Rolls-Royce rolling chassis
In the early motoring days, when series production did not yet exist, the process of acquiring a new vehicle was more complex, as rolling chassis provided the basis for different coachbuilding scenarios.
One approached a chassis motoring brand, who used to deliver to the customer only the rolling chassis, comprising:
- drivetrain (engine, gearbox, differential, axles, wheels)
- steering system
Noticeable fact is that the radiator was the only visual element identifying the rolling chassis brand.
Subsequently the customer approached a coachbuilder, requesting a personal body design to be fitted on the purchased rolling chassis.
Sometimes a coachbuilder himself ordered or got assigned a series of chassis, on which basis he designed and manufactured to his own creative ideas and inspiration the new coachwork(s).
Underpinnings and especially the radiator (as main visible part determining the brand identity!) were discriminating starting points for the final coachwork design.
Each coachbuilt car therefore carried the technical genes of the rolling chassis builder as well as the styling genes of the coachbuilder. The resulting wide range of DNA combinations led to a variety of unique and sometimes priceless coachbuilt cars.
Delahaye did not have an in-house coachbuilding department; all chassis created by Delahaye were subsequently delivered to independent coachbuilders for completion.
Bugatti produced separate rolling chassis as well as complete coachworked cars, offering the customer the choice to obtain a “Molsheim” body (the most beautiful versions designed by Jean Bugatti) or to select him/herself an external (independent) coachbuilder for a fully personalised body.
Rolls-Royce also provided the choice for a factory body or coachbuilt versions.
Special Coachbuilding blossomed until +/- 1945, displaying numerous creation highlights like many Mulliner Park Ward and James Young Rolls Royces, Figoni & Falaschi Bugattis, Chapron Delahayes, Pourtout Tabot-Lagos and many more.