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Top Gear's Top 9

Top Gear’s Top 9: infamous, weird and wonderful windows

Why are these cars design classics? It’s... clear to see. Sorry

Peel Trident
  1. Chevy Corvette Stingray C2

    Chevy Corvette Stingray C2

    The second-gen Corvette’s split rear window may have been inspired by the iconic ‘spine’ of the Bugatti 57SC, but the Sting Ray’s interpretation is arguably the more famous. It only appeared on the 1963 car, being phased out the following year due to (fairly predictable) complaints over the shoddy rear visibility. As a result, they’re among the most valuable classic Corvettes today.

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  2. Land Rover Defender

    Land Rover Defender

    Yes, you could fold down the windscreen on the earlier cars. But that’s not the window we’re interested in here. A tip of the hat to the Defender’s ‘safari windows’, placed around the tumblehome roof curve to give extra visibility in the rear seating area. Land Rover itself saw fit to bring them back for the current Defender, and the Ineos Grenadier ‘re-interpreted’ them as exterior grab handles, opting instead for twin sunroofs in the front for spotting a nearby giraffe.

  3. Citroen C6

    Citroen C6

    Leafing through the Top Gear office copy of ‘Great French 21st Century rear windows’ also brings us to the concave delight at the back of the beautiful Citroen C6 – the last big luxury barge to wear the double-chevron badge before ‘DS’ became a thing. The inwardly curved glass allowed Citroen to design a conventional saloon-booted car with the sleeker profile of a hatchback. Who needs a rear wiper?

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  4. VW Beetle

    VW Beetle

    Think ‘split screen Volkswagen’ and most folks will scroll to a mental image of the T2 microbus’ famous windscreens, but the Beetle actually began life with two back windows. The Beetle survived in mass production from 1945 until 2003 (though production officially began in 1938, none made it to the paying civilians) with relatively little evolution. One of the early changes in its life, coming in 1953, was the switch from a split to single rear window, for easier production and better rear visibility.

  5. Peel Trident

    Peel Trident

    Why even bother with a roof when you can build a car that’s just all window? The Peel P50’s sporty sister car was a goldfish bowl on three wheels, with the whole front of the body hinging forward to allow access to the somewhat stuffy single-seat cockpit.

  6. Nissan Cube

    Nissan Cube

    Another novel idea in window design was putting more of them on one side of a car than another. Enter Nissan’s Japanese market best-selling oddity: the Cube. A mini-MPV based on the Micra, in first-gen form it sported an asymmetric bodyshell with chunky pillars to the left and wraparound glass to the right.

  7. Peugeot RCZ

    Peugeot RCZ

    What do you do when you fancy building a rival to the Audi TT, but your badge doesn’t have the cachet of Audi’s four rings? Try harder with the design. The original TT was a styling classic, but Audi never really innovated it afterwards. Peugeot was brave enough to fit a double-bubble roof and humped rear window which apparently improved airflow over the RCZ. Even when it was standing still, it gave this humble hatchback-based two-door some properly head-turning clout.

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  8. Vauxhall Astra Panoramic

    Vauxhall Astra Panoramic

    In the mid-2000s, Vauxhall was looking at its humdrum Astra and wondering ‘why do windscreens have to stop at the roof?’ Why indeed. So, along came the Astra Panoramic. An Astra that was less metal, more glass. Of course, there were issues. The sun visors needed a sliding mount mechanism so they could be dragged into action on the rare occasion it was sunny in Britain, and getting a chipped windscreen would’ve written the car off after it was only a handful of years old. But none of this stopped Citroen copying the XXL-screen for its C3 and C4 Picasso models later on.

  9. Maybach 62

    Maybach 62

    The strangle mullion window sunroof atop the first Maybach comeback was something of a technological triumph for Mercedes: glass which could change colour. At the touch of a button, the rear seat passengers could turn the window from clear to a dark-blue opaque tint, to block out the sun (or prying paparazzi lenses). Nowadays cars like the McLaren 750S Spider offer the same feature, without the ugly framework in the pane.

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