This 1960 Ford Starliner Is a One-Year Gem in Yosemite Yellow

The 1960 model year brought a few notable changes to Ford's automobile lineup. The company gave its full-size lineup a significant makeover and introduced its first compact car, the Falcon. The full-size range also gained an additional trim level. I'm talking about the Starliner.
1960 Ford Starliner 12 photos
Photo: Bronco McBane/YouTube
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In 1959, Ford launched the Galaxie as a range-topping full-size model slotted above the Fairlane 500. The Galaxie was initially restricted to the two-door and four-door hardtop body styles. The following year, the range got a brand-new model with a two-door fastback design. Ford named it the Starliner and placed it above the Galaxie.

But unlike the latter, which soldiered on through 1974, the Starliner was short-lived and went into the history books after only two years. As a result, it's one of the less-known Fords of the 1960s. In my book, however, it's a very special car that deserves a lot of love.

What makes it unique? Well, the Starliner was sleeker than anything else Ford built up until then. And it was all due to the fastback-style roof that gave the vehicle a decidedly aerodynamic (and sporty) stance. This design feature turned it into a popular platform for NASCAR teams.

Ford lost the championship to Chevrolet in 1960, but the Starliner was there to help the company score 15 wins. When the Starliner was discontinued in 1961, NASCAR teams began complaining that the Galaxie's roof was too boxy and thus slower and difficult to handle in high-speed traffic.

With only five wins in 1962, Ford fixed the Galaxie's aero issues by launching the Sports Hardtop model halfway through the 1963 model year. And won the NASCAR series that year. All told, we could say the Starliner helped Ford return to oval circuit glory after a five-year hiatus.

The company built 98,310 Starliners in 1960 and 1961, so this fastback isn't exactly scarce. However, because many were raced and crashed or abandoned in junkyards, Starliners that still run and drive are a rare sight in 2024. That's why I always get excited whenever one of these two-door hardtops is spotted at car shows.

The 1960 version you see here is one of nearly 69,000 units produced that year and one of only a few that still roam the streets. And it's a bit of a survivor, too. Sure, it rides on replacement wheels, and the paint has been refreshed, but it still displays battle scars and appears to be true to its factory specifications for the most part.

It's also finished in a factory-correct color, as yellow was one of 13 available colors in 1960. This one's called Yosemite Yellow, and it's paired with a white roof on this rig. And not only is it a hue that suits the Starliner, but it's also a color I haven't seen often in recent years.

We don't get to see what's under the hood, so the powerplant remains a mystery. The 1960 Starliner came with a 223-cuib-cibic (3.7-liter) inline-six as standard that year. The options list included the 292-cubic-inch (4.8-liter) Y-block and the 352-cubic-inch (5.8-liter) Thunderbird. These units delivered 185 and up to 360 horsepower, respectively.

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About the author: Ciprian Florea
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Ask Ciprian about cars and he'll reveal an obsession with classics and an annoyance with modern design cues. Read his articles and you'll understand why his ideal SUV is the 1969 Chevrolet K5 Blazer.
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