A coupé, or coupe in North America (from the French past participle coupé, of the infinitive couper, to cut), is a car with a fixed-roof body style that is shorter than a sedan or saloon (British and Irish English) of the same model. The precise definition of the term varies between manufacturers and over time, but often, a coupé will only seat two people and have two doors; though it may have rear seating and rear doors for additional passengers. The term was first applied to 19th-century carriages, where the rear-facing seats had been eliminated, or cut out.
1 Pronunciation 2 History 3 Definitions and descriptions 4 Current usage 5 See also 6 References 7 External links
Pronunciation In most English-speaking countries, the French spelling coupé and anglicized pronunciation /kuːˈpeɪ/ koo-PAY are used. The stress may be equal or on either the first or second syllable; stressing the first syllable is the more anglicized variant. Most speakers of North American English spell the word without the acute accent and pronounce it as one syllable: /kuːp/ KOOP. This change occurred gradually and before World War II. A North American example of usage is the hot rodders' term Deuce Coupe (DEWSS KOOP) used to refer to a 1932 Ford; this pronunciation is used in the Beach Boys' 1963 hit song, "Little Deuce Coupe". Chevrolet, in an effort to lend a touch of class to its two-door hardtops during the 1950s, 1960s, and early 1970s, marketed them with the "Sport Coupé" moniker, using the original French pronunciation. History
Example of a coupé carriage
The term dates to the
The earliest coupé automobiles had the same form as the coupé carriage, with the driver in the open at the front and an enclosure behind him for two passengers on one bench seat. By the 1910s, the term had evolved to denote an owner-driven car with the driver and one or two passengers in an enclosure with a single bench seat. The coupé de ville, or coupé chauffeur, was an exception, retaining the open driver's section at front. During the 20th century, the term coupé was applied to various close-coupled (rear seat that is located further forward than usual and the front seat further back than usual) automobiles. In 1916, the Society of Automobile Engineers suggested nomenclature for car bodies that included the following:
Coupelet: A small car seating two or three with a folding top and full
height doors with fully retractable windows.
Coupe: An enclosed car operated from the inside with seats for two or
three and sometimes a backward-facing fourth seat.
Through the 1950s, opening-roof convertible automobiles were sometimes called drop-head coupés, but since the 1960s the term coupé has generally been applied exclusively to fixed-head models. Coupés generally have two doors, although automobile makers have offered four-door coupés and three and five-door hatchback coupés. Modern coupés often have the styling feature of frameless doors, with the window glass sealing directly against a weather-strip on the main body. Definitions and descriptions
1934 Ford coupé
The International Standard ISO 3833-1977 defines a coupé as having a closed body, usually with limited rear volume, a fixed roof of which a portion may be openable, at least two seats in at least one row, two side doors and possibly a rear opening, and at least two side windows. For use in styling, the term coupé refers to a "close-coupled" automobile in that the "couple distance" is the dimension "between the driver's hip joint when seated (which stylists call the "H-point") and the rear axle." Therefore, a "close-coupled" car is "one where the front seats are relatively close to the rear wheels, which naturally leaves little or no space for rear-seat passengers." Alternatively, a coupé is often distinguished from a two-door saloon (US sedan) by the lack of a B pillar to support the roof. Saloon cars have an A pillar forward at the windscreen, a B pillar aft of the door, and a C pillar defining the aftermost roof support at the rear window. Thus with all side-windows down, a coupé would appear windowless from the A to the C pillars. These fixed-roof models are described as a hardtop or pillarless coupé. Though, to confuse things even further, there are many hardtop/pillarless two- and four-door saloons. Targa top, or just 'T'-top models are a variation on the convertible design, where the roof center section can be removed, in one or two sections, leaving the rest of the roof in place. Yet another variation on the convertible or drop-head coupé is the fully retractable hardtop. In this form the car has all the advantages of fixed-head vehicle but, at the touch of a button, the entire roof lifts off, folds and stows away in the trunk (boot). Though retractables were tried many years ago by Peugeot, in Europe and Ford, in the US, with the Fairlaine Skyliner, it is only in the 21st century that there has been an explosion in the popularity of this bodystyle. Manufacturers have used the term coupé in several varieties, including:
Club coupé A coupé with a larger rear seat, which would today be called a two-door saloon.
Business coupé A coupé with no rear seat or a removable rear seat intended for traveling salespeople and other vendors who would be carrying their wares with them. Opéra coupé A coupé de-ville with a high roofed passenger compartment such that the owners could be driven to the opera without the need to remove their large hats. These often had occasional seats that folded for use by children or extra passengers, and allowed easy passage to the rear seats. These cars most closely approximated a motorized version of the original horse-drawn coupé. Often, they would have solid rear-quarter panels, with small, circular windows, to enable the occupants to see out without being seen. These opera windows were revived on many U.S. automobiles during the 1970s and early 1980s.
1st generation Mazda RX-7
Sports coupé or berlinetta A body with a sloping roof, sometimes sloping downward gradually in the rear in the manner known as fastback.
Rover 3.5 Litre Coupé
A luxury sedan with classic coupé-like proportions. The low roof
design reduces back seat passenger access and headroom. The
designation was first applied to a low-roof model of the
Current examples of four-door coupes include the Volkswagen CC, Audi
A5 Sportback, Audi A7,
BMW 4 Series
With the growing popularity of the pillarless hardtop during the
1950s, some automakers used the term coupé to refer to hardtop
(rigid, rather than canvas, automobile roof) models and reserved the
term sedan for their models with a B pillar. This definition was by no
means universal, and has largely fallen out of use with near-demise of
the hardtop. Similarly, a
Today coupé has become more of a marketing term for automotive
manufacturers, than a fact of the vehicle's design and technical
makeup. The term has been ascribed to vehicles with two, three, or
four doors, for their perceived luxury or sporting appeal. This is
because coupés in general are seen as more streamlined and sportier
overall lines than those of comparable four-door sedans. Hence, a
coupé would be marketed as a sportier vehicle than a two-door sedan.
While previous coupés were "simply line-extenders two-door variants
of family sedans", some coupés have different sheet metal and styling
than their four-door counterparts. The
Coupés after World War II
1956 Cadillac Coupe de Ville
Ford 20 M coupé
2005 BMW E46 coupé
^ "Coupé". Random House Kernerman Webster’s College Dictionary.
2010. Retrieved 22 April 2015.
^ a b c Adolphus, David Traver (March 2007). "Club Coupes". Hemmings
Classic Car. Retrieved 22 April 2015.
^ Mencken, Henry L. (1936). The American Language (4th edition) vii.
p. 347. I have...heard....coop for coupé
^ "Coach Building Terminology". Coachbuilt.com. 2004. Retrieved 22
^ a b Haajanen, Lennart W. (2003). Illustrated Dictionary of
Automobile Body Styles. Illustrations by Bertil Nydén. Jefferson, NC
USA: McFarland. pp. 16, 18, 20, 50. ISBN 0-7864-1276-3.
^ Haajanen 2003, p. 50.
^ Stratton, Ezra (1878). "Chapter VIII. French carriages, including
historical associations.". World on Wheels. New York. p. 242.
ISBN 0-405-09006-4. Retrieved 2014-09-04.
^ Haajanen 2003, p. 51.
^ Clough, Albert L. (1913). A dictionary of automobile terms. The
Horseless Age Company. p. 89. Retrieved 17 May 2015.
^ Clough 1913, p. 89.
^ a b "What's What in Automobile Bodies Officially Determined". The
New York Times. 20 August 1916. Retrieved 22 April 2015. Here it is,
with other body types and distinctions, officially determined recently
by the Nomenclature Division of the Society of Automobile
^ Haajanen 2003, pp. 51, 55-56.
^ Clough 1913, p. 33.
^ Beattie, Ian (1977). The Complete Book of Automobile Body Design.
Yeovil, UK: The Haynes Publishing Group. p. 17.
^ Forbes, Kingston (1922). The Principles of Automobile Body Design:
covering the fundamentals of open and closed passenger body design.
Ware Bros. p. 238. Retrieved 22 April 2015.
^ Technical Committee ISO/TC22, Road vehicles (1976), written at
Geneva, Switzerland, ISO 3833-1977: Road vehicles – Types – Terms
and definitions (ISO International Standard) (Second ed.),
International Organization for Standardization
Look up coupé in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.
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