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20'S, 30'S - CUSTOM BODIES ON DIFFERENT CHASSIS


lmclassics
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How did the body makers/designers of the classic period make the same bodies to be placed on different chassis, such as Pierce, Lincoln, Packard and others. Were there standard dimensions for bodies back then allowing differentation only by fenders and hoods? For example is a late 30's Brunn Touring Cabriolet body the same for a Packard and a Lincoln?

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Bob is very right, that the wooden body frame had to fit the chassis frame. A good source reference if you want thorough understanding is Hugo Pfau's 1970 book "The Custom Body Era". A coachbuilder might, and probably frequently did build cars of similar style on different chassis because either the manufacturer, or a principal dealer, or the customer ordered them. The design was worked out around the seating positions of the occupants, the most critical being the driver, of course. It was considered ideal that passengers be seated between the axles, so of necessity if the driver was particularly tall, needing extra inches of body space for comfort, they might have to compromise the rear seat legroom slightly on a shorter chassis. It is also worth your time to look at the setion on the J Model in Fred Roe's Duesenberg book "The Pursuit of Perfection". Apart from pictures of cars that had different bodies fitted with varied taste and skill, there is a photo of one of the long wheelbase cars that had a close-coupled body usually seen on short wheelbase chassis, which was built on the inspiration of Halold Ames. The result was of great elegance.

My correnpondance with Hugo Pfau left me in no doubt about his knowledge of custom body cars. When Ray Wolff was on a business visit to Melbourne in 1971, I showed him photo of my Stutz, then in very derelict condition, which has a body which was obviously not standard. I sent photos at his recommendation to Hugo Pfau, whose immediate response was that he recognised it as he should because he had designed it. The number stamped on the cast bronze reinforcing brackets placed its date as late 1927. They made five of the style on the long wheelbase; and it has a small integral storage compartment between and following the contour of the rear mudguards behind the body. A long time after, I found little cardboard labels wired to the springbases of the seats, made by F R Atkinson Spring Co for LeBaron Inc.

In his book there is a chapter dealing with chassis modifications. One of these was the fitting of a two piece tailshaft with a centre bearing. The cassis has such an arrangement, with the centre bearing mounted on an extra Stutz chanell cross-member. Hugo definitely knew his subject, and I commend his book to you for study in the context of your question.

Ivan Saxton

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  • 5 weeks later...

The answer to your question can be found in at least two sources, one current, one out-of-print. Try the excellent website www.coachbuilt.com for an amazing look at all manner of American coachbuilt cars and the companies that made them. This is still in the data-gathering mode, but it's pretty fascinating.

Last year, I purchased on ebay <span style="font-style: italic">The Golden Age of the Luxury Car, An Anthology of Articles and Photographs from <span style="font-weight: bold">Autobody</span>, 1927-1931</span>, having found a copy at our local library. You can read the review I did of it at: To Follow

Hope this helps,

TG

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