Encyclopedia Hoonatica: "We should add a hatchback version!"

An old friend of mine once recalled his father car shopping at the local American Motors dealer in the fall of 1972. He was torn between the utility of the Gremlin and the styling of the Hornet coupe — both of which had been out for two years — until the salesman took him around the back of the building to see the very first Hornet hatchback they’d received, still un-prepped. His dad bought it immediately.
Hatchbacks have not been around nearly as long as coupes and sedans, generally speaking. In fact, the Hornet was the first American-built hatchback model. (The Gremlin was considered a compact wagon at the time.) More to my point, the Hornet hatchback has not been around as long as the rest of the Hornet line-up, and that is the subject of our trivia contest quest for encyclopedic knowledge today. I want you to name all the car models that had a hatchback version added later, after the car was first introduced. Now, “car model” is a somewhat nebulous term. So, just to be clear, I’m looking for hatchbacks that were added to an existing platform mid-cycle, not as part of a new generation across the model range.
The Caveats (there are always caveats):

  • Production cars only, obviously. If it wasn’t in meaningful serial production, it doesn’t fit this category.
  • 3-doors and 5-doors are both good, as are so-called “liftbacks.”
  • “Later” means LATER. As in, introduced after the car was shipping — preferably by at least half a model year or so. So DON’T mention that hatchback that was announced alongside the other body styles and just didn’t ship quite as quickly. (Yeah, THAT one.)
  • Non-identical cousins based on a common platform are likely to get a pass today. You can still nominate a “hatchback-come-lately”™, despite an earlier hatchback version, as long as it was only offered in a different wheelbase or in a different market. You might also be able to argue that an earlier hatchback version sold under a different brand name shouldn’t disqualify your nomination, as long as it wasn’t a blatant case of badge engineering.
  • Motorcycles? Airplanes? Boats? Sure, if you can come up with one, why not. Lots’a luck with those.

Difficulty: This one’s somewhat odd; the vast majority of the fruit is neither low-hanging nor truly obscure.
How This Works: Read the comments first and don’t post duplicates! Bonus points for adding photos.
Image Sources: Ate Up With Motor’s Flickr Stream, the Pedia that is Wiki, and manufacturer press photos.


      1. I thought the trap was the Malibu Maxx. I don’t remember a Pinto that wasn’t a hatch, tho.

          1. I think you are right. This is the “notchback.” It actually has a trunk. Interesting.

    1. I never would have guessed these were launched without the hatchback in the line-up!

  1. C3 Corvette – IIRC the very last year had an option for an opening rear window for ‘trunk’ access.

  2. The second generation Datsun 510 grew a five door hatchback for 1980 after a couple of years.

    1. I’m just waiting for those hatch struts to give out. That’ll turn all those smiles upside down.

    2. Mom to Bobby: “Trust me, son, it’ll be a couple of years before the torque converter lockup goes south, causing the car to stall inexplicably when coming to a stop.”

    1. I’m pretty sure that debuted in 1975 along with the other fourth generation bodystyles. However, if you had mentioned the Toyota-based 5th gen…

    1. I had an ’04 Tahoe Z71 with barn doors. Loved that truck, but it was horribly problematic.

  3. This may be stretching a bit, but the 1981-1983 AMC Eagle Kammback is an alternative 4WD hatchback to the hatchback that was the Gremlin. Frankly, I’ve always preferred its looks to the Gremlin – going to the forward-rake C-pillar and Eagle grille helped with the flow of the overall shape to my eyes.

      1. Stretching the point like a 300,000-mile 258cid-six timing chain: I’ll admit that it was a Gremlin body, but with significant-enough changes that it’s not really a Gremlin anymore despite the underpinnings. IIRC, the hatches won’t swap between the two, but it’s been a very long time since I was in the AMC world. Which I only did once. And never again.

          1. I blame the lure and wiles of the Kammback for causing me to completely forget about these. Well, that and my predilection for liking most of AMC’s products of this time much better when they’ve got four inches of lift and 4WD under them.

  4. Another stab at stretching the rules: the Lynx Eventer. The post-facelift cars were particularly nice.

  5. One more: the 1987 Honda Accord Aerodeck, which followed the Accord by a year. Quite a good-looking car for the time that never really took off in the marketplace.

  6. The Citroën GS and GSA. GSes had no hatch, GSAs did. Only took Citroën nine years to get around to open the back up all the way.

          1. Agreed – though I’m not clear as to which part of your earlier comment I may have misconstrued.

          2. Sorry; I thought you were implying Volvo made a model called the “P1800S”, which they didn’t. They started with the P1800, then 1800S, then 1800E, then 1800ES.

          3. It’s OK. I am, but only after the application of a certain amount of alcohol.

          4. Next to nothing. But told the right way, I’m a sucker for a good story.

          5. It seems you know have the same comprehension of the concept as Leon Moisseiff then! For on a fateful day in 1939, he too did not know of the effects that would allow wind gusts to periodically oscillate a semi-solid mass, allowing further constructive forces to sweep under the peaks and amplify their height continuously in keeping with the resonant frequency of the structure! In summary; the man lived, but the Plymouth and the dog did not.

          6. Now, that I *do* understand from the world of radio – and if I understand correctly, you’re describing the Tacoma Narrows bridge. Makes perfect sense.

          7. Concur. And very much appreciate the telling of the story in the manner in which it was told.

          8. We’re also available for birthday parties, weddings, quinceaneras, mitzvahs of all sorts, and early prison releases!

          9. For the love of God, don’t. Interdisciplinary humour exchanges between engineers is something that no-one should ever have to remember.
            Well, except for possibly archive.org. Oh, go ahead.

          10. This is the only place where I know I can contact you guys if I want to book you!

  7. “Non-identical cousins based on a common platform are likely to get a pass today.”
    “…I’m looking for hatchbacks that were added to an existing platform mid-cycle, not as part of a new generation across the model range.”
    Just to be difficult, I’ll point out that the Sonett III (a hatchback) shares a common platform with its predecessor, the Sonett V4 (not a hatchback), so it is arguably both a mid-cycle refresh of the Model 97 (Sonett II, V4, and III, inclusive) and a new generation across the model range (II vs. V4 vs. III).

    1. I was trying to figure this one in, but gave up on the idea…glad you put it together succinctly.

  8. Ford waited a year to release the 5-door Escort hatchback, and the EXP, though the 3-door variant was there from the beginning.

    1. I may be wrong, but does this fall foul of “I’m looking for hatchbacks that were added to an existing platform
      mid-cycle, not as part of a new generation across the model range”?

      1. The Fox platform was introduced in Mofel Year 1978 with Fairmont/Zephyr lines. The Fox Mustang debuted a year later. Non-identical cousins.
        RIP Patty

          1. Contemplated in the fourth caveat:
            “Non-identical cousins based on a common platform are likely to get a pass today. “

          2. Actually, what I was implying was that “Non-identical cousins based on a common platform” should be treated as though they were separate models. In which case your example would NOT apply. Not that it really matters, though. The whole point of this is to generate conversation on the topic, which it did!

    1. Never would have guessed that, by the time they were launched here the hatch, sedan and wagon were all present.

  9. Further conversion madness: the Rover P6 Estoura. First offered in 1970 (the P6 debuted in 1963), it wasn’t a factory-approved conversion until 1971, at which point BL would honour warranties on them as if they were a regular production model. Around 180 or so were made.

      1. I’ve never seen those referred to as anything other than a station wagon. Not a very good station wagon perhaps…
        On the other hand I have heard the current Holden Commodore referred to as a hatchback because it is so much smaller than the previous wagon (approx 40%!). Note the top of the tailgate extends into the roof almost to the axle line. It was launched in 2008, two years after the 2006 sedan and ute.

        1. You’re right about the P6. When I do my wagon version, it’ll be more Volvo 240ish.
          As for the Commodore, 40% smaller is still pretty big. Our local police seem to like them though.
          Of course they liked the bigger version too, you can never have too much space.
          Wasn’t the size of the ‘big’ ones’ helped/guided /informed/stated by a Telstra requirement?

          1. I believe the Telstra bit is correct; and then after the shortcomings of the semi-trailing arm IRS were evident they switched to the Falcon wagon which had good old leaf springs! I’ve had a couple of experiences with the Commodore IRS before they fitted the extra toe control links, and they needed them! Still didn’t fix the camber-when-loaded problem though.

    1. Surely this should wait until next week, when the theme is; “We SHOULDN’T add a hatchback”?

  10. The 1975-1988 Opel Manta B. Initially available only with a trunk, the hatchback was added in 1977. Both bodystyles stayed in production until the end.

  11. The 1966-1970 Vauxhall Viva, Britain’s Opel Kadett B. IIRC, the 3-door estate/hatch bodystyle was unique to Vauxhall, and was introduced in 1967.

  12. Up until the mid 1980s American car manufacturers went to a lot of trouble to make cars that looked like hatchbacks, but were not. A/G-body GM fastbacks, Mustang Sportsroof, 1978-1981 Corvette, etc.

  13. Malaysia’s contribution: the Proton Wira Aeroback. Introduced a year after the Wira saloon, it added a hatchback.

  14. I can think of a few that haven’t been mentioned The BMW 2000 Touring was a hatchback 2002. The Saab 99 hatchback came after the notchback, as did the 900. Also I think the Alfetta GTV coupes started with a trunk and got a hatchback during the facelift in 79-80.

    1. Not sure about the Alfetta, a friend had a 77 I think with a hatch and I don’t recall seeing one without the hatch.

    1. Another inverse is the Dodge LX cars. Started out with just the Magnum (5-door), added Charger after a year (4-door), then they dropped the Magnum and added Challenger (2-door).

      1. I was thinking the same thing until I remembered Chrysler 300 debuted with the Magnum. PT Cruiser was a 5 door for several years before the 2 door ragtop came out, though.

    1. It’s a pony car!
      Side note: why did they stow the stepladder on the pony side, instead of on the other side of the straw bale? Now the pony is going to get tangled up in the stepladder!

  15. Let’s also remember the inverse circumstance – when the SAAB 9000 notchback, the CDE, was introduced well after the hatchback. Even though the hatch was styled to look much like a sedan, it just wasn’t stodgy enough for many buyers. Particularly the US market.

  16. The Renault 21 started out in 1986 as a saloon, but gained a liftback (never offered on the US-market Medallion) with the 1989 refresh. I’m completely ignoring the wagons for the purposes of convenience, and feel better now that I have found a suitable substitute for the Encore which was preempted by its appearance in the article’s header image.

  17. According to Wikipedi: The Chevrolet Chevette was first launched by General Motors (Brazil) in 1973 as a two-door sedan. A four-door sedan followed in April 1978, and then a three-door hatchback was added in November 1979.

  18. The Citroën Traction Avant was introduced in 1934, with the Commerciale following in 1939. Initially sporting a horizontally-split combination two-piece hatch / tailgate, this was revised in 1953 to a more conventional one-piece hatch design.

    1. Yes, but saying the Traveler/Countryman variant was a hatchback version is perfectly fair.

      1. Ah- I missed those. I was looking for a real hatchback for the Mini – I’m pretty sure I saw a prototype on the internets.

        1. Going out on a limb here, given that the only Minis I’ve owned were a standard-bodied 850 and 1000… As far as I know, the Countryman only ever came with barn doors.
          The Traveller was basically the same (IIRC) minus the wood trim, though my parents had a Morris Minor Traveller with wood and barn doors. Can’t remember what the van version of the Mini was called in its various iterations, but I don’t recall a true hatchback on the Mini, at least not in RHD.
          With that said, I expect to be proven wrong in 5… 4… 3… 2… 1…

  19. To complete the trifecta of major French manufacturers, the Peugeot 204 was initially sold as a 4-door saloon starting in 1965 with the 3-door hatchback Coupé following in 1966.

    1. Ah, but is it a hatchback? It looks almost as though there’s a trunk lid that hinges right at the endpoint of the rear quarterlight, with the rear windscreen fixed in place. Only time will tell.

      1. There’s a hidden hinge at the top of the windscreen where the hatch begins.
        Or maybe at the base of the windscreen…

    1. I was going to post this also, the Cruze debuted in 2007, the hatch in 2011. Complete with black plastic tack-on aero pieces on the rear window

  20. The very first car that looked like a hatchback but wasn’t was the Austin A40, but nobody realised that until the Innocenti division of BMC made a hatchback, the first European small hatchback.
    All(ish) A40 Farinas from the front
    Austin A40 Saloon, boot/trunk only(1957 0n)
    Austin A40 Countryman, semi-estate, half hatchback (1958 on)
    Innocenti Austin A40 Combinata, the first one piece hatchback.( Italy only, 1965 on)

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