/kuːp/ KOOP, mostly in American English, due to people spelling the word without the acute accent, which resulted in them pronouncing it as one syllable. This change occurred gradually and before World War II. This pronunciation is more common in the United States, for example 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".
A coupé is fixed-roof car with a sloping rear roofline and one or two rows of seats. However, there is often debate surrounding whether a coupe must have two doors or whether cars with four doors can also be considered coupés. This debate has arisen since the early 2000s, when four-door cars such as the Mazda RX-8 and Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class have been marketed as "four door coupés" or "quad coupés".
In the 1940s and 1950s, coupes were distinguished from sedans by their shorter roof area and sportier profile. Similarly, in more recent times, when a model is sold in both coupé and sedan body styles, generally the coupe is sportier and more compact.
The 1977 version of International Standard ISO 3833— Road vehicles - Types - Terms and definitions— defines a coupé as having two doors (along with a fixed roof, usually with limited rear volume, a fixed roof, at least two seats in at least one row and at least two side windows). On the other hand, the United States Society of Automotive Engineers publication J1100 does not specify the number of doors, instead defining a coupe as having a rear interior volume of less than 33 cu ft (934 L).
The definition of coupé started to blur when manufacturers began to produce cars with a 2+2 body style (which have a sleek, sloping roofline, two doors, and two functional seats up front, plus two tiny seats in back).
The origin of the coupé body style come from the berline horse-drawn carriage. In the 18th century, the coupé version of the berline was introduced, which was a shortened ("cut") version with no rear-facing seat. Normally, a coupé had a fixed glass window in the front of the passenger compartment.
The term "berline coupé" was later shortened to "coupé". The coupé was considered to be an ideal vehicle for women to use to go shopping or to make social visits.
The early coupé automobile's passenger compartment followed in general conception the design of horse-drawn coupés, with the driver in the open at the front and an enclosure behind him for two passengers on one bench seat. The French variant for this word thus denoted a car with a small passenger compartment.
By the 1910s, the term had evolved to denote a two-door car with the driver and up to 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.
Coupe: An enclosed car operated from the inside with seats for two or three and sometimes a backward-facing fourth seat.
Coupelet: A small car seating two or three with a folding top and full height doors with fully retractable windows.
Convertible coupe: A roadster with a removable coupé roof.
During the 20th century, the term coupé was applied to various close-coupled cars (where the rear seat that is located further forward than usual and the front seat further back than usual).
Since the 1960s the term coupé has generally referred to a two-door car with a fixed roof.
Since 2005, several models with four doors have been marketed as "four-door coupés", however reactions are mixed about whether these models are actually sedans instead of coupés. According to Edmunds, the American online resource for automotive information, "the four-door coupe category doesn't really exist."
Manufacturers have used the term "coupé" with reference to several varieties, including:
A two-door car with no rear seat or with a removable rear seat intended for travelling salespeople and other vendors carrying their wares with them. American manufacturers developed this style of coupe in the late 1930s.
A two-door designed for driving to the opera with easy access to the rear seats. Features sometimes included a folding front seat next to the driver or a compartment to store top hats.
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.
The three window coupé (commonly just "three-window") is a style of automobile characterized by two side windows and a backlight (rear window). Front windscreens don't count. The style was popular from the 1920s until the beginning of World War II. While many manufacturers produced three window coupés, the 1932 to 1936 Ford is a particular favorite of hot rodders. The three window coupé has a distinct difference from the five-window coupé, which has an additional window on each side.
In the United States, some coupés are "simply line-extenders two-door variants of family sedans", while others have significant differences to their four-door counterparts. The AMC Matador coupe (1974-1978), had a distinct design and styling, sharing almost nothing with the 4-door versions. Similarly, the Chrysler Sebring and Dodge Stratus coupes and sedans (late-1990 through 2000s), had little in common except their names, with the coupes engineered by Mitsubishi and built in Illinois, while the sedans were developed by Chrysler and built in Michigan.
Coupés may also exist as model lines in their own right, either closely related to other models but named differently - such as the Alfa Romeo GT - or have little engineering in common with other vehicles from the manufacturer - such as the Toyota GT86.
^"Coupé". Random House Kernerman Webster’s College Dictionary. 2010. 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.), Switzerland: International Organization for Standardization (published 1977-12-01), Clause 184.108.40.206
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