Home » Pictures Of Cars With Christmas Trees On Roofs Show Lots Of Beetles: Cold Start

Pictures Of Cars With Christmas Trees On Roofs Show Lots Of Beetles: Cold Start

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Merry Christmas, Christmas-celebrators! I know I’ve been more Hanukkah- and Toyotathon/Happy Honda Days heavy in my holiday mentions here, but I do realize there are other traditions, even such niche and lovely ones as your Christ’s Mass holiday. I wonder if businesses should consider putting up decorations for this holiday as well? I know one of the traditions is to transport an evergreen tree on a car roof for display in the home, and so I wondered what sorts of cars tend to be shown performing this holiday task? I did a Google image search, and was pleased with the results, which don’t really reflect reality, but are charming nonetheless. Here’s a spoiler: it’s full of Beetles.

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Well, not just Volkswagen Beetles, but they do make up an extremely significant part of the mix. In fact, I’d say the two most common Christmas-tree-on-roof cars shown are Beetles and old pickup trucks, often F100s or ’50s-era Chevy 3100 trucks, or the sorta genericized versions of them. Trucks are almost always the bulbous, fat-fendered ’50s sort, and the Beetle category includes a lot of cars I think people mistake for Beetles, especially in profile (in America at least), like Fiat 600s or Citroën 2CVs.

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The cars are almost always red, too, I suppose for the red/green Xmas color scheme, and while you do see a smattering of more modern or mainstream cars, it’s clear that’s not what people want.

They want a vintage look, they want charm and nostalgia and a certain mildly comical contrast between tree and car size, I think. A RAV4 doesn’t cut it, but an old Beetle does. Sure, the heater wasn’t great, and if you didn’t have a roof rack that rounded shell may be a challenge to lash a tree to, but they were good in snow.

Remember, the first normal production car in Antarctica was a Beetle! Look!

Anyway, have a wonderful holiday, everyone. You’re the best.

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28 Responses

  1. “Trucks are almost always the bulbous, fat-fendered ’50s sort…”

    You know, I’ve always wondered what happened there? I’ve never really looked at the evolution of pickup design, but I’ve definitely noticed that back in the ’40s and ’50s they were rounded, with big fenders and stepside beds, as opposed to the more square, slabby designs with fleetside beds that have dominated since at least, oh, the 1970s I guess?

    Some of that just follows overall automotive design trends, but the change seems even more pronounced with pickups than with other types of automobile. What did that evolution look like, and what kind of industry trends drove it? Was it mostly a fashion thing? Was it a consequence of new manufacturing paradigms allowing for different designs? Was it just a case of one manufacturer having a good idea that caught on across the industry? Was it driven by some kind of regulatory change? What happened?

      1. The slab sided look actually happened to pickups in the mid/late ’50s.

        It started with the all-new ’55 “second series” models. Still stepside-only at first but with a much more slab-sided cab providing a wider fro- um, only seat. A few months later they launched the Cameo Carrier as a glamor special with slab-sided fiberglass rear fenders over the same bed as the stepside (and a top-of-the-line pricetag).

        Ford was the next to innovate, with their new ’57s essentially copying GM’s cab but adding an all-steel (may have still had a wood floor), full-width fore and aft of the fenderwells “Styleside” pickup box for the same price as the old-style one. The first working wide pickup box.

        The 1960 Chevy and ’61 Ford and Dodge were again fully redesigned and brought the cab height down so the hood and beltline was level with the tops of the new wide cargo boxes. Ford had a false start with its’ unitized cab-and-bed that lasted only a few years.

    1. Here it gets dumped into the “Beetle-like” category, having been a direct competitor to the point that in 1958-9 the Minor’s POE New York list price just undercut the Beetles, and ended up the same amount over once you optioned the heater on the Morris.

  2. Back when they were still loved about as much as a redheaded stepchild, I transported our tree from the tree lot on the roof of my red 964 a few times. Sadly had to stop having that kind of fun once they started being worth serious money and I had to turn into a serious Porsche owner.

  3. Back in the early 80’s we did this with our lime green FIAT 131 Station Wagon. Unfortunately the rope I used broke when we got up to speed returning home on the highway and the tree fell off only to be run over by the car behind us. Driver was not happy. This is now known as the “Road Kill Tree” in family folklore.

    1. 2nd Edit: this story came up again last night during the festivities and our daughter informed me that my version is sadly lacking in facts and accuracy.

      1. rope was not in fact rope but a piece of twine given to me by the tree vendor so it breaking was really not my fault.
      2. this tragedy happened years later than I remembered as this FIAT was long gone and the car in question was a Volvo 740 Wagon. Best seats ever, but sadly only the base 4cyl & auto. It did have a sunroof which is how we held the tree on the roof after retrieving it from under the car behind us. Daughter remembers how cold it was with it open.
      3. The tree had to be placed in a corner of the dining room to hide most of the damage.

      story still has everyone in stitches

    1. Notice how the tree is held in such a way that it doesn’t touch the canvas roof? That’s a nice detail, whoever did that illustration remembered the risk of tearing a hole in that virtual 2CV roof.

  4. Christmas tree on the roof? Let’ see: Isuzu Impulse, Saab 900T, PT Cruiser, Saab 93 convertible (top down). Sheet plastic on the roof, no scratches, or completely wrapped to go in the convertible. Got a lot of horn toots with that one. Finally at the stage of a small fake tree, but I kind of miss the tree struggle in a weird way.

    1. Ever since I got my convertible, I have wanted to buy a live tree just to drive around town with it in the passenger seat. I’ve always been a fake tree man, so I really wouldn’t want the real deal in my house, but I’ve always been so charmed by the image of a real tree riding shotgun with the top down that often appears on Christmas cards and tree ornaments.

      1. A lot of places sell 2′-4′ live trees, complete with root ball, in a planter or a large bucket. The idea is that the tree can be decorated and live inside for a few weeks but then it would need to be planted outside.

        You could have one of those ride shotgun for a while with minimal mess. 🙂

  5. “a certain mildly comical contrast between tree and car size, I think. A RAV4 doesn’t cut it, but an old Beetle does.”

    A long time ago I had a Chevy Tracker much like David’s. It was the second year in our first house; I had caught a case of Griswold-itis and picked out a tree that was far too large.

    In order to get it home, I put it in the Tracker trunk-first. The end of the trunk went between the front seats and was resting on the dash. The back gate wouldn’t close, of course, so I drove home with seven feet of tree hanging out the back of the Tracker. Sadly there are no pics of this event but it was gloriously comical.

  6. I once transported a Christmas tree on the roof of my Subaru 360 which was probably the ultimate comical big tree on small car combo. We were heroes driving through Boston that night. That little car was my daily driver in college and performed a lot of tasks it was not designed for.

  7. Mid 80s, living in Germany. Had a great house with cathedral ceiling. We wanted a a big tree for the living room for a squadron party we were hosting. Found a place that let you cut down your own tree that we thought the kids would enjoy just an hour’s dash up the autobahn. Dilemma? Only available vehicles: Mazda RX-7 and Saab 900 T. Saab “wins” competition. Temperature was nine degrees the evening we went for the tree. Found the perfect tree after 20 minute hike on tree farm: 15 feet tall and great full shape. Tree saw blade snapped in half mid cut. Finished cut with cable saw from survival pack (always in car). Carried tree balanced overhead nearly a mile to car. Faces, hands, toes and kids frozen by now. Lashed tree to Saab with moving blankets, tie-down straps and bungees. Barely able to see through branches hanging over windshield. Saab heaters are good. Hit the autobahn at 110mph. Surprisingly, trees on the roof do not aid auto aerodynamics. Bit of wandering across lanes in crosswinds. Arrived home safe. Best Christmas tree ever!

    Merry Christmas and happy Hanukkah everyone one! Wishing you all the best holiday memories this year!

  8. A few days ago in Berlin was my first time seeing somebody haul a Christmas tree strapped to a car.
    Bonus points to the driver for doing it with the roof down in an E93

  9. My question is why are so many hauling the tree backwards? Everyone who does this every year, (us included,) know you haul it trunk first! Wish we could post pics, I have a great one from a few years ago with ours on my xj that’s longer than the jeep itself!

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