Car Body Styles: Barchetta, The Open Sports Car

The AC Cobra SC is an often forgotten member of the barchetta body style. Photo from

Most of the younger generations of Americans, which is practically anyone from 1960 on, had never heard of a Barchetta until Rush’s Moving Pictures album dropped in 1981. The album featured a story that is prophetically becoming more true with each passing day. The lyrics of Red Barchetta tells a story that is set in the not to distant future where fossil fuel cars are prohibited by law.

Glasspar was one of the first fiberglass bodied cars from the US and done in the traditional barchetta style. Photos from

Songwriters Neil Peart, Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson wove a tale in which one of the banned  vehicles, a red barchetta, was secretly kept in a country location and maintained in pristine condition. Every Sunday the barchetta was taken out and enjoyed on a spirited drive in the countryside. Eventually the bad guys in air cars chase the red barchetta until the driver is able to escape by driving across a narrow bridge that the air cars can’t cross. Truly a cautionary tale with a great message.

It is unknown why the songwriters chose the barchetta body style for their song, but given that barchettas are typically two-seat sports cars that are built for racing, it is a great choice. barchetta literally means “little boat” in Italian, and is a very descriptive term for the vehicle. They are typically open sports cars without side windows, trim, door handles or even a full-sized windscreen.

One of the most popular and successful Barchetta style cars is the Maserati 450S World Sportscar Champion racecar. Photo from

Popular in the late 1940s through the 1950s, the barchetta body style cars were dominated by coach builders like Ferrari, Fiat, Bertone, Maserati, and other high performance coach builders. There have been some small manufacturers and custom specialists that have built barchettas recently.

About the author

Bobby Kimbrough

Bobby grew up in the heart of Illinois, becoming an avid dirt track race fan which has developed into a life long passion. Taking a break from the Midwest dirt tracks to fight evil doers in the world, he completed a full 21 year career in the Marine Corps.
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