Have you ever heard of a touring car? Surely at some point in your earthly existence the term has come up in conversation, the television or interwebs. Point is the touring car is a design that went the way of the dodo eons ago around the time of the great depression. A large open air vehicle made for luxury cruising across the country side or down the avenue. Think of The Great Gatsby when Daisy runs down her husband’s mistress… accidentally.
The concept, however, did not fade away completely. A new style emerge called the “Grand Tourer.” These are large, boatlike vehicles designed for comfort and speed. The pinnacle of fusion between automotive design and art. The Bugatti’s of the touring car era gave way to closed cab land barges worthy of a king.
Grand Touring cars still exist today in the guise of Rolls Royce and Bentley. There was a time when everyday carmakers had their go at it as well. These cars were pompous, exaggerated, pointless and downright splendid. My personal favorite are the late model Thunderbirds and Lincolns. When I was growing up I recall thinking a four seat Thunderbird was blasphemic. But as I grew older and wiser I began to understand the style and taste of American excess.
Generational style and design aside, these more common grand touring cars have slowly disappeared from the autocar landscape – oh yeah I used the term autocar – due to the increased demand of the – sigh – crossover.
Side not: your crossover is NOT a sport utility vehicle. It has no off-road chops. You just bought a high riding wagon that handles like shit and gets worse fuel economy due to a raised center of mass and increased drag.
Could the grand touring car make a comeback…. oh how I hope so. Let’s review the formula (it wouldn’t be a Burgermeister post without a list now would it)
- Two doors (or four with the back to discretley hidden)
- Obnoxiously long for no reason
- Two seats up front
- Two or three seats in the back
- Huge ass engine
- Exaggerated style to spare
A comeback? It will take some doing but what we need is a leader, a luxury automaker bold enough to produce something so insane that the lesser average Joes follow suit. Sure I can’t own the luxury model but I can still enjoy the ride in a watered down FoMoCo version.
Thank you Mercedes.
After the ill-fated reintroduction of Maybach by Mercedes as an exceptionally long, luxurious and bland car that no one cared about crazy Germans in Stuttgart decided to give it another go. Enter the Maybach Vision 6. While the name lacks the razzle dazzle of an early 80s Bill Murray, leaked photos online point to something big on the horizon. Literally, six meters long. I’m no metric math whiz but that drops short of just twenty feet. That is twice the height of a regulation NBA basketball hoop. Dunk on that Jordan. Wait, did I just date myself?
Where can this lead? Think about the potential! A Porsche 968 revival based on the Panamera? Cadillac revisits the Sixteen flagship? A new Thunderbird Grand Tourer based on the Taurus platform? Long ass Lincolns? Big ass Buicks? Other auto brand names that rhyme with synonyms of long or big with the words ass between them? Endless possibilities!
The point is this is a genre of cars that doesn’t need to exist. It serves no functional purpose. It represent overindulgence and excess.
But… it serves as an enormous canvas for automotive designers to showcase their art and passion in ways long since forgotten. Long since overtaken by supercars and hypercars tuned in wind tunnels with purposeful angular notches that, while beautiful, do little to craft the flowing, almost delicate lines of the Grand Tourers of old.
I don’t want to see the horizon. I want to see a car that IS the horizon.