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Hemmings Article on Budd All-Steel Bodies Development and the Affect on the Industry


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Really a great article but I am still a bit perplexed on the construction details compared to my Budd built 1927 Chrysler "50".  Automobile Quarterly did deep dive into the Budd story, I might have to dig out and re-read it.

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Very interesting article. I love it when we get a glimpse inside the great minds of innovation from that era. 

The communication and respect Ledwinka and Budd had are prevalent throughout.

 

Most companies today say they like to hear from employees in order to improve a process or to enhance innovations but they don't really mean it and at times use it as a tool for punishment. In the case of Budd Mfg and this article it was pursued whole heartedly, very encouraging to see... The article is a snapshot of the transition process that was necessary. 

 

Thanks for sharing it.

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21 minutes ago, 4Hud said:

"... but I am still a bit perplexed on the construction details compared to my Budd built 1927 Chrysler "50". "

The internal steel structure of earlier Budd bodies such as your Chrysler essential duplicated the function of and replace what could have been a wood structure with exterior steel panel attached.   This method Ledwinka developed integrated the construction and function into a single unit. 

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I have many ( hundreds) of Budd factory photographs of the 1920? - 1933 era mounted on linen that were at some point in bound books as there are holes at one side of the photograph to keep the photos in an album. The French Citroen and Budd had a working relationship in the use of all steel bodies as well. The material I have also includes a large assortment of wood factory styling models and as shown here photographs of the different presses that were made and used to stamp out the steel sections before they were welded together.

Edited by Walt G
typo (see edit history)
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The article mentions that the first steel mills to make quality sheet metal wide enough to make a body side in one piece, went into production in 1932. The first mass produced coupes and  sedans with all steel roofs, no fabric insert, came along in 1934 or 1935. They had to wait for the wide sheet metal, and giant stamping presses big enough to make a whole roof in one piece. Some expensive cars got the same result with hand work, I am told the Cord 810 and 812 sedans had an all steel roof welded together of 7 stampings, with the seams hand finished with lead body solder. The all steel body with no roof insert was a great advance in strength and longevity of cheap mass produced cars. One of the things that narrowed the gap between the mass market car and the expensive hand built car. By the late 30s it was hard to justify paying 3 or 4 times as much money or more, for a car that was not a great deal faster, roomier or more comfortable than a Buick or Chrysler eight.

Edited by Rusty_OToole (see edit history)
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I don't mean to be  blasphemous, but I've wondered in the past, when some of these vintage cars have been resurrected why some have not chosen to replace the problematic and very expensive wood structures with better lasting and more solid steel instead?

I'm not talking about rare and stratosphere expensive marques, but perhaps mid to lower level valued cars. I believe a good welder could fab and install an inner structure for much less $$$ than wood. 

Just an idle but recurring thought....

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Thanks Tom.

I knew I couldn't be the only guy who was thinking this. No more sagging doors, climate controlled storage not quite as critical, less body flex, solid seat belt anchor points and probably several other benefits. 

Over the years I have passed on several cars I would like to have done, due to the wood work involved. While I'm a good mechanic and possess no fear of anything ferrous, my carpenter skills are atrocious. 

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That was an awesome read!  Two important facts that I got out of that story: The all steel body did as much to kill off the independent automakers as the Great Depression did. And, styling was changed to accommodate the all steel body. (as in Art Deco).

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1 hour ago, Tom Boehm said:

That was an awesome read!  Two important facts that I got out of that story: The all steel body did as much to kill off the independent automakers as the Great Depression did. And, styling was changed to accommodate the all steel body. (as in Art Deco).

Indeed it did, along with other factors that made it more difficult for the smaller independent automaker to bear the upfront costs for each new models since they didn't have as much volume to amortize those costs.   Even for the Big Three, the need to beginning major body sharing programs across various nameplates came more into focus and the standard practice.  As much as we love the low volume, custom coachbuilt bodies of companies such as LeBaron, Brunn, Murphy, Dietrich, Willougby, Derham, Judkins et al, the all-steel body initiation for mass-market cars sounded their death knell. 

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