Monday, March 20, 2017

American Business Coupes

Wikipedia deals at some length here with the coupé (in America: coupe) body type.  A few lines of the link deal with the business coupe: "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."

The American business coupe was part of the product mix for many brands from the late 1920s into the early 1950s.  Most were advertised as business coupes, but some coupes had more general names, yet could be used for business purposes.

The logic of using a coupe for traveling salesmen, consulting engineers and many other business activities requiring road travel was that coupes were: (1) usually inexpensive to buy; (2) had a usefully minimal seating capacity; and (3) had small cabins but also the long wheelbases of large-cabin cars so that there was room for a larger than normal trunk for carrying stuff.

Below are examples of this long-departed type of automobile body in chronological order.


1929 Buick Master-Six Business Coupe
An early example.  The trunk is fairly small, so this body might also have had a rumble seat version.

1934 Hupmobile Aerodynamic Coupe
This is probably a rumble seat coupe.  I show it because of its very small cabin that seats two (or perhaps three in a pinch) and its long trunk area.  The rear-mounted spare tire would have made this an inconvenient business coupe because it would have interfered with loading.  A business coupe version would have been possible if the spare tire was repositioned.

1936 Oldsmobile Eight Business Coupe

1936 Buick Special Business Coupe
Two General Motors business coupes from mid-range marques.  I suppose these were offered for salesmen or business representatives requiring a more substantial image than that offered by entry-level brands.  The cars shown here used the same basic body.

1936 Packard One-Twenty Business Coupe
Another example of a mid-range business coupe.  Surprising, given that it was from the maker of luxury cars, but Packard had to enter a lesser market range in order to survive the Great Depression.

1937 Graham Cavalier Series 95 Business Coupe
A business coupe from a minor brand.  Note the illustration showing how the spare tire was stored, providing more convenient trunk space.

1939 Plymouth Business Coupe
A business coupe from Chrysler Corporation.  Like the Graham, it is a four-window coupe, something becoming common for business coupes by the late 1930s.

1939 Chevrolet Master Deluxe Business Coupe
This publicity photo shows a business coupe being loaded.

1939 Graham Combination Coupe
The text (click on the image to enlarge) mentions that a business version of this coupe was available.

1940 Chevrolet Master 85 Business Coupe
I include this brochure page image because it shows storage variations.

1941 Dodge Luxury Liner Deluxe Business Coupe
A nice example of a small cabin on a long-wheelbase car with the resulting large trunk.

1941 Oldsmobile Special Business Coupe
Yet another view of business coupe storage.

1949 Dodge Wayfarer Business Coupe
Business coupe production continued post- World War 2.  This one has Chrysler Corporation's redesigned postwar body style.

1951 Studebaker Champion Business Coupe - Mecum Auctions photo
Perhaps the flashiest business coupe of the lot, though that 1939 Graham comes close.  These small-cabin Studebakers have always fascinated me.

1950 Chevrolet Styline Business Coupe
Even General Motors continued business coupes into the early 1950s.

UPDATE: Further research shows that Chrysler Corporation's Plymouth brand offered business coupes as late as 1957.

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