A Guide to 1968 Cars

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It’s hard to choose the best car of 1968, but the top contenders include the Chevrolet El Camino, the Ford Mustang, and the Chevrolet Camaro. 
1968 was a year of change in America. In the skies, Apollo 8 was the first manned vessel to orbit the moon—while on the ground, the first gaming console was invented, and "Star Trek" aired the first interracial kiss on American television. This was also a time of turbulence: The conflict in Vietnam came to a head, and the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. resulted in protests throughout the country. 
It was a time of change for car manufacturers as well. The 1960s marked the golden era of the American muscle car, with brands working to produce sleeker-looking cars with more powerful engines. 1968 was a record-breaking year for car sales, with luxury and family sedans experimenting with longer body types and nicer interiors—some of which even offered air conditioning!
In this guide, we'll walk you through some of the standout cars from 1968. Whether you prefer muscle cars, utility crossovers, or luxury sedans, the '60s have you covered! 
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The best cars of 1968

From family sedans to sports cars, here are the six golden standard vehicles of 1968. 

The best car of 1968: Chevy El Camino SS

J.D. Power fair market range: $13,550 to $40,800
Powertrain: Three versions of 396 cubic-inch V8 engines with horsepower ratings at 325, 350, and 375. Default Muncie three-speed manual transmission or optional Turbo-Hydramatic TH400 or Muncie four-speed automatic transmission.
What makes it special: 
The Chevy El Camino SS is the sport-tuned version of this 1968 cult classic. A more utilitarian take on your typical muscle car, the third-generation El Camino had a longer profile with the cab and cargo bed integrated smoothly into the body. You could also choose between cloth bucket seats and a vinyl bench to accommodate your passengers.
1968 was the first year that the SS trim was available as a standalone model—a $444 upgrade from the base trim. This was more accessible for drivers at the time who were looking for a powerhouse that could also carry their groceries. 
The engine was not only groundbreaking, boasting the most horsepower available in 1968, but it was also record-breaking: The 1968 model sold almost 42,000 units. This was a new sales record for the model.
The El Camino was a car ahead of its time, influencing the sleeker look and engine capabilities of vehicles that came to define the 1970s. 
Pro Tip If the VIN for an El Camino doesn’t end with an 8, the car is most likely a fake.

The best luxury car of 1968: Lincoln Continental

J.D. Power fair market range: $5,250 to $25,200
Powertrain: 462 cubic inch V8 engine with standard manual transmission
What makes it special: 
The fourth generation of the Continental was the only offering by the brand after it consolidated its line—and Lincoln definitely made it count! In production between 1961 and 1969, the 1968 model was a standout, featuring optional air conditioning and a fancy surround-sound stereo system. But it was its air of mystique and confident opulence that gave the Continental the edge over other luxury models at the time.

The best SUV of 1968: Ford Bronco

J.D. Power fair market range: $38,200 to $132,800
Powertrain: 2.8-liter inline-six engine or 4.7 liter V8 with 3-speed manual transmission
What makes it special: 
While the
Ford Bronco
may have been second to the popular
Wrangler in 1968, it has since featured in movies and TV shows, making it a major ‘60s icon. The Ford Bronco was also an affordable option, with an MSRP of $2,194—almost $700 cheaper than the average vehicle.
Ford started producing the Bronco in 1966 to compete with the Jeep CJ. By 1968, the Bronco was a powerful off-road option. The engine used a Dana transfer case and locking hubs to maximize the Bronco’s off-roading prowess.

The best luxury SUV of 1968: Jeep Wagoneer

J.D. Power fair market range: $6,525 to $28,500
Powertrain: 350 cubic inch 5.7 liter Dauntless V8 with TH400 automatic transmission
What makes it special:
It might surprise you that the proto-luxury SUV was made in 1968, but it's true. The Jeep Wagoneer was a luxury 4x4 designed by Brooks Stevens, who developed the concept of a luxury "sport utility vehicle" (SUV). The Wagoneer was produced from 1963 to 1991 with few changes to the body design, making it the third longest-produced vehicle in American car history.
Starting in 1968, Wagoneers carried a 230-hp V8 engine. Even though this engine had less horsepower than previous AMC V8s, it had more torque at lower rpm (350 ft-lb at 2400 rpm), making it a good choice for rugged terrain. 
The Wagoneer was the only 4WD vehicle at the time to offer luxury options like independent front suspension, power steering, automatic transmission, a factory radio, and air-conditioning.
In a class all of its own, the Jeep Wagoneer was a trailblazer for full-size luxury SUVs.
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The best family car of 1968: Ford Torino

J.D. Power fair market range: $6,975 to $34,200
Powertrain: 200 cubic inch 3.3 L inline six-cylinder engine with three-speed manual transmission
What makes it special: 
The Ford Torino was an attractive option for families in 1968. It came as a four-door sedan or a station wagon for the family-minded driver. The "Magic Doorgate" or two-way tailgate on the station wagon made loading the car easy, and it came with an optional rear-facing third seat. 
The sedan models had wood grain side panels, and some of the station wagons came with a chrome roof rack—not too shabby!
If you’re not convinced, look at the numbers: 172,083 units of the Torino were produced in 1968, marking the model's success. It was also reviewed well and gained additional recognition when the Torino GT Convertible model was chosen as the Indianapolis 500 pace car.

The best sports car of 1968: Ford Mustang

J.D. Power fair market range: $7,825 to $38,100
Powertrain: A 200-hp inline six-cylinder engine with three-speed manual transmission
What makes it special: 
We call it the best sports car, but the Ford Mustang is the quintessential muscle car that helped to define the automotive industry in the 1960s. The Mustang was undoubtedly the pinnacle of sporty prestige, with the original model selling over 1 million units within 1.5 years. There was more competition by the time the 1968 version came out, but it was still at the top of the sales charts.
The Mustang’s six-cylinder engine produced 200 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque—it could go from 0 to 60 mph in a stunning six seconds. No wonder this car was chosen for a cameo in the film "Bullitt," where it was driven by the legendary Steve McQueen.

What cars came out in 1968? 

With government-mandated headrests and opting for newly shortened 12-month warranties, the car industry had some adjustments to make in 1968. But new limitations brought new innovations, from bigger engines to sleeker body designs. Here are the highlights of 1968.
Vehicle type
Fair market range
Sports car
275-hp L26 230ci I6
$11,350 to $44,600
A top contender for the best muscle car of the year, the Camaro utilized traction control technology and came standard with an air dam, T-Tops, rear spoiler, and front chin spoiler.
AMC Javelin
Sports car
280-hp 343 CID V8 or a de-tuned 290 CID V8 or a 232 CID six-cylinder
$6,775 to $58,500
AMC's entry into the midsize muscle car market, it originally cost less than $3,000.
Mercury Cougar
Sports car
250-hp 289ci Windsor V8 or a 390-hp 429 cubic inch Cobra Jet V8
$12,900 to $56,100
With an upgraded design from previous years, the Cougar was sleek and boasted a 0-60 mph time of five seconds with the Cobra Jet engine.
Jaguar E-Type
Sports car
4.2-L XK I6
$65,100 to $265,800
Enzo Ferrari called this British classic the most beautiful car ever made.
Volkswagen Beetle
Subcompact car
1500cc air-cooled four-cylinder
$3,650 to $21,300
VW ad campaigns in the 1960s changed the way cars were marketed and made the Beetle the best-selling auto design in history.
Plymouth Road Runner
Midsize car
383ci 6.3-L 335-hp V8 or 426ci 7.0-L Hemi V8 or 440ci 7.2-L V8
$14,400 to $56,400
Focused on performance, the Road Runner won Motor Trend’s Car of the Year the following year.

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There were a lot of popular cars in 1968, but two top contenders are the Ford Mustang and the Chevy El Camino.
The Ferrari 365 GTB/4 Daytona had the fastest time of 1968 at 280 km/h (174 mph).
There were a lot of popular cars in 1968, but two top contenders are the Ford Mustang and the Chevy El Camino.
The Ferrari 365 GTB/4 Daytona had the fastest time of 1968 at 280 km/h (174 mph).
By Brittni Brinn
Updated on Feb 21, 2023
Reviewed by Jessica Barrett, Senior Editor.
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