Torpedo (car)

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1912 Fiat Type 3 torpedo
1930 Willys-Knight 70A Torpedo
For the rail car used to transport molten steel see Torpedo wagon.

The torpedo body style was a type of automobile body used from the early twentieth century until the mid-1930s; it fell quickly into disuse by World War II, and the appearance was modernized into what is now called a "hardtop".

The name was introduced in 1908 when a Belgian car dealer Captain Theo Masui, the London-based importer of French Gregoire cars, designed a streamlined body and called it "The Torpedo". [1] This design developed into its final form, becoming a generic term when the bonnet line was raised to be level with the car's waistline, resulting in a straight beltline from front to back.[2]

The Torpedo body style was usually fitted to 4- or 5-seat cars. It was an open tourer with detachable or folding hood (top), and low side panels and doors, but no B pillars; the only uprights present were those supporting the windshield.

Similar styles are phaeton and baquet.[3]

The name is also used for trucks with a bonnet.[4]


  1. ^ Wood, Jonathan (2008). Coachbuilding – The Hand Crafted Car Body. Oxford, UK: Shire Publications. ISBN 978-0-7478-0688-2. 
  2. ^ Roberts, Peter (1974). "Carriage to Car". Veteran and Vintage Cars. London, UK: Octopus Books. p. 111. ISBN 0-7064-0331-2. Torpedo – Continental term for an open four-seat tourer with soft hood and sporting tendencies and in which the line of the bonnet was continued back to the rear of the car. 
  3. ^ "Antique, Vintage and Classic Car Terms and Definitions". Retrieved 2008-01-23. 
  4. ^ Sources:
    • Brunninge, Olof (2007). "1, Scania's bonneted trucks". In Lerpold, Lin; Ravasi, Davide; van Rekom, Johan; et al. Organizational Identity in Practice. Abingdon, Oxford, UK: Routledge. p. 24. ISBN 978-0-415-39839-8. When cabs were modularized in the 2-series in 1980, the first version to be launched was the bonneted cab, the so-called T-cab, with a torpedo-like design. 
    • Peck, Colin (2010). "The 1950s – new factories, new trucks and buses". DAF Trucks Since 1949. Poundbury, Dorset, UK: Veloce Publishing. p. 19. ISBN 978-1-845842-60-4. To meet the more conservative demands of specific sectors of the market, DAF introduced its first bonneted truck in 1957, with mechanical specifications similar to the cab-over-engine models. Generically known as the 'Torpedo' series, these new trucks were initially supplied as a chassis and bonnet, allowing coachbuilders to construct the cabs.