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 motoring brand, who used to deliver to the customer only the rolling chassis, comprising: chassis, drivetrain (engine, gearbox, differential, axles, wheels), suspension, steering system and radiator. Subsequently the customer approached a coachbuilder, requesting a personal body design to be fitted on the rolling chassis. Sometimes a coachbuilder himself ordered or got assigned a series of chassis, on which basis he designed and manufactured the new coachwork to his own creative ideas and inspiration. Sometimes the customer delivered a complete factory car to the coachbuilder with the request to change the entire coachwork or modify certain elements.
After WW II automotive mass production soon became mainstream, ending the era of separate manufacturing of chassis and tailored coachworks. Many coachbuilders went bankrupt, were bought by manufacturers or changed their core business to other activities. Meanwhile many car manufacturers established inhouse design departments themselves, increasingly developing their own design and styling DNA (which were often developed earlier by the coachbuilders). Initially ('40-'50-early sixties) design houses/coachbuilders could still purchase separate chassis on which they could fit their own inhouse designed coachworks. Not without reason: many wealthy customers still commissioned their special one-offs based on 'current' available rolling chassis or even based on other series produced cars.
Productionwise the early days were relatively easy as chassis and coachwork were independently constructed. In the sixties however the monocoque and spaceframe constructions were introduced, which made it significantly more difficult to fit newly designed bodies on a donor chassis/car. Freedom of design became more and more limited due to the predefined shapes of given body structures. The chassis no longer acted simply as a flat undercarriage as it now also comprised the stressed roofline constructions and other stressed body panels (window pillars, rear fenders, and recently even the windows themselves). Also safety regulations became more stringent, resulting in many technical requirements prohibiting most chassis modifications. This forced design houses/coachbuilders to limit their rebody scope of work primarily to the outer panel work, necessarily leaving the basic car structure and proportions untouched.
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