Home » Reverse Rake Rear Windows Were Cool And Are All But Extinct

Reverse Rake Rear Windows Were Cool And Are All But Extinct

Reverserake Top2
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You know what’s an automotive styling detail that has never really caught on, but I think deserves another chance? The reverse-raked rear window. That’s the sort of phrase that, for most people, takes a moment to process: reverse…rake…rake means like angle? Reverse is backwards, so a backwards-leaning rear window? Yes. Then you probably would need to remind whomever’s arm you’ve seized, locked eyes with, and are bellowing at that you mean on a car. Very few cars have rear windows that lean backwards, but there have been a few, and, personally, I think there should be more. I think it’s been almost 20 years since a major automaker has sold a car with such a window setup, so let’s just take a moment and refresh ourselves with this little-known and I think under-appreciated stylistic detail.

I think the major examples of the reverse-raked rear window are the following cars, presented chronologically:

Vidframe Min Top
Vidframe Min Bottom

Reverserakers

 

I believe there are nine mass-produced cars that utilized a reverse-rake rear window: the ’58 Lincoln Continental, which directly influenced its European Ford siblings, the Anglia and Consul Classic in 1959 and 1961, respectively, ushering in a veritable boom of reverse-rakers in 1961 to 1962, starting with the three-wheel Bond Microcar, then most famously on the Citroën Ami, then over in Japan with the Mazda Carol 360, and then another British three-wheel microcar, the Reliant Regal.

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After a four-decade gap, the reverse rake was back, and dramatically so, as the design was a defining characteristic of Toyota’s bold partnership with consumer electronics companies that ended up in 2000’s WiLL Vi. Finally, in 2005, I think we have what may be the most recent iteration of the design, the Citroën C4, though at this point that reverse rake angle is very subtle. Still, I think it still can count, even though it’s also the only hatchback example, as all the other ones have a trunk.

So, why did the designers of these interesting cars decide to use such a peculiar window/C-pillar design? I think there’s a few reasons: first, from a cheapskate standpoint, it’s a way to use a flat or nearly flat piece of rear window glass, which is cheaper than curved, and still have a striking-looking design. In the case of the Lincoln, the flat glass allowed the rear window to open, letting you get a solitary breath of fresh air and let out all the billowing clouds of cigarette smoke, as noted by everyone’s pal, Jay Leno:

Also, as Jay notes there, too, the angle of the window prevented snow and ice buildup in winter, which is handy.

For the smaller cars, a big advantage of the reverse rake is that you get more rear seat headroom without having to go to a hatchback design. Not that there’s anything wrong with hatchbacks, but there are still people that prefer trunks, and the reverse-rake window can make extra rear seat headroom out of thin air and keep that three-box design that so many crave.

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Will Ami Anglia

What I’m wondering is how this design conceit might translate to modern designs. Let’s take a quick look at two popular modern cars, EVs even, like a Tesla Model 3 and a Ford Mach-E:

Rr Tesla Ford

Okay, maybe it’s a bit odd at first, but I don’t hate it! I’m sure there’s an aero hit of some sort, so maybe you’ll lose a mile or two of range, but, well, nothing’s free, right? Especially on the Mach-E’s crossover-type design, this look really helps it stand out from all those very similar silhouettes, and in the case of the Tesla, which wan’t a hatchback to begin with, you don’t lose much, and there’s now an opportunity to bring back trunk-lid-mounted luggage racks!

Model3 Ham

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Gotta admit, that’s pretty cool.

There’s just something rakish and daring and bold about these backwards-leaning back windows, and I’d love to see some ballsy automaker give them another go. There’s no easier way to stand out in a Target parking lot, right?

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Wolfie Browender
Wolfie Browender
1 year ago

The 1964 Mercury Montery Breezeway is another and the back window also rolled down.https://www.curbsideclassic.com/blog/cc-capsule/curbside-outtake-1964-mercury-monterey-breezeway-a-case-of-mistaken-identity/

Vc-10
Vc-10
1 year ago

With the C4, it was just the 3-door hatch that had the reverse rake, there was also a 5-door hatch available.

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/1/1a/2006_Citroen_C4_SX_1.6_Rear.jpg

Can we please have pictures in comments too?

Amberturnsignalsarebetter
Amberturnsignalsarebetter
1 year ago

The second generation Renault Megane (2002-2008) had something very close to a reverse rake:

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/23/2007_Renault_Megane_Dynamique_1.6_Rear.jpg

Slow Joe Crow
Slow Joe Crow
1 year ago

What about reverse rake windshields? I can’t think of a car with one, only some trucks and heavy equipment plus lots of boats.

Thomas Metcalf
Thomas Metcalf
1 year ago
Reply to  Slow Joe Crow

Growing up, a neighbor had a big plow truck with a reverse rake windshield. I think it was an old FWD. It was very cool

Bob
Bob
1 year ago
Reply to  Slow Joe Crow

Airplanes in the ’30s like the Boeing 247. And US warships.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/sdasmarchives/9085364593

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jqA7pAMlGn0

Cautionary Tail-Light
Cautionary Tail-Light
1 year ago

The Renault Avantime had an implied reverse rake in the C? B? pillar that definitely hints at its Citroën Ami second-cousin-twice-removed:

https://images.drive.com.au/driveau/image/upload/c_fill,f_auto,g_auto,h_675,q_auto:eco,w_1200/v1/cms/uploads/gsvhszcqbrmoiouaiyhj

Pedro
Pedro
1 year ago

I was thinking along those lines too. The Implied Reverse Rake – now that’s the ticket.

Andy Individual
Andy Individual
1 year ago

I wonder what the aerodynamic impacts of these are. Would it work like an extreme camback?

CSRoad
CSRoad
1 year ago

Yes instant dirty back window and no wiper other than in some instances wind the window down and back up.

Oafer Foxache
Oafer Foxache
1 year ago
Reply to  CSRoad

I admire the optimism that an Anglia or an Ami could ever have enough speed to generate any sort of aerodynamic impact 🙂

Root
Root
1 year ago

My first thought when I saw the title of the article is how automatic car washes would almost never be able to get this design clean. I’m waaay too lazy to hand wash, so no thanks!

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
1 year ago

Sorry that Ford looks great with the rake. But all the rest are screaming for a hatch.
It is so weird how stiff Jay is when talking cars but so smooth at comedy.

Vicente Perez
Vicente Perez
1 year ago

The Triumph TR7 might deserve an honorary mention for being the most reverse rake without a reverse rake design out there.

Austin Vail
Austin Vail
1 year ago

Technically every truck with Carolina Squat has a reverse-rake rear window…

On a side note, what about reverse-rake windshields??? Surely there are some of those out there? It would get window pillars out of your line of view and act as a sun visor while also helping avoid glare on the windshield, and could allow for reducing the size of the dashboard and increase hood length without making the cabin feel claustrophobic. The downside? Tricky aerodynamics challenge. I only seem to see reverse-rake windshields on heavy machinery like tractors and construction equipment and maybe some RVs, but on a car or van it would be interesting.

Boulevard_Yachtsman
Boulevard_Yachtsman
1 year ago
Reply to  Austin Vail

Still not a car or van, but the reverse-rake windshield does look rather unique on Soviet Russia’s classic 2TE10M diesel locomotive. Here’s a fine specimen in top running condition: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yG0N58_dUuY&t=13s

Beastly_the_HJ60
Beastly_the_HJ60
1 year ago
Reply to  Austin Vail

Does a reverse-raked windshield on an RV count? From Mercedes here at our very own Autopian, not that long ago… https://www.theautopian.com/back-in-the-1970s-an-rv-supplier-wanted-you-to-burn-your-poop-in-your-campers-exhaust-as-you-went-down-the-highway/comment-page-1/

Guillaume Maurice
Guillaume Maurice
1 year ago

For the Citröen Ami 6 you had 2 options : the Ami 6 Berline with the reverse rake, the Ami 6 Break with… well a break back ( and a D pillar ) and a hatch.

There was also an Ami 8 model, and while this one had also the Berline and Break options, the Berline didn’t have any reverse rake, just a regular back with a small trunk door.

Edit : obviously the Break version was a common at some time in France, while the Berline with it’s reverse rake was a rare sight.

Last edited 1 year ago by Guillaume Maurice
Paint-Drinking Thundercock Harvey Park
Paint-Drinking Thundercock Harvey Park
1 year ago

For our English-speaking friends::

Berline = sedan/saloon
Break = wagon/estate

Wasn’t there an Ami fourgonette, or maybe a panel van?

Last edited 1 year ago by Paint-Drinking Thundercock Harvey Park
Guillaume Maurice
Guillaume Maurice
1 year ago

IIRC at that time you could get almost any French car with enough space in the back with panels, so there’s good chances a Break/Wagon/Estate version with panels instead of windows in the back was available.

ChrisGT
ChrisGT
1 year ago

I feel like the Kia Sportage – particularly in the third generation, post facelift (2014-2016) guise – has a rear raked back window.

I always think that these are one of the few CUV vehicles without a window in the hatch area.

Alexander Moore
Alexander Moore
1 year ago
Reply to  ChrisGT

I think Torch means a reverse rake roofline, not DLO, but I had noticed that about those Sportages when I got one as an Uber. Having a four-light DLO instead of a six-light as is usual on CUVs meant that the rear seat windows were HUUUUGE, which was pretty interesting. Made for a great view of the Phoenix skyline at 4 AM.

Mr. Fusion
Mr. Fusion
1 year ago

I like the 1958-1962 Rambler Classic, which had reverse-raked C-pillars — not to fit a flat piece of glass, but rather to accommodate an expansive wraparound rear window. So you got the dual benefits of rear headroom and great visibility.

Last edited 1 year ago by Mr. Fusion
Hangover Grenade
Hangover Grenade
1 year ago
Reply to  Mr. Fusion

I’m convinced that they designed it that way to use a bunch of leftover front wraparound windshields.

Mr. Fusion
Mr. Fusion
1 year ago

It wouldn’t surprise me, since Rambler/AMC had to do some pretty creative engineering within the constraints of their tiny budgets (relative to the Big Three).

Pedro
Pedro
1 year ago

Teague approved. Wouldn’t have even had to be rambler left overs, just someone’s leftovers.

CSRoad
CSRoad
1 year ago
Reply to  Mr. Fusion

Quite few makers had rear windows like that, some Rootes Group products and the extreme case of the Plymouth Barracuda Fastback. Once again Rambler rocked it too early.

Last edited 1 year ago by CSRoad
Dennis Birtcher
Dennis Birtcher
1 year ago

Not going to lie, at a casual, passing glance, I did not notice the reverse rake Model 3 and Mach E were two different vehicles. Just saw an anonymous red blob, and an anonymous red blob facing the other direction.

At least the one with cargo piled up on the back reminded me of Truckla.

Col Lingus
Col Lingus
1 year ago

My old man bought a Lincoln like the one shown. $300 bucks in 1967. Sold it in a month or so for $400. That thing was a gas swilling beast.

Ffoc01
Ffoc01
1 year ago

But what’s your take on the perfectly vertical rear windows of the late 80’s. See Chrysler New Yorker and Mercury Cougar.

Ranwhenparked
Ranwhenparked
1 year ago

I really want a final gen Reliant Regal saloon – preferably a later one with the 700 engine. I know Tom Karen was unhappy with the results of his facelift and went and did the Robin on spec to show the company how much better he could do, but I always really preferred the MkVII Regal to all later designs

Hammerstump
Hammerstump
1 year ago

If you liked it then you shoulda strapped a ham to it
Don’t be mad once you see my pork on it
If you liked it then you shoulda strapped a ham to it
Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, o-ohh

BRING BACK THE HAM-RACK-ENABLING REVERSE RAKE!

Last edited 1 year ago by Hammerstump
Arch Duke Maxyenko
Arch Duke Maxyenko
1 year ago

And opening your breezeway rear window was also a great way to inhale carbon monoxide at a stop.

NewBalanceExtraWide
NewBalanceExtraWide
1 year ago

I give the Citroen fifty schoolboys with stubble, whiskey and cigarettes on my arbitrary scale of French appreciation.

https://youtu.be/unYu22Ign1E

Droid
Droid
1 year ago

the illustration of a giant ham strapped onto a teslas trunk-top luggage rack is comic genius.

does a porsche 914 count? i don’t have one here to check angle of rear pane…perhaps the b-pillar/buttress cancels consideration of it from a style perspective.

Hangover Grenade
Hangover Grenade
1 year ago
Reply to  Droid

I like that he didn’t even mention the ham, like it was a perfectly normal thing to strap to a luggage rack.

Jack Beckman
Jack Beckman
1 year ago
Reply to  Droid

It is definitely raked on the 914, just checked.

JDE
JDE
1 year ago

The coolest part of them at the time was the opening up factor. I am not sure if the length of the trunk avoided all of the exhaust fumes from now coming back in like say a station wagon. or maybe they just came with the side exit exhaust with that option, or maybe it was just the 50’s and it did not matter.

Anyway, I feel the modern equivalent is the Hard top Convertible. Sure ford Tried it in the 50’s also, but when the likes of Sebrings, 200’s and Pontic G6’s started sporting them then it was kind of a big deal. for the millisecond they actually worked and/or kept out the rain.

Mike Harrell
Mike Harrell
1 year ago

There are also the various models of Mercury with breezeway rear windows, other than the Turnpike Cruiser which had a conventional rake.

Donald Petersen
Donald Petersen
1 year ago
Reply to  Mike Harrell

Yeah. I could swear I saw an example recently. Like a ’64 Meteor. But where? Hmmm…

https://www.theautopian.com/meet-the-spokepants-cold-start/

TORCH!!!!!

Richard O
Richard O
1 year ago
Reply to  Mike Harrell

The early 60’s Mercury Monterey had it too.

Mike McDonald
Mike McDonald
1 year ago
Reply to  Mike Harrell

Came here to post this. It was offered across quite a few of their models from 1963-1968. I always thought people who drove these were weird. It seems so to my 4 year old mind, anyway. I love the 58-60 Lincolns though.

Larry B
Larry B
1 year ago
Reply to  Mike Harrell

The 1963 and 1964 Mercury Montclair had reverse rake rear windows. Which reminds me, whatever happened to Mercury Mondays?

Robert Swartz
Robert Swartz
1 year ago
Reply to  Larry B

It has been forgotten along with those Breezeways. They continued through ’65 and ’66; the whole effort an attempt to hide Mercury’s obvious retreat to the Ford platform. There was a Breezeway in ’67 and maybe ’68, but it had a conventional rear C-pillar and the window opened only about an inch from the top. Flow-through ventilation rendering the entire concept useless around then.

Jim Stock
Jim Stock
1 year ago

But sloping back CUVs have so much less storage space why would you want to get rid of that. ????

Canopysaurus
Canopysaurus
1 year ago

The reverse rake rear window on most of those vehicles makes them look like Pac-Man, except for the C4, that looks like a blast!

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