A fastback is a car body style whose roofline slopes continuously down at the back. The word can also designate the car itself.[1][2] The style is seen on two-door coupés as well as four-door sedans.

Scarab OHTM

Art Deco fastback: 1935 Stout Scarab

1947 Tatra T-87 Saloon - Rear 3qtrs View (Lane Motor Museum)

Finned fastback: 1936–1950 Tatra T87


Low-drag fastback: 1949 Saab 92


Automobile designs that were ahead of their time when exhibited during the early 1930s included "teardrop streamlining at the rear, similar to what would become known as 'fastback' 25 years later."[3] 'Fastback' was first recognized as a definition by Merriam-Webster in 1954, many years before the term 'hatchback' was popularized and entered the dictionary in 1970.[4] Opinions vary as to whether the terms are mutually exclusive.

A contributor to an automotive-interest website singles out the unusual Stout Scarab from the early 1930s as "[p]ossibly the epitome of the early fastback definition".[5] The Packard 1106 Twelve Aero Sport Coupe,[6] introduced in 1933, is cited elsewhere as a fastback that foreshadowed trends which continued into the 1940s.[7]

Early European fastback automobiles include: Bugatti Type 57 Atlantic, Porsche 356, Saab 92/96, Standard Vanguard, GAZ-M20 Pobeda, and Bentley Continental R-Type.

Numerous fastbacks were also made in America, where the style was previously called "torpedo back".[8] They included Cadillac's Series 61 and 62 Club Coupes as well as various models from General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler.

At the 2007 EyesOn Design annual car show, entries from the mid-1930s to the mid-1950s in a class called "Fabulous Fastbacks" included Nash Ambassador, Buick Roadmaster and Hudson Commodore models.[5] A "Return of the Fastbacks" class at this show included examples from the 1960s and 1970s with a Buick Riviera, Ford Mustang Cobra, and an AMC AMX among others.[5]

At a 2007 concours d'élégance in England, a similarly named class for 1950s cars attracted examples from Maserati,[9] Lancia,[10] Fiat [11] and Ferrari.[12]

Aerodynamic advantagesEdit

Porsche 356 red Heck

Rear-engined fastback: Porsche 356

Fastbacks provide an advantage in developing aerodynamic vehicles with a low drag coefficient.[13] The Kamm tail is a related concept. The trend towards a more steeply raked rear window on traditional three-box sedans blurs the distinction between fastback and notchback designs. The current Lexus LS460 exemplifies the trend.[citation needed] However, the roof of a true fastback design slopes down continuously to the rear, most often to the base of the trunk at the rear bumper. There is no distinct change of angle to a rear deck, whereas most four-door cars with steeply raked rear windows have less angled trunk lids; also high tails to maximize cargo space. In 2008, the fastback design appeared on a concept car that almost defies categorization, the Chrysler ecoVoyager, that "Jack Telnack, former design chief for the Ford Motor Company, declared, 'It’s a fastback van.'"[14] New types of crossover vehicles and different body proportions made possible by technological advances and new powerplants, are changing the shape of automobiles. Traditional nomenclature describing distinct vehicle bodies, such as the three-box sedan (engine compartment, passenger cabin and trunk) will vanish.[14]

Fastback typesEdit

Toyota Celica rear 20080521

Fastback but also a hatchback/liftback: late-model Toyota Celica

Hatchbacks and liftbacks Edit

When the rear window of a car with a fastback profile is integral to a lid or 'fifth door' (i.e. a hatch) giving access to the trunk area, the car may also fit the classification of hatchback or liftback. The late-model Toyota Celica and the Chevrolet Vega are examples.

Road & Track's definition of a fastback addresses this distinction: "A closed body style, usually a coupe but sometimes a sedan, with a roof sloped gradually in an unbroken line from the windshield to the rear edge of the car. A fastback naturally lends itself to a hatchback configuration and many have it, but not all hatchbacks are fastbacks and vice versa."[15] Some small family cars have evolved over time from fastbacks into liftbacks without altering their profile, e.g. Fiat 127, Volkswagen Passat, and Citroën GS.

Two-door fastbacksEdit

1950 Chevrolet Fastback in West Virginia

1950 Chevrolet Fleetline, one of several American fastbacks

1966 Toyota 2000GT 02

GT fastback: race-prepared 1966 Toyota 2000GT


Hardtop fastback: 1967 Rambler Marlin

Fastback 2

Pony car fastback: 1968 Ford Mustang

Fiat 127 1 h sst

Small fastback: Fiat 127 first series

Citroen CX rear

Four door fastback: Citroën CX


Modern fastback: Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class

Four-door fastbacksEdit

See alsoEdit

References Edit

  1. fastback. (2008). Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary. Retrieved on August 14, 2008.
  2. fastback. The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English 2008, originally published by Oxford University Press. Retrieved on August 14, 2008.
  3. Georgano, Nick N. (editor) (2000). The Beaulieu encyclopedia of the automobile. Fitzroy Dearborn Publishers, 960. ISBN 9781579582937. 
  4. hatchback. (2008). In Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary. Retrieved August 14, 2008.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Clements, Rob. "EyesOn Design 2007 Report". Retrieved on 18 March 2011.
  6. Packard 1106 Twelve Aero Sport Coupe photo, retrieved on August 15, 2008
  7. Adler, Dennis (2004). Packard. MotorBooks/MBI, 960. ISBN 9780760319284. 
  8. "The Forty-Niners", Time magazine January 24, 1949. Retrieved on June 20, 2008.
  9. 1954 Maserati A6G54 Zagato photograph. Retrieved on August 15, 2008.
  10. circa 1958 Lancia Flaminia Zagato photograph. Retrieved on August 15, 2008.
  11. 1958 Fiat 8V photograph. Retrieved on August 15, 2008.
  12. "Ferrari 250 GT Tour de France photograph". Retrieved on 2009-07-03.
  13. Noffsinger, Ken R. "The G-Series Wind Tunnel Test Report" retrieved on 2008-05-23.
  14. 14.0 14.1 Patton, Phil. "Looking at the Slope of Things to Come," The New York Times, January 20, 2008, retrieved on August 14, 2008.
  15. Dinkel, John (2000). Road & Track Illustrated Automotive Dictionary, Bentley. ISBN 0-8376-0143-6.
  16. King, Jenny. "EyesOn Design show focuses on breathtaking aerodynamics" Detroit News, June 26, 2007, retrieved on August 14, 2008.
  17. "1934, 1935, 1936 and 1937 Pierce-Arrows" by the Auto Editors of Consumer Guide of Consumer Guide, June 20, 2007, retrieved on August 14, 2008.
  18. Gunnell, John: Catalogue of Cadillac 1903-2005 p. 136. KP Books 2005, ISBN 0-87349-289-7
  19. Jay Leno’s Garage "1950 Martin Stationette" article dated March 15, 2008. Retrieved on May 31, 2008.
  20. Smale, Glen: "The sleek fastback shape of the rear bodywork..." Jaguar E-type: Portrait of a design icon p. 77, Haynes Publishing 2007. ISBN 1-8442-338-4
  21. Thorley, Nigel: "roof slopes back (fastback) to form a side-opening door with...rear screen..." (author’s parentheses) Jaguar All the Cars p. 71, Haynes Publishing 2005, ISBN 1-84425-001-6
  22. "1933 Pierce-Arrow Silver Arrow" by the Auto Editors of Consumer Guide of Consumer Guide, June 20, 2007, retrieved on August 14, 2008.
  23. "How Tucker Cars Work" by the Auto Editors of Consumer Guide, June 13, 2007, retrieved on August 14, 2008.

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