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.
Ford Mustang convertible Ford Mustang convertible 5312550.jpg
Ford Mustang convertible
Convertible / cabriolet
Has a retractable or removable 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.
Cadillac Flower car Cadillac Flower car.jpg
Cadillac Flower car
Flower car
In the 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]
Renault Clio hatchback Renault Clio Expression (IV) - Heckansicht, 17. Marz 2013, Ratingen.jpg
Renault Clio hatchback
Hatchback / Liftback
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]
Cadillac Hearse Reagan hearse.jpg
Cadillac Hearse
Hearse / funeral coach
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 Stretch Limousine 98-02 Lincoln Town Car limousine.jpg
Lincoln Stretch Limousine
A luxury vehicle driven by a chauffeur with a partition between the driver's compartment and the passenger's compartment. In many European languages, the term simply means a sedan.
Daihatsu Hijet microvan Hijet-cargo.jpg
Daihatsu Hijet microvan
The smallest size of minivan/MPV.
Toyota Sienna minivan Toyota Sienna XL30 China 2012-06-16.jpg
Toyota Sienna minivan
Minivan / multi-purpose vehicle (MPV) / people carrier / people mover
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.
Volkswagen Taro panel truck Rot daeng Chiang Mai 5.jpg
Volkswagen Taro panel truck
Panel truck
A pickup truck that has a fully enclosed truck topper in its back, giving it a van-like appearance.
Pickup truck / pickup
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.
Toyota Camry sedan 2018 Toyota Camry (ASV70R) Ascent sedan (2018-08-27) 01.jpg
Toyota Camry sedan
Sedan / saloon
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.
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.
Buick Roadmaster station wagon Buick Roadmaster wagon.jpg
Buick Roadmaster station wagon
Station wagon / estate car
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".
Porsche 911 Targa 12-01-03-autostadtl-by-RalfR-75.jpg
Porsche 911 Targa
Targa top
A semi-convertible style used on some sports cars, featuring a fully removable soft or hard roof panel that leaves the A and B pillars in place on the car body.
Ute / coupe utility
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-drawn 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 until 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 the driver's area).
1963 Rambler American two-door hardtop 1963 Rambler American 440-H black-red MD rl.jpg
1963 Rambler American two-door hardtop
Usually describes pillarless hardtops that are cars without a B-pillar often styled to give the appearance of a convertible. Popular in the United States from the mid 1950s through the mid 1970s. [5]
It also refers to a separate top that is removable and made of metal or other hard material for sports cars or small SUVs. [6]
1966 Rolls-Royce Phantom V State Landaulet Rolls Royce Phantom V State Landaulette 1966.jpg
1966 Rolls-Royce Phantom V State Landaulet
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 prioritized 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.
Roadster utility
An open-topped roadster body and a rear cargo bed.
1903 Oldsmobile Curved Dash Runabout Oldsmobile 1903 Curved Dash Auto on London to Brighton Veteran Car Run 2009.jpg
1903 Oldsmobile Curved Dash Runabout
A light, inexpensive, open car [7] with basic bodywork and no windshield, top, or doors. [7] Most runabouts had just a single row of seats, providing seating for two passengers. [7] [8]
1914 Humber 11 torpedo Humber 11 Torpedo style 1944cc registered April 1914.JPG
1914 Humber 11 torpedo
Body style was a type of automobile body used from 1908 until the mid-1930s, which had a streamlined profile and a folding or detachable soft top. The design consists of a hood or bonnet line raised to be level with the car's waistline, resulting in a straight beltline from front to back. [9]
1913 Maxwell Model 24-4 touring car Mot 21 - Maxwell.jpg
1913 Maxwell Model 24-4 touring car
A style of open car built in the United States which seats four or more people. The style was popular from the early 1900s to the 1930s.

See also

Related Research Articles

Station wagon Auto body-style with its roof extended rearward

A station wagon or estate car, 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 folding or removable roof

A convertible or cabriolet is a passenger car that can be driven with or without a roof in place. The methods of retracting and storing the roof vary among eras and manufacturers.

Hatchback Car body configuration with a rear door

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.

Coupe Car body style

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

Ford Galaxie American full-size car

The Ford Galaxie is a full-sized car that was built in the United States by Ford for model years 1959 through to 1974. The name was used for the top models in Ford's full-size range from 1958 until 1961, in a marketing attempt to appeal to the excitement surrounding the Space Race. In 1958, a concept car was introduced called "la Galaxie" which incorporated the headlights into pods inline with the grille and a reduced front profile.

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 an engine, passengers, and cargo.

Chrysler LeBaron Motor vehicle

The Chrysler LeBaron, also known as the Imperial LeBaron, is a line of automobiles built by Chrysler from 1931-1941 and from 1955-1995. The model was introduced in 1931, with a body manufactured by LeBaron, and competed with other luxury cars of the era such as Lincoln and Packard. After purchasing LeBaron with its parent Briggs Manufacturing Company, Chrysler introduced the luxury make Imperial in 1955, and sold automobiles under the name Imperial LeBaron until 1975. Chrysler discontinued the Imperial brand in 1975, and reintroduced the Chrysler LeBaron in 1977 to what was then Chrysler's lowest priced model.

Hardtop Automobile roof

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.

Liftback Variation of hatchback with a sloping roofline between 45 to 5 degrees

A liftback is a variation of hatchback with a sloping roofline between 45 to 5 degrees. Traditional hatchback designs usually have a 90 to 46 degree slope on the tailgate or rear door. As such the liftback is essentially a hatchback with a more sloping roof, similar to sedans/saloons from a styling perspective. Some liftbacks may also have an appearance similar to a coupe but with 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.

Buick Roadmaster Automobile

The Buick Roadmaster is an automobile that was built by Buick from 1936 until 1942, from 1946 until 1958, and then again from 1991 until 1996. Roadmasters produced between 1936 and 1958 were built on Buick's longest non-limousine wheelbase and shared their basic structure with the entry-level Cadillac Series 65, the Buick Limited, and after 1940, the Oldsmobile 98. Between 1946 and 1957 the Roadmaster served as Buick's flagship.

Mercury Turnpike Cruiser Motor vehicle

The Mercury Turnpike Cruiser is a series of automobiles that were produced by the Mercury division of Ford for the 1957 and 1958 model years. Named to commemorate the creation of the Interstate Highway System, the Turnpike Cruiser was marketed as the flagship Mercury model line, slotted above the Montclair when Mercury was positioned upmarket to luxury status when Edsel was introduced in 1958.

Mercury Park Lane Motor vehicle

The Mercury Park Lane is a full-sized automobile that was produced by the Mercury division of Ford Motor Company. While not officially introduced as the replacement of the Mercury Turnpike Cruiser, the Park Lane became the flagship of the Mercury model line upon its introduction. The second-generation Park Lane was positioned above the Mercury Montclair.

Studebaker Starlight Motor vehicle

The Starlight coupe is a unique 2-door body style that was offered by Studebaker Corporation of South Bend, Indiana from 1947 to 1955 on its Champion and Commander model series. It was designed by Virgil Exner, formerly of Raymond Loewy Associates.

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 small cargo vehicle utilizing a passenger car chassis, typically with a single front bench seat and no side windows behind the B-pillar. Panel vans are smaller than panel trucks or cargo vans, both of which utilize body-on-frame 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. It is also called a tailgate.

A glossary of terms relating to automotive design.

Retractable hardtop

A retractable hardtop — also known as "coupé convertible" or "coupé cabriolet" — is a car with an automatically operated, self-storing hardtop, as opposed to the folding textile-based roof used by traditional convertible cars.

Full-size Ford is a term adopted for a long-running line of Ford vehicles with a shared model lineage in North America. Originating in 1908 with the Ford Model T, the line ended in 2019 with the Ford Taurus, as Ford withdrew from the full-sized sedan segment in North America. Across 111 years, 15 generations, and over 60 million examples of the model line were produced across over 50 model nameplates. By contrast, the longest-running single nameplate worldwide is the Chevrolet Suburban, in use since the 1935 model year.


  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   9780748780822 . 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.
  5. "A History of Hardtops". Hemmings Classic Car. April 2006. Retrieved 21 April 2022.
  6. Haajanen, Lennart W. (2017). Illustrated Dictionary of Automobile Body Styles, 2d ed. McFarland. pp. 87–89. ISBN   9780786499182 . Retrieved 21 April 2022.
  7. 1 2 3 Haajanen 2003, p. 116.
  8. Clough 1913, p. 258.
  9. Roberts, Peter (1974). "Carriage to Car". Veteran and Vintage Cars. London, UK: Octopus Books. p. 111. ISBN   0706403312. Torpedo – Continental term for an open four-seat car with soft hood and sporting tendencies and in which the line of the bonnet was continued back to the rear of the car.