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.
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.
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.