Home » Remember When Automakers Offered Many Different Body Styles Of The Same Car? COTD

Remember When Automakers Offered Many Different Body Styles Of The Same Car? COTD


There was once a time–and it wasn’t even that long ago–when you could buy more than a few variations of the same car. Maybe you didn’t need a sedan, so you ordered your chosen car as a two-door. Or, maybe you have a whole family plus a dog, you bought the wagon version of the car that you wanted. And if you were a speed demon, you plunked down for the fast version of that car. Today, it seems that individual car models have less variation. Maybe it’s time to bring that back.

Welcome back to Comment Of The Day! Every day, we read every single comment posted on our site and pick the one that made us laugh, get informed, or feel warm inside. You don’t have to go into our comments sections and write thousand-word stories about why you love a car so much, but a lot of you do, and that means a lot to us. So we’re highlighting some of the most excellent bits of thought that you’ve formed into words and digitized onto our website.

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In today’s open thread, we asked you “what car deserves to be its own brand?” Throughout history, automakers have spun models off into their own brands with varying success. The Dodge Ram is now just Ram, and it does pretty well for itself. In the pickup truck arms race, Ram routinely takes third place in sales, sometimes swapping places with Chevrolet for second. The Toyota Crown is also its own sub-brand, offering an entire line of cars from an executive sedan to that funky crossover that we do get on this side of the Pacific.

Toyota Crown Lineup

A less-successful example would be Edsel, which fizzled out in relatively short order for an automaker. Smart was also sort of solo here in North America. At first, Smart was distributed by Penske Automotive Group, which set up a standalone dealership network outside of the Mercedes-Benz ecosystem. You could buy your Smart and get it serviced without ever seeing a three-pointed star. However, Mercedes-Benz took over distribution starting in 2010 and finishing in 2011. Part of the takeover involved closing down the standalone dealers and finally integrating Smart with Mercedes-Benz dealerships, just like how it is in much of the rest of the world.

As Car and Driver reports, General Motors apparently plans on splintering off the Cadillac Escalade and the Chevrolet Camaro as sub-brands alongside the Corvette. That got us thinking, what other cars could be made into their own brands?


We got a lot of good answers, here. But Halftrack El Camino pushed back, arguing that making beloved models into their own brands (and ultimately, crossovers) is nothing to get excited about. But what really wins COTD today is Halftrack‘s comment toward the end:


Wait, yeah, what happened to all of those cars?! When I do research for my Mercedes’ Marketplace Madness pieces, I often find that a single model of decades past had tons of body variations.

The Golf example is a good one with the many body styles falling under the same nameplate. My favorite example is the Chevrolet Corvair. In its first-generation, the Corvair was available as a two-door coupe, a convertible, a four-door sedan, four-door station wagon, a passenger van, a commercial van, and two pickup trucks.

Screenshot (105)

Just to throw another out there, but the Chevy Vega was available as a sedan, a hatchback, a wagon, and a panel delivery. The Ford Focus is another. In its first-generation, you could get one as a three-door hatch, a four-door hatch, a sedan, or as a wagon. I’m sure you can think of more!


[Editor’s Note: The two-door/four-door Wrangler and Bronco are cool, but that’s hardly inspired. There is a Wrangler pickup, too, so I guess that’s cool. -DT]

This is perhaps worth looking into at a later date, but it really does seem that body variations have pulled back in the modern day. You might see a sedan version and a wagon version or the standard version and the performance model, and that’s it. I’m with Halftrack El Camino here, variations are cool!


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1 year ago

I’m going to do you one better, the first gen neon, whether 4 door or 2 door, was the exact same silhouette. The side sheet metal that contained the B pillar and the doors was the only difference. So much so that Chrysler made quite a few of them with one side of the car being 2 door and the other 4 door, both to prove to people that theyre the exact same car/shape and also to give to automotive repair schools to train on. Thats the kind of forward thinking we need!

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