When I say the word “banana”, chances are you think of the yellow bunches you see in the supermarket that are about 8-12” long which are of the sweet, peel and eat variety. If you’re a sophisticated fruit freak you may have come across the yellow ones that are short and stubby, in the 3-5” range, or perhaps the red skinned ones of similar size.
If you have a more cosmopolitan palate, you may have had fried ones (platanos) which are starchier and are not very good for eating raw. All of them are bananas. But really the first one I mentioned, which is called the Cavendish, is the one we all think of when we think of bananas. But did you know there’s over 1,000 kinds of banana broken down into 50 categories? Let that sink in. You thought you understood the world, yet you had no idea something as simple as a banana is as a vast galaxy filled with variety you never imagined. There’s a lot more to the picture than you imagined.
Yet we all think of the Cavendish because it accounts for about half of all global banana trade. That’s right, the reason why you only think of this kind of banana is because that’s all you have presented with.
Similarly, there are wine grapes out the wazoo. You may think of cabernet, merlot, syrah/shiraz, zinfandel, and maybe 5 or so other popular ones, but in reality there are over 10,000 varieties. Why do you know of just those few? Because those are the most commercially traded ones, and there’s no incentive for those who are in that trade to tell you of other varieties they do not sell or market.
While there are not 10,000 varieties of car, we’ve become so accustomed to the standard formats and styles of automobile, that anything that doesn’t conform to those formats is considered to be very strange, or remain unknown. I suspect that similar to fruit, this lack of familiarity is for no other reason than those body styles are what we’ve always been presented with by those who make cars. And the ones that we are presented with are the ones that are most commercially important.
After all, it’s not very practical to mass produce a completely different sort of vehicle for every customer. It’s not very practical to manufacture bespoke vehicles even on a small scale. It’s just not done, and that’s understandable. So passenger vehicles tend to only appear in several categories.
Like most folks, I’m pretty sure you have heard of the sedan, the coupe, the convertible, station (estate) wagon, the hatchback, the SUV, and the pickup truck. Each of these can be subdivided into various categories, such as the different sizes/capacities of pickup truck: half ton, three quarter ton, and one ton, etc.
But there are minor styles that every car enthusiast should probably be aware of. Take for instance the shooting brake. If you are not a dedicated car enthusiast or haven’t read my first or second post on this site, you have probably never heard of a shooting brake.
Put simply, a shooting brake is a kind of truncated two-door station wagon or an elongated hatchback. The BMW M coupe “clown shoe” is a good example, as is the Volvo 1800 ES.
Another example of an oddball body style would be the phaeton. Yes, this is an actual style of car, although it hasn’t been made in quite a long time. A phaeton is either an open-air car, meaning to say it has no roof, or it may come with a partial roof or retractible roof like a convertible yet has no side windows. You’d think if you’re going so far as to cover up, why not just add windows. I don’t know the answer to that. But my guess is they were used for sunny days and that it isn’t so much a cover from the rain as it is the sun. The convertible body style is an evolution of the phaeton. i.e., side windows are included.
Another body style is the – wait there’s not a suitable word for it in the USA – but in the industry it would be called a “coupe utility”. In the southern hemisphere where these vehicles are found more commonly, one would simply refer to it as a “ute”. So what is a ute? First let’s take a look back at what Joe Pesci had to say about it in the movie “My Cousin Vinny”:
A ute is basically a shooting brake with a pickup bed, or put in a more familiar way, a station wagon wherein everything behind the front seats are substituted by a pickup bed. They are cool, weird, and handy for hauling…things. Things of moderate size, anyway.
Much in the way the word “Kleenex” has come to represent all brands of facial tissue, or the brand Coke can indicate all sorts of soda pop, the word “El Camino” is frequently used to describe any vehicle of this configuration. Mainly because it was far and away the most common.
In case you were wondering, though I sincerely doubt you were, the usage of this sort of brand (El Camino) represents-the-whole-of-its-kind (coupe utilities/”utes”) would linguistically called a synecdoche. In the unlikely event you were wondering how that arcane term is pronounced – and one would because it’s not clearly evident – it is “sin-NECK-dough-key”. Whip that 10-letter word out at the next party you attend, you’re sure to be a hit. You’re welcome.
The El Camino was GM’s response to Ford’s already successful (or successful enough) ute, called the Ranchero. Sharing its Spanish name with the word for a “rancher”, along with a more-or-less rustic sauce thought to be eaten by said rancher (a sauce which happens to be excellent on eggs and chiles rellenos, by the way) the Ranchero was a vehicle thought to be at home on a ranch where a light duty pickup would be useful, yet not so utilitarian that it wouldn’t be a comfortable and respectable ride around town.
The Ranchero had a long production run, having been manufactured from 1957 – 1979 with just a little over half a million of these utes being manufactured.
This particular Ranchero is an excellent example of the 7th(and final) generation model produced from 1977 – 1979. It was styled after the LTD II, and is powered by a 351 ci (5.8 liter) V8 with 4 barrel carb. Power is put to the rear wheels through an auto transmission which has a floor mounted shifter. Seller indicates that the car was repainted in its maroon suit approximately 3 years ago. Likewise, its tan interior was redone at about the same time.
The car is said to have new AC, power windows, dual exhaust, Cragar wheels, Rhino bed liner and new tires. Glass is said to be good, and extra parts are included. This Arizona car is listed for $6,500, has 96K miles, and is clean-titled. You can find the original listing HERE on Craigslist.