Some models (such as the Ford Mustang) have been specifically marketed as a fastback, often to differentiate the model from other body styles (e.g. coupe models) in the same model range.
A fastback is often defined as having a single slope from the roof to the rear of the vehicle.
More specifically, Road & Track have defined the fastback as "A closed body style, usually a coupe but sometimes a sedan, with a roof sloped gradually in an unbroken line from the windshield to the rear edge of the car. A fastback naturally lends itself to a hatchback configuration and many have it, but not all hatchbacks are fastbacks and vice versa."
Automobile designers in the 1930s began using elements of aircraft aerodynamics to smooth out the boxy-looking vehicles of their day. Some designs that were ahead of their time when exhibited during the early 1930s included "teardrop" streamlining of the car's rear; a configuration similar to what would become known as 'fastback' 25 years later." 'Fastback' was first recognized as a definition by Merriam-Webster in 1954, many years before the term 'hatchback' was popularized and entered the dictionary in 1970. Opinions vary as to whether the terms are mutually exclusive.
Early examples of fastback cars include the 1929 Auburn Cabin Speedster, 1933 Cadillac V-16 Aerodynamic Coupe, 1935 Stout Scarab, the 1933 Packard 1106 Twelve Aero Sport Coupe, Bugatti Type 57 Atlantic, Tatra T87, Porsche 356, Saab 92/96, Standard Vanguard, GAZ-M20 Pobeda, and Bentley Continental R-Type.
In North America, among the numerous marketing terms for the fastback body style were "aerosedan" and "torpedo back". They included Cadillac's Series 61 and 62 Club Coupes, as well as various other models from General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler. By the early 1940s nearly every domestic manufacturer offered at least one fastback body style within their model lineups.
In Australia, fastback cars were known as the "sloper" and began to be introduced in 1935. It was first designed by General Motors' Holden as one of the available bodies on Oldsmobile, Chevrolet, and Pontiac chassis. The sloper design was added by Richards Body Builders in Australia to Dodge and Plymouth models in 1937, by Ford Australia in 1939 and 1940, as well as a sloper style made on Nash chassis. According to automotive historian G.N. Georgano, "the Slopers were advanced cars for their day."
Fastbacks provide an advantage in developing aerodynamic vehicles with a low drag coefficient. For example, although lacking a wind tunnel, Hudson designed its post-World War II cars to look aerodynamic and "tests conducted by Nash later found that the Hudson had almost 20% less drag than contemporary notchback sedans."
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