50s and 70s Crossovers were Stupendous (Part One)

1y ago

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The topic of crossovers is quite sensitive amongst pertrolheads, some think they are 'fake SUVs', whereas others think they are the perfect family car. No doubt that they are extremely practical and are well adapted to the smooth streets of the cities and can tackle some pretty rough surfaces as well. They are often more economical than their SUV siblings too as they were not designed to do any extreme offroading.

Many people think that this segment was started by a car like the Camry based Lexus RX, but crossovers came way before RX was even thought of. The RX may have been a major contributor to the rise in demand for this segment of vehicles in the 21st century, but it clearly wasn't the first nor the greatest crossover ever built, in fact, I think these were the greatest crossovers ever made:

Matra-Simca Rancho

Not only did these cars look great, but their names were too! This 1977 car was built by a French engineering group in collaboration with fellow French manufacturer Simca, and was supposed to be the direct competitor to the British Range Rover. Though it appears that the dimensions were not particularly similar to the Range Rover, but this small Range Rover recreation was in no way a mistake, but rather a French perception of offroaders. It was based on a small pickup-truck made by Simca, and was designed to be a leisure car. Like most modern day crossovers it wasn't all-wheel-drive either. Clearly the french think that offroading isn't a leisurely activity. It's cutesy proportions and uncompromised spaciousness make this car ideal to carry your picnic to the sunny countryside without having to worry about scrapping the underbody of your car.

Willys-Overland Jeepster

Following the second World War, companies were back on their feet, and were mass-producing cars again. Following the victory, the wartime hero, the Willys Jeep got a civilian variant that was aimed at the farmers. Willys Jeep wanted to create something that would be more appealing to the mass market, and so came the Willys-Overland Jeepster. It was more funky and looked to be success for the company. However, people didn't like its design, and only 20,000 were ever made.

GAZ-M72

Honestly, doesn't this look like a prehistoric BMW X6? Maybe there is a slight resemblance there. Anyway, what you're looking at is a Soviet car that is so ugly that it can be considered to be some form of art. However this thing is no joke, it's got a reinforced chassis and a transmission taken straight from a military truck. How Soviet is that! I wouldn't be surprised if it comes as standard with an RPG! It's also the first mass produced car with a monocoque all-wheel-drive system that's mated to a 55 horsepower engine. Only 4,677 units were produced until the production ended in 1958.

Although crossovers are being hated by many of us, in their earlier days, they were very funky cars that expressed your lifestyle. Usually implying that you are an adventurous person with a cute little off-roader that will not be stopped by a few rocks or a couple of inches of snow. But have modern manufacturers played a part in ruining the crossover segment?

Read Part Two HERE

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Comments (24)
  • I really like the looks of the Simca rancho but that's about it. It's a shame it's only front wheel drive and half of the car body is actually plastic, most of which hides an immense amount of rust. A former colleague of mine sold his because it had so many problems. The garage that bought it from him later told him they accidentally ripped it in half when trying to tow it.

    1 year ago
    3 Bumps
  • I remember those Matra-Simca Ranchos! Used to see a few of those about. Never heard of the Willy's Overlander or Soviet X6 thing though!

    1 year ago
    2 Bumps

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