1967 AMC Marlin, a full-size 2-door fastback[1]
1968 Ford Mustang, a pony car fastback[2]
1978 Citroën CX 4-door fastback sedan
Unlike the Tesla Model S 5-door liftback, the Tesla Model 3 seen here is a 4-door fastback sedan (i.e. with a separate trunk)

A fastback is an automotive styling feature, defined by the rear of the car having a single slope from the roof to the tail.[3][4]

The kammback is not a fastback design with a roofline that tapers downward toward the car's rear before being cut off abruptly.[5]

Some models, such as the Ford Mustang, have been marketed explicitly as fastbacks, often to differentiate them from other body styles (e.g. coupé models) in the same model range.


A fastback is often defined as having a single slope from the roof to the rear of the vehicle.[6]

The 1974 Leyland P76 can be considered both a fastback (with a single uninterrupted slope from the roofline to the rear) and a liftback that is hinged at the roof
1965 Rambler Marlin fastback with trunk lid and a fixed rear window[7]

Traditionally a fastback will have a trunk opening that is separate from the rear window which remains in a fixed position.[8] The term "fastback" is not interchangeable with "liftback"; the former describes the car's shape, and the latter refers to a roof-hinged tailgate that lifts upwards for storage area access.

More specifically, the Road & Track Illustrated Automotive Dictionary defines the fastback as

A closed body style, usually a coupe but sometimes a sedan, with a roof sloped gradually in an unbroken line from the windshield to the rear edge of the car. A fastback naturally lends itself to a hatchback configuration and many have it, but not all hatchbacks are fastbacks and vice versa.[9]

In the case of the Ford Mustang, the term "fastback" is used to differentiate against the coupé notchback body style,[10][11] which has a steeper rear window followed by a horizontal trunk lid.


Automobile designers in the 1930s began using elements of aircraft aerodynamics to streamline the boxy-looking vehicles of their day.[12] Such designs, which were ahead of their time when exhibited during the early 1930s, included a droplet-like streamlining of the car's rear, a configuration similar to what would become known as the "fastback" 25 years later.[13] Merriam-Webster first recognized the term "fastback" in 1954,[4] many years before the popularization of the term "hatchback", which entered the dictionary in 1970.[14] Opinions vary as to whether the terms are mutually exclusive.

Early examples of fastback cars include the 1929 Auburn Cabin Speedster, 1933 Cadillac V-16 Aerodynamic Coupe, 1935 Stout Scarab,[15] 1933 Packard 1106 Twelve Aero Sport Coupe,[16] Bugatti Type 57 Atlantic, Tatra 87, Porsche 356, Saab 92/96, Standard Vanguard, GAZ-M20 Pobeda, and Bentley Continental R-Type.

Fastbacks produce less turbulence (hence less drag) than conventional three-box (Tre volumi) designs

Aerodynamic advantages

Fastbacks provide an advantage in developing aerodynamic vehicles with a low drag coefficient.[17] For example, although lacking a wind tunnel, Hudson designed its post-World War II cars to look aerodynamic, and "tests conducted by Nash later found that the Hudson had almost 20% less drag than contemporary notchback sedans".[18] However, the aerodynamic teardrop shape meant lower headroom for rear seat passengers, limited visibility to the rear for the driver, and also meant a less practical, elongated rear end design.[19]


In Australia, fastbacks (known as "slopers") were introduced in 1935, first designed by General Motors' Holden as one of the available bodies on Oldsmobile, Chevrolet, and Pontiac chassis. The sloper design was added by Richards Body Builders in Australia to Dodge and Plymouth models in 1937; it was subsequently adopted by Ford Australia in 1939 and 1940, as well as a sloper style made on Nash chassis.[20] According to automotive historian G.N. Georgano, "the Slopers were advanced cars for their day".[21]


In Europe, there was a sloping rear on streamlined cars as early as 1945, from which the shapes of the Volkswagen Beetle and Porsche 356 are derived.


In Japan, the Toyota AA first adopted the fastback style in 1936. It was strongly influenced by the 1933 DeSoto Airflow. The 1965 Mitsubishi Colt 800 was the first post-war Japanese fastback,[22] and the 1958 Subaru 360 was the first kei fastback. The Prince Skyline 1900 Sprint was developed by Prince Motor Company in 1963, but was never marketed.[23]

Afterwards, all Japanese automakers adopted the fastback style, with the 1967 Honda N360, 1968 Nissan Sunny Coupe,[24] 1968 Mazda Familia Rotary Coupe,[25] 1970 Suzuki Fronte "Sting Ray Look", and 1971 Daihatsu Fellow Max.[26] From the late 1960s to the 1970s, American coke bottle styling became popular in Japan, as seen on Toyota's 1973 Celica "Liftback".[27][28][29]

North America

In North America, the numerous marketing terms for the fastback body style included "aerosedan", "club coupe", "sedanette" and "torpedo back".[30] Cars included Cadillac's Series 61 and 62 Club Coupes, as well as various other models from General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler.

From the early 1940s until 1950, nearly every domestic manufacturer offered at least one fastback body style within their model lineups. Although the styling was good, the cars had less trunk capacity compared to the notchback designs.[31] In the mid-1960s, the style was revived on many GM and Ford products until the mid-1970s.

"4-door coupe"

Marketing terminology changed in 2004, with the launch of the first generation Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class. It was described as a 4-door coupé, a purely marketing term describing its fastback sedan arrangement, with fastback coupé-profiled bodywork and two doors on each side. The design reinterpreted the concept used in the 1992-1997 Infiniti J30/Nissan Leopard J Férié, which is not a true fastback.

This marketing term was followed by other competing models, such as the Audi A7 and the BMW 6 Series Gran Coupé, Audi A5 Sportback, BMW 4 Series Gran Coupé, Volkswagen CC, Volkswagen Arteon, Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class, Aston Martin Rapide, and Porsche Panamera.

See also


  1. ^ McCourt, Mark J. (July 2013). "1967 AMC Marlin". Hemmings Motor News. Retrieved 6 February 2024.
  2. ^ "1968 Mustang". musclecarfacts.com. 24 May 2021. Retrieved 20 July 2021.
  3. ^ Flammang, James M. (1990). Standard Catalog of American Cars, 1976-1986. Krause Publications. p. viii. ISBN 9780873411332. Retrieved 1 March 2016.
  4. ^ a b "fastback". Merriam-Webster. Retrieved 6 February 2024.
  5. ^ Gold, Aaron (8 July 2020). "Exploring Kammback History and Examples—and Why the Design Makes Sense". Motor Trend. Retrieved 6 February 2024.
  6. ^ "fastback". Random House Kernerman Webster’s College Dictionary. 2010. Retrieved 1 March 2016.
  7. ^ Zyla, Greg (16 November 2020). "Cars We Remember: AMC Marlin: A fastback family car that was not a muscle car". The Register Guard. Retrieved 6 February 2024.
  8. ^ "What is a fastback?". carkeys.co.uk. 7 April 2017. Retrieved 6 February 2024.
  9. ^ Dinkel, John (2000). Road & Track Illustrated Automotive Dictionary. Bentley. ISBN 0-8376-0143-6.
  10. ^ "1965 Ford Mustang Fastback Guide". autotrader.com. Retrieved 17 April 2018.
  11. ^ "1967 Mustang Specifications". mustangspecs.com. Retrieved 17 April 2018.
  12. ^ Walker, Clinton (2009). Golden Miles: Sex, Speed and the Australian Muscle Car. Wakefield Press. p. 16. ISBN 9781862548541. Retrieved 24 December 2015.
  13. ^ Georgano, Nick N., ed. (2000). The Beaulieu encyclopedia of the automobile. Fitzroy Dearborn Publishers. p. 960. ISBN 978-1-57958-293-7. Retrieved 11 June 2012.
  14. ^ "hatchback". Merriam-Webster. Retrieved 24 December 2015.
  15. ^ Clements, Rob. "EyesOn Design 2007 Report". ultimatecarpage.com. Retrieved 24 December 2015.
  16. ^ Adler, Dennis (2004). Packard. MotorBooks/MBI. p. 960. ISBN 978-0-7603-1928-4. Retrieved 24 December 2015.
  17. ^ Noffsinger, Ken R. (June 2012). "The G-Series Wind Tunnel Test Report". aerowarriors.com. Retrieved 6 February 2024.
  18. ^ Severson, Aaron (6 September 2009). "Step-Down: The 1948-1954 Hudsons". Ate Up With Motor. Retrieved 6 February 2024.
  19. ^ Almeida, Danillo (3 February 2023). "Kammback Is the Art of Making Air Flow Over Air". automobible.com. Retrieved 6 February 2024.
  20. ^ "The Sloper Page". Hand Publishing. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 24 December 2015.
  21. ^ Walker, p. 18.
  22. ^ サイドガラスは上ヒンジ! 日本初のファストバックスタイルは三菱の水島製作所が作ったこの車|1968年式 三菱 コルト1000F 2ドアDX Vol.1 – Nosweb.jp
  23. ^ プリンス自動車のインサイドストーリ―第5回│プリンスが自作した1900スプリント – octane.jp
  24. ^ 【旧車】初代サニークーペ「名機A型エンジンを搭載した小さな傑作車」 – Webモーターマガジン
  25. ^ 【昭和の名車 18】マツダ ファミリア ロータリークーペ(昭和43年:1968年) – Webモーターマガジン
  26. ^ 昔はスタイルを優先していた!? 秀逸なデザインの個性派軽自動車5選 – くるまのニュース
  27. ^ Sobran, Alex (15 May 2017). "This Toyota Celica Liftback GT Beautifully Couples Japanese And American Design". petrolicious.com. Retrieved 7 September 2020.
  28. ^ Koch, Jeff (1 January 2016). "1971-'77 Toyota Celica". Hemmings Motor News. Retrieved 7 September 2020.
  29. ^ Fets, Jim (3 December 2010). "Collectible Classic: 1976-1977 Toyota Celica GT Liftback". Automobile Magazine. Retrieved 7 September 2020.
  30. ^ "The Forty-Niners". Time. 24 January 1949. Archived from the original on 31 January 2009. Retrieved 24 December 2015.
  31. ^ Pittenger, Donald (11 April 2017), "Buick's Stylish, Impractical Fastbacks", The Style Critic