Historical body styles
Most early body styles were derived from those available in horse-drawn carriages and used the coachbuilding terms for them, although often their application in the automobile differed from the carriage use. Other types were soon invented, and either used modifications of earlier terminology or wholly new terms to describe them. Some of these terms are occasionally used in modern model designations, but almost always inaccurately with respect to their historical meaning (e.g. Lincoln Town Car, Volkswagen Phaeton). Fifteen of them were chosen as standards by the SAE in 1922.
Generally equivalent to a sedan, but more likely to have closed rear quarters and sometimes more luxuriously trimmed.
Inexpensive, extremely small footprint vehicles, manufactured in Europe's depressed post-World War II economy. Modern descendants are the kei car and city car.
A four-windowed sedan with a trunk that from front to rear was almost as thin as an upright suitcase. The rear-seat passengers sat a little bit forward of the differential. Ford Motor Company called its version a "Victoria" in the 1930s.
A coupé with a convertible top, naturally. Fully enclosed with the top up and side windows up. Called a drophead coupé in the United Kingdom.
As a coupé, but with a full convertible top. British terminology, and dropping out of use for most modern cars, though luxury British makes occasionally still use it. Compare American use of coupe convertible; contrast with fixed-head coupé.
British term for a standard coupé with a fixed solid roof, as opposed to a drophead coupé. In cases where the rear seats are very small and not intended for regular use these are sometimes called a 2+2.
A fixed-roof car with a mostly-enclosed cabin in front and a high-mounted open drivers seat in the rear.
In automobiles, generally (inaccurately) synonymous with landaulet; also used for a car with a simulated folding top and false landau bars. This latter usage is still current.
A car in which there is a roof over the front seats and the rear doors (possibly with a center row of seats) but with a folding convertible roof over the rear quarters.
An open car, normally describing a double or triple-row phaeton. There is often a folding fabric top but no side weather protection. Early Phaetons had a high-mounted rear seat for the driver. The modern VW Phaeton derives its name, but nothing else, from this style.
Roadster utility (or Roadster ute)
A car combining an open-topped roadster body with a rear cargo bed.
Roi des Belges
Named after King Leopold II of Belgium who ordered the first example. A large open car with high built seats and the rear seat usually set higher than the front seat. Also know more rarely as a Tulip Phaeton because of the side profile of the rear of the car resembling the shape of a tulip flower head..
A popular open light body style, normally with a single bench seat but sometimes with a rear tonneau. Most cars in the first decade of the 20th century were either runabouts or touring cars.
A car with a single bench seat mounted at the center, a folding cloth top, and only a buckboard at the front.
A car in which the rear compartment passengers enter through a rear, rather than side, door. Often completely open (no top).
Basically a convertible, with low side panels and doors.
An open car with four or five seats, usually equipped with a folding roof and side curtains.
A larger car, normally with two rows of seats (with a tonneau) and a large compartment at the front.
Equivalent to a town car, but, as with the brougham, more likely to have closed rear quarters.
A car in which the front seats were open and the rear compartment closed, normally with a removable top to cover the front chauffeur's compartment. The modern Lincoln Town Car derives its name, but nothing else, from this style.
Town landaulet, Town landau
Combining the town car and landaulet, this car is open over the driver's compartment, closed over the rear doors, and with an opening convertible top over the rear quarters.