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A coachbuilder is a manufacturer of bodies for carriage
Carriage
A carriage is a wheeled vehicle for people, usually horse-drawn; litters and sedan chairs are excluded, since they are wheelless vehicles. The carriage is especially designed for private passenger use and for comfort or elegance, though some are also used to transport goods. It may be light,...

s or automobile
Automobile
An automobile, autocar, motor car or car is a wheeled motor vehicle used for transporting passengers, which also carries its own engine or motor...

s.

The trade dates back several centuries. Rippon was active in the time of Queen Elizabeth I, Barker
Hooper (coachbuilder)
Hooper was a British coachbuilding company based in London.-Founding:The company was founded as Adams and Hooper in 1805 and held a royal warrant from 1830, building elegant horse drawn carriages, supplying them to King William IV, Queen Victoria and King Edward VII. The first royal car, a Hooper...

 founded in 1710 by an officer in Queen Anne
Anne of Great Britain
Anne ascended the thrones of England, Scotland and Ireland on 8 March 1702. On 1 May 1707, under the Act of Union, two of her realms, England and Scotland, were united as a single sovereign state, the Kingdom of Great Britain.Anne's Catholic father, James II and VII, was deposed during the...

's Guards, Brewster
Brewster & Co.
Brewster & Company was an American coachbuilder, active from 1810-1937. Their first known bodywork on an automobile was in 1896, on an electric car, and a gasoline powered car in 1905, on a Delaunay-Belleville chassis. Eventually they would use chassis from a variety of makers...

 a relative newcomer (though oldest in the U.S.), formed in 1810. Others in Britain included Hooper
Hooper (coachbuilder)
Hooper was a British coachbuilding company based in London.-Founding:The company was founded as Adams and Hooper in 1805 and held a royal warrant from 1830, building elegant horse drawn carriages, supplying them to King William IV, Queen Victoria and King Edward VII. The first royal car, a Hooper...

, H. J. Mulliner & Co.
H. J. Mulliner & Co.
H. J. Mulliner & Co. was a well-known British coachbuilder operating at Chiswick in West London.The Mulliner family can trace their coachbuilding history back to 1760, building coaches for the Royal Mail in Northampton....

, Park Ward
Park Ward
Park Ward was a British coachbuilder founded by William M. Park and Charles W. Ward in 1919. They had worked together at F.W. Berwick Ltd., the makers of Sizaire-Berwick cars.Their business operated from Willesden, North London.-History:...

, Gurney Nutting
J Gurney Nutting & Co Limited
J Gurney Nutting & Co Limited was an English firm of bespoke coachbuilders specialising in sporting bodies founded in 1918 as a new enterprise by a Croydon firm of builders and joiners of the same name...

, Freestone & Webb
Freestone and Webb
Freestone and Webb were an English coachbuilder, most notably for Rolls-Royce and Bentley motor cars.The company was formed in 1923 by V.E. Freestone and A.J. Webb as a specialist coachbuilding service, based in workshops in Brentfield Road, Willesden, North London, which became its home for its...

, Barker
Hooper (coachbuilder)
Hooper was a British coachbuilding company based in London.-Founding:The company was founded as Adams and Hooper in 1805 and held a royal warrant from 1830, building elegant horse drawn carriages, supplying them to King William IV, Queen Victoria and King Edward VII. The first royal car, a Hooper...

, Tickford
Tickford
Tickford is an automobile engineering and testing company with a history of coachbuilding and tuning and is famous for such products as the 140 mph Tickford Turbo Capri.-Early years:...

, Thrupp & Maberly
Thrupp & Maberly
Thrupp & Maberly was a British coachbuilding company based in London, England.-Origin:This business was created by a merger in 1858 of the carriage builders Joseph Thrupp, who established his business in George Street in 1760, and George Maberly.As far back as the 1880s Thrupp & Maberly began its...

, Windover, James Young
James Young (coachbuilder)
James Young Ltd was a British coachbuilding company. The business was started in 1863 in LondonRoad, Bromley. originally producing horsedrawn carriages....

 and Vanden Plas
Vanden Plas
Vanden Plas is the name of a company of coachbuilders who produced bodies for specialist and up-market automobile manufacturers. Latterly the name became a top-end luxury model designation for cars from various subsidiaries of British Leyland and the Rover Group.-Belgium:It originated in Belgium in...

. In France, they were led by Binder, Figoni et Falaschi, Chapron, Kellner, Labourdette, Letourneur et Marchand, Gangloff, Pourtout, Guilloré, Franay or Hibbard & Darrin
Hibbard & Darrin
Hibbard & Darrin was a French coach building company.Two American designers, Thomas L Hibbard and Raymond H Dietrich had met while working for Brewster...

 (formed by Americans). Germany's top firms were Erdmann & Rossi, Gläser
Glaser
Glaser is a surname that is derived from the occupation of the glazier, or glass cutter.-Notable persons with this surname:* Barney Glaser, , see Grounded Theory* Christopher Glaser, a Swiss chemist of the 17th century...

, Karmann
Karmann
Wilhelm Karmann GmbH, commonly known simply as Karmann, in Osnabrück, Germany was until 2009 the largest independent motor vehicle manufacturing company in Germany...

, Hebmüller
Hebmüller
The coachbuilding company Hebmüller And Sons was founded in 1889 by Joseph Hebmüller, it was established in the town of Wuppertal in Germany....

, Neuss, and Papler. Italy had firms such as Pininfarina
Pininfarina
Pininfarina S.p.A. is an Italian car design firm and coachbuilder in Cambiano, Italy.Founded as Società anonima Carrozzeria Pinin Farina in 1930 by automobile designer and builder Battista "Pinin" Farina, Pininfarina has been employed by a wide variety of high-end automobile manufacturers,...

, Bertone, Frua
Pietro Frua
Pietro Frua was one of the leading Italian coachbuilders and car designers during the 1950s and 1960s.-Early years:...

, Castagna
Carrozzeria Castagna
Carrozzeria Castagna is an Italian coachbuilding company from Milan. The company history startsin 1849 when Carlo Castagna bought the Ferrari coachbuilding business. In the end of 1800 was made first coach to automobile with...

, Ghia, Allemano
Carrozzeria Allemano
Carrozzeria Allemano was an automobile coachbuilder in Turin, Italy, owned by Serafino Allemano. Allemano made various cars based on their own designs, and in some cases, externally made designs, such as those by Michelotti...

, Scaglietti
Carrozzeria Scaglietti
Carrozzeria Scaglietti was an Italian automobile design and coachbuilding company active in the 1950s. It was founded by Sergio Scaglietti in 1951 as an automobile repair concern, but was located across the road from Ferrari in Maranello outside Modena, Italy.Scaglietti gained Enzo Ferrari's...

, Marazzi
Carrozzeria Marazzi
Carrozzeria Marazzi is an Italian coachbuilding company founded in 1967 and is located in Caronno Pertusella, outside Milan.The company was established by Carlo Marazzi and employees from the then bankrupt Carrozzeria Touring of Milan...

, Boneschi
Carrozzeria Boneschi
Carrozzeria Boneschi S.r.L. is an Italian coachbuilder, mainly of commercial vehicles. Until 1960, the company was mostly involved with automobile manufacturers such as Talbot, Rolls Royce, Alfa Romeo, Lancia and Fiat. It was established in Milano by Giovanni Boneschi, moving to Cambiago in...

, Fissore, Alessio (of Turin, responsible for the first eight FIATs built), Zagato
Zagato
Zagato is a design consultancy and engineering services company situated just outside Milan, Italy.The company's premises occupy an area of , of which are covered....

, Vignale
Vignale
Vignale was an Italian automobile coachbuilder company. Carrozzeria Alfredo Vignale was established in 1948 at Via Cigliano, Turin by Alfredo Vignale in Grugliasco, near Turin ....

 and Touring
Carrozzeria Touring
Carrozzeria Touring is an automobile coachbuilder established on March 25, 1926 in Milan, Italy by Felice Bianchi Anderloni and Gaetano Ponzoni...

. The U.S. featured Brewster & Co.
Brewster & Co.
Brewster & Company was an American coachbuilder, active from 1810-1937. Their first known bodywork on an automobile was in 1896, on an electric car, and a gasoline powered car in 1905, on a Delaunay-Belleville chassis. Eventually they would use chassis from a variety of makers...

, Brunn, Fleetwood
Fleetwood Metal Body
Fleetwood Metal Body was an automobile coachbuilder. The name derives from Fleetwood, Pennsylvania, home of the company at the start, and lived on for decades in the form of the Cadillac Fleetwood and various Fleetwood trim lines on Cadillac cars....

, LeBaron
LeBaron Incorporated
LeBaron Incorporated was a design and coach building company from 1920 until 1953.American designers Raymond H. Dietrich and Thomas L. Hibbard had met while working for Brewster. Tiring of the corporate environment they started freelance work in their spare time and when William H...

, Murphy, Derham, Locke, Rollston
Rollston
Rollston Company was an American coachbuilder. The company built bodies for chassis supplied by Bugatti, Buick, Cadillac, Chrysler, Cord, Duesenberg, Ford, Hispano-Suiza, Lancia, Lincoln, Mercedes-Benz, Minerva, Packard, Peerless, Pierce-Arrow, Rolls-Royce, Stearns-Knight and Stutz.Harry Lonschein...

 and Willoughby. The best known coachbuilder from Holland was Pennock, but there were also Veth & Zn. and Van Rijswijk. In Belgium, it was d'Ieteren and van den Plas and located in Switzerland were Hermann Graber or Ramsauer & Cie which also was known as Worblaufen after the place they were built.

In the early motoring days, when series production did not yet exist, the process of acquiring a new vehicle was more complex. A customer approached a chassis motoring brand, who used to deliver to the customer only the rolling chassis, comprising: chassis, drivetrain (engine, gearbox, differential, axles, wheels), suspension, steering system and the radiator - the radiator was the only visual element identifying the rolling chassis brand. Subsequently the customer approached a coachbuilder, requesting a personal body design to be fitted on the purchased rolling chassis. Initially, the skills used to build the wooden and metal bodies of vehicles were so specialized, (such as the English wheel
English Wheel
The English wheel, in Britain also known as a Wheeling machine, is a metalworking tool that enables a craftsman to form compound curves from flat sheets of metal such as aluminium or steel. The process of using an English wheel is known as Wheeling...

), that most manufacturers procured contracts with existing coachbuilders to produce bodies for their chassis. For example, Fisher Body
Fisher Body
Fisher Body is an automobile coachbuilder founded by the Fisher brothers in 1908 in Detroit, Michigan; it is now an operating division of General Motors Company...

 built all of Cadillac's closed bodies in the 1910s.

Commonly the larger dealers or distributors of ultra-luxury cars would order for stock chassis and particular bodies thought most likely to sell and have them made in suitable quantities for sale off their showroom floor.

Though automobile manufacturers brought body building skills in-house, the practice of bespoke or custom coachbuilding remained in favour among the rich who continued the habit of centuries past. All ultra-luxury vehicles sold as chassis only. For instance, when Duesenberg
Duesenberg
Duesenberg was an Auburn, Indiana based American luxury automobile company active in various forms from 1913 to 1937, most famous for its high-quality passenger cars and record-breaking racing cars.-History:...

 introduced their Model J, it was offered as chassis only, for $8,500. Other examples include the Bugatti Type 57
Bugatti Type 57
The Bugatti Type 57 and later variants was an entirely new design by Jean Bugatti, son of founder Ettore. Type 57s were built from 1934 through 1940, with a total of 710 examples produced....

, Cadillac V-16, Ferrari 250
Ferrari 250
The Ferrari 250 is a sports car built by Ferrari from 1953 to 1964. The company's most successful early line, the 250 series included several variants. It was replaced by the 275 and the 330.-Similarities:...

, Isotta Fraschini Tipo 8
Isotta Fraschini Tipo 8
The Isotta Fraschini Tipo 8 is an automobile introduced in 1919 by Isotta Fraschini. The car was equipped with straight-8 engine and it was first serial produced car in the world to have such an engine....

 and all Rolls-Royces produced before World War II. Delahaye
Delahaye
Delahaye automobile manufacturing company was started by Emile Delahaye in 1894, in Tours, France. His first cars were belt-driven, with single- or twin-cylinder engines. In 1900, Delahaye left the company.-History:...

 had no in-house coachworks, so all its chassis were bodied by independents, who created some of their most attractive designs on the Type 135. Most of the Delahaye
Delahaye
Delahaye automobile manufacturing company was started by Emile Delahaye in 1894, in Tours, France. His first cars were belt-driven, with single- or twin-cylinder engines. In 1900, Delahaye left the company.-History:...

s were bodied by Chapron, Labourdette, Franay, Saoutchik
Saoutchik
Founded by cabinet maker Jacques Saoutchik , Saoutchik was a top-class French coachbuilding company founded in 1906. In the 1930s the company became famous for their high quality and often extravagant designs. After Jacques died in 1955, the company passed into the hands of his son Pierre...

, Figoni & Falaschi, Pennock and many more.

The advent of unibody construction, where the car body is unified with, and structurally integral to the chassis, made custom coachbuilding (in the traditional sense of putting a bespoke body on a factory supplied separate chassis) practically impossible. Many coachbuilders closed down, were bought by manufacturers or changed their core business to other activities:
  • transforming into dedicated design / styling houses, subcontracting to automotive brands (e.g. Zagato
    Zagato
    Zagato is a design consultancy and engineering services company situated just outside Milan, Italy.The company's premises occupy an area of , of which are covered....

    , Frua, Bertone, Pininfarina
    Pininfarina
    Pininfarina S.p.A. is an Italian car design firm and coachbuilder in Cambiano, Italy.Founded as Società anonima Carrozzeria Pinin Farina in 1930 by automobile designer and builder Battista "Pinin" Farina, Pininfarina has been employed by a wide variety of high-end automobile manufacturers,...

    ).
  • and/or transforming into general coachwork series manufacturer, subcontracting to automotive brands (e.g. Karmann
    Karmann
    Wilhelm Karmann GmbH, commonly known simply as Karmann, in Osnabrück, Germany was until 2009 the largest independent motor vehicle manufacturing company in Germany...

    , Bertone, Vignale
    Vignale
    Vignale was an Italian automobile coachbuilder company. Carrozzeria Alfredo Vignale was established in 1948 at Via Cigliano, Turin by Alfredo Vignale in Grugliasco, near Turin ....

    , Pininfarina
    Pininfarina
    Pininfarina S.p.A. is an Italian car design firm and coachbuilder in Cambiano, Italy.Founded as Società anonima Carrozzeria Pinin Farina in 1930 by automobile designer and builder Battista "Pinin" Farina, Pininfarina has been employed by a wide variety of high-end automobile manufacturers,...

    ).
  • manufacturing of special coachworks for trucks, delivery vans, touringcars, ambulances, fire engines, public transport vehicles, etc (e.g. Pennock, Veth & Zoon, Akkermans, Heuliez
    Heuliez
    Heuliez is a French company that works as a production and design unit for various automakers. It specializes in producing short series for niche markets, such as convertibles or station-wagons....

    ).
  • becoming technical partner for development of e.g. roof constructions (e.g. Karmann
    Karmann
    Wilhelm Karmann GmbH, commonly known simply as Karmann, in Osnabrück, Germany was until 2009 the largest independent motor vehicle manufacturing company in Germany...

    , Heuliez
    Heuliez
    Heuliez is a French company that works as a production and design unit for various automakers. It specializes in producing short series for niche markets, such as convertibles or station-wagons....

    ) or producer of various (aftermarket) automotive parts (e.g. Giannini
    Giannini Automobili
    Giannini Automobili S.p.A. is an Italian tuning company as well as a past producer of its own cars. Their focus has mainly been on Fiat cars. It was originally founded in 1920 by brothers Attilio and Domenico Giannini. The company headquarters are in Rome, Italy.-Origins:Originally founded in 1920...

    ).


Coachbuilding survived for a time among low-production companies such as Rolls-Royce
Rolls-Royce (car)
This a list of Rolls-Royce motor cars and includes vehicles produced by:*Rolls-Royce Limited *Rolls-Royce Motors , which was owned by Vickers between 1980 and 1998, and after that by Volkswagen...

, Ferrari
Ferrari
Ferrari S.p.A. is an Italian sports car manufacturer based in Maranello, Italy. Founded by Enzo Ferrari in 1929, as Scuderia Ferrari, the company sponsored drivers and manufactured race cars before moving into production of street-legal vehicles as Ferrari S.p.A. in 1947...

, Bentley
Bentley
Bentley Motors Limited is a British manufacturer of automobiles founded on 18 January 1919 by Walter Owen Bentley known as W.O. Bentley or just "W O". Bentley had been previously known for his range of rotary aero-engines in World War I, the most famous being the Bentley BR1 as used in later...

 and glassfiber reinforced plastic Corvette
Corvette
A corvette is a small, maneuverable, lightly armed warship, originally smaller than a frigate and larger than a coastal patrol craft or fast attack craft , although many recent designs resemble frigates in size and role...

 because of its low cost for a short run. Producing body die
Die (manufacturing)
A die is a specialized tool used in manufacturing industries to cut or shape material using a press. Like molds, dies are generally customized to the item they are used to create...

s is extremely expensive (a single door can run to US$40,000), which is only practical when large numbers are involved.

Coachbuilders are: carrossiers in French
French language
French is a Romance language spoken as a first language in France, the Romandy region in Switzerland, Wallonia and Brussels in Belgium, Monaco, the regions of Quebec and Acadia in Canada, and by various communities elsewhere. Second-language speakers of French are distributed throughout many parts...

, carrozzeria in Italian
Italian language
Italian is a Romance language spoken mainly in Europe: Italy, Switzerland, San Marino, Vatican City, by minorities in Malta, Monaco, Croatia, Slovenia, France, Libya, Eritrea, and Somalia, and by immigrant communities in the Americas and Australia...

, karosseriebauer in German
German language
German is a West Germanic language, related to and classified alongside English and Dutch. With an estimated 90 – 98 million native speakers, German is one of the world's major languages and is the most widely-spoken first language in the European Union....

 and carroceros in Spanish
Spanish language
Spanish , also known as Castilian , is a Romance language in the Ibero-Romance group that evolved from several languages and dialects in central-northern Iberia around the 9th century and gradually spread with the expansion of the Kingdom of Castile into central and southern Iberia during the...

.

In reference to a recreational vehicle
Recreational vehicle
Recreational vehicle or RV is, in North America, the usual term for a Motor vehicle or trailer equipped with living space and amenities found in a home.-Features:...

 or motorhome, coach-built means a vehicle which has been purpose-built, using only a chassis
Chassis
A chassis consists of an internal framework that supports a man-made object. It is analogous to an animal's skeleton. An example of a chassis is the underpart of a motor vehicle, consisting of the frame with the wheels and machinery.- Vehicles :In the case of vehicles, the term chassis means the...

as a base vehicle, as opposed to a conversion which is built inside an existing vehicle body.

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