Shatchbacks – Give them the boot

Let’s face it, there are certain types of car that divide opinion. One man’s off road warrior is another man’s polar bear destroyer. Indeed, the 4X4 is probably the mode of transport that polarises opinion the most. No pun intended.

The Volkswagen Beetle is another prime example – loved and loathed in equal measure. The Fiat Multipla, the Citroen 2CV, the Porsche Boxster, MPVs, the Morris Marina, the Saab 900, Lotuses, the Ford Capri, Fernando Alonso, etc, etc. I’m pretty tolerant of most things to be honest. As documented on PetrolBlog before, I’m just as likely to get excited about seeing a mint Talbot-Matra Rancho as I am a new Land Rover Evoque – even if it is being driven by a former Spice Girl.

But there’s one breed of car that I simply can’t tolerate. One car that has the ability to ruin a good day. One car that can make even the most sunniest of days turn to mild drizzle. A car so hideous, I’ve seen small children quite literally stop in their tracks, turn a whiter shade of pale before running back to Mummy in horror. The car in question is the Shatchback, which roughly translates as a hatchback with a saloon boot. Even now, as a past history of Shatchbacks runs before my very eyes, my stomach is churning and my heart thumping a little faster. Terrifying.

OK, so I appreciate that the UK isn’t exactly the target market for the Shatchback – as a nation we are far happier in our hatches, estates, SUVs and sports cars. Yes, I know there are countries in the world that have an unnatural love for booted hatchbacks and to be honest, they’re welcome to them. But the fact is, we’re being subjected to them, even if the proportion of the nation that actually wants one is so small you need a magnifying glass to find them.

It should be pointed out that I’m not talking about all saloon cars; if a car started life on the designer’s sketchbook, then fair play. Indeed, some of my favourite cars are saloons, specifically from the stables of Alfa Romeo, Audi, Ford, Saab and Volkswagen. No, I’m talking about Shatchbacks, which have about as much flair and panache as a breeze block. Only less useful.

I have a lot of sympathy for the poor fellows in the design studios of the automotive world superpowers. You can imagine their feeling of joy and pride when they bounded into the board meeting to present their cutting edge design for the new hatchback. Rationale statement lovingly prepared and Keynote presentation practiced well into the early hours. The relief as it goes well and the design concept is approved. But then, just as the design team turn and head for the door, the quiet man in the corner clears his throat and mutters the words the designer didn’t want to hear; “And what about the saloon version?“. At that moment, the designer drops his crayons and mochachino and lets out a small cry of despair. Career over.

Need reminding of the hideous of the Shatchback? Here a few that are guaranteed to keep you awake tonight.

Renault 7

Renault 7
Puss in boots

Some 140,000 of these monsters were produced in Spain between 1974 and 1984. That’s 140,000 cars that managed to take the mildly pretty Renault 5 and turn it into something quite hideous. Fortunately, due to the success of the Renault 12, the UK was largely spared the horror of the 7, so that’s at least one thing to thank the 12 for.

Amazingly, I found a Renault 7 for sale – see ad here http://www.carandclassic.co.uk/car/C153508/. Warning, the images are not necessarily safe for work.

Vauxhall Belmont

Vauxhall Belmont
Boots the Chemist

According to a Home Office report in 2006, the Vauxhall Belmont is the car with the highest risk of theft. In 2005 for example, 436 of the 5,729 Belmonts still on the road were stolen. The general consensus is that this is down to the poor security of the vehicle. But I have another theory; it was actually an inside job. So appalled and ashamed are the bosses at Vauxhall that they actually hunt down Belmonts with the aim of bringing them back to HQ and therefore off the streets. Out of sight, out of mind.

Renault Megane saloon

Renault Megane saloon
Kinky Boots

How do you solve a problem like a cutting edge hatchback design that provokes thought and opinion? Simple – you add a box to the rear end. Et Voila – no more individuality; no more shaking of one’s arse.

Ford Focus saloon

Ford Focus saloon
These boots are made for walkin’
The Ford Focus. When launched in 1998 it made the Escort seem like a car from a distant age. Radical, dynamic, ground breaking and trend setting. Unfortunately none of these words could be associated with the saloon version. Frankly, I’d rather have an Orion 1.6i Ghia – but that’s a whole different blog entry.

Vauxhall Nova saloon

Vauxhall Nova saloon
Das Boot
For some reason, my sole memory of the Nova saloon consists of a beige car with Merit badging. Not a good starting point I grant you. For me, one of the most successful aspects of the Nova hatchback was the crease line above the rear wheel arches. Unfortunately, the saloon removed this aspect and in doing so reduced the car to insignificance.

Peugeot 306 saloon

Peugeot 306 saloon
Get on your boots

My dissatisfaction with the current line up of Peugeots is well known. I’m sure the company got to the point in the 1990s where they sat back, took a look at the 205 GTi, 106 GTi/Rallye and 306 GTi/Rallye and convinced themselves that their job was done. Time to sit back on their laurels. Well no, actually your job isn’t done – the lion isn’t going from strength to strength. In fact, if the 306 saloon is anything to go by, there’s a lot more work to be done.

Clearly I could go on. There are countless other Shatchbacks out there, lurking with intent around every corner. If you have your own examples, get in touch with PetrolBlog and I’ll create the ultimate list of Shatchbacks. A rogues gallery of hideousness; a house of horrors. But be prepared. It might not be pretty. In the meantime, I off to look at my I Spy book of Breeze Blocks. Far more appealing than looking at the back of that Peugeot.
Images courtesy of Wikipedia, Renault and Ford. Thank you.

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ABOUT AUTHOR
Gavin Big-Surname
The chief waffler and founder of PetrolBlog in 2010. Has a rather unhealthy obsession with cars from the 80s and 90s, and is on a one-man mission to collect the cars nobody else wants. Also likes tea and Hobnobs.

12 comments

  1. July 6, 2010
    Tweets that mention Shatchbacks – Give them the boot « PetrolBlog — Topsy.com

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Classic Car, MajorGav. MajorGav said: Shatchbacks – Give them the boot: http://wp.me/pOCWo-9E Warning, this blog post might offend the easily offended. You've been warned. […]

    Reply
  2. October 23, 2011
    David Milloy

    Shriek! The Renault 7 is more hideous than I would have believed possible. Not that the others are much better, mind.

    Reply
    • October 24, 2011
      MajorGav

      It truly is a thing of horror…

      Reply
  3. November 28, 2011
    aldoliddell

    I 99% agree, but as a teen in the 90’s i always wanted a mk4 Orion ghia 1.6i, though you did mention that above to be fair! As for the others totally right, i thought the mk1 focus was even worse! And the mk 3 astra… as you know the list goes on, way too long!

    Reply
    • November 28, 2011
      MajorGav

      Six episodes so far and there’s no sign of it slowing down. Episode 7 to follow soon!

      Reply
  4. November 28, 2011
    aldoliddell

    Have you seen the prototype metro saloon, check http://www.aronline.co.uk/blogs/2011/07/31/concepts-and-prototypes-metro-saloon/ i like metros but this is taking it too far, a shocker!
    To keep it unbiased here is one i really like, a brown nova as well! http://www.retrocarsmag.com/pastissue.asp?issueID=16

    Reply
    • November 28, 2011
      MajorGav

      Ha! Both of those Shatchbacks came up in conversation on twitter.

      It was agreed that the Nova was an example of a good Shathchback. The Metro however, was not!

      Reply
  5. November 28, 2011
    aldoliddell

    Will have to search that, still getting to grips with twitter, they might be rubbish cars but its a great topic, really funny! I think for me the Ikon/Fiesta has been the worst so far…

    Reply
    • November 28, 2011
      MajorGav

      I’m thinking of running a ‘Shatchback Of The Year’ poll. Could be fun!

      Reply
      • November 28, 2011
        aldoliddell

        Sounds good mate!

        Reply
  6. March 6, 2012
    The Enthusiast

    Due to many American’s negative view of hatchbacks as strictly economy cars, we have a number of shatchbacks here in the U.S.

    Reply
    • March 6, 2012
      MajorGav

      Ah, tell me more… 😉

      Reply

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