Car body style

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There are many types of car body styles. They vary depending on intended use, market position, location and the era they were made in.


Current styles

Lightweight off-road vehicle with sparse bodywork.
Convertible / cabriolet
Ford Mustang convertible Ford Mustang convertible 5312550.jpg
Ford Mustang convertible
Has a retractable or removeable roof. A convertible allows an open-air driving experience, with the ability to provide a roof when required. Most convertible roofs are either a folding textile soft-top or a retractable metal roof. Convertibles with a metal roof are sometimes called 'retractable hardtop', 'coupé convertible' or 'coupé cabriolet'.
Has a sloping rear roofline and generally two doors (although several four-door cars have also been marketed as coupés). Coupés are generally considered more sporty than their sedan counterparts.
Flower car
Cadillac Flower car Cadillac Flower car.jpg
Cadillac Flower car
In US used in the funeral industry to carry flowers for burial services. Typically a coupe-style, forward-passenger compartment with an open well in the rear. [1]
Hatchback / Liftback
Renault Clio hatchback Renault Clio Expression (IV) - Heckansicht, 17. Marz 2013, Ratingen.jpg
Renault Clio hatchback
Car with a hatch-type rear door that is hinged at the roof and opens upwards. The term "hatchback" can also refer to that type of rear door, which is also used on several sports cars, SUVs and large luxury cars. [2]
Hearse / funeral coach
Cadillac Hearse Reagan hearse.jpg
Cadillac Hearse
The modification of a passenger car to provide a long cargo area for carrying a coffin or casket. Hearses often have large glass panels for viewing the coffin.
Lincoln Limousine 98-02 Lincoln Town Car limousine.jpg
Lincoln Limousine
A luxury vehicle driven by a chauffeur with a partition between the driver's compartment and the passenger's compartment. In German, the term simply means a sedan.
Daihatsu Hijet microvan Hijet-cargo.jpg
Daihatsu Hijet microvan

The smallest size of minivan/MPV.

Minivan / multi-purpose vehicle (MPV) / people carrier / people mover
Toyota Sienna Toyota Sienna XL30 China 2012-06-16.jpg
Toyota Sienna
Vehicle designed to transport passengers in the rear seating row(s) with reconfigurable seats in two or three rows. Typically has a combined passenger and cargo area, a high roof, a flat floor, a sliding door for rear passengers and high H-point seating. In Europe, some small minivans have been marketed as 'leisure activity vehicles'.
Panel van / car-derived van / sedan delivery
A cargo vehicle based upon passenger car chassis, and typically has one row of seats with no side windows at the rear. Panel vans are smaller than panel trucks and cargo vans, both of which are built on a truck chassis.
Panel truck
Volkswagen Taro panel truck Rot daeng Chiang Mai 5.jpg
Volkswagen Taro panel truck
A pickup truck that has a fully enclosed truck topper in its back, giving it a van-like appearance.
Pickup truck / pickup
Chevrolet Silverado pickup truck 2015 Greater Valdosta Community Christmas Parade 032.JPG
Chevrolet Silverado pickup truck
A light-duty, open-bed truck. In South Africa, a pickup truck is called a "bakkie". [3]
BMW Z3 roadster BMW Z3 1.9L 1998.jpg
BMW Z3 roadster
An open two-seat car with emphasis on sporting appearance or character. Initially an American term for a two-seat car with no weather protection, usage has spread internationally and has evolved to include two-seat convertibles.
Sedan / saloon
Toyota Camry sedan 2018 Toyota Camry (ASV70R) Ascent sedan (2018-08-27) 01.jpg
Toyota Camry sedan
A fixed-roof car in a three-box design with separate compartments for engine, passenger, and cargo. Sedans can have 2 or 4-doors. A sedan is called a "berlina" in Spanish and Italian, or a "berline" in French.
Ferrari FF Ferrari FF (7376931930) (cropped).jpg
Ferrari FF
Initially a vehicle used to carry shooting parties with their equipment and game; later used to describe custom-built wagons by high-end coachbuilders, subsequently synonymous with station wagon / estate car; and in contemporary usage a three or five-door wagons combining features of a station wagon and a coupé.
Station wagon / estate car
Buick Roadmaster station wagon Buick Roadmaster wagon.jpg
Buick Roadmaster station wagon
Has a two-box design, a large cargo area and a rear tailgate that is hinged to open for access to the cargo area. The body style is similar to a hatchback car, however station wagons are longer and are more likely to have the roofline extended to the rear of the car [2] (resulting in a vertical rear surface to the car) to maximize the cargo space. In French, a station wagon is called a "break".
Examples of station wagons:
Targa top
Porsche 911 12-01-03-autostadtl-by-RalfR-75.jpg
Porsche 911
A semi-convertible style used on some sports cars, featuring a fully removable hard top roof panel which leaves the A and B pillars in place on the car body.
Ute / coupe utility
Holden Commodore (VF) 2014 Holden Ute (VF MY14) SV6 utility (2018-10-01) 01.jpg
Holden Commodore (VF)
Based on a passenger sedan chassis and has a cargo tray in the rear integrated with the passenger body (as opposed to a pickup truck, which has a separate cargo tray). In Australia, the term "ute" was originally used solely for coupe utility cars, however in recent years it has also been used for pickup trucks.

Historic styles

Has two rows of raised seats, similar to horse-dawn carriages; usually did not have front doors, a roof or a windshield. The baquet ("bath tub") style was produced in the early 1900s in Europe. [4]

Also a marketing term used on cars built in the United States in the 1920s and 1930s.

Italian two-seat sports car with either an open top or convertible roof. The term was originally used for lightweight open-top racing cars of the late 1940s through the 1950s. Since the 1950s, the name barchetta ("little boat" in Italian) has been revived on several occasions, mostly for cars with convertible roofs that are not specifically intended for racing.
Italian sports coupé, typically with two seats but also including 2+2 cars. The original meaning for berlinetta in Italian is “little saloon”.
Cabrio coach
A retractable textile roof, similar to a convertible/cabriolet. The difference is that where a convertible often has the B-pillar, C-pillar and other bodywork removed, the cabrio-coach retains all bodywork to the top of the door frames and just replaces the roof skin with a retractable fabric panel.
Coupé de ville / Sedanca de ville / town car
An external or open-topped driver's position and an enclosed compartment for passengers. Produced from 1908 to 1939. Although the different terms may have once had specific meanings for certain car manufacturers or countries, the terms are often used interchangeably.

Some coupé de villes have the passengers separated from the driver in a fully enclosed compartment, while others have a canopy for the passengers and no partition between the driver and the passengers (therefore passengers enter the compartment via driver's area).

Any car with a rigid roof. However, the term is usually used for pillarless hardtops, which are cars without a B-pillar that are often styled to give the appearance of a convertible. Popular in the United States in the 1950s and 1960s.
A car where the rear passengers are covered by a convertible top. Often the driver is separated from the rear passengers with a partition, as per a limousine.
Personal luxury car
American luxury coupés and convertibles produced from 1952 to 2007. The cars prioritised comfort, styling and a high level of interior features.
An open-roof automobile without any fixed weather protection, which was popular from the 1900s until the 1930s.

See also

Related Research Articles

Station wagon

A station wagon, also called an estate car, estate wagon, or simply wagon or estate, is an automotive body-style variant of a sedan/saloon with its roof extended rearward over a shared passenger/cargo volume with access at the back via a third or fifth door, instead of a trunk/boot lid. The body style transforms a standard three-box design into a two-box design — to include an A, B, and C-pillar, as well as a D-pillar. Station wagons can flexibly reconfigure their interior volume via fold-down rear seats to prioritize either passenger or cargo volume.

Convertible Vehicle with a removable roof

A convertible, cabriolet or spyder/spider is a passenger car that can be driven with or without a roof in place. The methods of retracting and storing the roof vary between models. A convertible allows an open-air driving experience, with the ability to provide a roof when required. Potential drawbacks of convertibles are reduced structural rigidity and cargo space.

Hatchback car body configuration with a rear door that swings upward to provide access to a cargo area

A hatchback is a car body configuration with a rear door that swings upward to provide access to a cargo area. Hatchbacks may feature fold-down second row seating, where the interior can be reconfigured to prioritize passenger or cargo volume. Hatchbacks may feature two- or three-box design.

Coupé Closed two-door car body style with a permanently attached fixed roof which is shorter than a sedan

A coupé or coupe is a passenger car with a sloping or truncated rear roofline and two or three doors.

Sedan (automobile) Passenger car in a three-box configuration

A sedan, or saloon, is a passenger car in a three-box configuration with separate compartments for engine, passenger, and cargo.

Suicide door Automobile door hinged at its rear rather than the front

A suicide door is the slang term for an automobile door hinged at its rear rather than the front. Such doors were originally used on horse-drawn carriages, but are rarely found on modern vehicles, primarily because they are perceived as being less safe than a front-hinged door.

Coupé de Ville

Coupé de ville — also known as town car or sedanca de ville — is a car body style produced from 1908 to 1939 with an external or open-topped driver's position and an enclosed compartment for passengers. Although the different terms may have once had specific meanings for certain car manufacturers or countries, the terms are often used interchangeably.

Lincoln Continental Motor vehicle

The Lincoln Continental is a series of mid-sized and full-sized luxury cars produced by Lincoln, a division of the American automaker Ford Motor Company. The model line was introduced following the construction of a personal vehicle for Edsel Ford, who commissioned a coachbuilt 1939 Lincoln-Zephyr convertible, developed as a vacation vehicle to attract potential Lincoln buyers. In what would give the model line its name, the exterior was given European "continental" styling elements, including a rear-mounted spare tire.

Chrysler LeBaron Motor vehicle

The Chrysler LeBaron was originally a classic luxury car of the 1930s, the body manufactured by LeBaron, its chassis manufactured by Chrysler, which competed with other luxury cars of the era such as Lincoln and Packard. LeBaron was purchased by Chrysler in 1953 along with its parent Briggs Manufacturing Company. The LeBaron has become one of the longest running nameplates in Chrysler history. The first LeBaron models were designated as the top-of-the-line 1957 through 1975 Imperials. The Chrysler LeBaron was reintroduced in 1977 to add prestige to the Chrysler Division's lowest priced model, which was a mid-size entry and the name was featured on numerous Chryslers until 1995. The "LeBaron" name has since been applied to five different cars built by the Chrysler Division:


A hardtop is a rigid form of automobile roof, which for modern cars is typically constructed from metal. A hardtop roof can be either fixed, detachable for separate storing or retractable within the vehicle itself.

Crossover (automobile)

A crossover, crossover SUV, or crossover utility vehicle (CUV) is a type of sport utility vehicle-like vehicle built with unibody frame construction. Crossovers are often based on a platform shared with a passenger car, as opposed to a platform shared with a pickup truck. Because of that, crossovers may also be referred as "car-based SUVs". Compared to truck-based SUVs, they typically have better interior comfort, a more comfortable ride, superior fuel economy, and lower manufacturing costs, but also inferior off-road and towing capability. Forerunners of the modern crossover include the 1977 Matra Rancho and the AMC Eagle introduced in 1979.


A liftback is a vehicle body style with a sloping roofline between 45 to 5 degrees and a tailgate hinged at the roof that is lifted to open.

Subaru Leone Motor vehicle

The Subaru Leone is a compact car produced by the Japanese car manufacturer Subaru from 1971 to 1994. The word leone is Italian for lion.

Panel van Cargo vehicle based on passenger car chassis

A panel van — also known as a blind van, car-derived van or sedan delivery — is a cargo vehicle based upon passenger car chassis, and typically has one row of seats with no side windows at the rear. Panel vans are smaller than panel trucks and cargo vans, both of which are built on truck chassis.

Tonneau Open automotive bed

A tonneau is an area of a car or truck open at the top. It can be for passengers or cargo.

Trunk (car) Part of automobile

The trunk or boot of a car is the vehicle's main storage or cargo compartment, often a hatch at the rear of the vehicle.

A glossary of terms relating to automotive design.

Car body configurations

The configuration of a car body is typically determined by the layout of the engine, passenger and luggage volumes, which can be shared or separately articulated. A key design feature are the car's roof supporting pillars, described from front to rear of the car as A-pillar, B-pillar, C-pillar or D-Pillar.


  1. "Flower Cars: A Glance At A Forgotten Funeral Vehicle". Luxury Coach & Transportation Magazine. 1 January 1990. Retrieved 13 December 2018.
  2. 1 2 Hillier, Victor; Coombes, Peter (2004). Hillier's Fundamentals of Motor Vehicle Technology: Volume 1 (5th ed.). Nelson Thornes. p. 11. ISBN   978-0-7487-8082-2 . Retrieved 15 January 2013. The estate body, also known as station wagons in some countries, has the roofline extended to the rear of the body to enlarge its internal capacity. Folding the rear seats down gives a large floor area for the carriage of luggage or goods. Stronger suspension springs are fitted at the rear to support the extra load. Hatchback: Although some hatchbacks are in fact saloon bodies with the boot or trunk effectively removed (usually the smaller cars) many hatchbacks retain the full length of the saloon, but the roofline extends down to the end of the with the estate, the rear seats fold down to give a flat floor for the transportation of luggage or other objects. When the tailgate is closed, the luggage compartment is usually covered with a parcel shelf.
  3. "Bakkie: definition". Retrieved 12 August 2014.
  4. "Body Styles". Archived from the original on 22 March 2019. Retrieved 24 April 2019.