It’s an uncommon term today, but there was once a time when the “personal luxury car,” as it was called, reigned supreme. From the mid-1950s to the mid-1980s, personal luxury cars were all the rage among the prodigiously wealthy, peaking in popularity in the 1970s. Today, the class has mostly been lumped into the GT car category.
Personal luxury cars were typically coupes, big and brash, with long hoods and short decks. They usually rode on shortened wheelbases and featured big V-8 power, but weren’t preoccupied with sportiness. Though some of them adopted sports-car design cues, these cars were focused on luxury. Unlike GT cars, there wasn’t much pretense about handling or outright performance. Being your own chauffeur in a car that screams “look at me” without being obnoxious about it was the modus operandi. This brings us to the new Mercedes-Benz S-Class Coupe, the renamed and restyled replacement for the old CL-Class, which was itself effectively an S-Class coupe in all but name. Like those personal luxury cars of old, it rides on a shortened wheelbase and features big V-8 power, but isn’t necessarily concerned with sporty driving, though it’s certainly more capable in that regard than its 1970s predecessors.