Stuttgart – The coupé is an exclusive body form. This was true even in the days of the horse-drawn carriage, when the coupé – presumably so-called because it resembled a four-seater carriage with its front end cut-off (French: “coupé”) – offered two seats in the comfort of the cab with the coachman seated up front in the open box seat. People who chose this mode of travel clearly liked to demonstrate a sense of style and individuality.
“Coupés from Mercedes-Benz have always embodied elegance on four wheels,” says Michael Bock, Head of Mercedes-Benz Classic. “Whether today, 40 years ago or a century ago – our coupés are legends of the eras in which they were built.”
The early automobiles borrowed heavily from various styles of horse-drawn carriage. The coupé retained a strong focus essentially on two people travelling in style. And since transportation in a closed two-seater was a uniquely cultivated form of travel, coupés were very often characterised by unusual lines. To this day the coupé typifies an exclusive form of transportation.
Mercedes-Benz history offers coupés in a variety of designs. The Benz Coupé of 1895 and the Daimler Coupé of 1897 can barely conceal their relationship to the horse-drawn carriage. They established two lines of automotive coupé tradition: the Daimler Coupé of 1897, which in addition to the closed two-seater passenger cell featured the familiar open box seat borrowed from carriage design, is considered the grandfather of so-called city coupés, which were common until the 1930s and also offered an open driver’s seat. As a two-seater, the Benz Coupé of 1895 was a vehicle for the self-driving “gentleman driver”. That made it the ideal precursor to the two or four-seater coupés with interior steering wheel, which became increasingly popular from the 1930s onwards.
But in the early days of motoring, closed vehicles such as saloons and coupés were the exception rather than the rule. Indeed until well into the 1930s, manufacturers and buyers more often went for open variants, particularly where more exclusive models were concerned. Not until the modern age did the coupé establish itself as an exclusive yet iconoclastic automotive body form – for two or four occupants.
Flowing lines for a dynamic appearance
The term coupé has evolved and grown over the decades. Early coupés, for example, generally only had space for two people; since the 1950s, however, they have more usually had four seats. But the body incorporated a number of basic features that persist to this day. A coupé generally has very low, flowing lines which create a stretched silhouette. It often dispenses with the B pillar altogether, and the C pillar slopes gently into the tail. The roof is generally shorter than in the case of a saloon, and curved at the rear. The side windows are usually frameless.
Nowadays, owning a coupé and enjoying utility value are no longer mutually exclusive aspirations. Although many coupé enthusiasts would contest the fact, even in a coupé a spacious boot, folding rear seat bench and ski bag are popular equipment features. After all, the body does not reveal outwardly all the other things needing transportation in addition to the passengers.
Coupés by Mercedes-Benz and predecessor brands carry the self-image of this exceptional vehicle type in every detail – whether in the C-Class Coupé, the E-Class Coupé or the CL-Class. In this way the various coupés have smoothly been taking up their place in the Mercedes-Benz product range, adding a touch of sporting elegance to the brand image.