Torpedo (car)

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. horizontal tab character in |chapter= at position 2 (help)
    • 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.
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