My Car Quest

June 12, 2024

Why Is This One Luxury Body Style Forbidden?

by Wallace Wyss –

If there is one style that all automakers steer away from in 2023, I’d say it is the landaulette. It gets its name from being first a landau, a French word for a folding top car. But also this was a model that the roof folded down not in front, where the chauffeur sat, but in the back where the passengers are. It’s the opposite of a sedanca de ville where the chauffeur sat in front (maybe in the rain in the early days) and the passengers were all cosseted under a solid roof in back.

landaulette

Royal crest identifies this as State Limousine

Lincoln proposed a sedanca de ville in the ’60s in a concept car, but it wasn’t put into production. Cadillac beat them by proposing a sedanca de ville in the ’50s. That only made it to a concept car and ironically, though it was sent to a junkyard to be crushed, somebody recognized it and rescued it.

I just saw two postwar laundaulettes at the San Marino Concours and they both were very impressive, souvenirs of what could have been a gilded age in the ’60s if other automakers had followed suit. As it was, the two I saw were almost the last of their breed. So why don’t any automakers make them today (Mercedes had one quite recently by AMG but had fixed C-pillars so I am not sure it meets the definition of laundalette and they didn’t sell it in the US).

landaulette

Six door laundaulette by Mercedes

I think it’s because it puts the occupants in the back a little too much under the spotlight. If you are walking on the sidewalk and you see one coming you automatically want to see what potentate, movie star or Captain of Industry is being chauffeured about.

laundaulette

Sedanca de ville show car I rank a bit below the landaulette

Well if any automaker should bring back this style, I think Rolls should, in fact they just made two models, some “one offs” (if you can call multiple cars that) that will cost $28 to $30 million each. They are removable roof models. But I say go whole hog and bring back the laundaulette. Especially you at Cadillac with the $300,000 model where the customer picks the color, trim, etc.

Hey if I win the lottery, put my order in…

Let us know what you think in the Comments.

Wallace Wyss art

THE AUTHOR: Wallace Wyss has been a guest lecturer on car design at the Art Center College of Design. As a fine artist, he has completed over 50 paintings of Ferraris. For postcard samples write malibucsrart@gmail.com

 
 
 
 

landaulette

Queen Elizabeth’s had fixed rear window frames, maybe that’s why it only sold for 2 million pounds

Summary
Why Is This One Luxury Body Style Forbidden?
Article Name
Why Is This One Luxury Body Style Forbidden?
Description
If there is one style that all automakers steer away from in 2023, I'd say it is the landaulette. It gets its name from being first a landau, a French word for a folding top car.
Author

Comments

  1. the royal car had options. a fully fitted clear roof or landau. it was found later in life to have the clear roof for security as it would catch a bullet. but the car itself was a landau.

  2. This is my 1929 Rolls-Roys Phantom lI BarkerSedancalette de Ville, Chassi Number 60 WJ, I never came across another one.

  3. Hi Wallace what a great topic coach building nomenclature! We are overdue for a lavishly illustrated review virtual or print. Why is it sometimes Spyder and other times Spider ?
    The Landaulet is a great variation on the theme some happy and not so happy stories abound:
    1) I got married in one of these and it rained .. lucky (Austin Princess)
    2) the Italian president still receives guest in this beautiful Flaminia
    3) the JFK assassination Lincoln this looks like a Landaulet with the front targa top missing if he had had an armoured beast things might have been different !

  4. I’m trying to send photos

  5. Italian president

  6. JFK LINCOLN

  7. wallace wyss says

    I was doubtful if Kennedy limo ever wore a hardtop roof over the front seat but now found pictures of that in place plus a lift off hardtop for the back. There was also a see through lift-off hardtop for the back.None of those worn on Nov, 11, 1963

  8. The Monday before Dallas I had the privilege to sit with JFK. He visited Tampa and my neighbor Mr Kinevy knew Jack well from his Naval years in the Pacific. He took me to see him before he spoke at a luncheon downtown. I was only ten years old at the time but I knew the opportunity was special. To this day I remember their conversation almost to the word. That Friday everything changed. Mr Kinevy died shortly afterwards and I’m certain it was from a broken heart. Soon afterwards I was no longer referred to as John but Jack. I always have stated that the USA was never the same after 11/22/63

  9. Dear John
    Thank you for sharing this poignant story of your childhood encounter with JFK.

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