Mourning the car bodystyles that have died out

Three-seat coupé

No benches involved here, just individual buckets. The Matra-Simca Bagheera and its Murena successor flew the flag for the builder’s van seat layout. You could take one more person than in a Lotus, although there was inevitably less elbow room. The game-changer was the McLaren F1, which put the driver in pole position. No one copied it, and only McLaren returned to the theme with the million-pound-plus Speedtail.


These were faux or actual military vehicles sold to the public. They included The original Land Rover, of course, the Mini Moke, which was designed to be flat-packed and parachuted into battle, and the Rolls-Royce-powered Austin Champ. See also the Mercedes-Benz Unimog, Steyr-Puch Haflinger, Volkswagen Trekker (aka Thing), Volkswagen Iltis, very-Jeep-like Suzuki LJ80 and beachfront-friendly Citroën Méhari. These are certainly not crossovers.


This has been a long-term ruse to dodge tax: offer a car in a van format with no side windows or rear seats so that it could be used as a business tool. Back in the old days, it was purchase tax that was avoided by some quite posh coachbuilt makes, such as Lea-Francis, so that it could become a station wagon or shooting brake for the hunting and fishing set. In modern times, it has been something for artisanal free-range sustainable egg-cup suppliers who can afford the Land Rover Discovery Commercial or the short-lived Mini Clubvan. Most recently, Suzuki has used it to circumvent the CO2 issue with the Jimny LCV.


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