Table of contents:
- More recently, we have already found out that after the Second World War, coachbuilding companies had a hard time: some were forced to close, others radically changed their field of activity, and still others began to establish links with mass producers. However, the 1980s were inevitably approaching - times that for such firms can be called "the era of renaissance."
- Tuning on the verge of coaching
- Factory Coach Building
- Race cars for ordinary roads
- Advanced customization
- Coaching today
More recently, we have already found out that after the Second World War, coachbuilding companies had a hard time: some were forced to close, others radically changed their field of activity, and still others began to establish links with mass producers. However, the 1980s were inevitably approaching - times that for such firms can be called "the era of renaissance."
To immediately fit into the context, recall that the 1980s were also the golden era of motorsport. The insane "Group B" appeared in the rally, and the power of the Formula 1 engines became quite frenzied. A lot of money was drawn into the race from tobacco and alcohol companies, and at the same time - from firms with extremely dubious origins of capital.
And the people who gave money for the races also loved cars. Therefore, they gave a lot. They also wanted to spend their money so that their cars did not look like other people's cars - in general, on the street of coachbuilders and customizers, a truck with gingerbread turned over again.
Tuning on the verge of coaching
The boundaries of coaching began to blur after the Second World War. Well, by the 1980s, it became increasingly difficult to understand where tuning ends and individual bodywork begins again.
Take, for example, the Hamburg firm Caro International. Since the early 1980s, she has been making custom limousines and armored vehicles, but she did not disdain and completely insane individual projects. In 1990, the company released the Mercedes 560 TEL - a station wagon based on the S-class in the 126th body, which uses lights from the E-class station wagon S124. This car was talked about a lot in May 2020 when the Stuart Parr Collection put the original station wagon up for sale.
A similar machine could have been produced by the Binz company, which dates back to 1936. After the war, the company started producing special vehicles based on German cars (mainly Mercedes), which makes a living to this day. However, along with hearses, ambulances and multi-door limousines for airports, the company produces luxury VIP-class limousines, including Gelenevagens with sliding (!) Doors (scroll through the pictures).
Italians also annealed in those years. Salvatore Diomante of Autocostruzione SD, commissioned by sheikhs from the Middle East, built open four-door Rolls-Royce. Because you can hardly think of anything more eye-catching than an open-top Rolls-Royce Silver Spirit in yellow. In 1986, such a pleasure cost 200 thousand pounds, which today is equivalent to 470 thousand pounds (or 41.2 million rubles).
In Germany, they also hunted by modifying sports and supercars in every possible way. For example, DP Motorsport turned the Porsche 944 into spectacular shooting breaks. Optionally, the power unit was also modified.
Factory Coach Building
Naturally, not only relatively small offices, like DP Motorsport, but also the automakers themselves wanted to profit from petrodollars and just dollars of the rich. So firms like Ferrari and Rolls-Royce, whose cars are popular with wealthy clients, began to open special units for individual projects.
Most of them appeared in the late 1980s, when the Sultan of Brunei, Hassanal Bolkiah, fully realized his passion for cars and began to collect the largest, most exclusive, most expensive and perhaps the strangest collection on the planet. It was his immense wealth that led to the emergence of McLaren Special Operations (in 1993), the individualization program for Ferrari cars, which later grew into Ferrari Special Projects, and a number of other "special" departments.
Such projects required the involvement of outside help from specialists with extensive experience in bodywork and design. In the case of Ferrari, it was the Pininfarina studio, Aston Martin - Pininfarin and Zagato … And Bentley and Rolls-Royce, whose position was not the most enviable in the 1980-1990s, collaborated with almost all the studios in Western Europe interspersed.
Here are just a few unusual cars built for Hassanal Bolkiah.
For Bentley, it was the Sultan's orders that became the saving straw: the company could demand astronomical sums (over a million dollars per copy) for Dominator SUVs or Rapier coupes, and the Sultan paid them. And then he had new ideas, and he returned for a new portion of strange machines.
Later, both celebrities and collectors began to be among the customers of individual programs. It is thanks to them that the personalization programs have survived for many brands to this day.
Race cars for ordinary roads
When it became clear in the late 1980s that race cars were becoming too powerful and dangerous, the Federation of Motor Sports (FIA) stepped in and drastically revised the regulations for rally and endurance championships. Yesterday's trail conquerors went to museums and private collections. But there were so many copies of some racing models that it was difficult for them to find a new use, and they did not want to put them under pressure. It was then that the new wave of coachbuilders appeared, represented for the most part by yesterday's racers. They couldn't think of anything better than converting racing prototypes for public roads.
The most interesting in this sense is the Porsche 962, which was "freshened" by at least five firms. And if the conversion from Switec or Dauer did not differ much from the racing car, then the 962nd from Koenig and Schuppan was cut very thoroughly.
The Schuppan 962CR was created by Australian racing driver Vern Schuppan, winner of the 1983 24 Hours of Le Mans. The machines were assembled by ModenCars from Great Britain.
In fact, the 962CR is the most real 962 with a freaky 600-horsepower engine. Only slightly cultured, which was expressed both in the cabin with minimal amenities and in design. By the way, for this very design, inspired by the Porsche 959, Schuppan received a scolding from Porsche and a court order prohibiting the use of the brand emblems on the car.
By the 1990s, tuning began to turn into a more widespread phenomenon. For relatively little money, it was possible to turn a simple Civic into a sports car capable of traveling faster than 200 kilometers per hour. The cult manga Initial D appeared, and the culture celebrated in The Fast and the Furious began to emerge.
Since tuning has ceased to be synonymous with wealth, companies have emerged that can give a little more than new bumpers and wheels. It's hard to call them full-fledged coachbuilders, but still sometimes they shoot with very radical machines.
In the mid-90s, Chip Foose opens his studio, which is known to most for creating hot rods based on American classics. However, Fuzz's portfolio includes not only radically tuned Plymouths and Fords, but also cars whose bodies were built from scratch.
Founded in 1993, West Coast Customs, renowned for its Pimp to Ride Show, also knows more than installing monitors in every vacant body panel.
Some of the body kits of the Japanese company VeilSide, which completely reshape the outlines of the cars, can hardly be called simple tuning. Remember the RX-7 Han from Tokyo Drift? Well, this is exactly VeilSide.
Is this not the best proof that it was at the end of the twentieth century that the line between coaching and tuning was completely erased.
Coaching is experiencing a renaissance these days. The departure from simply advanced tuning, in which only the body panels were changed, to deep structural changes is returning to fashion, albeit not on a mass scale.
In the wake of the growing popularity of individual bodies, the Touring Superleggera studio, which we talked about in previous articles, has revived. Since 2006, she has been involved in both custom body design and advice to car manufacturers, as well as helping to recreate historic models.
Independent studios with a history, like Pininfarin and Zagato, increasingly create custom-made cars for customers. Although, of course, the main source of profit remains the automakers, who want to instill in their cars the original Italian charm.
What's more, Pininfarin is doing so well now that the company is about to launch its own Battista electric car. It would be ironic if some electric supercar buyer turns to Zagato with a request to reshape it in a new way.
Special individualization programs from car manufacturers also live to the full. Ferrari rolls out a new model almost every six months, created by the order of another collector. The same is done at Lamborghini, Bugatti, McLaren and so on.
Japan has become one of the main points of attraction for coaching in the 21st century. In a country that, in principle, gave a lot to custom culture, companies such as Rauh Welt Begriff by Akira Nakai and Liberty Walk have sprung up. You've probably seen super-wide Porsches and Lamborghinis with riveted fenders and giant winglets. So - that's all of them.
Considering that coachbuilding dates back to the Bronze Age, this delicate and beautiful craft can be considered one of the oldest on Earth. It is thanks to him that cars around will never be the same. At least we really want to believe it.