Coke bottle styling

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Industrial designer Raymond Loewy pioneered Coke bottle styling in automobiles with the arresting 1962 Studebaker Avanti 1963 Studebaker Avanti 4.7 Rear.jpg
Industrial designer Raymond Loewy pioneered Coke bottle styling in automobiles with the arresting 1962 Studebaker Avanti

Coke bottle styling is an automotive body design with a narrow center surrounded by flaring fenders [1] which bears a general resemblance to a Coca-Cola classic glass contour bottle design. [2] It was introduced by industrial designer Raymond Loewy on the radical 1962 Studebaker Avanti gran turismo.


The design was pioneered in jets as a way of greatly reducing the sharp drag rise that occurs at transonic speeds. Using this design often results in a pinch-waisted fuselage shape that National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) labeled the design principle 'area rule,' and variously identified as coke bottle, wasp waist, or Marilyn Monroe shape. [3] [4]


The Northrop F-5 jet fighter designed in the mid-1950s defines the look that became dubbed as "Coke bottle styling" J-3005.jpg
The Northrop F-5 jet fighter designed in the mid-1950s defines the look that became dubbed as "Coke bottle styling"

The exotic shapes of early supersonic jets had a dramatic influence on automobile stylists. First the tailfin fad, which appeared in the mid-1950s and was on the decline by the early 1960s, then the "Coke bottle" look of severely wasp-waisted high-performance jet fighters such as the Northrop F5. [5] The initial result was luxury performance automobiles, such as the 1962 Studebaker Avanti and 1963 Buick Riviera, which vaguely resembled bottles of Coca-Cola laid on their sides". [6]

United States

Studebaker introduced the Raymond Loewy-designed Avanti gran turismo with pronounced Coke bottle look in 1962. [7] The 1962 Pontiac full-size models also "had a subtle horizontal crease about halfway down [the bodyside] and a slight wasp-waist constriction at the doors which swelled out again in the rear quarters" [8] One of the cleanest examples of the “Coke bottle” styling was the 1963 Buick Riviera, [9] a pioneering personal luxury car. Chevrolet first applied the Coke bottle look on Bill Mitchell's 1963 Corvette Sting Ray. [10]

By 1966, the General Motors A-body sedans received a mid-riff pinch and "hop up" fenders. Intermediates such as the Pontiac Tempest, Dodge Charger, and Ford Torino soon followed suit, as well as compacts such as the Ford Maverick and Plymouth Duster. General Motors also styled their "B" body full-size cars from 1965-68 with this style, which is most prominent on the "fastback" 2-door hardtop models. Chrysler's "interpretation of the Coke-bottle styling treatment to its struggling B-body cars ... [resulted in] ... smooth lines, subtly rounded curves, and near perfect proportions." [11] Notable automobiles with this style include many of the muscle cars during this era, such as the Pontiac GTO, Chevrolet Camaro, and Dodge Charger. [2]

Design "themes" such the "hop up" fenders became so pervasive across the industry that American Motors' all-new 1967 Rebel was criticized because "viewed from any angle, anyone other than an out-and-out car buff would have trouble distinguishing the Rebel from its GM, Ford, and Chrysler Corp. competition." [12] Moreover, AMC discovered that compared to slab styling with deeply sculpted ridges, "the rounded "Coke-bottle" panels would be easier to make and the dies would last longer — an important cost consideration." [13]

Author Clinton Walker described the archetypal product of Australian suburbia, the muscle car, with its "Coke bottle hip bump but the bare midriff of a go-go dancer?" [14] According to automotive historian Darwin Holmstrom, Chevrolet "took it to its illogical extreme with the 1968 Corvette, though that car more closely resembled a prosthetic phallus than a Coke bottle". [15]

By the late-1970s and early-1980s, cars like the Ford Fairmont and Chrysler K-cars moved towards straight lines. The Audi 5000 and Ford Taurus led towards functional aerodynamic styling.

International markets

This styling "was to be seen right across the marketplace and, before long, around the world". [9] Japanese, European, and Australian automobiles also adopted this style during the 1970s. Japanese automaker Nissan offered this appearance on 1970s era Nissan Cedrics, Nissan Glorias, Nissan Laurels, Nissan Bluebirds, and Nissan Violets. Toyota also offered this appearance on the 1972-1976 Toyota Corona Mark II, and their limited production sportscar called the Toyota 2000GT. Mitsubishi also adopted this appearance on the 1973-1980 Galant, and the 1973-1979 Lancer. The smallest car with this style is usually considered to be the 1967 Suzuki Fronte 360, which was less than 3 m (10 ft) long, [16] while the Subaru 360 also used similar styling elements, notably the curvaceous "belt line". The appearance was even used in popular culture in the Japanese anime Speed Racer's Mach 5.

Not all cars displayed the full "plan-view" Coke bottle styling, with the waist narrowing. Some of them, like the British Ford Cortina Mark III achieved a similar look in their profile with the front wing curving up over the front wheel area and a much more pronounced curve over the rear wheel arch.

Cars with Coke bottle styling

Contemporary examples

There have been modern examples showing a return to this appearance, such as the 1998-2004 Oldsmobile Alero, 2010 Chevrolet Camaro and 2008 Dodge Challenger, as well as the Nissan Fuga, Nissan Juke, Nissan Maxima, and the Infiniti QX60. The revived Dodge Charger and similar Dodge Avenger does not have a complete Coke bottle body, but they have a rear fender line evocative of the second generation Dodge Charger. Other examples include the 2006-2010 Hyundai Elantra, the 1996-2001 Hyundai Tiburon, and the Kia Stinger.

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  19. Flammang, James M. (1994). Chronicle of the American automobile: over 100 years of auto history. Publications International. p. 424. ISBN   9780785307785 . Retrieved 9 January 2020. 'coke bottle' fender lines of the Ambassador and AMC's fastback Marlin looked miles better for 1967, thanks to curvy new lower-body line
  20. Cranswick, Marc (2012). The cars of American Motors: an illustrated history. McFarland. p. 73. ISBN   9780786446728 . Retrieved 9 January 2020. Coke-bottle styling was being used on cars everywhere; AMC was staying abreast of fashion and came up with their first family car with style that rivaled function.
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  22. "1967 Chevrolet Impala". Retrieved 9 January 2020. The Impala was redesigned and had a "coke bottle" shape that similar to the 1963 Buick Riviera.
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