 producing 360 HP.

1964 was a turning point in the American Automobile Industry, and to bring home that point, the 1964 Ford Mustang was selected to pace the Indianapolis 500 that year. The car was only introduced to the public six weeks before the race commenced. The Mustang was packing, with a 271 HP version of the 289 CID V-8.

Plymouth introduced their new full sized Fury in 1965, and the Sport Fury Convertible was selected to pace the field. The car was equipped with a 383 CID V-8 that produced 270 HP.

Mercury made a return appearance in 1966 with their Comet Cyclone GT Convertible. This car was equipped with the Ford 390 CID V-8, and tuned to produce 335 HP.

The all new Chevrolet Camaro made it’s debut in the fall of 1966, and this was the car selected to pace the 1967 Indianapolis 500. Chevrolet furnished a Super Sport Convertible, with a modified 396 CID V-8 that produced 375 HP. 100 Replicas were produced by Chevrolet.

Ford unveiled their all new Ford Torino in the fall of 1967, and was selected to furnish a car for the fabled race in May of 1968. The car was equipped with a 390 HP 427 CID V-8.

For 1969, the Chevrolet Camaro was once again selected to pace the Indianapolis 500. It was very unusual to be selected within a two year time frame, but Chevrolet stepped up, with a car that had a 396 CID V-8, producing over 375 HP. This time, Chevrolet produced 3,675 replicas to be sold to the general public.

What was unusual during this time period was the fact that so few recognised “Muscle Cars were tapped to be Pace Cars. Not one G-T-O, 4-4-2, Chevelle SS, or Chrysler Hemi models were selected. Short of the Cyclone GT, or Camaro SS, the rest of the Pace Cars were nothing special, but packed a lot of horsepower under their hoods. So, is a Pace Car that was produced in the 60’s Hooniversalustworthy? I want to know. Tune in for more Indianapolis Pace Car Postings today.

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  1. dukeisduke Avatar

    I went to high school with a guy that owned one of the '69 Camaro pace car replicas. The car was still in good shape, being only about eight years old then. It was pretty sharp, with the Hugger Orange stripes and interior.

  2. longrooffan Avatar

    I'd have to go with the 68 Torino from the decade of radical change here in the good ole USA. Although, I would suspect that the Camaros or that Mustang are worth a whole lot more money these days.

  3. engineerd Avatar

    It is interesting that no GTOs or 442s were selected. Does the selection committee have something against American power? Communists!

  4. muthalovin Avatar

    This is a list of "want" cars for me, especially that Mercury Cyclone. That car just puts a smile on my face.

    1. jimmy white Avatar
      jimmy white

      i have one if you would like to have one been restored with 54.000 miles . in al. made in lorain ohio shipped to new york. been in the south a while i have had it over 10 years. verrrrrrrrrrrrrry fast

  5. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen Avatar

    It seems like you have gathered yourself quite the little following nowadays! I’m happy to see it!

  6. scott hope Avatar

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  7. Mark McCormack Avatar
    Mark McCormack

    the 1960 camaro z11 coded pace car had a 350 in it-anyone with a 396 changed the engine out=or has a rs/ss convertible w/ the same colors and after market door decals

    1. Mark McCormack Avatar
      Mark McCormack