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- Imagine: you bought a very nice and expensive suit. It is made of excellent fabric, fits perfectly, and you are simply irresistible in it. And it costs a lot - for example, like a lively four-wheel drive car. However, he does not hold a candle to a suit made to order, according to individual patterns, and people who, from 10 meters, can distinguish sheep wool from alpaca wool. It's the same with coaching: no matter how cool your car is, it will never be as incredible as a one-of-a-kind custom car. Today we begin our story about automotive ateliers ready to satisfy any whim
Video: Tailoring: The History Of Individual Bodywork. Part One: From The & Nbsp; Bronze Age To & Nbsp; War
Imagine: you bought a very nice and expensive suit. It is made of excellent fabric, fits perfectly, and you are simply irresistible in it. And it costs a lot - for example, like a lively four-wheel drive car. However, he does not hold a candle to a suit made to order, according to individual patterns, and people who, from 10 meters, can distinguish sheep wool from alpaca wool. It's the same with coaching: no matter how cool your car is, it will never be as incredible as a one-of-a-kind custom car. Today we begin our story about automotive ateliers ready to satisfy any whim
Even if you charter the Akademik Mstislav Keldysh ship and descend to the maximum depth that the Mir spacecraft can handle, you won't be able to discover the roots of coaching: these roots will go even deeper. But what is really there - the construction of bodies for individual orders dates back to the times when human mobility was just in its infancy.
This, in fact, is reflected in the title. Coachbuilding is translated from English as "carriage building" or "carriage building", and harnessed carriages and carts appeared on this planet in the Bronze Age (XXXV / XXXIII-XIII / XI century BC).
As civilization developed and new tools appeared, carriages and carriages were constantly improved, and not only technically, but also aesthetically. Noble gentlemen preferred to decorate their vehicles with carvings, stucco molding, family coats of arms. Anything, just to emphasize your status and make transport a part of your own image! This, in essence, was coaching.
To understand how old the phenomenon of individual bodywork is (and once there was no alternative to it at all), here are a few facts. Back in 1559, the Spanish Marquis García de Toledo traveled around Barcelona in a carriage decorated with gold stucco inside and outside - this is a documented fact. It is unlikely that such a cart could be bought in the nearest stable in the 16th century.
And in 1690 a livery company was created in London, the full name of which can be translated as "The venerable company of coachmakers and harness makers" (Worshipful Company of Coachmakers and Coach Harness Makers). In fact, it was an association of carriage creators who guaranteed the quality of their own work and pledged to check it with those craftsmen who were not part of this association. The association fought for its recognition for almost the entire seventeenth century: an application for registration was filed back in 1630, but it was possible to achieve an honorary royal certificate only in 1677. And to start activities - even later.
There were various reasons for this: the English Revolution, the constantly changing composition of the participants, the joining of the carriage wheel craftsmen to the company, which led to a revision of the application. In general, the process turned out to be complicated and long. But the livery company still exists - however, now it monitors the quality not of carriages, but of cars - and greatly values its difficult history, which began in the 17th century.
Coaching in the modern sense was essentially born at that time. The process of the formation of the industry did not even stop the transition from animal traction to steam or gasoline engines. It's just that eminent carriage workshops quickly retrained with the development of technology - and instead of horse-drawn carriages, they began to create bodies for cars.
Among such companies is the British Rippon Bros, which made carriages during the reign of Queen Elizabeth the First (1558-1603).In the 1920s, she built bodies for luxury Rolls-Royces, Renault and Bentleys, and ceased to exist only in 1970! Another example is the Italian CarrozzeriCastagna, founded in 1849. The company operates to this day and has not changed its scope of activity, producing cars for individual orders - from buggies based on the Fiat 500 to luxury station wagons based on the Audi A8.
Understanding the nature of coaching is easy. People, especially those with great or huge wealth, did not want (and do not want) to use the same things as the rest - both in the golden age and in the era of industrialization.
And the very design of the first cars in every possible way contributed to the development of this business. Before World War II, the lion's share of cars had a frame structure, almost like carriages. The body did not carry the power load, and it could be modified to your taste, so long as the frame did not crack.
But since it was more difficult to build cars than carriages, almost all automobile production in the late 19th and early 20th centuries was divided into two stages. First, the automaker (Cadillac, Renault, someone else) created the frame, engine, transmission and suspension of the future car - this was the basis. After that, the "naked" but movable structure was transferred to the coachbuilders - who could be both "courtiers" and outsiders. And it was with them that the car took on its final look.
With the appearance of the Ford Model T in 1908 and the beginning of the full-cycle assembly line assembly (not a moving frame, but a ready-to-use car left the Ford factory), logically, difficult times were bound to come for independent coachbuilders. However, everything happened exactly the opposite: it was the period from 1910 to 1939 that became the "golden era" for them. Body shops were in almost every major city in Europe and America. Because the rich still wanted to emphasize their peculiarity in every possible way, and the cars that came off the assembly line ready were for ordinary people. Therefore, the variety and aesthetics of the works of those years were amazing.
Yes, manufacturers of luxury cars (Bugatti, Isotta, Duesenberg, Rolls-Royce, Delahaye, Delage and others) had mastered the assembly line of some elements by the 1920s. But the output was the same: the bare frame, the engine, the gearbox, the suspension, the wheels, the dashboard, and that was it. IsottFraschini Tipo 8, for example, was only sold topless. The cost of the chassis was $ 9,500 (145 thousand current dollars - or 10.4 million rubles).
And then the selection of the "suit" began. If you look at the listings of the leading auctions with this model, for example Bonhams or Sotheby's, then note that there are no two identical Fraschini Tipo 8s.
For example, the yellow cabriolet of 1924 in these photos bears the bodywork of Ramseier, a Swiss studio that was considered one of the best coachbuilders in the country. The firm built convertibles and roadsters based on chassis from BMW, Mercedes-Benz, AlfRomeo and other companies. Alas, the company could not survive the difficult post-war time, and in 1958 it closed its doors forever. As for the IsottFraschini Model 8A convertible itself, its first owner, according to rumors, was the head of the watch company Omega.
This is also IsottFraschini Tipo 8, but already the work of Marius Frenet, a Parisian coachbuilder who created elegant bodies mainly on shortened chassis. The atelier was founded in 1903 by Marius's father, Jean-Baptiste Frenet. From the famous works of the Franay studio - the absolutely incredible Delahaye 145 Cabriolet, as well as the ceremonial Citroen Traction Avant for the President of France Rene Coty (both cars are in the photos under this paragraph). And IsottFraschini Tipo 8 also belonged to a high-ranking official - in this case, a Belgian one.
Both businessmen and politicians turned to coachbuilders. And the waiting time did not bother anyone. Imagine a picture if now, instead of a Mercedes-Benz S-class, the customer first received only a trolley with a motor, and then had to wait a few more weeks. But in those years it was a normal practice. And since the bodies were made by hand, they were the most expensive piece of this "puzzle".
In this regard, the example of Isotta's main competitor, the Duesenberg Model J, is indicative.The car chassis cost $ 8,500 (about 130 thousand modern dollars, that is, 9.4 million rubles), but after installing a custom body, the price jumped to 20, or even 25 thousand dollars (380 thousand current dollars - or 27.6 million rubles) ! Naturally, Duesenberg had, so to speak, a court designer (Gordon Buryig) and a body shop, but only half of the clients resorted to their services. The other half needed something even more exclusive.
The list of coachbuilders who have worked on Duesenberg vehicles is endless: Murphy, Rollston, Judkins, Packard, Walker-LaGrande, Roxas, Willoughby, Bohman & Schwartz to name just the tip of the iceberg. Thanks to the work of the repairers, the Model J could be a landau, a roadster, a convertible, a speedster, a sedan - with either two or three rows of seats. The famous Jacques Savchik also worked with the most prestigious brand of the pre-war era.
Savchik was one of the leading coachbuilders in France and the pre-war era. But for us, he is notable for the fact that he comes from the Russian Empire! His real name is Yakov Savchuk. Born in 1880 in Koydanovo (now it is Dzerzhinsk in Belarus), but in 1899 he emigrated to France. And although Savchik was a cabinetmaker by education, after the move he decided to abandon coffee tables and dressing tables in favor of unique car bodies. And how great it is that he was engaged in the bodywork.
Savchik has at least two Dusenbergs on his account. One of them (pictured above) was ordered by a customer from Sweden. The car was distinguished by roomy wardrobe trunks on the sidewalls, where both luggage and tools were stored. The latter, perhaps, was superfluous - Duesenberg cars rarely broke down.
Another Model J from Saoutchik was purchased by a client from Poland, and like her photographs, it has not survived. But the fate of the Swedish Dyuzi is still unsolved - perhaps the car is still standing in some shed …
In general, Savchik's art deco creations were not like anything else. They were so airy and futuristic that other French studios tried to imitate them. And it was not always convincing. Today, Saoutchik's bodyshells are worth millions of dollars and are collectibles. However, the same can be said about the monumental works of other workshops of that time.
Before World War II, there were more than 400 (!) Coachbuilding firms around the world. But after the war, their number decreased by more than ten times - and not only for the reason that the rich were not up to frills. But because cars began to replace frame structures with monocoque bodies. But we will talk about this stage in the next article.
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