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Renault 40 CV Landaulet (ca.1907)

A landaulet (also landaulet or landaulette ) is a vehicle class with a partially closed body , the rear roof part of which can be opened completely like a convertible . Because the term refers to the roof as a single feature of the vehicle, it is often used in connection with the actual body shape , such as " Sedan -Landaulet" or " Pullman -Landaulet". The size of the roof part that can be opened can vary. Window frames are removed or are not provided at all.


The word landaulet is derived from the older " Landauer ", an open carriage shape. The origin of the name is again not exactly clear. It may be the transfer of a place name ( Landau in der Pfalz ) to a product that was first manufactured there or was of a particularly high quality. The name has been known in Europe since the 18th century.

History and Changing Definitions

Early landaulet

Renault Type AG “Taxi de la Marne” (1910): A typical landaulet of its time

At the beginning of motorization, the landaulet was not simply understood as a closed car with a folding top in the rear roof area, but as an independent body shape: a relatively short representative vehicle driven by a chauffeur with a completely unprotected driver's seat, a closed passenger compartment and a folding top in the rear roof area.

The Society of Automobile Engineers (SAE, today Society of Automotive Engineers ) defined the landaulet as follows in 1916: “A closed car with a folding top for three or more people inside and a chauffeur outside.” “Closed” and “Chauffeur outside” were obviously not seen as a contradiction. However, this definition does not cover the part of the roof that can be opened and therefore also fits the Coupé de Ville .

The classic era of body construction (1920–1940)

Hispano-Suiza Type H.6 Landaulet with closed hood and storm bars (approx. 1925)

The SAE became more detailed around 1920. Now the landaulet should correspond to the town car (note: with open chauffeur compartment and partition). The deviations included a shorter, closed body part, the convertible top covered the entire rear up to the partition, windows were only provided in the doors (not in the C-pillar) and should be "movable". The fabric or leather hood was supported by storm bars (called “Landau bars” in English). At the back there was a bench for 2-3 people , the compartment was too short for emergency seats .

The specialist portal writes: “… Landaulet describes an automobile in which the driver's compartment is separated from the passenger area by a fixed or movable partition made of glass. Generally a "formal" body style with a portion of the roof over the rear of leather or fabric that folds back to allow passengers to enjoy the outdoors. The landaulet top was therefore mostly reserved for town cars (note: Coupé de Villes), although it was occasionally also used for limousines and chauffeur-driven limousines . "

Such strict shackles could not be kept in the body shop. This change went hand in hand with the general development in body construction and the advancing standardization. A wide range of variants and derivatives emerged, some of which are briefly described below.

Examples of early landaulets

After the war until today

In the last few years before the Second World War , the landaulet had already found the shape that we associate with this body shape today: a large chauffeur-driven limousine with a rear roof that can be opened. This is also shown by the definition in The Random House College Dictionary , 1975 edition: “An automobile with a convertible top for the rear bench, with the front bench open or closed.” The latest model to date is the Mercedes-Benz G 650 Landaulet, the is being built together with Maybach.


Forerunner: Landaulet carriage (1816). It was the starting point for the body of the same name
Dead end: Motorized Landau like this standard 16/20 HP Landau from 1905 did not prevail.

Landaulet carriages

The Landaulet body shape , often also spelled Landaulette , was a two-horse, four-wheeled touring coach for two people, with a raised coach box and folding top in the rear part of the body. It was derived from the older, very common Landauer . Landaulets had a bench in the passenger compartment facing the direction of travel, in the Landau you sat opposite each other; the landaulet had a one-piece canopy that was folded back, the landau a two-piece. Over time, the front part of the roof was made solid and only the rear part could be opened.

Early landaulet bodies

The term landaulet changed over time. On the one hand, the name was imprecise because neither the number of seats, the seating arrangement nor the shape of the roof in the front area were defined; this led to a number of more exact designations, which are summarized below. On the other hand, automobile manufacturers and bodybuilders were already putting considerable creative energy into marketing their products. This also included well-sounding, as exclusive as possible names that sometimes had a euphemistic effect.

Special case Motorized Landau

The landaulet carriage was derived from the landau from around 1800 . As a body shape, this hardly played a role. However, the large, representative landaulets with four to six, often facing each other, seats can be considered a kind of descendant of the landau.

Landaulet, Coupé-Landaulet and Town Landaulet

This Rolls-Royce V8 30 hp bodied as a landaulette par excellence from Barker has a flat engine under the individual seat for the driver.

The landaulet typical at the beginning of motorization is already described under "Definitions". Of course, it had the convertible top from which it was named, in the rear part of the roof, and the chauffeur had no protection from the elements; even a windshield was often missing. It underwent the first major change when the designers began to position the engine in the front instead of in the rear or under the driver's seat.

When other variants appeared, other names had to be found for this original landaulet. The differences between the Coupé Landaulet, the Town Landaulet or the Brougham Landaulet listed below are minimal and are further blurred by the creativity of the designers and coachbuilders. They are derived from Coupé de Ville and the corresponding English expression.

The tradition of covering the driver's seat with (mostly black) leather and using high-quality, very sensitive textiles in the well-protected rear area dates back to the early days when the driver was “defenseless”.

Brougham Landaulet

Minerva 16 CV Type WT (1910) Brougham Landaulet

A feature of the Brougham are side windows only in the doors. Accordingly, the Brougham Landaulet has no windows in the top area, which is also the same as the original Landaulet.


Panhard & Levassor Type AL Demi-Landaulet (1898) based on a tonneau

The term does not refer to the more or less open body at the front, but to the lack of a partition and window between the chauffeur and passenger compartments. The Demi-Landaulet is a hybrid of touring and landaulet. Based on a touring body, this received a windshield with a sturdy frame, a roof and a folding top for the rear part. Such bodies could also be retrofitted. Often the closed part with the roof was made removable.

Limousine landaulet

Minerva 26 CV Type GG Limousine Landaulet (1913)

The fixed roof over the driver, the chauffeur compartment open to the side (until around 1925), a passenger compartment that was initially completely separate, and the partition were taken over from the sedan. The passenger compartment has a pane in the door on each side and another one behind it. In the case of the landaulet, the rear roof section can be opened.

The bodybuilders, who offered such bodies as one-off production, used similar construction plans for the limousine and limousine landaulet, but the conversion of finished limousines did not emerge until the 1930s as a means of reducing costs.

Berline Landaulet, Imperial Landaulet and Pullman Landaulet

Berline Landaulet and Pullman Landaulet correspond to the Berline resp. Pullman limousine . The typical Berline is four-door, closed and has a continuous roof, often with a small (oval) window in the C-pillar and usually two rows of seats in the rear and a partition to the chauffeur. The comments on the Landaulet sedan apply analogously.

Sedan Landaulet

Oakland Model 212 All American Landaulette Sedan (1929)

Amazingly, already described around 1920, the sedan landaulet corresponds to a four-door self-propelled vehicle with a closed front roof section.


The term landaulette is sometimes used. The context usually means that this was only understood as an alternative spelling. Based on the definitions given above, it can be argued that landaulettes mean versions without a partition to the driver (Sedan landaulet, see above). The specialist site offers an interesting perspective. According to this, a landaulette is "a two-door car with a landaulet roof (the roof over the rear seats is foldable)."

The modern landaulet

In modern automotive engineering , four or six-door sedans are known as landaulets, which have a flexible, fabric roof that can be opened and is positioned over the rear. The driver and front passenger still sit under one roof. There are variants with a convertible top over the entire passenger compartment up to the partition (analogous to the definition from the 1920s), and also those in which only the rear row of seats can drive open. The Mercedes-Benz 600 Pullman Landaulet was built in both versions.

Landaulets were often used as state carriages from which the statesman could show himself to the people standing. This no longer corresponds to today's safety requirements, so that closed special protection vehicles are preferred today.

Several Papamobile (representation vehicles of the Pope ) were also landaulets.

Other well-known examples of post-war landaulets include:

Examples of post-war landaulets

"Fake" landaulets

The definition as described at the beginning provides for a folding top for the rear part of the roof. A description of the landaulet with a sunroof was not found, even if this includes the rear window .

The corresponding version of the Maybach 62S has an electric folding top, but the C-pillar and roof bars remain. This version thus combines elements of the convertible, sedan and landaulet.

See also


  1. The etymology of the term Landauer is dealt with in depth in the corresponding coach article .
  2. Übers .: "A body similar in appearance to the brougham, with the exception that the enclosed section is shorter, and the roof is collapsible up to the partition behind the driver's seat. There is one fixed cross seat for two or three passengers in the back. Only the doors have windows which are movable. Traditionally, the rear quarters are covered in fabric or leather, and outside joints support the roof (aka landau bars). Like the cabriolet, the rear section of this body style is shorter than others, so there is no room for collapsible seats. "
  3. Übers .: “… Landaulet describes an automobile in which the driver's compartment is separated from the passenger area by a fixed or mobile glass division. This was generally a formal body style with a leather or cloth roof portion over the rear seating area that could be folded back to afford the occupants the pleasure of an open air ride. Landaulet feature (folding roof) was reserved mostly for town cars although it was used also occasionally on sedans and limousines. "
  4. The quote was translated from the English Wikipedia, where it is quoted verbatim and with individual evidence: "an enclosed sedan or coupé with a folding top at the extreme rear quarter, over the rear seat."
  5. Transl .: "a two door car with a landaulet roof (the top over the rear seats folds down)."

Individual evidence

  1. ^ A b Society of Automobile Engineers (SAE): Car body designations 1916
  2. a b c Society of Automobile Engineers (SAE): body designations around 1920
  3. a b c Terminology
  4. ^ Encyclopedia Britannica Online; Landaulet as a carriage design
  5. ^ Encyclopedia Britannica Online; Landauer as a carriage design
  6. a b Register of car bodies (designs) according to SAE (approx. 1920)
  7. Terminology (Berline)
  8. ^ Register of car bodies (types); Berline
  9. ^ Hans-Hermann Braess, Ulrich Seiffert: Automobildesign und Technik. Friedrich Vieweg & Sohn, Wiesbaden, 1st edition 2007, ISBN 978-3-8348-0177-7 , p. 196


  • George Hildebrand (Ed.): The Golden Age of the Luxury Car - An Anthology of Articles and Photographs from "Autobody." 1927-1931. Dover Publications, 1980, ISBN 0-486-23984-5 .
  • Hugo Pfau: The Coachbuilt Packard. Dalton-Watson, London; Motorbooks International, Minneapolis 1973, ISBN 0-901564-10-9 .
  • Lawrence Dalton: Those Elegant Rolls Royce. Revised edition. Dalton-Watson Publishers, London 1978.
  • Lawrence Dalton: Rolls Royce - The Elegance Continues. Dalton-Watson Publishers, London, ISBN 0-901564-05-2 .
  • Nick Walker: A – Z of British Coachbuilders, 1919–1960. Bay View Books, Bideford, Devon, UK 1997, ISBN 1-870979-93-1 .
  • Beverly Rae Kimes (Ed.), Henry Austin Clark Jr.: The Standard Catalog of American Cars 1805-1942. 2nd Edition. Krause Publications, Iola WI 1985, ISBN 0-87341-111-0 .
  • GN Georgano (Ed.): Complete Encyclopedia of Motorcars, 1885 to the Present. 2nd Edition. Dutton Press, New York 1973, ISBN 0-525-08351-0 .
  • Beverly R. Kimes (Ed.): Packard, a history of the motor car and the company. General edition. Automobile Quarterly, 1978, ISBN 0-915038-11-0 .
  • Mark A. Patrick (Ed.): Packard Motor Cars 1935-1942 Photo Archive. Iconographix Osceola WI 1996, ISBN 1-882256-44-1 .
  • Don Butler: Auburn Cord Duesenberg. Crestline Publishing Co., Crestline Series. 1992, ISBN 0-87938-701-7 .
  • Jon M. Bill: Duesenberg Racecars & Passenger Cars Photo Archive. Auburn Cord Duesenberg Museum (Ed.). Iconografix, Hudson WI, ISBN 1-58388-145-X .
  • ACD Museum (Ed.): 19th Annual Auburn Cord Duesenberg Festival; Official Souvenir Book. Brochure for the opening of the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Museum in Auburn, Indiana (USA) on Labor Day Weekend 1974.

Web links

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