Many automakers claim they sell 4-door coupes. We beg to disagree, because here are some real ones.

Attending the press preview of the 2014 New York International Auto Show, we heard a lot of talk from automakers about “4 door coupe” models.  We feel they need to rethink their definition of what a 4-door coupe is, because none of their current offerings even come close.   So to assist the automotive industry, below is a list of what should and should not be considered a four door coupe.

4 door coupe

Vehicles with half-sized rear access doors do not count as 4-door coupes.

1. A “four door coupe” should actually have four adult size doors.  Whether they are hinged in the front or the back is not important.  Miniature-sized rear seat access doors such as the ones found on a current Mini Clubman, or a 1999 Saturn SC do not count.  The rear doors should open freely on their own and not require front doors to be opened first.

handles

Handles on rear doors should be as disguised as possible, such as on this 2014 Honda Civic 5-door hatch.

2. The handles for the rear set of doors should be as disguised as possible.  In other words, at quick glance, the vehicle should not even appear to have a set of rear door handles.  They can be blended into C-pillars on traditionally-hinged doors, or made to appear as an extension of the front door handles on rear-hinged doors.  We’ll even consider “suicide door” handles such as those found on 1960s Lincolns acceptable, even though there are several inches of space between them.

 

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The Volvo Safety Concept Car of 2001 shows frameless doors, rwith structural pillars mounted at an inboard location inside the vehicle.  These can give the appearance of a pillarless coupe.

3. The vehicle’s B-pillar should be as disguised as possible.  In an ideal world, doors would be frameless, all four windows would roll down fully, and there would be no pillar between those front and rear side windows – just like pillarless hardtop sedans that were everywhere from 1956 through 1978.  Realistically, windows can still be frameless and have proper b-pillars behind them.

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We feel hatchbacks and SUVs can also qualify as 4-door coupes.  This Mini Cooper concept features hidden rear doors, and a door handle mounted discreetly on the C-pillar.

4. A “four-door coupe” does not need to be limited to the category of traditional three-box automotive designs featuring a hood, passenger compartment, and trunk.  We feel hatchbacks, fastbacks, and even sport utility vehicles can qualify if the door design is integrated well enough that it appears at first glance to have only two doors.

 

rear windows

Extra side windows behind the rear doors shout traditional sedan, and no 4-door coupe should have them.

5. A real “four-door coupe” should have no extra windows along the side of the vehicle aft of the rear doors.  They may enhance visibility, but they shout traditional four-door sedan.

 

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About Sean

Welcome to Classic Cars Today Online! We seek to explore the subject of classic vehicles from the 1950s through today. It is our belief that a car needn't be old to be respected and admired for graceful design, historical significance, and future value. As founder and Editor-In-Chief, I welcome contributions from you about your own car-related interests and ownership experiences. As far as myself, I've worked in the automotive service field and have been a contributor to Autoweek Magazine, The Star, Mercedes Enthusiast Magazine, Examiner.com and more. Currently, I'm a copywriter and own several foreign and domestic classic cars. In my spare time, you'll find me serving as Technical Editor and officer of several car clubs, being a concours car show judge, and meeting some great folks around the tri-state NY / NJ / Pennsylvania area at car shows. - Sean Connor
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