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The Chrysler Businessman Coupe
What's in a name? Just as some automobile manufacturers automatically evoke a forgotten time and place—e.g. La Salle or Stanley—so too can the models associated with various car lines. The Chrysler Businessman coupe is one of those vanished nameplates. It speaks to us of a different world where prestige and admiration were attached to the idea of being a "businessman".
The idea of the Businessman coupe came along with Walter Chrysler's acquisition of the Dodge Brothers Motor Company in 1928. The Dodge boys had done something new with their 1923 model sedans. They produced two different sedan body types. The Type A sedan with its traditional wooden carriage makers' body covered in steel and the revolutionary new 1923 Business Sedan—the first car in history to have both a steel skin and also a steel supporting framework to mount it on, rather than the heretofore universal wooden one. This semantic tying of the term "Business" with automotive solidity and reliability proved an enduring one that Chrysler carried forward into all their model lines.
Chrysler's Businessman coupes offer a glimpse into a very different world from the one we live in today. With the in-dash radio and a powerful straight six engine, the modern businessman of the 1930s could make his rounds in style. Fold-down seats contained shelves behind them to safely hold business literature or samples. An extra-large trunk was designed specifically to hold valuable merchandise in conditions safe from theft or weather damage.
Perhaps the only survivor of this trend is seen in the evolution of the once-ubiquitous tradesmen's panel truck into today's serviceman's van. The Business Coupe was one in a long line of rather specialized vehicles aimed at what today might be considered niche markets. But the idea of a Businessman's Coupe is long gone - just like the fedora that once sat in the passenger seat of these faithful steeds of industry.