About once a week while commuting, I spot a car that I had mostly forgotten about. Today, I followed for some distance a Chrysler Sebring coupe. For the first time since I first became aware of that car, I was struck by the notion that it was not entirely without its charms. The Sebring coupe isn’t exactly stunning, but it’s attractive enough in a conservative, ages-well sort-of way.
So, with my mind in forgotten coupe mode, here are four more decent-looking coupes (in addition to the Sebring) that I’d wager you haven’t thought about in a while. Got another one? Let’s hear about it.
1995-2000 Chrysler Sebring
Funny thing about the Sebring: In convertible form it was a Chrysler; in coupe form it was a Mitsubishi. For whatever reason, Chrysler based its wildly popular droptop on its stodgy Sebring sedan, but it commissioned a stretched version of Mitsu’s sporty Eclipse to retail as a 2-door hardtop. Note that Dodge dealers peddled a nearly identical car under the Avenger banner.
1997-2003 Acura CL
Like the Volvo C70, the Acura CL played in the now abandoned sporty near-luxury midsize-coupe segment. A two-door version of the Acura TL sedan, the CL was based on proven Honda Accord mechanicals but enjoyed unique styling and athletic suspension tuning. Four-cylinder models were dubbed CL 2.2 or CL 2.3, depending on model year, and V6 models were called CL 3.0 or 3.2. Especially desirable to folks in the know are manual-transmission models of the 3.2. Note that the CL received a substantial freshening for the 2001 model year. The original version is pictured.
1999-2004 Oldsmobile Alero
If you were to pick a single car that best represented the final 20 years of Oldsmobile design, the Alero would not be a good choice. Very much a break from the Cutlass era, the Alero was clean, simple, and, in coupe form, rather sporty. While the mechanically related Pontiac Grand Am still wore vestiges of the brand’s hoary rocker-panel straking, the Alero was unburdened by legacy design. The result was a car that looked decidedly contemporary, especially in coupe guise. Like a lot of Audis, the Alero always looked best to me in silver.
1987-1993 Volkswagen Fox
If you’re of the “simpler is better” persuasion, then you might see the appeal here. Something of a racy breadbox, the Fox was a bargain when new and surprisingly fun to drive. Unlike other VWs, which were built mostly in Germany or Mexico, the Fox made its way to the U.S. from Brazil. With about 80 horsepower on tap, the Fox was no dragster, but it moved out just fine. Back in the day, I fantasized about buying a Fox coupe or wagon and swapping in a 16-valve VW GTI or Scirocco mill.
1998-2004 Volvo C70
While a decent-looking car even now, it’s worth remembering that this car, first seen at the Paris Auto Show in 1996, was credited with breaking Volvo out of its shoebox design slump. Volvo sold just over 70,000 C70s globally, with about 50,000 of them being of the convertible persuasion. This makes the coupe a fairly uncommon sight.