I suppose it’s possible that you’re not familiar with the Fiat Ritmo. For this to be the case, that would mean you would have had to ignore — perhaps deliberately — the fact that I consider the Ritmo to be one of the best-designed cheap hatchback of the late ‘70s, and that would wound me. Yet even I, a man who has stared out a window into the gray November sky and considered, I mean really considered, the Ritmo, wasn’t aware until very recently of just how weird the trunk is on the Ritmo Cabriolet. So, join me on this journey of discovery, won’t you?
Ritmos are rare where I live (plus, we called them Stradas), and the convertible ones even more so. I don’t think I’ve even seen one in person, to be honest. That’s why my first exposure to their baffling trunkery came via a tweet from CarBrochureAddict, one of those car brochure junkies you find in piles of glossy paper behind abandoned car dealerships, only online. This was the tweet:
And, specifically, this part of that brochure:
At first glance, it doesn’t seem like a big deal. Just a dude in pressed jeans and a sweater tied jauntily around his shoulders loading a full-sized boat outboard motor into the rear of his little hatchback, along with a metric fudgeton of other boating-related gear. Someone’s off to a fun day at the lake, or something!
But then as you look at it more, it gets weirder. First, the hatchback is a convertible, but unlike other convertible hatchbacks you may be familiar with, this one seems to somehow retain its fundamental hatchback-ness, and that trunk lid opens in a genuinely baffling way.
For example, I used to own a 1982 Volkswagen Rabbit convertible, a car very similar in basic design as the Ritmo — angular hatchback shape, integrated roll bar — and its trunk access was pretty straightforward, if not especially easy to get things into:
It’s just an upward-lifting trunk lid with a vertical opening to throw things into. It’s not great, but it seems good enough, considering the restrictions of the convertible top.
Fiat, though, wasn’t satisfied with “good enough” and made their convertible top able to have a big opening flap at the rear that emulated the hatch of the original car! That’s brilliant! It makes it so much easier to load in big things, like, say, an outboard motor.
But the really weird part is the trunk lid itself, which seems to sort of unlatch and drop down on two little hinged arms:
Holy crap, that’s weird. I’m not sure if I’ve ever encountered another trunk design that uses this sort of mechanism to open. And, without the rear hatch-flap open, it doesn’t appear to give much access, but combined with the very clever opening flap in the convertible top, I think it’s significantly better.
This is a really strange solution, but a good one, and now I’m wondering if anything else ever used this sort of pop-off/drop down sort of access panel idea, for trunks or engine bays or whatever.
It seems like something that had to exist before on other sorts of vehicles or equipment, but, at least in the modern-ish era, I think the Ritmo Cabriolet is likely the lone adopter of this novel bit of hingery.