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Driving in the 60s vs Driving now

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Those of us that grew up driving in the 1960s have seen a great deal of change on our roads.

Some of the changes have been good, such as technological advancements, but many others leave us yearning for a simpler time.

Here’s our rundown of the biggest differences between driving in the 1960s and driving today.

A clear road used to be a common sight.


A busy motorway with traffic

Top: The original M1 nearing completion, at Chalton south of Toddington Services (Image source: Ben Brooksbank); Bottom: The M1 today (Image source: Shutterstock)

By the 1960s British roads were quickly filling up. Rush hour was slow and town centres could easily become gridlocked. However, most of the time traffic was much more free flowing than on the over-loaded roads of today. In fact, one government release shows that the total number of vehicle miles travelled in a year in the UK has grown by more than 8 times over the last 60 years!

It used to be the case that driving to your destination would be guaranteed to be faster than walking, but this doesn’t seem to be the case anymore!

Filling up was an enjoyable experience

A modern petrol station

Top: Red Hill “Space age style” petrol station on the A6 Loughborough road (Image Source: Matt Fascilone); Bottom: A typical petrol station today (image source: Shutterstock)

The 1960s was the decade of the space race and the motor industry was riding on the back of that trend. Petrol stations were designed to look futuristic and to inspire a joy of driving, not to mention the fact that the price of filling up didn’t make your eyes water.

Nowadays filling up is a sadder affair which involves queuing up at identical square shelters and handing over half your life savings in exchange for a full tank.

The 60s was a simpler time for in-car technology

The dashboard of a classic car

A modern car entertainment system

Top: The interior of a high end car from the 1960s (Image source: Shutterstock); Bottom: The interior of a high end model today (Image source: Shutterstock)

Cars of the 60s were simple in terms of technology, and we liked it that way. A radio was all you needed back then, with just a few knobs and buttons, (all of which you were familiar with) leaving the rest of the dashboard clear.

Nowadays it’s a technology overload that nobody asked for. Big, bright touchscreens are distracting, and does anyone really need to set their air conditioning temperature with the accuracy of 0.5 degrees?

Travel games used imagination rather than screens

A game of travel bingoChildren playing on their electronic devices in the car

Top: A typical car game from the twentieth century (Image source:; Bottom: Today’s passengers playing games on their tablets (Image source: Shutterstock)

Admittedly, the game options to keep a car full of people entertained on a long journey were fairly limited in the 60s. Eye spy, travel bingo, spot the car colour, and making words and phrases from number plates or signs was as exciting as it got, but at least everyone was playing together as a group.

Today, smartphones and tablets have given children especially, something more entertaining to pass the time. It’s a shame to not be playing together all the time, but sometimes a bit of peace and quiet is just what you need after a day out with the grandchildren!

Car seats give us a little more peace of mind today

A happy toddler in a car seat

Top: The 1968 “Tot Guard”, one of the first car seats for children to be designed with safety in mind (image source: Ford Motor Company); Bottom: A typical car seat today (Image Source: shutterstock)

This has got to be one area where the modern-day trumps what we had before. When car seats for children were first invented, the focus was on keeping the child constrained for the convenience of the driver, not for the safety of the child. It was only in the 1960s that safety became a concern, but quite how they thought the “Tot Guard” pictured above was the solution we’re not sure!

The ideal car park of the 60s was a sci fi nightmare

Top: The Woolwich Auto Stacker (Image source: alamy); Bottom: A typical twenty-first century multi story.

Continuing with the space age theme that inspired petrol stations, the 60s also introduced us to automatic car parks. Simply drive in and the machine will lift the car away and “stack” it while you are gone. There’s a video of this particular car park in action, but if you don’t remember it, it’s probably because it closed after less than a day of being open.

Sometimes doing something yourself is the best way to do it, and we’re happy to park our cars ourselves, so long as we can remember where we left them.

Comparing cars and insurers was a hassle with far less choice

Age Co Car insurance

Top: A Moris mini-minor advert from the 1960s (Image source: alamy); Bottom: A digital ad for Age Co car insurance (Image source: Age Co)

Whilst you could still visit a dealership and compare models in the 1960s, comparing technical details Whilst you could still visit a dealership and compare models in the 1960s, comparing technical details wasn’t as easy as it is now thanks to the internet. Especially when it came to considering how much your car insurance premium would vary with the model you chose, modern technology has allowed for far better informed purchases. 

Car insurance itself has been around as long as cars have, and was even preceded by carriage insurance. However, the way we buy it has certainly changed. In the 1960s you’d choose a provider from a newspaper ad, a recommendation from a car dealer, or a local insurance company with an office nearby for you to pop in.

Today it’s easier than ever to find the right policy, with online research allowing you to fully understand what is being offered and compare it with other providers. This is especially useful when it comes to our golden years, as some providers have age limits on their policies. If you’re looking to renew, take a look at Age Co over 50s car insurance, which has no upper age limits and no hidden costs guaranteed.

Are there any other major differences between driving in the 1960s and now that we’ve forgotten about? Let us know on Facebook.


Learn more about Age Co and the products we provide. Request an Age Co brochure to find out more!

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Age Co Car Insurance is administered by Ageas Retail Limited.

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