A sedan /sɪˈdæn/ (American, Canadian, Australian, and New Zealand
English) or saloon (British, Irish and Indian English) is a passenger
car in a three-box configuration with A, B & C-pillars and
principal volumes articulated in separate compartments for engine,
passenger and cargo. The passenger compartment features two rows of
seats and adequate passenger space in the rear compartment for adult
passengers. The cargo compartment is typically in the rear, with the
exception of some rear-engined models, such as the Renault Dauphine,
Volkswagen Type 3
Volkswagen Type 3 and Chevrolet Corvair. It is one of the
most common car body styles. A battery electric liftback such as the
Tesla Model S
Tesla Model S has no engine compartment, but a front cargo compartment
and a rear compartment for cargo.
1 Types of sedans
1.1 Club sedans
1.6 Chauffeured sedans
2.2 International terminology
3 See also
5 External links
Types of sedans
Rambler Classic 2- and 4-door sedans
The primary purpose of the sedan is to transport people and their
baggage on ordinary roads. Sedan versions of the automobile body
style have a central pillar (B-pillar) that supports the roof and come
in two- and four-door versions. Sedans usually have a two-box or
The shape and position of the automobile greenhouse on both two- and
four-door sedans may be identical, with only the center B-pillar
positioned further back to accommodate the longer doors on the
two-door versions. For example, 1962
Rambler Classic sedans feature
identical windshield, A-pillar, roof, C-pillar, and rear window. The
two-door sedans have longer doors and include roll down rear side
window and even a quarter window that is shaped to follow the reverse
slant of the C-pillar, just like on the rear doors of the four-door
Cadillac "Club Sedan" limousine with division
A two- or four-door design built on a normal chassis, but with a
shorter roof and interior space, club sedans were most often available
in high-level U.S. models from the mid-1920s to the mid-1950s.
Originating from the club car on a Pullman passenger train that was
well appointed, the "club" term imparted a sense of class to the
smaller-cabin versions in the range of models.
1962 Chevrolet Impala, a typical notchback sedan
A notchback sedan is a three-box sedan, where the passenger volume is
clearly distinct from the trunk volume of the vehicle (when seen from
the side). The roof is on one plane, generally parallel to the ground,
the rear window at a sharp angle to the roof, and the trunk lid is
also parallel to the ground.
1941 Plymouth fastback sedan
A fastback sedan is a two-box sedan, with continuous slope from the
roof to the base of the decklid (trunk lid), but excludes the
Marketing terminology is often misleading in this
area - for example,
Daimler AG incorrectly calls the Mercedes-Benz
CLS-Class sedan a four-door coupé because its semi-fastback design
tries to give the impression of a coupé. Certain
sedans are edging close[weasel words] to being one-box vehicles,
where the windshield is steeply raked from the hood/bonnet and the
rear window slopes toward almost the end of the car, leaving just a
short rear deck that is part of the trunk lid — the 2006 4-door JDM
Honda Civic is an example of this. They are not
fastbacks because their bodyline changes from the roof to the rear
deck. Their steeply raked rear windows end with a decklid that does
not continue down to the bumper. Instead, their rear ends are tall —
sometimes in a
Kammback style — to increase trunk space.
Typically this design is chosen for its aerodynamic advantages.
Automakers can no longer afford the penalty in fuel consumption
produced by the traditional notchback three box form.
Main article: Hardtop
AMC Ambassador four-door hardtop
In historic terminology, a sedan-door will have a frame around the
door windows, while the hardtop doors end at the waist line. There is
no center or "B" pillar for roof support behind the front doors.
This pillarless body style offers greater visibility. However, it
requires extra underbody strengthening for structural rigidity. The
hardtop design can be considered separately (i.e., a vehicle can be
simply called a four-door hardtop), or it can be called a hardtop
sedan. During the 1960s and 1970s, hardtop sedans were often sold as
sport sedans by several American manufacturers and they were among the
top selling body styles. During the 1980s, automakers in the U.S.
focused on removing weight and increasing strength, and their new
four-door sedans with B-pillars were called pillared hardtops or
pillared sedans. The sport sedan term has since been appropriated for
other uses. In
Japan the hardtop design was used for several
luxury-type sedans during the 1990s.
Chevrolet Malibu Maxx hatchback sedan
Hatchback (a.k.a. liftback) sedans typically have the fastback
profile, but instead of a trunk lid, the entire back of the vehicle
lifts up (using a liftgate or hatch). A vehicle with four passenger
doors and a liftgate at the rear can be called a four-door hatchback,
five-door hatchback, four-door hatchback sedan, or five-door sedan. An
example of such is the
Chevrolet Malibu Maxx and
Audi A5 Sportback.
There can also be two-door hatchback sedans (three-door sedans), by
the same technical explanation for two-door sedans. Examples of this
design are the Ford Focus, Ford Fiesta, Volkswagen Golf, Chevrolet
Chevette and Daewoo Nexia(
Opel Kadett E)
Main article: Limousine
Lincoln Town Car
Lincoln Town Car is often used as a chauffeured car in the U.S.
Strictly speaking limousine sedans have a separate compartment for the
driver and the passenger compartment is long enough to contain at
least two comfortable, forward-facing bench seats. Vehicles used for
these means are usually Lincoln Town Car, Cadillac, Mercedes-Benz, or
The term limousine can refer to a large sedan, especially if hired
from a service. Chauffeured limousines are primarily used by
individuals for weddings, businesses for meetings, as well as for
airport and sightseeing transportation. Chauffeurs are professional
drivers, usually with experience in the transportation industry or
tourism industry. Chauffeured sedans are owned either by private
owners, livery services, or corporations. Large corporations as well
as governments commonly provide luxury sedans to top executives, as
well as VIP guests Chauffeured sedans, such as the
Lincoln Town Car, may also be stretched into limousines that are
capable of seating up to twenty people.
1918 Dort sedanet
1948 Buick sedanet
1955 Studebaker Sedanet (lowered)
Haajanen in his Illustrated Dictionary of
Automobile Styles considered
the name should indicate a small sedan body then adds that it does not
appear to have been so but see the last known mention, 1956
1917 Dort Sedanet: "The Sedanet is an entirely different year 'round
car. It is as comfortable as a limousine for bad weather driving —
with the plate glass windows and side panels removed it is a handsome
Quick acting side curtains are provided for use when necessary."
In the 1920s other brands with similarly named bodies included King
For 1930 Cadillac's catalogue included — among the fourteen
Special Custom Bodies — their Fleetwind Four-passenger
Sedanette Cabriolet and their Fleetwind Four-passenger Sedanette.
They may have been convertibles (Fleetwind) with wind-down plate glass
side-windows because they were listed immediately after their Phaeton.
Cadillac had fully enclosed two-door fastback models they
called Sedanets / Sedanettes in the 1940s
As late as 1956 the Studebaker catalogue included a two-door sedanet
(not a fastback) as well as a two-door sedan, the sedanet was shorter.
(a fully enclosed so) sedan chair carried by two people
Main article: Litter (vehicle)
The word sedan is possibly derived from a southern Italian dialect
derivative of Italian sedia "chair" (the first sedan was said to have
been introduced from Naples). However, Portuguese and Spanish
navigators and colonists encountered litters of various sorts in
India, Japan, Mexico, and Peru. They were imported into
Spain in the
late sixteenth century. Soon the fashion spread into
France and then
England. All the names for these derived from the root "sed-" from the
Latin "sella" - the traditional name for a carried chair.
The Online Etymology Dictionary points to Italian (sedia = chair)
Latin (sedere = sit) origins for the term 'sedan'. Online
The first automobile to use the configuration was the 1899 Renault
Voiturette Type B. The first closed car, for at least 4 persons, which
used the word sedan was the 1911 Speedwell sedan, which was
manufactured by the
Speedwell Motor Car Company
Speedwell Motor Car Company in Dayton, Ohio.
But even before that time completely closed cars were called saloons
or limousines, like the 1905 Rational 4-door limousine or the 1907
Renault 4-door limousine or the 1910 Stella 2-door saloon. The
words saloon or limousine do not exclusively mean a fully closed
car. Cars which are called sedans are almost always fully closed.
The term "convertible sedan" was used in the 1930s to describe a car
with a soft, foldable top and roll-up windows, very much like a
The derivation from the town of
Sedan, Ardennes in France, where it
was said to have been made or first used, lacks historical evidence,
according to Oxford English Dictionary.
American English and American Spanish, the term sedan is used
(accented as "sedán" in Spanish). The engine compartment, at the
front, is covered by the hood; the cargo compartment at the rear is
called the trunk.
In British English, a car of this configuration is called a saloon.
The engine compartment cover is the bonnet, the cargo-compartment boot
is at the rear.
Hatchback sedans are known simply as hatchbacks (not
hatchback saloons); long-wheelbase luxury saloons may be referred to
as limousines. A sports sedan with hatchback rear are typically called
hot hatches in UK, but this usage is largely limited to upgraded small
British English term saloon is sometimes used by British car
manufacturers in the United States. For example, the Rolls-Royce Park
Ward was sold as a saloon in the United States, while the smaller
Silver Seraph was called a sedan.
Australia the American term sedan is used, albeit with the British
terms boot and bonnet being used. In
New Zealand the British terms
"boot", "bonnet" and "windscreen" are most commonly used, but the
American terms are understood by most of the population. However, the
American terms "sedan" and "station wagon" are predominantly used,
with "saloon" only finding occasional usage, particularly in the field
of motor racing. In other languages, sedans are known as berline
(French), berlina (European Spanish, European Portuguese, Romanian,
and Italian); although these terms also may include hatchbacks. These
terms, besides sedan, derive from types of horse-drawn carriages. In
German, the term
Limousine is used for sedans, and "Stretch-Limousine"
Car Design Glossary - Part 2: One-Box (Monospace or Monovolume)".
Car Design News. Archived from the original on 3 December 2013.
Retrieved 9 September 2015. The principal volumes of the traditional
sedan can be split into separate compartments or boxes: the
hood/bonnet is the first box; the passenger compartment the second,
and the trunk/boot the third - i.e. it's a 'three-box' car.
^ a b Morello, Lorenzo (2011). The automotive body - Volume I,
Components design. Springer. p. 184. ISBN 9789400705128.
Retrieved 9 September 2015.
^ Duffy, James (2008). Auto Body Repair Technology (Fifth ed.).
Cengage Learning. pp. 27–28. ISBN 9781418073541. Retrieved
9 September 2015.
^ "1962 Rambler Brochure". oldcarbrochures.com. pp. 6–7.
Retrieved 9 September 2015.
^ a b c d Haajanen, Lennart W. (2007). Illustrated Dictionary of
Automobile Body Styles. McFarland. p. 43.
ISBN 9780786437375. Retrieved 9 September 2015.
^ Thomas, Alfred; Jund, Michael (2009). Collision repair and
refinishing: a foundation course for technicians. Cengage Learning.
p. 164. ISBN 978-1-4018-8994-4. Retrieved 28 February
^ "Rambler has everything new - even a hardtop wagon". Popular
Mechanics. 105 (1): 116–117. January 1956. Retrieved 28 February
^ Dort Motor
Car Co, Wisconsin Motorist November 1916, H A Apple,
^ GM Heritage Centre
^ T. Atkinson Jenkins. "Origin of the Word Sedan", Hispanic Review,
Vol. 1, No. 3 (Jul., 1933), pp. 240-242.
Georgano, G.N. (1985). Cars: Early and Vintage, 1886-1930. London:
Grange-Universal. page 87
^ Georgano, G.N.: The Complete Encyclopedia of Motorcars: 1885 to the
Present, 2. Ausgabe, E. P. Dutton, New York (1973), page 573,
^ Georgano, G. N.: The Complete Encyclopedia of Motorcars: 1885 to the
Present, 2. Ausgabe, E. P. Dutton, New York (1973), page 578,
^ Georgano, G.N.: The Complete Encyclopedia of Motorcars: 1885 to the
Present, 2. Ausgabe, E. P. Dutton, New York (1973), page 649,
^ There are many photos of half open limousines and saloons in the
book "The Complete Encyclopedia of Motorcars: 1885 to the Present" by
Media related to Sedans at Wikimedia Commons
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