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Classic Car Corner - THE BUSINESS COUPE

  • Written by Tom Berg, Windermere Real Estate

I’ve recently been talking to people about business coupes and discovered that none of them even knew what a business coupe was — not even the old timers — so now I feel it is my duty to have a history lesson for all my loyal readers. Before the advent of motorized vehicles, salespeople would travel from town to town with a horse and wagon filled with goods to sell, or even just samples and advertising materials. This would have been a very time-consuming and arduous task so once cost effective motorized vehicles came along and decent roads were built the successful salesman took to the road with cars and trucks. Cars were more comfortable, weatherproof and easier to drive than trucks so they became the vehicle of choice for these lonely businesspeople. By the 30’s the car industry recognized this sector of car buyers and developed the business coupe just for them. The business coupe is a standard two-door car with just a front seat (which would just fit two people since cars were much narrower then), a shelf in back of the front seat and a HUGE trunk which could be filled with product, samples, advertising materials and of course our lonely traveling salesman’s suitcase. I’ve even seen pictures of these cars with a truck box sticking out of the trunk! From a distance these cars are recognizable by their long trunks and short cabs, and of course upon closer inspection you will see only one seat.

central asia  cars 265Now you might be asking yourself “Why is Tom going on about a car style that was discontinued in 1951?” Well, I once owned a 1936 Chevrolet business coupe which was when I first learned what a business coupe was and have been intrigued by them ever since. I also like Studebakers so when I heard of a 1949 Studebaker business coupe in Maple Falls I just had to go check it out even though Maple Falls is almost in Canada and I was trying real hard not to buy any more cars. After a couple of missed turns I finally found the car and it looked and ran great so I just had to buy it.

Several days later my friend Jeff drove me up to get my new car and it managed to make it 100 miles home without incident (they don’t always make it back without a tow truck). I would like to add that once you get north of Arlington, Highway 9 is a beautiful drive. It feels like you’re back in the 50’s, especially in a vintage vehicle.  

I went to the recent Monroe Auto Swap meet to get my 1949 license plate, registered my new car, put my new plate on and it looks and runs great. Unfortunately my goal of going all year without buying a car has not been met, so I did take my 1947 M-5 pickup (Coles Repair) to the car corral at the swap meet and had a lot of interest but no takers yet. So if I sell it by the end of the year I will feel that my goal is back intact. As you drive by Windermere in Woodinville look for my new car in the #1 spot next to 175th Street. You can’t miss it — pale yellow with a huge trunk.

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