Home » The Landau Bar Is Making A Stealthy Return, So Everyone Be On High Alert

The Landau Bar Is Making A Stealthy Return, So Everyone Be On High Alert

Returnoflandau Top
ADVERTISEMENT

Are you sitting down? You probably should be sitting down. I realize that those of you reading this currently strapped into jetpacks or deep underwater, laden with scuba gear may not have such an option, but I suppose do your best to relax and get somewhere safe before taking in this news. Are you ready? Here it is: landau bars seem to be coming back. Stay calm! Please, remain calm. Just hear me out. I don’t have definitive evidence of a coordinated effort to re-introduce landau bars into the automotive design landscape, but there do certainly seem to be signs, ominous signs, that the landau bar is re-emerging from it’s decades-long exile, and is coming back, albeit in a highly disguised new form. Let’s investigate.

First, just in case any of you are unaware what a landau bar is, I’m happy to explain. You’ve likely mostly seen them on cars with vinyl roofs, especially ones where they want to seem like convertibles. Oh, and hearses, too – you’ve definitely seen them on hearses.

Vidframe Min Top
Vidframe Min Bottom

Landaubars

These bars were often used to impart some vague notions of “class” or “luxury” to cars, and were even available on their own, as add-on bits that you could buy through catalogs like JC Whitney:Landau

But what the hell are they supposed to be? Just what is this strange S-shaped bit of metal, anyway? Fundamentally, it’s just a hinge! A big, clunky, external hinge used to fold convertible roofs, a design that dates back to the early 19th century, at least. Here’s an example of a convertible car with a functional landau bar-type hinge, compared to a stylized landau bar seen on Shinzo Abe’s hearse last year:

ADVERTISEMENT

Landau2

Landau bars had a sort of re-emergence outside of cars designed to hold corpses in the 1960s and 1970s, and perhaps a bit into the 1980s, with mostly Ford building cars with them from the factory and a surprisingly persistent aftermarket stick-on-landau-bar demand. Of course, eventually the world began to wise up, slowly, and landau bars came to be seen as silly kitch on most passenger cars (hearses still somehow get a pass?). At this point in time, the automotive design world sees them as embarrassing relics of the past.

Or do they? Perhaps not. Thanks to the Bishop, I was tipped off to what appears to be a secret, underground trend to re-introduce the landau bar into the automotive non-hearse design vocabulary. The goals of these neo-landau bars are essentially the same as always: provide some bit of visual interest on an otherwise boring expanse of D-pillar area. Only now the landau bar design has been dramatically distilled down and minimized, just an echo of what it once was, but that doesn’t mean that deep down, it’s not a sort of landau bar. Here, just look:

Stealthrevival

Those are examples from Genesis, Lexus, Infiniti, and two Jeeps. There’s more out there as well. But I think these illustrate what’s going on. This new era of stealth landau bar is usually integrated in some way into the existing brightwork; it’s contiguous with other trim, and yet it still takes on the characteristic diagonal/somewhat S-shaped shape of the traditional landau. It still diagonally bisects the D-pillar space, and the fundamental goals are still the same, to impart some idea of class or luxury or a certain expensive-feeling gravity.

ADVERTISEMENT

It’s modernized and has been smoothed and shaved down and been forced to flip through countless volumes of Architectural Digest, but what we’re looking at here are still bars of landau. Can we allow these to keep going, to possibly multiply, and expand?

Will they proliferate? And if they do, will the eventually regain enough confidence to shed their forced subtlety, and re-emerge as full, unashamed landau fucking bars on every car we see?

Maybe. But we’ve at least gotten a hint of what’s starting. It may not be too late.

Maybe.

 

ADVERTISEMENT

Relatedbar

Is There A Name For These Kinds Of Convertibles?: Cold Start

Shinzo Abe’s Hearse Is A Reminder That Toyota Can Make An Impressive Last Ride

How Spanish Carmaker SEAT Once Brilliantly Integrated Door-Handles Into Side Windows

Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on whatsapp
WhatsApp
Share on twitter
Twitter
Share on linkedin
LinkedIn
Share on reddit
Reddit
Subscribe
Notify of
60 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Jim Stock
Jim Stock
4 months ago

I would be more worried if vinyl tops were coming back.

Geoffrey Reuther
Geoffrey Reuther
4 months ago
Reply to  Jim Stock

Shh, don’t give them ideas!

TTISTB
TTISTB
4 months ago
Reply to  Jim Stock

Just yesterday I saw a modern Lexus with one. Where are people getting this done? What shops are still offering it?

Highland Green Miata
Highland Green Miata
4 months ago

I love the Martin Landau in Space:1999 reference. I tried watching that series recently. SFX reasonably decent for 1970’s TV, but the plots and dialogue were so bad I just couldn’t get through it.

EricTheViking
EricTheViking
4 months ago

I was nine years old when Space:1999 was broadcasted on TV in the 1970s. The closed-captioning technology for television broadcasting didn’t happen until 1980 in the US so I missed out lot of dialogues.

When I came across the DVD set and decided to watch the episodes with subtitles. I could barely sit through a several episodes before calling it quit. Lot of glaring plot holes, bad special effects, bizarre procedures (why was it always one guy standing next to the mainframe, ripping off the paper ribbon off, when they had computer monitors and such), cheesy technical equipment, and so forth. How did they manage to redo the whole control room for the second series and why?

Highland Green Miata
Highland Green Miata
4 months ago
Reply to  EricTheViking

The best thing I ever learned about this show was how they did the space SFX. From Wikipedia: “Rather than relying on the expensive and time-consuming blue screen process, as for Star Trek, Johnson’s team often employed a technique that went back to the earliest days of visual effects: spacecraft and planets would be filmed against black backgrounds, with the camera being rewound for each successive element. As long as the various elements did not overlap, this produced convincing results. In technical terms, the advantage was that all of the elements were recorded on the original negative, as opposed to blue screen, which would have involved several generations of duplication. Another benefit was that the camera’s exposed negative contained completed effects thereby avoiding the costs of the blue screen “optical” technique. The disadvantage was that the number of possible angles was more limited. For instance, a spaceship could be seen approaching a planet from the side, but could not move in front of it without the elements overlapping.” I love it when we had to push the edges of the tech we had either because we couldn’t afford better or simply didn’t have the technology to “just add it with CGI”.

Last edited 4 months ago by Highland Green Miata
Highland Green Miata
Highland Green Miata
4 months ago

Let’s have the Autopian designer mock up a car incorporating all the most egregious non-functional exterior bits possible: landau bars, opera windows, chin spoilers, trunk spoilers, hood vents, wire wheels, vinyl top, etc.

Jonathan Green
Jonathan Green
4 months ago

An Angry bird of some kind on the hood, fake exhaust, lots of decals and badging…

Jonathan Green
Jonathan Green
4 months ago

I had a 1972 Cadillac Hearse. The rollers were removed, as were the curtains, so I could actually have a fighting chance of seeing out the sides and back.

I moved back home for a bit after college, and brough the hearse. The neighbors were not amused, particularly during the few days I had it on stands while I replaced the starter.

The police eventually called me, and told me I couldn’t park a commerical vehicle in the driveway. I tried arguing that it was not a commercial vehicle, but rather, a Cadillac Station Wagon.

After an adroit argument worthy of a supreme court justice, I was told by the officer “That car is a hearse. Either put it in the garage or get rid of it.”

I blame the landau bars…

EricTheViking
EricTheViking
4 months ago
Reply to  Jonathan Green

Perhaps send your neighbour a DVD (or even VHS) of Phantasm (1979 horror flick). Dress up as Caretaker and glance at their home as you drive slowly by their home.

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
4 months ago
Reply to  Jonathan Green

“The police eventually called me, and told me I couldn’t park a commerical vehicle in the driveway. I tried arguing that it was not a commercial vehicle, but rather, a Cadillac Station Wagon.”

So now I know who to call about that damn Flowers By Irene van that’s been planted outside my house for the past week…

HonkeyfromtheCIA
HonkeyfromtheCIA
4 months ago

This is like a vestige of a vestige. What are we even remembering at this point? If auto designers want to bring something back, how about windows big enough to see out of? I could go for some “retro” visibility.

Lightning
Lightning
4 months ago

I’m a Gen Xer, and was pushed around in a carriage with functional landau bars on the awning. My parents might still have a green one of these stored away in the house: 6bc14929b952a05f4861d5cec7acbf1d.jpg (1000×750) (pinimg.com)

Jakob K's Garage
Jakob K's Garage
4 months ago

You can’t spell class without ass.

Funny how that whole “floating roof” started with the Range Rover (1970) ripping off the rear roofline and D pillar design of a Ford Cortina Mk2 station wagon.. so I guess we can thank Roy Haynes for the whole affair 😉

Even the Opel Adam has one 🙁

Last edited 4 months ago by Jakob K's Garage
Banpei
Banpei
4 months ago

Opel reintroduced them already a decade ago on the Adam. Since all their models feature the Landau bar. The Opel Astra station wagon even got the nickname Hearse thanks to this.
With the arrival of the Astra L in 2021 Opel created a new style and stopped featuring the Landau bar on any of their models since

10001010
10001010
4 months ago

You warned me to sit down but I thought I could handle it. I should have listened.

I should have listened… 🙁

StillNotATony
StillNotATony
4 months ago

I can’t say that I hate this. My wife has an Infiniti QX30, and the 4 door, 5th generation T-Bird is my favorite.

Kevin B
Kevin B
4 months ago

It ain’t real until there’s a rabbit ear TV antenna on the roof, diamond in the back, sunroof top, and I’m diggin’ the scene with a gangster lean.

https://www.bing.com/videos/riverview/relatedvideo?q=diamond+in+the+back%2c+sunroof+top&mid=B0181D8AC12E8D7C3157B0181D8AC12E8D7C3157

FifteenCrosstrek
FifteenCrosstrek
4 months ago

I clearly see the Lexus and sorta the Genesis, but I think the Jeeps are just trying to recall the SJ Wagoneer chrome?

Old Hippie
Old Hippie
4 months ago

I’m really thinking my rigs need Landau Bars!

’85 Vanagon–obvious!

’93 Toyota Corolla Sedan… might be a tough fit….

Look, a Volvo!
Look, a Volvo!
4 months ago

Landau bars.

My chrome-iest enemy.

Iwannadrive637
Iwannadrive637
4 months ago

Martin Landau was in Tucker, The Man and his Dream. Just extending the car connection.

Ranwhenparked
Ranwhenparked
4 months ago

I’m just waiting for one automaker to realize that the faux floating roof has jumped the shark and stop it already.

CoastieLenn
CoastieLenn
4 months ago
Reply to  Ranwhenparked

Personally, I’m a fan of the look. Now… black wheels, black headlights, and tinted tails is a trend that needs to go the way of Altezza tails.

GreatFallsGreen
GreatFallsGreen
4 months ago
Reply to  CoastieLenn

I don’t mind the floating roof look, I just don’t think it actually achieves the effect its going for a lot of the time. But it doesn’t really bother me and I’ll absolutely take it over faux fender fent trend from ~10-15 years ago.

I don’t mind tinted/smoked lights either if they’re factory, since they should actually be tested to be…legal. That can add to the overall change in appearance if other brightwork is changed out too. (a bit nostalgic for those GTO headlight covers though)

Black wheels are a no from me though. Design a wheel and then obscure it?…or is there an increase in brake dust from cars nowadays and it’s all a ploy to hide that?

The Dude
The Dude
4 months ago
Reply to  Ranwhenparked

Is it jumping the shark if the floating roof was terrible to begin with?

I’m sure they look cool as heck on concept art and might look cool if you actually had a real see through window in place of (at best) a dark tinted window with maybe a few inches that you can see through.

Urban Runabout
Urban Runabout
4 months ago

To paraphrase the infamous line from “Mommy Dearest”:
“Tear down that bitch of a Landau Bar and put a window where it ought to be!”
(They look a bit like wire hangers too…)

Bizness Comma Nunya
Bizness Comma Nunya
4 months ago

Top 3 automotive syling things that should never EVER come back

  1. Vinyl/fabric/padded whatever you call them roofs for non-convertibles
  2. Landau bars
  3. Continental kits

These shouldn’t be “circular” trends…. they should just be dead

Goof
Goof
4 months ago

Vinyl/fabric/padded whatever you call them roofs for non-convertibles

That is a “landau top.” They are 100% an aftermarket thing that’s been getting more popular in the past 10 – 15 years, and I mentioned in a comment I see them more and more specifically on Cadillacs and Toyota Camrys — even brand new Camrys. Lexus ES as well.

Protodite
Protodite
4 months ago
Reply to  Goof

Yeah, I see ’em. As awful as they are I honestly kinda dig that someone, somewhere still thinks it’s a good idea and is going through with it.

Bizness Comma Nunya
Bizness Comma Nunya
4 months ago
Reply to  Goof

This is depressing to know that they are getting popular again…. sounds like some geriatric Northeast and/or Florida shit to me.

Phuzz
Phuzz
4 months ago

The reason that you see Landau roof’s and bars on hearses, is that coving half the roof in fake leather covers up the joins in the sheet metal. So in a way, they’re as functional as any other bit of trim on a car.

Nic Periton
Nic Periton
4 months ago

As the owner of at least one vehicle with functional said hinges, I am of the belief that the etymology of these aberrations has long been misconstrued.

From Northern English dialect, “Eh, lad, no, that will ‘ave your hand off”,

Crank Shaft
Crank Shaft
4 months ago

The Bishop is right and it’s kinda wild. Not that he’s right, but that they are indeed recapitulating said design affectation. I wonder if the designers even realize they are doing it or is it just another case of convergent evolution?

Canopysaurus
Canopysaurus
4 months ago

Gah! What’s next, the return of leather hood straps? Continental kits? Oh, the horror.

Urban Runabout
Urban Runabout
4 months ago
Reply to  Canopysaurus

You mean you don’t miss the faux luggage straps on the trunklid of the 1978 Thunderbird with the Sports Decor Group?
Or the upholstered faux-spare tire humps on the Mercury Cougar XR7 Chamois Decor Group, and Diamond Jubilee Lincoln Continental Mark V from the same year?

Last edited 4 months ago by Urban Runabout
Goof
Goof
4 months ago

The number of Cadillac CTSes and modern Toyota Camrys with aftermarket landau tops I have increasingly seen over the years has absolutely been a thing.

There are three different Camrys with aftermarket landau tops near my part of Boston. I remember seeing the CTSes start doing it in the early 2010s, when I was going around the US, and saw a few in Florida.

They definitely could be coming back. Why? Hell if I know. Maybe the, “floating roof” nonsense has finally run its course, and they need a new design gimmick.

Bob Boxbody
Bob Boxbody
4 months ago
Reply to  Goof

I had to look that up, because I couldn’t imagine how a Camry could be mixed up in this, but holy crap.

Goof
Goof
4 months ago
Reply to  Bob Boxbody

Toyota Camry with a landau roof:

The official car of Florida retirees that think a gold Toyota Avalon is, “too racy.”

Geoffrey Reuther
Geoffrey Reuther
4 months ago
Reply to  Bob Boxbody

I had to look it up too. Holy crap.

that does it, next car I buy from a junkyard is getting a Landau roof. But not professionally, no I’m going to do it myself with kitchen shears and hot glue. And then I’m gonna go park it at an old folks home and watch the money flow.

Chronometric
Chronometric
4 months ago
Reply to  Goof

My dataless impression is that it was worse about 10 years ago but maybe the trend is moving across the country. Toyotas are now the victims of such taste crimes is that old people have moved on from Buicks and Cadillacs.

Stef Schrader
Stef Schrader
4 months ago

sickos.gif

Yes..ha ha YES!

Jack Trade
Jack Trade
4 months ago

No Rollin Hand pics, not even to help illustrate old-school landau bars?

https://www.facebook.com/CinnamonCarterRollinHand/photos/a.376372572468692/1001229989982944/?type=3

(vs. John Koenig as appropriate for our current futuristic ones).

Mr. Frick
Mr. Frick
4 months ago

Could be those are Lando Calrissian bars that loosely emulate his mustache

Geoffrey Reuther
Geoffrey Reuther
4 months ago
Reply to  Mr. Frick

Pray I don’t alter the roofline again.

60
0
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
()
x