Glazed C-pillars From the ’80s

Recently we discussed three examples of the glazed C-pillar phenomenon. We listed the Ford Granada, Olds Cutlass and Mitsubishi Lancer. How did we forget the 1987 Toyota Corolla Liftback?  

1987 Toyota Corolla Liftback
1987 Toyota Corolla Liftback

We’d even mentioned it before. This example has been spending quality time under a tree. How long does it take for that green stuff to form? The Liftback is from 1987 and Ford’s similarly styled Granada is from 1985. That places the two designs so close together in time that Toyota can be exonerated from allegations of photocopying. So, where did Ford and Toyota get their inspiration from? This article replaces the intended one about Mahindra finally buying Pininfarina reported here and here and here and here.

1987 Toyota Corolla Liftback
1987 Toyota Corolla Liftback

Tata have done a good job of looking after Rover and Geely seem to be taking car of Volvo. It strikes me that it would be a bad bet to assume that Mahindra won’t nurture Pininfarina. It is a very good move as Mahindra badly need design expertise. They have the money and Pininfarina has the skill. Come back in a few years to see how that gets on. I don’t expect Pininfarina will do many more projects for non-Mahindra companies of any size. They could perhaps carry on helping smaller brands in theory. But in practice, what brand is small enough not to be worried by association with Mahindra but big enough to write the kinds of cheques Pininfarina want for their drawing talents?

Author: richard herriott

I like anchovies. I dislike post-war town planning.

14 thoughts on “Glazed C-pillars From the ’80s”

  1. Ford were at it on both sides of the Atlantic, the ’86 Mercury Sable version of the first generation Taurus had a glazed C-pillar too.

    1. Thank you for that. The Taurus seems to be more conventional though.
      We seem not to be closer to finding the source of this feature. It´s probably a Ford concept from 1980 onwards. I will keep hunting.

    2. Which do you think came first when they were planning the differentiation between the Ford and Mercury, the Taurus third side window & body colour D pillar or the Sable wraparound effect rear window?

  2. On Pininmahindra (Mahindrafarina? Pinhindra?) I’ll be optimistic. I think it’s sad that the Italian design houses are disappearing into larger conglomerates but this has been happening in fashion and other industries so it was inevitable. Will we see Pininfarina badges on the flanks of Mahindra cars and trucks?

    1. In all likelihood, yes, they will want to milk it for what it´s worth. If Mahindra aren´t going to kill the goose they have paid for they need to make sure the designers feel it´s worth being there. That means accepting their recommendations even if it meands adding cost or complexity to what Mahindra might feel should be cheaper cars. On the bright side, Mahindra probably recognise doing their styling work in-house has not been a success and see Pininfarina as a way to make their products more compelling. It´s a small price to pay if it means getting their money back on their investment in the new future vehicles. Doing nothing would be costlier.

  3. Mark: I think both were done at the same time in a kind of relay of negotiation. The two cars have common panels and hard points while neither seems compromised for so doing. The Mercury is much more attractive and convincing.
    I have done some sleuthing and found the “culprit”. The resultant scholarship appears in a couple of days.

  4. Toyota more than likely recieved some American design influence from GM with this Corolla generation. This was the second generation of cars devoleped to be built at the NUMMI GM-Toyota joint venture plant (now Tesla motors) and marketed as the Geo Prizm hatchback in the USA.

    1. That´s very likely indeed. I can imagine designers from GM´s advanced styling studio being hard at work re-using their good ideas on behalf of their new employer. The Toyota is rather nice, isn´t it? Eoin wrote about it a while back and it was good to be reminded of this car. The precise treatment of the brightwork is very like the Ford though. Perhaps the person behind it came from stints at both Ford and GM. That´s not improbable. They didn´t come from Austin Rover.

  5. Not quite the missing link but, as a distant ancestor, it’s worth mentioning the Panhard 24, which was cited by Toyota as inspiration for the 4th generation Celica that was this Corolla’s contemporary. Technology and black plastic didn’t permit it back then, but there seems the definite desire to hint at a continuing glasshouse.

    1. Thanks for that photo. That´s a very strong contender for the basic inspiration. Although it´s not a car I very often think of (the poor firm is now defunct) it is a car known to car designers. Perhaps this would have been even more the case in the mid 80s.
      One design evolution is that this car is the necessary precursor. Graphically it´s very concincing. Then that GM car, the Aero 2000, is the idea revived from where it was able to develop further due to advances in technology and, perhaps, a sense the public would accept it.

    2. It’s a hugely under-rated design – see how the rear panel angle flows into the bumper. Is a designer named anywhere for the car – they should be? It’s a great pity that Citroen never let Panhard make the 4 door version, especially since it took so long to bring the GS to market. Instead, Robert Opron (fairly enough) used the front as inspiration for his DS facelift whilst Panhard (as a car maker) was allowed to die. As is obvious here, the clamshell boot needs very careful alignment

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