Coupé (from the French for cut) or coupe is a car body style with a close-coupled interior offering either two seats or 2+2 seating (space for two passengers up front and
for two occasional passengers in the rear). Through the 1950s
convertible models were called convertible coupés, but since 1960s the term coupé has generally been applied
exclusively to fixed-roof models. Coupés generally, but not necessarily, have two doors, although automobile makers have offered four-door coupés and three- and five-door
hatchback coupés, as well.
A coupé is distinguished from a sedan primarily by interior volume; SAE standard J1100 defines a coupé as a fixed-roof automobile with less than 33 ft³ (0.93 m³, 934.6 L) of
rear interior volume. A car with a greater interior volume is technically a two-door sedan, not a coupé, even if it has only two doors. Some car manufacturers may nonetheless
choose to use the word coupé to describe such a model, e.g., the Cadillac Coupe de Ville.
In Europe (including the UK), the original French spelling, coupé, and a French pronunciation, koo-pay, are often used (/'kuːpeɪ/). Speakers of American English
incorrectly pronounce coupé as coop (IPA: [kuːp]) and spell it without an accent.
In the 19th century a coupé was a short carriage with a single row of passenger seating behind the driver. During
the 20th century the term was applied to various close-coupled automobiles. Through the 1950s many automakers
offered several varieties of coupé:
Club coupé: a coupé with a larger rear seat, which would today be called a two-door sedan.
Business coupé: a coupé with no rear seat or a removable rear seat, intended for traveling salesmen and other vendors
who would be carrying their wares with them.
Sport coupé or berlinetta: a uniquely styled model with a sloping roof, sometimes sloping downward gradually in the
rear in the style known as fastback.
With the growing popularity of the pillar-less 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 pillared models. This
definition was by no means universal, and has largely fallen out of use with near-demise of the hardtop.