Brougham (car body)

1905 Hedag Electric Brougham, similar in style to a brougham carriage

A brougham[pron 1] was a car body style based on the earlier brougham carriage. Similar in style to the later town car, the brougham style was used on chauffeur-driven petrol and electric cars. Electric broughams in the United States later evolved, becoming owner-driven cars without the outside seat for the chauffeur, but they kept the "brougham" name. By World War II the original meaning of the term "brougham" had been largely forgotten, with American manufacturers using the term to denote a more luxurious trim level on a fully enclosed car. General Motors has since used the term as a model name several times, while manufacturers in the United States have often used the term as a trim package designation.

Early broughams

1899 Peugeot Type 27 brougham

As a car body style, a brougham was initially a vehicle similar to a limousine but with an outside seat in front for the chauffeur and an enclosed cabin behind for the passengers.[1] As such, it was a version of the town car but, in strict use of the term, with the sharply squared rear end of the roof and the forward-curving body line at the base of the front of the passenger enclosure that were characteristic of the nineteenth century brougham carriage on which the car style was based.[2]

Electric broughams and their evolution

1915 Detroit Electric Brougham

In the late nineteenth century and early twentieth century, the brougham body style with an outside chauffeur was popular with electric cars. At that time, there were more than 200 manufacturers of these cars in the United States.[3] In the United States during the first two decades of the twentieth century, the front of the body and the chauffeur were often deleted from the design, with controls placed inside for the owner to operate the vehicle.[4][5] Despite the resulting coupé style, the result was still called a "brougham",[4] causing the term to be applied to a two-door closed vehicle similar to a coupé, especially one electrically driven.[6]

Loss of meaning

In the United States the term "Brougham" was used from the 1920s to denote short-roofed two- or four-door enclosed bodies similar to sedans. The name was increasingly used to indicate an up-market trim level. From the mid-1940s to the 1980s the term was used as a model name or a trim package for high-end sedans and, in some cases, even convertibles, despite the latter not conforming to the original body style in any way.[7]

Model name or trim level

Cadillac first used the name on their Cadillac Brougham, a large, fully closed car, in 1916. The name "Brougham" has since been used as a model name by Cadillac, Daewoo, Holden, and Nissan, and as a trim package on sedan models by most US car manufacturing divisions of General Motors, Ford Motor Company, and the Chrysler Corporation during the 1970s, 1980s and early 1990s. As a trim package, the name is used to denote the more comfortably appointed versions of a given model.

Examples include:

See also


  1. Standard pronunciations are /ˈbrm/, /ˈbrəm/, /ˈbrm/, and /ˈbrəm/.


  1. "What's What In Automobile Bodies Officially Determined" (PDF). The New York Times. New York, NY USA. Nomenclature Division, Society of Automobile Engineers. August 20, 1916. Archived from the original on July 20, 2014. Retrieved 2012-05-31. LimousineA closed car seating three to five inside, with driver's seat outside, covered with a roof... BroughamA limousine with no roof over the driver's seat.
  2. Haajanen, Lennart W. (2003). "2Brougham". Illustrated Dictionary of Automobile Body Styles. Illustrations by Bertil Nydén; foreword by Karl Ludvigsen. Jefferson, NC USA: McFarland. pp. 25–26. ISBN 0-7864-1276-3. LCCN 2002014546.
  3. Haajanen, Lennart W.; "1Electric Brougham", Illustrated Dictionary of Automobile Body Styles, p. 68
  4. 1 2 Haajanen, Lennart W.; "3Brougham", Illustrated Dictionary of Automobile Body Styles, p. 26
  5. Haajanen, Lennart W.; "2Electric Brougham", Illustrated Dictionary of Automobile Body Styles, pp. 68-69
  6. Gove, Philip Babcock, ed. (1966). Webster's Third New International Dictionary of the English Language, Unabridged. A–K. Springfield, Mass. USA: G & C Merriam. p. 284. ISBN 0-7135-1037-4.
  7. Haajanen, Lennart W.; "4Brougham", Illustrated Dictionary of Automobile Body Styles, pp. 26-27
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