April 21, 2024

The Resurgence of the Notchback Car Design

The notchback car design was quite popular in the muscle car era of the 1960s and 1970s but declined significantly in the following decades as buyers gravitated towards newer coupe and sedan styles. However, in recent years the notchback has experienced somewhat of a resurgence as more modern twists on the classic design have hit the market.

What is a Notchback?

This creates a steeply raked rear deck and gives the car a somewhat short, chopped appearance compared to a traditional sedan. Early notchbacks included iconic muscle cars like the Ford Mustang, Chevrolet Camaro, and Dodge Challenger. The notch created a sportier design while also helping to improve rear visibility compared to a full fastback style which slopes down into the trunk area.

The Notchback Returns

After falling out of style for decades, the notchback design has returned in some newer models. One of the first notable modern notchbacks was the fifth-generation Ford Taurus introduced in 2008. With its short rear deck and steeply sloping rear window, the Taurus adopted more of a coupe-like appearance compared to previous more slab-sided versions. Other models soon followed this freshened-up interpretation of the classic notchback, helping to bring it back into the mainstream.

The New Dodge Charger

Arguably one of the best-selling and most recognizable modern notchbacks is the Dodge Charger. Reintroduced for the 2006 model year, the Charger fused the classic long-hood/short-deck proportions of the 1969 original with a contemporary muscular design. With its prominent Hofmeister kink behind the C-pillar and rear hatch reminiscent of 1960s muscle cars, the Charger adopted a more aggressive stance compared to modern sedans. Its success helped show there was still demand for daring retro-inspired designs like the notchback among American performance sedan buyers.

The BMW 4-Series Gran Coupe

Even luxury brands have embraced the Notchback  in recent years. The BMW 4-Series Gran Coupe, introduced in 2014, put a premium twist on the classic muscle car formula. With its long hood, low roofline, wide grille, and raked rear deck, the 4-Series GC looked just as at home on the autobahn as it would have in a ’70s-era drag strip. Packing powerful turbo engines and handling to match its looks, the Gran Coupe proved the notchback could work well in a higher-priced segment once again. Its success likely influenced other brands to consider similar retro luxury designs.

The Alfa Romeo Giulia

Another recent notchback to earn praise is the Alfa Romeo Giulia. Launched for the 2016 model year, Alfa’s compact executive sedan took inspiration from the Giulia GT of the 1960s with its long hood, truncated rear end, and emphasis on gorgeous curves. Underneath, its rear-wheel drive dynamics and sonorous engines recalled Alfa’s sporting heritage. With its seductive Italianate design, the Giulia helped demonstrate there was still a market for driver-focused notchbacks with strong brand heritage even in the compact sedan segment normally dominated by more generic shapes.

The Subaru BRZ and Toyota 86

Two notable modern sports cars that adopt a notchback layout are the Subaru BRZ and Toyota 86. Based on a classic rear-drive, rear-wheel drive formula like old Japanese cars from the 1970s, these affordable coupes featured short rear decks with steeply raked rear windows – a refined take on the classic muscle car template. With precise handling, low weight and a focus on driving enjoyment over power, the BRZ and 86 have appealed strongly to enthusiasts looking for a pure driving experience rather than flashiness. They show how the notchback continues to fit well on smaller and more driver-oriented models.

The Enduring Appeal of the Notchback

While more modern tastes in styling saw it fall out of favor, the notchback design clearly still resonates with buyers looking for a dosage of retro cool or sporting character. When executed well like in the modern models discussed, it can inject personality while also working functionally. The notchback’s resurgence in recent years proves that classic designs still have relevance when reimagined for the present day. As long as performance remains a priority for some brands and customers, variations on the classic long-hood/notchback formula will likely continue to find appreciative new audiences.

1. Source: Coherent Market Insights, Public sources, Desk research
2. We have leveraged AI tools to mine information and compile it