There was a time when the two-door saloons populated – some would claim polluted – our streets worldwide. They weren’t flash, exotic or adventurous by any means, but they were the norm by which most families travelled from A to B – be that the 5-mile daily commute to work or the family summer holiday to the other end of whichever continent they happened to live on.
Now of course, there is no longer such a thing as a two-door saloon. They are not just an endangered specie – they are thoroughly extinct! But why? Who or what killed them? They may not have been regarded as much back in the day, but now that they are gone, I miss them…
This occurred to me as I was reading Claus Ebberfeld’s report from the Bremen Classic Motorshow back in early February. Filled with excellent pictures of exotic, dream-worthy and beautifully sculpted classic cars, my eyes locked onto one particular picture. Wow! Such crisp, no-nonsense lines. It’s sharp, businesslike and to the point. It’s… ehrm… a Ford Taunus. Okay, so perhaps not the most spectacular of cars displayed at the Bremen show, but rather than just immediately dismissing the Taunus, just give it a second chance and have another look at Claus’ picture below.
It’s a remarkably clean design. Seen in profile, the roof is just short enough compared to the overall length of the car to make it interesting. It makes the bonnet look relatively long, and with the front axle placed at the very snout of the three-box design, there can be no doubt that we’re looking at a rear-wheel drive car. The wheel arches are subtle enough to suit a regular family saloon, but also just pronounced enough to give it some substance. The roof pillars are pleasantly slim allowing for a large glasshouse, and that c-pillar looks great with the air vent running the full length of the trailing edge. Yes, I realize it’s far from some sleek Italian designer-GT from the sixties, but for what it is, I genuinely feel it’s a very coherent and accomplished design. And I like it!
But where did all these two-door saloons go? The Escorts, Cortinas and Granadas. The Kadetts, Asconas and Rekords. The Vivas. The 2-door versions of Audi 80’s and VW Jetta’s. And don’t forget the only thing in the world which makes a Lego brick appear nicely rounded: The world-conquering Volvo 142 and 242. All extinct.
It’s amazing really, as they were once the bread and butter of ordinary family transportation. It all started in the mid-fifties and they were the stronghold of many car manufacturers up through the sixties and seventies. They were still holding on through the eighties despite heavy competition from the practical hatchback, and then during the nineties they quietly disappeared. They had been the day-to-day workhorse heroes which just got on with their job without fuss or diva pretensions. They were such an integral part of our life, and yet no one took any notice – not even as they vanished from our streets and our lives.
While the model names I mention are all European, much the same story could be told for the US market or even for the Japanese market. Simply substitute those names with Fairlane, Skylark and Malibu. Or with Sunny, Bluebird, Lancer and Corolla. It was worldwide. But the often cheaper and certainly more practical hatchbacks pushed them out of favour, and with the arrival of MPV’s, SUV’s and probably a few other abbreviations which I truly don’t care for, it was all over. Today it seems that the only way you can buy a proper two-door car is if you splash out on a fancy and upmarket coupé.
But I want them back! After all, the most distinct and best looking SAAB 900 was clearly the two-door saloon. Frankly, the same can be said for several of the cars that existed in two-door versions up through the sixties, seventies and eighties. Maybe I should find myself a clean 2-door Granada and use it as my daily classic?
What say you dear reader? Have you owned any two-door saloons? If so, which ones and what did you think of them? Are you perhaps even brave enough to own one today, rather than opting for the more obvious coupé or roadster? And do you – like me – mourn their absence from the modern day street picture?