A tourer, also known as a touring car, is a type of automobile that dates to the beginning of the 20th century, when it was popular in both Europe and North America. These vehicles were typically larger than runabouts or roadsters, and had more seating. A feature that defined touring cars was their open tops, which allowed the passengers a full view of the surroundings. This was important because the touring car was a popular vehicle for long road trips and scenery viewing. The touring car can be seen as a predecessor to modern four door sedans, though the names tourer, grand tourer, and in Italian gran turismo have applied to a variety of cars throughout the years.
Tourers were typically large vehicles that had enough seating to accommodate four or five people in an open, tonneau format. The size, seating, and lack of an enclosed passenger compartment made these vehicles well suited to enjoying the scenery while touring the countryside. Some tourers had soft or convertible tops, while others included side covers that could be put up to offer some protection to the passengers. When enclosed, hard top vehicles began to drop in price, and the classic tourer car faded in popularity.
Hard top sedans, which are known as saloons in some parts of the world, may be seen as a successor to the original tourers. These vehicles typically have enclosed passenger compartments, though they tend to have similar seating capacities and comfort levels. Sedans are often used for the same purposes as tourers, such as traveling long distances comfortably.
Throughout the years, variations of the tourer name have been applied to different vehicles. Various manufacturers often participate in touring races that are held around the world. These races typically pit modified production vehicles against each other. The rules can vary between competitions, though the vehicles are typically based on production model sedans, station wagons, and hatchbacks. Upon winning one of these races, some manufacturers will use the tourer or grand tourer name to brand a particular line of vehicles.
Grand touring, or gran turismo, is another type of race that typically involves high powered sports cars. The grand tour is an old European tradition that predates even rail travel and involved visiting a great number of historical and cultural sites, though the term can also refer to the type of travel done in old touring cars. Grand tourers (GTs) are typically larger than other sports cars, and may offer more power and comfort as well.