Are coachbuilt cars making a return?

Are coachbuilt cars making a return?

From the earliest days of motoring, cars were built on a rolling chassis to which a body could be added by a coachbuilder. Some of the best known proponents of this art were, and are starting to be again, Rolls-Royce.  

 Names such as Mulliners, Hooper, Park Ward and Thrupp and Maberly produced bodies that adorned the likes of Rolls-Royce, Bentley, Alvis and Daimler. In the 1960s Vanden Plas featured on models such as the Vanden Plas Princess R powered by a Rolls-Royce engine. More ignominiously it also appeared on much later BL models such as the Allegro! Another coachbuilder was Swallow, based in Blackpool, which started life as Swallow Sidecars and ultimately became Jaguar. 


Coachbuilt cars were still not uncommon in the early 1960s, but as monocoque construction took hold it reduced production costs and time while retaining the integral strength of the body. It pretty much sounded the death knell for the coachbuilding industry and if names survived they were reduced to little more than a badge on a posh version of a mass produced model. 


A couple of years ago Rolls-Royce produced three coachbuilt Boat Tail models that at the time were rumoured to be the most expensive cars in the world at around €26/£23 million each. Many luxury car makers use a spaceframe sub-structure which allows for more design and manufacturing freedom. However the costs of such cars will always be beyond normal motoring folk. 


Inadvertently though we may have already witnessed the birth of a new generation of effectively coachbuilt cars. Many car makers have amalgamated, for example Stellantis owns Fiat, Alfa Romeo, Chrysler, Jeep, Peugeot, Citroen, DS, Opel, Vauxhall plus a slew of other brands. Volkswagen Audi Group is another example with the Volkswagen, Audi, SEAT and Skoda brands amongst their particular garage.  


Even where there hasn’t been a merger or amalgamation, automotive coalescences  

have taken place. The reportedly less than harmonious Renault-Nissan alliance has survived for over two decades, and Toyota has a small interest in Suzuki. All these couplings allow manufacturers to share underpinnings of body and mechanical components. Toyota’s Supra and BMW’s Z4 share the same underpinnings despite one being a roadster and the other a coupe. Skoda’s Octavia, SEAT’s Leon and Audi’s A3 all share the same platform under their bodies.  


So even those of us that drive more humble vehicles may have inadvertently become the owners of a new generation of coachbuilt cars.  

Thank you for taking the time to read this article. Do remember to come back and check The Euro Weekly News website for all your up-to-date local and international news stories. Remember, you can also follow us on Facebook and Instagram.   

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Written by

Mark Slack

If you're a petrol head you're in good hands with Mark Slack, whose expert take on the latest car releases will help you make your next purchase.