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fanoftristars
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Why Are Hatchbacks So Popular In Europe?

Tue Apr 25, 2006 11:06 am

I noticed while traveling in italy that at least 90% of the cars you see are some form of wagon/hatch back, while in the US, its the other way around, 90% of passenger cars are regular sedans, and a lot of hatch backs are considered ugly. It's not like Europeans have more cargo to haul around, if anything, americans probably haul more junk around in their cars, so I just don't understand the popularity.
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Jamie757
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RE: Why Are Hatchbacks So Popular In Europe?

Tue Apr 25, 2006 11:39 am

Quoting Fanoftristars (Thread starter):
I noticed while traveling in Italy that at least 90% of the cars you see are some form of wagon/hatch back,

That's because generally they tend to be more fuel efficient (they weigh less) and they are more user friendly (you can fit a bulkier load into a hatch minus parcel shelf than a saloon/sedan) and a hatch will handle better and not be as susceptible to any pendulum effect.

Quoting Fanoftristars (Thread starter):
It's not like Europeans have more cargo to haul around, if anything, Americans probably haul more junk around in their cars, so I just don't understand the popularity.

Europeans can fit more in their hatches than Americans can their saloons/sedans.

 Wink

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Duff44
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RE: Why Are Hatchbacks So Popular In Europe?

Tue Apr 25, 2006 11:45 am

I have a hatch, and I love it (2002 Civic Si)

I can put my buddy's wheelchair in it without having to take it apart
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AsstChiefMark
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RE: Why Are Hatchbacks So Popular In Europe?

Tue Apr 25, 2006 11:48 am

Without a hatchback, you have to tie crap to the roof.

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Derico
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RE: Why Are Hatchbacks So Popular In Europe?

Tue Apr 25, 2006 12:08 pm

I always thought it was because of the fuel efficiency-haul ratio that is very favorable in hatchbacks.

Having been in Europe, I have seen the most of them in Italy, then France. A bit less in Spain and England, quite a few less in Germany where I've seen bigger cars than elsewhere in Europe.

In South America hatchbacks are ubiquitous in Brazil, also in México, Colombia, and Chile to a slightly smaller extent. In Venezuela they are becoming popular but there they still have old gaz guzzling chevy boxes from the 70s all over the place. In Argentina sedans are just as popular as hatchbacks, for that reason peoplenotice the cars in Argentina are a bit bigger when they arrive from other countries in Latin America.
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ltbewr
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RE: Why Are Hatchbacks So Popular In Europe?

Tue Apr 25, 2006 12:29 pm

If you only have one car and it has to be relatively small yet flexible for day to day needs, then a hatchback becomes a good choice. I have owned hatchback sport coupes since 1982 and found the flexibility of the hatchback vs. trunk (boot) to be a significant advantage. You get more usuable area, for stuff, shopping of bulky goods, so I am sold on them.
 
bohica
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RE: Why Are Hatchbacks So Popular In Europe?

Tue Apr 25, 2006 1:02 pm

I have a Ford Focus ZX5 hatchback. I like it because it is so versitle. It's good on gas, especially when gas is $3+ a gallon and climbing. It has a cargo area behind the rear seat which can hold groceries or a couple of decent sized suitcases. If I have a large item, I can fold down the rear seat, remove the shelf, and I have lots of room to put something in that won't fit in a coupe or sedan.

Besides the Ford Focus, in the US there are more hatchbacks coming out on the road including the Toyota Matrix, Chrysler PT Cruiser, Chevrolet's Aveo and HHR, and the Dodge Caliber. The hatchback is becoming more popular in the US.
 
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RE: Why Are Hatchbacks So Popular In Europe?

Tue Apr 25, 2006 1:06 pm

I have a 1996 Acura Integra GS-R which is a hatchback. It is quick and nimble, and holds a TON of stuff. We moved houses twice with the Integra, and I could put a buttload of stuff in the hatch, especially with the seats down. I carted home a six foot tall bookshelf from Ikea in it, and a six foot tall cat tree. Couldn't do that in my Mercedes, which is rather bigger than the Integra.

Hatchbacks are wonderfully practical cars, and as stated above, tend to be quite fuel efficient.
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RE: Why Are Hatchbacks So Popular In Europe?

Tue Apr 25, 2006 1:30 pm

Quoting Fanoftristars (Thread starter):
I noticed while traveling in italy that at least 90% of the cars you see are some form of wagon/hatch back, while in the US, its the other way around, 90% of passenger cars are regular sedans, and a lot of hatch backs are considered ugly. It's not like Europeans have more cargo to haul around, if anything, americans probably haul more junk around in their cars, so I just don't understand the popularity.

They are more fuel efficient which benefits everyone on this planet!
 
columba
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RE: Why Are Hatchbacks So Popular In Europe?

Tue Apr 25, 2006 2:33 pm

Quoting Fanoftristars (Thread starter):
It's not like Europeans have more cargo to haul around, if anything, americans probably haul more junk around in their cars, so I just don't understand the popularity.

Americans drive SUVs, Europeans prefer station wagons or hatchbacks to carry their stuff. They are more flexibel than a sedan and more fuel efficient than most SUVs. In a car magazin I have read the other day that the numbers of classic sedans is sinking, about 14% of all new cars are sedans. The only sedans that are bought new are high class cars such as Mercedes, BMWs, Jaguars etc....
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oli80
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RE: Why Are Hatchbacks So Popular In Europe?

Tue Apr 25, 2006 4:14 pm

I doubt I speak for all European cities, but I also think that road size is an issue. Of all the places I've visited in the US (NYC, Boston, Denver, Miami and their surrounding areas) I've noticed that the roads are very wide.

If you compare this for example with Leiden in the Netherlands (a small version of Amsterdam) you have extremely narrow roads where you have to parallel park alongside a canal, normally with no guard rail, so if you make a mistake, in you go. It is for roads like these, that the Smart car was invented.
 
bill142
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RE: Why Are Hatchbacks So Popular In Europe?

Tue Apr 25, 2006 9:26 pm

because they fit down those tiny european streets in those tiny european towns.
 
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RE: Why Are Hatchbacks So Popular In Europe?

Tue Apr 25, 2006 9:37 pm

Quoting Fanoftristars (Thread starter):
I noticed while traveling in italy that at least 90% of the cars you see are some form of wagon/hatch back, while in the US, its the other way around, 90% of passenger cars are regular sedans, and a lot of hatch backs are considered ugly. It's not like Europeans have more cargo to haul around, if anything, americans probably haul more junk around in their cars, so I just don't understand the popularity.

Here's what I consider humor....

Wasn't it last week on these forums that Europeans (and I seem to remember Italians being used as a major example) were giving Americans massive quantities of shit about dressing in a way that was too casual/practical without a sense of style.

Wasn't the American response to criticize the Italians for wasting money on needless, expensive, over-the-top clothing?

What looks better?:
(1) Shorts in a BMW
(2) Gucci in a Fiat

I personally would compromise and go with the well dressed Italian girls moving about Rome via scooter.  Smile
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oli80
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RE: Why Are Hatchbacks So Popular In Europe?

Tue Apr 25, 2006 9:52 pm

Quoting Molykote (Reply 12):
What looks better?:
(1) Shorts in a BMW
(2) Gucci in a Fiat

But BMW (1 series), Audi (A2) and Mercedes (A class) make small cars too.  Wink
 
columba
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RE: Why Are Hatchbacks So Popular In Europe?

Tue Apr 25, 2006 10:35 pm

Quoting Molykote (Reply 12):
I personally would compromise and go with the well dressed Italian girls moving about Rome via scooter.

Me, too !!!!!!!!!!!!
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cfalk
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RE: Why Are Hatchbacks So Popular In Europe?

Tue Apr 25, 2006 10:46 pm

Quoting Derico (Reply 4):
I always thought it was because of the fuel efficiency-haul ratio that is very favorable in hatchbacks.

That's basically it. It may not be so pretty, but it is efficient, relatively inexpensive to runa and insure, does everything you need, and can be (in the case of GTIs and other "hot hatches") plenty of fun.
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fanoftristars
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RE: Why Are Hatchbacks So Popular In Europe?

Tue Apr 25, 2006 10:52 pm

It's interesting to see the direction that this thread has gone. I wasn't talking about the size of cars. I'm talking about the shape of cars. I don't see the versatility of the hatchback as being the main factor for the huge split. I have only one car, an ocassional need to haul things around, and I drive a sedan. Sure my seats fold down, but seriously, it's not believable to me to think that Europeans would need the versatility of a hatchback that much more than North Americans.

I find the argument that Europeans need hatchbacks for versatility as believable as Americans needing their huge SUVs with 4wd for conquering the jungle. Americans drive SUVs because of the image they think it portrays or because they need the space and wouldn't want to be caught dean in a mini-van. Is there any negative stigma about driving a sedan in Europe? I just find it hard to swallow that everyone is so practical in Europe that even the shape of their autos is all about practicality, when there are so many impractical things about Europe (Fashion was mentioned above as an example.)
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cfalk
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RE: Why Are Hatchbacks So Popular In Europe?

Tue Apr 25, 2006 11:01 pm

Quoting Fanoftristars (Reply 16):
I have only one car, an ocassional need to haul things around, and I drive a sedan. Sure my seats fold down, but seriously, it's not believable to me to think that Europeans would need the versatility of a hatchback that much more than North Americans.

But when you want to move something bigger, you find a friend with a pickup or SUV, right? In Europe that is generally not an option. A hatchback will seat 5 people AND will fit a piece of furniture from IKEA. A small sedan won't.

Remember that space is at a premium in Europe. Most families do not have more than one car, so it has to be versitile. A large car like an American SUV (and most american cars, for that matter) will simply not fit in the parking spaces. If you don't live in your own house, finding parking outside your apartment or office is a big pain, and you need a small car to be able to fit it somewhere close to where you want to go.
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RE: Why Are Hatchbacks So Popular In Europe?

Wed Apr 26, 2006 2:20 am

I find the argument that Europeans need hatchbacks for versatility as believable as Americans needing their huge SUVs with 4wd for conquering the jungle

As someone who has lived in North America and Europe, I think the reasons are pretty obvious and have mostly been brought up already. It really is a matter of practicality and flexibility. I can fit furniture in a Nissan Micra hatchback that I wouldn't be able to fit in my Nissan Maxima (about 1.5 times larger). And there is no way the Maxima would be able to escape scrape and dent-free in most of the parking spaces here. You would not believe how small some of the parking spots are - and in some older residential areas there is not even proper street parking, cars have to park halfway on the sidewalks.

Many North Americans (excluding Quebecers it seems) have an image of hatchbacks as being "wimpy", "underpowered econoboxes". That perception was reinforced as that reflected most of the hatchbacks on the market in North America in the past - a car that your little sister might drive but definetley not for a self-respecting man  Smile But recently that has started to change, with more upscale imported hatches such as the Mercedes B Class and Audi A3 making their way on to the market.
 
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RE: Why Are Hatchbacks So Popular In Europe?

Wed Apr 26, 2006 2:34 am

In Israel it obvious:

1. Fuel Efficiency, when fuel cost 1.2$ for 1/4Gal. (1 Litre) many Israelis have Hatchbacks. their small engines save money.but we still have many SUV, 4Door saloons and other little sport cars here... its all depend of each other earnings.

2.space. it's impossible to find free parking space in Tel-Aviv at 13:00, but if you'll find, you must pay for the place, yes you must pay on 80% of the streets of the Israelis major cities (even the people who lives on those streets, they buy and annually parking ticket).

[Edited 2006-04-25 19:35:20]
 
blrsea
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RE: Why Are Hatchbacks So Popular In Europe?

Wed Apr 26, 2006 2:47 am

Quoting Jamie757 (Reply 1):
(you can fit a bulkier load into a hatch minus parcel shelf than a saloon/sedan)

How can you fit a bulkier item in a hatch back that won't go into sedan? Doesnt the hatch back have very little space behind the rear seat to keep stuff?
 
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fanoftristars
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RE: Why Are Hatchbacks So Popular In Europe?

Wed Apr 26, 2006 4:27 am

Quoting Viper911 (Reply 19):
1. Fuel Efficiency

So you're saying that a hatchback is more fuel efficient than a sedan that is the same size? I know the Mazda6 hatchback weighs more than the Mazda6 sedan here in the US, and there is a slight fuel economy difference between the two, since the hatchback's engine has to pull more weight around. I don't buy it. The Honda Civic hatchback is no more fuel efficent than the Honda Civic Sedan using the same engine/trim levels.

Quoting Cfalk (Reply 17):
But when you want to move something bigger, you find a friend with a pickup or SUV, right? In Europe that is generally not an option. A hatchback will seat 5 people AND will fit a piece of furniture from IKEA. A small sedan won't.

Ok, so if I can borrow a vehicle that is more efficient for moving furniture from Ikea, then why can't europeans borrow their uncles hatchback? Why is borrowing so much easier in the US but unavailable in Europe? Why does everone need this versatility in Europe, but in North America we have to resort to borrowing a friend/neighbor's SUV? I'm not convinced that it's a utility issue. I think it has more to do with what's considered fashionable by North American buyers vs European buyers.
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rabenschlag
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RE: Why Are Hatchbacks So Popular In Europe?

Wed Apr 26, 2006 4:42 am

Quoting Fanoftristars (Reply 16):
I find the argument that Europeans need hatchbacks for versatility as believable as Americans needing their huge SUVs with 4wd for conquering the jungle. Americans drive SUVs because of the image they think it portrays or because they need the space and wouldn't want to be caught dean in a mini-van. Is there any negative stigma about driving a sedan in Europe? I just find it hard to swallow that everyone is so practical in Europe that even the shape of their autos is all about practicality, when there are so many impractical things about Europe (Fashion was mentioned above as an example.)

That is so interesting. My hunch is that in Europe, sedans have an image of being very conservative, somehow old people's cars like Buicks or so. For instance, in Germany I consider the Jetta as a Granpa's car, not so the Golf. If we move to the more expensive side of things, a sedan has the potential to look pimpy or pretentious, whereas wagons have the potential for admirable understatement.

Maybe this has to do with the specific subculture you are living in, but my social environment in Germany responds more favorably to wagons than sedans in terms of image. When I moved to the US I bought a wagon and people responded as if I was driving a Jetta in Germany  Wink

R.
 
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RE: Why Are Hatchbacks So Popular In Europe?

Wed Apr 26, 2006 4:51 am

Until recently I ran a SAAB 9000 hatchback with a turbo 2.0 litre engine which gave about 26 MPG around town. Why did I have the hatch back version well versatility otherwise it was the same as the sedan version, but would not have thought it was any more fuel efficient than the sedan version, and as you can see it was not the most fuel mean thing on the road

Why did I need the versatility, well so I could go to the DIY store and within limits take home all I needed, and when the dog came with us the parcel shelf was removed and the dog went in the back so saving the seats.

Great car I should have kept it

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cfalk
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RE: Why Are Hatchbacks So Popular In Europe?

Wed Apr 26, 2006 5:02 am

Quoting Fanoftristars (Reply 21):
Ok, so if I can borrow a vehicle that is more efficient for moving furniture from Ikea, then why can't europeans borrow their uncles hatchback?

Because, unlike an SUV or pickup, you don't sacrifice anything by buying a hatchback in the first place rather than a classic sedan. It does not cost anything more to buy, insure or run. It is thus a versitile, do-everything design, and when people are looking for a car which will be the only one in the family, they will go for the one that is the most capable of suiting various needs, from going to work, taking the kids to school, going on holiday or moving furniture, and still costs little to run and can park in tight european city streets..
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PHLBOS
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RE: Why Are Hatchbacks So Popular In Europe?

Wed Apr 26, 2006 5:13 am

Actually, for many years, most notchback sedans sold in the U.S. offer either as standard equipment or an option rear seats that fold down; thereby allowing the car in question to have notchback looks with the versatility of a hatchback. Which is probably the reason why many hatchbacks that looked like hatchbacks largely fell out of favor... at least during much of the '90s.

[Edited 2006-04-25 22:17:21]
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petertenthije
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RE: Why Are Hatchbacks So Popular In Europe?

Wed Apr 26, 2006 5:38 am

Don't know about other countries, but in the Netherlands a lot the small and midsize cars are not even offered as a sedan. Only the larger cars are available as sedan. For instance the Opel Astra can only be had as an sedan when you specifically ask for them. Otherwise you will not find it in the showroom, the brochures or even opel.nl.

I can't even remember the last time I saw a Ford Focus sedan in NL. First time I saw one was in London, and then I thought it was a concept car or something. I just did not realise it was a production vehicle till I saw another few during the course of that holiday. Big grin

Never seen a Renault Megane sedan in NL either. I checked the Renault.nl site and it is on offer. But apparantly it has not been that popular! The hatchback and estate/station are everywhere though.
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halls120
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RE: Why Are Hatchbacks So Popular In Europe?

Wed Apr 26, 2006 9:21 pm

Quoting PHLBOS (Reply 25):
Actually, for many years, most notchback sedans sold in the U.S. offer either as standard equipment or an option rear seats that fold down; thereby allowing the car in question to have notchback looks with the versatility of a hatchback. Which is probably the reason why many hatchbacks that looked like hatchbacks largely fell out of favor... at least during much of the '90s.

I believe the reason hatchbacks fell out of favor in the US is because most of them were just plain underpowered junk. Ford Pinto, Chevy Citation, Dodge Omni, and of course the infamous AMC Gremlin....
"Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself." Mark Twain, a Biography
 
KaiGywer
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RE: Why Are Hatchbacks So Popular In Europe?

Wed Apr 26, 2006 10:22 pm

Quoting Blrsea (Reply 20):
How can you fit a bulkier item in a hatch back that won't go into sedan? Doesnt the hatch back have very little space behind the rear seat to keep stuff?



Quoting PHLBOS (Reply 25):
Actually, for many years, most notchback sedans sold in the U.S. offer either as standard equipment or an option rear seats that fold down; thereby allowing the car in question to have notchback looks with the versatility of a hatchback. Which is probably the reason why many hatchbacks that looked like hatchbacks largely fell out of favor... at least during much of the '90s.

Hatchbacks are more versatile than sedans because of more height. While many sedans let you fold down the back seat, you are still limited by the frame over the trunk. In hatchbacks, there is usually a removable "trunk" cover.
“Once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, an
 
PHLBOS
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RE: Why Are Hatchbacks So Popular In Europe?

Wed Apr 26, 2006 10:30 pm

Quoting Halls120 (Reply 27):
I believe the reason hatchbacks fell out of favor in the US is because most of them were just plain underpowered junk. Ford Pinto, Chevy Citation, Dodge Omni, and of course the infamous AMC Gremlin....

When was the last time you saw a new Toyota Corolla or a Nissan Sentra hatchback? Both have only been offered (in the States) as notchback sedans for at least a decade.

Edited to add:
Once upon a time (1977), the only Honda Accords sold were hatchbacks. Again, there hasn't been an Accord hatchback in the U.S. new car market since the early 1980s.

[Edited 2006-04-26 15:42:07]
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halls120
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RE: Why Are Hatchbacks So Popular In Europe?

Wed Apr 26, 2006 10:56 pm

Quoting PHLBOS (Reply 29):
Quoting Halls120 (Reply 27):
I believe the reason hatchbacks fell out of favor in the US is because most of them were just plain underpowered junk. Ford Pinto, Chevy Citation, Dodge Omni, and of course the infamous AMC Gremlin....

When was the last time you saw a new Toyota Corolla or a Nissan Sentra hatchback? Both have only been offered (in the States) as notchback sedans for at least a decade.

Edited to add:
Once upon a time (1977), the only Honda Accords sold were hatchbacks. Again, there hasn't been an Accord hatchback in the U.S. new car market since the early 1980s.

I agree that Toyota and Honda used to offer hatchbacks. But given how atrocious the GM/Ford/Chrysler products were, I'm sure that had an impact on the image of hatchbacks in general.

There is another factor are at play. Most American households are two, three and four car families. When one of them is a pickup, who needs a hatchback? One also has to consider the minivan, which not only killed the traditional station wagon, but probably eliminated the hatchback as well.
"Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself." Mark Twain, a Biography
 
cfalk
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RE: Why Are Hatchbacks So Popular In Europe?

Wed Apr 26, 2006 11:02 pm

Quoting Halls120 (Reply 30):
There is another factor are at play. Most American households are two, three and four car families. When one of them is a pickup, who needs a hatchback? One also has to consider the minivan, which not only killed the traditional station wagon, but probably eliminated the hatchback as well.

I think you just nailed it right there, Halls.

And to clarify why station wagons and hatchbacks are still popular in Europe, that can be explained by 1) higher gas prices there, and 2) less space (much harder to park a pickup or other large vehicle), and 3) fewer cars per family.
The only thing you should feel when shooting a terrorist: Recoil.
 
PHLBOS
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RE: Why Are Hatchbacks So Popular In Europe?

Thu Apr 27, 2006 12:07 am

Quoting Cfalk (Reply 31):
Quoting Halls120 (Reply 30):
There is another factor are at play. Most American households are two, three and four car families. When one of them is a pickup, who needs a hatchback? One also has to consider the minivan, which not only killed the traditional station wagon, but probably eliminated the hatchback as well.

I think you just nailed it right there, Halls.

And to clarify why station wagons and hatchbacks are still popular in Europe, that can be explained by 1) higher gas prices there, and 2) less space (much harder to park a pickup or other large vehicle), and 3) fewer cars per family.

Kudos to both of you on the above-statements which are probably more accurate than lambasting particular car line(s); which (applies to Halls120's earlier comments) doesn't necessarily tell the whole story.

Examples:

Quoting Halls120 (Reply 27):
Ford Pinto, Chevy Citation, Dodge Omni, and of course the infamous AMC Gremlin....

The main issue with the Ford Pinto was the gas-tank fires when either the Runabout hatchback and the 2-door sedan model (which has a similar side-profile & sports an 8 cubic foot trunk) was hit in the rear. The wagon, which had an extra 10 inches to the rear, was the only model not plaqued with this issue. While the '77-'80 models added an additional protective shield between the bumper and the rear gas tank; consumers weren't completely comvinced. Plus, by the late 70s, the small car market was heading towards roomier FWD cars which made the Pinto platform obsolete anyway. BTW, the Escort hatchback models sold quite well in the States until notchback models were introduced in 1992.

The issues that bedeviled the Chevy Citation plagued the entire X-body platform regardless of whether the model in question was a hatchback or notchback. Actually, in 1984, Chevy reintroduced the 2-door Club Coupe Citation notchback after a 2 to 3 year absence.

The reason why the Dodge Omni/Plymouth Horizon fell out of favor in the late '80s was due to people wanting larger vehicles. With gas prices hovering around (& in some cases below) $1/gallon at the time, many decided to move up a notch. I've heard both positive & negative reviews over these vehicles from a sample of owners over the years. BTW, the successor to the Omni/Horizon (Dodge Shadow/Plymouth Sundance) was one of Chrysler Corporation's first vehicles to adopt the notchback-looking hatchbacks. The Neon, which replaced the Shadow/Sundance and is now being phased out, went for the more traditional notchback w/the fold-down rear seat approach.

As far as the AMC Gremlin's concerned, with the exception of the Hornet/Concord/Eagle line (the latter was killed off because Iaccoca didn't want another RWD car platform in the mix when he bought AMC in 1987); sadly most of AMC's products had issues regardless of the body type. Afterall, the Gremlin did outlast the full-size Ambassador productionwise.
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