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This Might Be The Most Under Appreciated Car Trunk Feature

Illustration for article titled This Might Be The Most Under Appreciated Car Trunk Feature

If you’re like me, you’ve been in this situation countless times: you’re driving along with a trunk packed full of garbage bags of piping hot chili, when you get a flat tire. To get to the tire under the trunk floor, you have to pull out all dozen bags, and in the process one of the chili bags invariably rips, covering you and the trunk interior with scalding hot chili, ruining your all-white figure skating outfit. Did I mention you’re on your way to a figure-skating competition? Because you are. If only there was a solution for this. The good news is that there is! Or, was, because it’s basically extinct.

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Illustration for article titled This Might Be The Most Under Appreciated Car Trunk Feature

While many modern cars don’t carry spare tires at all, almost all that do keep the tires in a well beneath the trunk floor, and the only way to get to it is to laboriously yank all the luggage and crap from the trunk. Even if it’s not garbage bags of chili, on the side of the road while you’re fixing a flat is hardly the ideal time and place to unpack a trunk.

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That’s why a few carmakers who gave a brace of BMs about design and usability once designed car trunks with special spare tire compartments!

These are brilliant! Off the top of my head, I can only think of a few carmakers that did this: Škoda (the 1000 MB), Renault (on the Dauphine), Tatra (on the 603), and Bristol (on a few models, including the 404 and 403). You’ll note that there’s a number of solutions for doing this, and it shows up on cars with front and rear trunks.

The rear-engine cars tend to have separate little cubbies below the main trunk up front, while Bristol sometimes used a very novel fender-mounted vertically-stored spare tire cubby. Sometimes rear trunks had a divider and a cubby for the spare near the bottom, a method I know Rolls-Royce once employed.

There’s even solutions for cars that don’t have separate cubbies, like using the controversial practice of sticking the tire in the engine bay, or mounting it outside—though that usually only happens on off-road-type vehicles—or, in at least the case of the Renault 4CV, mounting it in the trunk lid itself.

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It’s such a good, simple idea, and it’s almost completely extinct in modern cars. Perhaps modern tires are good enough that flats are so uncommon as to make such a convenience not worth the effort?

That may be true, but I know I’d respect the hell out of a carmaker that used such a thoughtful approach to their spare tire access.

Senior Editor, Jalopnik • Running: 1973 VW Beetle, 2006 Scion xB, 1990 Nissan Pao, 1991 Yugo GV Plus, 2020 Changli EV • Not-so-running: 1977 Dodge Tioga RV (also, buy my book!: https://rb.gy/udnqhh)

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DISCUSSION

mike-mckinnon
Chairman Kaga

I present to you the Toyota Highlander (previous generation, but the new one also stores its spare underneath).

However, imagine you have a flat while the car is loaded with luggage and snacks and all the other accoutrement of the great American road trip. Even though the spare is accessible, to get to the necessary tools to change it you still have to unload the entire car, as they are all stored under the cargo bay floor.