On Car Classification, PtII

It seems I was wrong in my last car classification thread. Not entirely wrong, but still pretty wrong. Here’s the correct classification for cars, according to parameters stipulated at the earliest uses of the words, courtesy of Merc63 from The Car Lounge (A vwvortex forum, don’t ask me what I’m doing there.) I wanted to repost it here in my blog so it won’t get lost and we can eventually refer back to it. Here we go:

As was mentioned, it’s all marketing now, as retarded ad-men co-opted real defined terms and plastered them on cars that had no business wearing those terms (much like GT has been seen on 5 door hatchbacks… :facepalm: )

Back in the day, one car model could have ALL of the various bodystyles, roadster, cabriolet, Touring/Phaeton, business coupe, club coupe, 2 door sedan, 4 door sedan, etc.

Roadster and Touring/Phaeton were open top cars that had no side windows (often had snap in side curtains instead) while cabriolets were open cars that had roll up side windows. There could still be coupe and sedan versions of those bodystyles. Roadsters, phaetons, and cabriolets were all convertibles. They merely defined what type of convertible each was.

Here are two prime examples, and when restorign these, you have to know which body style it is to get the correct parts.

in the ’30s, the Ford model line:

’32 roadster:

’32 Cabriolet

Note the roll up side windows and differnt top/windsheild post setup.

’32 Phaeton:

4 door with no roll up side windows.

’32 “three window” business coupe:

’32 “5 window” Club coupe:

Note the number of windows on the side in the above pictures…

’32 2 door sedan:

’32 4 door sedan:

hell, you could even get a 2 door pickup and a roadster pickup from the car chassis in those days:

All the previous are 1932 Fords. there were a couple special body styles, too, the cabriolet sedan and the Victoria sedan:

Cabrio sedan:

Victoria sedan (shorter with a bustle back trunk area):

Moving on to slightly newer cars, the jaguar XK120/140/150 series had roadsters, cabriolets, and coupes availeble at the same time. (in British terms, the cabriolet was called a “drop head coupe”)

Note the door top and windsheild post differences between the cabriolet (drop head coupe) and the roadster versions of this car…




All open top cars that have some sort of top available are convertibles.

If they have roll up side windows, they are cabriolets.

If they have no roll up side windows and 2 doors, they are roadsters.

If they have no roll up side windows and 4 doors, they are phaetons.

Individual companies/nationalities have specific terms for their versions (the Brits like Drop head Coupe for the 2 door cabriolet, Italians have always like spider or spyder for their 2 seat convertibles. The Germans use Speedster, Spyder, cabriolet, and Convertible for various bodystyles newer than the ’50s)

For example the original Porsche Speedster was a roadster bodystylke of the 356. There was also a cabriolet and a coupe of that model.

Speedster roadster:

Cabriolet (taller windsheild posts, squared off windsheild, and roll up windows):

And of course, a coupe:

And yes, there are modern cars that are true roadsters. The original Viper was one of them, as it had side curtains instead of roll up windows:

I then asked Merc63 about sports cars. What is a sports car after all? Here’s another, very informative answer:

The classic definition was a 2 seat open car designed to be suitable for road racing. GT was the term for a closed roof version of a sports car OR a sporting open car primarily for road use and having 2+2 seating.

These were the definitions that classic and influential sports car companies lived by. Ferrari had S or SP after the model designation for a sports car, and GT or GTB/GTS after the model designation for the GT version of the same chassis. Porsche knows its coupes are GTs, which is why you have the GT2 and GT3 variants of the 911. MG, a pioneer sports car maker, knew this as well, which is why the MGB is considered a sports car, and when they put a roof on it, it became an MGB GT. Same with the Triumph (another important sports car maker) with the closed roof GT6.



I mean, we all know the name of this one, right?

But look at the name of this one:

196SP (P standing for posteriore, or engine behind the driver)

These days, both terms (sports car and GT) have become so muddied as to be almost unrecognizeable, and people with GTs are actually insulted to be told they have a GT, not a sports car (even though GTs really came about becasue road racing a closed coupe made for a faster car, due to better aerodynamics, so GTs often were the higher performance version of the original sports car. It’s definitely NOT an insult to call a GT a GT!)

On the other hand, I’ve met people who were otherwise fairly smart that have thought that a car was a sports car just due to being red!!!  

My last question was the following: “Would you agree with those who say that the S2000, the Solstice and the Miata are the only true modern sports cars?” His answer follows:

No. They are the only lower priced sports cars, but the Viper is a sports car in convertible form, and a GT in, well, GTS form. The Elise is an open car, so I’d classify that as a sports car. The Corvette is a GT in closed coupe form, and a sports car in convertible form. The Ferraris get harder, as Ferrari himself felt that any of his 2 seaters or 2+2s were GTs if they were designed for the road first, and the track second. So the California he’d probably still call a GT, even as a convertible. Any new Lotus 7 clone is a sports car (unless there’s one ouot there with a fixed roof), and there are a number of other botique sports cars made in very small numbers, as well as a number of true roadsters (289 and 427 Cobra replicas are all roadsters, too)

So, I hope this puts the discussion on car classification to rest. Its is now clear that marketing and the usual grammar rape mutilated the correct definition of those car classes. We have now acquired a better understanding of car classification, and by retreating to the earliest possible roots of misapplied words we can now properly apply them to the correct automobiles. 



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