AGASOTE - a fire-resistant
high-density fibre-board panel originally developed for use in rail
cars for ceilings and compartment linings. In the early teens it became
a popular automotive roofing material and was sometimes used to line
commercial van and ambulance bodies. Agasote was a product of the
Agasote Millboard Company of West Trenton, New Jersey. - see HOMASOTE
ANTIQUE - a general description of
any car that is 25 years old or more. All Full Classics™ are
antiques, but not all antiques are Full Classics™ as defined by
WEATHER or ALLWEATHER or ALL WEATHER TRANSFORMABLE (Br.) - a term used
in the twenties and rarely in the thirties for a Cabriolet. In England
it can denote a four door CONVERTIBLE SEDAN. Some early examples were
built using the Baehr patent - see BAEHR PATENT.
ANTIQUE - most states and many multi
marque auto Clubs consider any vehicle that is at least 25 years old to
be an "antique." Purists would argue that the term refers to
vehicles made no later than 1915.
"A" PILLARS - the windshield posts
or forward most of the roof supports
ARESMA - a German brand of cloth top
material that was fairly popular prior to the mid-1980’s and remains in
LEATHER - a surface coated fabric used for top material, upholstery or
for auto interior trim. Generally these were pyroxylin
coated fabrics. The term was pretty much obsolete after 1950, but
during later years of use, was cleverly modified to “art leather”.
ARTILLERY WHEEL - this was the
standard wheel type on early cars in which the rim was attached to the
hub with thick hard-wood spokes, generally numbering 12
ART MODERNE [aka ART DECO] - from
Paris' 1925 International Exhibition of Modern Industrial and
Decorative Arts was born what we know as Art moderne. At 1929's NY
Salon Fleetwood exhibited an art moderne Cadillac of sable and polished
metal, with damascened hood, polished aluminum moldings around its
windows, as well as chrome-plated lamps, windshield frame, wheel spokes
and trunk rack. The interior featured a figured rayon fabric on
seats and armrests, piped with silver leather. 2 opera seats were
fitted in the ornate division that was inlaid with 22 kinds of polished
hardwoods in a modern design; hardware was 2-tone color-plated. In 1933
Cadillac exhibited a new art moderne car, its aerodynamic coupe on the
V16 chassis, in the Hall of Travel for the Chicago World Fair "A
Century of Progress". Also at the 1933 Worlds Fair were the
"Twenty-Grand" Rollston-bodied Duesenberg, Packard's Dietrich-bodied
"Car of the Dome" - featuring the all-metal roof - and Pierce-Arrow's
"Silver Arrow" designed by Philip Wright.
ARTZ PRESS - a press used to form
metal cowls for custom bodies. Designed by J.D. Artz of the Dayton
Folding Tonneau Company in the early 1920s.
ASSIST STRAPS -
standard equipment on enclosed coachbuilt cars, they assist the rear
seat passenger when exiting the vehicle. Typically a twisted braided
cord with a large pom-pom or finial on the end. Some where made of a
looped strap made from leather, sometimes covered with fabric or coach
lace. They were located to the rear of the back door openings on the
post between the door and the rear quarter window. Later vehicles
featured vertical grab handles in place of the assist straps.
AUTOPHONE - a one way telephone
connecting the occupants of the rear seat with the chauffeur. If placed
in a suitable position, it adds to the convenience of the occupants of
the rear seat by enabling them to communicate their wishes to the
driver as to direction, etc.
AUXILLIARY SEATING - in addition to
individual auxiliary seats (see next entry), auxiliary seating that
folded into the trunk or rumble area when not in use was found in many
2-pass. roadster, coupe and convertible body styles, hence the
appellation "rumble seat". Once the rumble was open, access to the
auxiliary seating was by two small step-plates, one on the rear bumper
[generally on the right or sidewalk side], the other on the
corresponding rear fender.
AUXILLIARY SEATS - generally
folding, temporary seating found in passenger compartment of large
sedans, limousines, town cars and open touring cars; of these, the
larger so-called "jump seats" faced forward and had folding back rests;
the flimsier so-called "opera seats" were less elaborate and were used
in the smaller sedans, limousines and town cars; one faced the rear and
used the partition as a back rest while the other was lateral to the
direction of travel, faced right and generally had a hinged back-rest.
In coupes and convertibles auxiliary seating was sometimes provided in
the trunk area (see "rumble seat"); access was by small bumper and
fender mounted step plates.
AWP - common abbreviation for a
convertible body style known as the ALL-WEATHER PHAETON which offered
adequate protection for driver and passengers even in the most
BAEHR PATENT (Fr.) - In 1913 Gustave
Baehr applied for a patent for an all-weather 'transformable'
automobile body and sold a license to a number of French and foreign
coachbuilders who wished to duplicate his design in the years 1919 to
BARCHETTA - "little boat", a
two-seat roadster with flowing lines. Any small, envelope-bodied car
with no top or window fittings.
BARE CHASSIS - a "bare chassis" (as
sometimes delivered by Cadillac, Chrysler and Packard to custom coach
builders) consisted of frame, motor, transmission, wheels, radiator,
hood, cowl and instrument panel.
BAROUCHE- a carriage term very
rarely used for automobiles. The driver sat in an open front seat with
two couples facing each other inside a closed cabin. There was a
folding top over the rear seat.
BARREL-SIDE - a British
coachbuilding designation to describe a style in which the sides of the
body curved outward with a pronounced rounded inward roll at the top
instead of a flat sill, and a lesser inward curve at the bottom.
BEACH WAGON - a term for station
wagon used mostly in New England.
BEADING - a tubular kind of molding
used for decorative effect around various body areas
BEDFORD CORD - a once popular
upholstery cloth fabric with lengthwise ribs resembling corduroy.
BELT LINE or BELT MOLDING - the
raised and sometimes ornate molding running around a car body
approximately level with the top of the radiator, the base of the
windshield, side windows and rear roof area; it could raised, painted,
striped, indented; it could serve as a natural division for a dual or
triple color scheme.
BERLINE - a closed sedan or luxury
car, often with a small window which permitted the occupants to see but
barely to be seen. Sometimes used to describe a four-passenger close
coupled luxury 4dr sedan (usually of sporting design) with or without
Imperial division. There is also some cases of use of the term
Convertible Berline - see CONVERTIBLE SEDAN.
BINDING - strip material used to
trim out tops at the header bow, rear bow and in other
applications. Usually made up from lightweight coated fabrics to
complement or correspond with the top material
BISHOP TOP - a "one-man" top with
interior-operated side curtains for full winter protection in a
standard open car.
BLACKOUT TRIM or BLACKOUT ORDER - a
decree given by governments in WWII (effective 31.12.1941 in the US)
that no chrome or stainless-steel trim [except bumpers] was to be used
on cars. Trim was now painted black, gray or the the lighter of carious
2-tone color schemes.
BOATTAIL - a speedster with a
tapering (i.e. V-shaped) rear section
BODY FRAME - Pre-war body frames and
door frames were built of cured white ash hardwood. Metal craftsmen
hammered panels over the wooden framework. Brass castings were made for
windshield frames, door hinges, handles. Painting was a long process in
the early twenties, until the advent of Duco. Then bodies went in for
upholstery and trim.
BOLSTERS - upholstery term
designating the outer, padded portions of seats and seat backs
BONNET - (Br.) the hood over the
BOOT - (Br.) the trunk
"B" PILLARS - in sedan styles, the
second set of roof supports (between the windshield and rear portion of
BREACK (Fr.) or BREAK (Gb.) or Brake
Gb.)- station wagon
BROADCLOTH - a popular upholstery
material; of which there are two types: the first is a twilled, napped
woolen or worsted fabric with a smooth, lustrous face and a dense
texture. The second is a cotton, silk or rayon fabric made in plain and
ribbed weaves, with a soft, semi-gloss finish.
BROADLACE - another upholstery
BROUGHAM - in early motoring a broad
term signifying a closed car for two or four persons. In later
forms often with an open front driver's compartment. When with sharp
lines and flat surfaces it was called a PANEL BROUGHAM.
BROUGHAM DE VILLE (Fr.) - French
equivalent of Town Brougham
BUGGY TOP - a 3-bow affair as used
on early horse-drawn buggy or runabout.
BURBANK - a tightly woven cotton
duck cloth made as an uncoated fabric for automotive soft trim.
It was sold in various grades for top material, side-curtain material
and for seat coverings. Offered as early as 1908, it was a
particularly respected brand of top material during the 1920’s.
Usage diminished in the 1930’s probably because automotive standards
for waterproof materials exceeded the performance of Burbank. It
was very expensive, too. The cloth was made in Great Britain and
imported into the United States by Laidlaw & Co. of New York City.
BUSINESS COUPE - a simple two door
coupe without a rumble seat
CAB - a term taken directly from
horse-drawn carriage vocabulary and used to define a vehicle in which
two passengers were enclosed while the driver was situated some
distance away, usually in front and unprotected. But there were also
electric cabs with the driver seated high up at the rear.
CABRIOLET (Fr.)- French word,
derived from the verb "cabriolet" describing the movements of a
prancing horse. It was used initially to describe a light-weight, open,
two-seater, horse-drawn carriage generally fitted with a top that could
be raised to protect the occupants in inclement weather. Later, among
French coach-builders, it came to designate a convertible automobile
for 2 or 3 passengers. Some coachbuilders adopted the term in to
designate custom-bodied closed cars with a leather or cloth covering
applied to the roof. It term went out of style in the mid-Thirties but
made a reappearance in the 1980s.
CALIFORNIA TOP - a fixed rigid top
applied to a touring car replacing the regular folding top, usually
with sliding glass windows for weather protection. A period description
“The California tailor-made
automobile top has made its appearance in the East. Strangely this top,
known to the trade all over the country as the California Top, is known
in California, where it originated, as the Craftsman Top. It is a
strikingly beautiful, graceful top of the non-collapsible or rigid type
as is shown by the accompanying illustration.
“The frame-work of the California
top is made preferably of straight-grained hickory. The rigidity of the
top is absolutely essential, and wrought iron braces and knee irons are
used to hold the ribs in place.
“The outer covering of the top is
preferably of some rich material harmonizing in color with the finish
of the metal parts of the car. The material preferred in California
consists of a strong cotton fabric base coated with a pyroxylin film.
This material has the desired flexibility and vitality and retains its
beauty after years of exposure to rain, sun and alkali dust. It is
water-proof, grease-proof and stain-proof, is easily cleaned by
brushing or washing with, soap and water. Many owners of cars having
the California tops have been so much pleased with their
appearance that they have had the bodies of their machines covered with
the same material used in the top itself.”
CANEWORK - a Body styling feature.
Decorative canework or "French cane" was used on car bodies from the
beginnings of the automobile; it became a popular feature on formal
European coach-work. Initially real cane was used but the results and
durability were mediocre. Applied later by hand with a paint mixture
from a tube it was an expensive operation. In the late teens France
introduced the "cloth-paste" method which was easier to apply; cost was
also reduced because the new method did not need so many coats of
primer or base paint. All the painter had to do was measure exactly the
size and shape of each panel to be thus decorated and make simple
templates for the cane supplier. There were two methods of applying the
pre-cut cane-cloth panels. The first was to glue them in place with a
special mixture of glue; two coats of varnish were applied after the
glue had dried at least 24 hours and a copper or cane beading applied
to outline each panel. The other method was to apply a thick coat of
varnish and press the cane panels into place before the varnish got too
dry; finally two further light coats of clear varnish were applied. The
cane design came in a number of sizes, the most popular being sizes 55
(approx. ½" between rows) and 90 (approx. ¾" between rows).
CARRIAGE BOWS see LANDAU BARS
CELLULOID - a compound of camphor
and gun-cotton. Its transparency and flexibility are its chief
characteristics. Both ISINGLASS and non-flammable celluloid were used
to make small windshields in the early days of the automobile.
CHARABANC or CHARRABANC (Fr.) - a
vehicle carrying many passengers; typically used for sightseeing. Early
charabancs used for public transportation were often seen without a
top. In Britain , charabanc is an earlier synonym for bus or omnibus.
CHASE - L.C. Chase & Co. of
Boston, MA acted as selling agents for a consortium of New England
weaving mills and a fabric coating firm from the beginnings of the auto
industry until about 1940. They offered surface-coated materials
(under the Drednaut trade name, but sometimes called "Chase" leather)
and rubber-combined cloth materials (under the trade name Wexford), as
well as other automotive textile products.
CHASSIS - (Fr) - derivation French;
a frame in wood or metal; the frame work of a wagon; later the term was
applied to the frame-work of a locomotive; then to the longitudinal and
transverse frame members of a motor car. By extension it also
designates the whole of the mechanical portion of a motor car. More
correctly, however, the word chassis should only apply to the metal
framework receiving the engine gearset and controlling mechanism.
CHAUFFEUR - (Fr) - derivation
French, chauffeur, to heat. A chauffeur is a man in charge of a furnace
or boiler fire. The first use of the word chauffeur was during the
revolution of 1789, when bands of brigands heated or "chauffeur" the
feet of their victims in order to make them reveal the place where the
money was hidden. The "chauffeurs" were stamped out during the Consular
period. The word chauffeur was first applied to motor car drivers under
the popular supposition that they had to tend a fire. On the French
railroads the chauffeur is the fireman; the engine driver is the
CHAUFFEUSE - (Fr) a female CHAUFFEUR
CHILDS SYSTEM - A fabric-covered
body made in the Weymann tradition but lacking the flexibility of the
far superior Weymann system. Named after the patent-holder, Kenneth L.
Childs (see WEYMANN)
CLASSIC - a term defined by the
Classic Car Club of America to include only specific important marques
built between 1925 and 1948. Often applied loosely by owners to any car.
CLAIRPAX - a lightweight body
construction method pioneered by French coachbuilder Paul Audineau in
1924 which used aluminum panels over an ash framework.
CLUB COUPE - a two door closed car
with a rear seat.
COACH - a two door sedan
COLLAPSIBLE - on certain body
styles, this was an indication that all or only the rear part of the
roof could be folded away, thus enabling the occupants to enjoy the
breeze in their hair in fair weather.
COMMERCIAL GLASS - Most high-roof
professional cars built since the late 1950s have custom-made
extra-tall windows and windshields, incompatible with standard OEM
glass. As some cheaper makes and models included the standard OEM
glass, a distinction needed to made when describing the vehicle in
catalogs and advertisements. Coaches equipped with commercial glass are
consequently much more expensive, and provide their owners with
increased status within the industry. One downside to commercial glass,
is that it can be next to impossible to find commercial windshields for
some pre-1980s professional cars. Most of today's Cadillac hearses plus
a small percentage of Cadillac limousines continue to use commercial
glass. Commercial glass is custom-made by a handful of
manufacturers and can be up to 45% larger than regular OEM windows.
CONCOURS - a gathering or show of
the elegant. It is often misspelled "concourse" which means a driveway,
promenade or open space as in an air terminal.
CONCOURS D'ELEGANCE - literally an
elegance competition in which not only the elegance of automobile
coach-work was set off in competition but also the fashions of the
great houses of haute couture [high fashions]. The first concours or
competition was held on the French Riviera then subsequently in Paris,
at the Parc des Princes, in 1927.
CONDUIT-INTERIEUR (Fr.) -
interior-drive or enclosed-drive limousine
CONTINENTAL KIT - an
outboard-mounted spare wheel, usually with a metal or Fiberglas cover.
CONTINUOUS COWLING [also see DUAL
COWL] - this kind of "cowling" formed the border of the passenger
compartment, mainly of open cars; in essence it was composed of narrow
front, rear and side panels forming a rectangular "frame" around the
seating area; continuous cowling looked like absence of cowling; the
hood flowed back to the trunk area without any visible molding or
beading to mark off the seating compartment.
CONVERTIBLE - a car with a folding
top and permanent windows.
CONVERTIBLE BERLINE - see
CONVERTIBLE ROADSTER - a convertible
is an open car with windows; a roadster is an open car without windows,
hence a term which contradicts itself. Used by Lincoln, Chrysler and
others about 1930 to emphasize sportiness.
CONVERTIBLE SEDAN - interchangeable
in some cases with the term All Weather (all weather sedan) and
sometimes also considered a TRANSFORMABLE, usually without a division.
Typically feature fixed or removable window frames with roll-up or
pull-up glass side windows and a folding top with rigid sections of
CONVERTIBLE TOP - early cars had
either leather, rubber or mohair tops that could be raised to keep out
inclement weather or lowered to take in the sun or sights. Leather tops
were almost always made with a black patent leather exterior backed by
a cotton-wool padded rubber impregnated cloth. Rubber tops were made of
high quality, rubber-covered 3-ply cloth with heavy jean backing; it
was web-reinforced and padded with cotton wool. The mohair top was
stitched from black mohair Mackintosh cloth. Many customers preferred
the rubber top as it held its shape well and gave the car a smooth top
line when raised unlike the leather and mohair tops which were
permanently wrinkled and uneven.
CONVERTIBLE VICTORIA - a four
passenger two door two window cabriolet.
COUPE - a closed car with two doors
for two or three people. May also have a rudimentary rear seat in which
case it is usually called a Club Coupe. Originally a vehicle 'cut' by a
glass division, fixed or moveable, behind the front seats. The driving
position was only partially protected by the roof whilst the totally
enclosed rear was very luxurious. According to American
stylist J. Frank de Causse, the word coupe is pronounced
"Koo-pay"; a "Koop" is where the chickens stay.
COUPE-CABRIOLET or DOUBLE
CABRIOLET - A long vehicle, the front part of which was designed as a
coupe, whilst the rear part had the collapsible hood of a cabriolet.
There were often two supplementary seats.
COUPE CHAUFFEUR (Fr.) - chauffeur
driven car with passengers fully enclosed and the chauffeur exposed.
Body has a blind rear quarter.
COUPE de VILLE - "town coupe" -
applied imaginatively to various body styles Usually a four passenger
two door car with a permanently closed roof over the rear seats and a
removable top covering the front seats. But Renault and Bugatti used
this term for a Panel Brougham. See SEDANCA.
COUPIENNE - French term coined for
fabric grained leather that was introduced on some models by Kellner at
the 1928 Paris Salon in an effort to overcome the difficulty of
cleaning light canvas tops that were so much in vogue in Europe.
COUPELET - a term used especially by
Ford to describe a Model T two-seater Cabriolet.
COUPE LIMOUSINE (Fr.) - chauffeur
driven car with the passengers fully enclosed and the chauffeur
exposed. Body has rear quarter windows.
COUPE MILORD (Fr.) - See VICTORIA
COUPE ROADSTER - a term used by
Packard to describe a Convertible Coupe or Drop Head Coupe - see
CONVERTIBLE COUPE or DHC
COWL - Generally the horizontal
metal body panel between the engine hood and windshield. Some pre-war
classics had a dual-cowl or secondary cowl behind the front seat.
"C" PILLARS - in sedan styles, the
third set of roof supports located between the rear window and ¼-
window in the roof ¼-panel.
CRANK REGULATORS - the term given to
winders used to raise and lower windows and secondary windshields
CRAFTSMAN TOP - see CALIFORNIA TOP
CYCLE FENDERS - usually a front and
sometimes a rear fender similar to that used on a bicycle which follows
the curvature of the wheel .
DAMASCENING - DAMACENE or DAMASCEEN
WORK - a form of engine turning to give an ornate metal finish [Fr.
"bouchonnage"]. It was achieved by drilling a tight-knit pattern of
circular swirls and was an eye-appealing but costly way of finishing
items like engine blocks or hoods, or dashboards. When mild steel was
used in lieu of aluminum or stainless steel, the parts had to be
clear-varnished to prevent corrosion.
DECKING or DECK MATERIAL - prior to
the advent of all-steel tops on closed bodied cars, the flat “deck” of
the roof top was covered by a coated fabric panel. Typically a
surface-coated fabric was used. Some of the more expensive car
bodies wore a full roof cover, with either a surface-coated deck
material, or a rubber-combined cloth topping.
DEMI-TONNEAU - An open body style
that consists of a runabout with a detachable tonneau in the rear.
de VILLE (Fr.) - From the French de
la ville or de ville meaning "of the town". In French coach building
parlance, a coupé de ville, from the French couper (to cut) and ville
(town or city), refers to a town car that is "cut" by a division
between the passenger and driver compartments.
de VILLE EXTENSION - a sliding roof
over the front seat with side arms that folded back into the remaining
roof thus producing a Sedanca configuration in metal rather than the
DHC (Br.) or Drop Head Coupe - see
DICKEY (Br.) - This is the English
name for the "rumble" seat. It is also known as the "Mother-in-Law"
seat and is a folding seat built into the trunk area of many pre-war
DI-NOC - an imitation wood veneer
used to decorate instrument panels, door friezes and divisions in the
1940s & 1950s. Chrysler Town & Country's had Di-Noc Mahogony
decals after 1946, not real wood. A Trademark of the The Di-Noc company
of Cleveland, it is still used today by stylists and clay modelers.
Di-Noc is available as a 54" high by 200 feet long, rolled up decal
with hot water peel-off backing. Very pliable, the clay modelers apply
it by wetting the clay model, then simply laying the Di-Noc on the clay
and squeegeeing out the all the water trapped between the two. It takes
about 6 hours for the Di-Noc to dry enough to be handled.)
DIRIGOLD - a gold-looking metal
developed by Carl Molin, a Swedish metallurgist in 1914 from brass,
copper and, he said, about two percent gold dust. Production started in
Sweden in 1919 and eventually the company moved to Kokomo, Indiana. The
name of the product and company was changed in 1935 when the Federal
Trade Commission brought suit against the company, charging there was
not enough gold in the product to warrant the name. So the company
became The Dirilyte Company of America. Major Bowes 1937 Chrysler
Imperial Airflow CW limousine is perhaps the most famous car that is
fitted with Dirigold hardware.
DIRILYTE - see DIRIGOLD
DISC WHEEL - a continental fashion
that was introduced on American cars after WW1; there were two distinct
types. The first consisted of a solid disc attached to the wheel hub
and supporting the rim at its outer perimeter. The second, a thin,
decorative disc that simply hid the wooden spokes of artillery wheels.
Disc wheels were typically body-colored however they were available in
nickel and chromium plate as well.
DIVISION GLASS - a glass partition,
also referred to as "division window", located between the driver's and
passengers' compartments in spacious limousines. Adding such a division
to a sedan turns it into an "imperial" (what is called a "limousine" in
modern parlance). The early division was retractable, using a
crank-down system; sliding versions were also used. In the modern age,
electric motors replaced the hand crank although a gradual return to
the sliding division has been noticeable in recent years in order to
reduce the overall weight and production cost of such cars.
Some 1920s & 30s motorists drove
around in their "common" convertible sedans with their tops and side
windows down and division glass raised, in the hopes of impressing
others with the look of the much more expensive dual-cowl phaeton. This
common practice led to brisk business for glass shops who replaced
these panes on a regularly basis.
DOG CART - Very early horseless
carriages with engines placed directly under open passenger
compartments were sometimes referred to as dog carts. The term came
from the the horse-drawn dog cart, a coach where passengers rode on top
of enclosed containers that contained the dogs used in fox hunting.
DOESKIN - a popular upholstery
material in the Golden Age of coach building of the late Twenties and
DOODLEBUG - A bus outfitted with
railroad wheels and run on railroad tracks, originally used to carry
passengers, occasionally used by railways to transport their own
employees from station to jobsite.
DOOR PADS - (upholstery term) The
upholstered part of a door or section of door below window glass
DOORS and DOOR HINGES - look closely
at the door configuration of coachbuilt car and you'll notice that they
differ from one style to another in the way they open. The various
configurations are as follows:
center-hinged [both front and
rear doors are hinged to the "B" pillar, aft of the front seat]
forward-opening doors [front
doors are hinged at the "A" pillars and the rear doors at the "B"
rear-opening or so-called
"suicide" doors [front doors are hinged at the "B" pillars and the rear
ones at the "C" pillars]
center-opening or rear "suicide"
doors [front doors hinged at the "A" pillar and rear doors at the "C"
pillar], made for easy access of passengers or loading of parcels.
DOUBLE BERLINA - a lengthened
berlina with the driving position enclosed but separated from the rear
part of the vehicle.
DOUBLE LANDAULET - a lengthened
landaulet with two permanent seats plus two occasionals in the rear,
and a driving position in front.
DOUBLE PHAETON - a phaeton with two
double seats, including that of the driver.
DOUBLE TONNEAU - a lengthened
tonneau in which the front seats were completely separate from the rear.
DOWMETAL - Shortly after World War
I, Dow Chemical Company metallurgists developed an alloy called
"Dowmetal". One-third lighter than aluminum, it was a refined magnesium
to which was added about six percent aluminum and one-half percent
manganese (a chemical used to harden magnesium). Dowmetal was widely
promoted for automotive and aviation uses and was highly profitable for
the company, eventually giving it a virtual monopoly on magnesium
production in the US. Dow had a number of experimental Dowmetal
open and enclosed car transport trailers built by Fruehauf for
Detroit's White Star Lines in the early 1930s (1933), but evidence of
automotive use after that time is lacking.
DREDNAUT see CHASE
DRIDEK - surface-coated top material
manufactured by the L.J. Mutty Co. of Boston, MA from about 1915
DROPHEAD (Br.) or DHC - convertible,
usually a "Drophead Coupe" - see CONVERTIBLE.
DROPHEAD COUPE (Br.) or DHC - see
DROPPED DOOR SILLS - up to 1930 car
doors did not extend below the frame rails. In 1928, the French
coach-builder Gaston Grummer (quickly followed by others like Kellner
and Van den Plas) startled and pleased the buying public by dropping
the doors to running-board level, thus suppressing the valances. Other
coach-builders, including Fleetwood, found a compromise by placing the
door sills at an intermediate point between the top of the frame and
the running boards.
DUAL COWL - a touring car with a
rear windshield mounted on a folding cowl which covers part of the rear
DUAL COWL or SECONDARY COWL -
it divides the front and rear seating areas of an open car (touring
car) into two distinct compartments. Some secondary cowls were fixed,
other hinged. Some included a secondary windshield that could be
cranked down or folded forward, flat against the cowl. On a few bodies
the cowl and windshield raised automatically when the rear door was
DUCO LACQUER - an exterior paint
finish first used on 1923-24 General Motors Vehicles (Oakland and
Cadillac) with quick drying properties that greatly speeded up
DURABLE - all-cotton,
rubber-combined cloth top fabric produced by Haartz.
DURALUMIN - a trade name derived
from the material’s manufacturer, Dürener Metallwerke AG and aluminum,
its primary component. The age-hardened aluminum alloy was discovered
by German metallurgist Alfred Wilm while working at Dürener Metallwerke
AG (Düren, Nordrhein-Westfalen, Germany) in 1903. Wilm found that after
quenching, an aluminium alloy containing 4% copper (+ small amounts of
manganese and magnesium) would slowly harden when left at room
temperature for several days. Further refinements led to the commercial
introduction of Duralumin in 1909. Pre-war, the material was confined
for use by German industry which used it for framing the recently
introduced rigid airship. After the War Dürener Metallwerke introduced
a more tear-resistant formula that was adopted by the American
aircraft industry in the late 20s who found it well suited to
recently introduced monocoque construction techniques.
"E" AWARD - the Army-Navy Award for
Excellence in War Production (WWII), normally awarded when a firm
completed a large order for the US War effort or filled an order in a
short period of time. At the ceremony, the employees would be given an
enameled pin mounted on a card certifying their contribution to the war
effort with a message from the president. The employer would be
presented with an “E’ flag and banner and outstanding employees would
be presented with a special certificate.
ELASCOFAB - a synthetic, coated
fabric having the appearance of leather.
ENGLAND SYSTEM see GORDON ENGLAND
ESTATE CAR - a station wagon
EVERFLEX - a British single texture
vinyl top material that has been popular and widely used in Europe for
FABRIC-BODIED see WEYMANN
FABRIKOID - a pyroxylin
surface-coated fabric made by a facility of the same name in Newburgh,
NY from 1908 through the 1930’s. E.I. DuPont de Nemours bought
the plant in 1910, offering Fabrikoid as a DuPont product
thereafter. While some of this output was top material in earlier
years, the production of leatherette (or artificial leather) dominated
the later years of activity under this trade name. The name
“Fabrikoid” was sometimes used as a synonym for pyroxylin coated
FAUTEUILS (Fr.) - French term for an
FAUX CABRIOLET (Fr.) - a fixed head
coupe made to resemble a cabriolet usually by using landau bars and a
patent leather or vinyl covering.
FENDERS or WINGS (Br.) - the fender
is that part of an automobile covering the wheels. They are of many and
varied shapes: cycle fenders, flat ones, ridged ones, crowned ones,
skirted ones and the so-called clamshell fenders of the early Thirties
and the pontoon fenders that marked the transition between separate and
integral fender designs in 1950.
FENDER SKIRTS - prior to 1932 front
fenders did not enclose the outline of the wheel, they followed a
straight line from the top of the fender to the running boards. 1932's
Graham Blue Streak was the first production car to feature fenders that
were drawn down to hug the wheels. The Blue Streak was designed by Amos
Northrup of the Murray Body Corporation.
Some removable fender skirts totally
enclosed the wheel as on some 1930s Cadillacs, Chryslers, Lincolns and
Packards. In the late 1950s fender skirts re-emerged as a popular
options on some Ford and GM products.
FEVAL see WEYMANN
FINE-LINE (Br.) - a body stripe
FINISH PANELS (an upholstery term)
- the painted panels on doors, rear quarters and front seat
FITTED TRUNK - the integral
automobile trunk did not come into its own until the late Thirties.
Before that, the trunk was removable. In the luxury automobiles of the
classic era many removable trunks were designed for use with a specific
car; when installed on the luggage rack it looked like a part of the
car rather than something added on.
FIXED HEAD COUPE (Br.) or FHC - a
FLASQUES (Fr.) - French term for
wheel disc, a styling device originating in Europe around 1930 to hide
- C shaped metal brackets that were screwed to the door jamb of a
pre WWII car, through these a piece of leather or fabric was "looped"
and then both ends were screwed to the body, thus the strap through the
loop prevented the door from traveling out to far when opened and
hitting the fender or springing the hinge.
FORDOR - Ford's name for a four door
FORMAL - a car with enclosed rear
quarters and, often, a leather-covered roof.
FRIEZE - a band of painted or
sculptured decoration, generally immediately
below windows or
FULL CLASSIC - a term defined (and
trade marked) by the Classic Car Club of America to include only
specific important marques built between 1925 and 1948.
GARNISH MOLDING - the frame next to
the glass on the inside of a door, windshield or back light.
GLASS SALOON - a large closed
vehicle, generally similar to a double berlina but with very large
GLASS PARTITION or DIVISION -
Located between the driver and passenger compartments of large sedans.
Cars with this feature are known as limousines or imperials. Cadillac
offered an electrical-powered division glass in 1941.
GOLF BAG DOORS - small side doors
giving lateral access to the floor area below the rumble seat on
roadsters and a few convertibles.
GORDON ENGLAND -
Before and during World War I,
E.C. Gordon England was employed in the aircraft industry, becoming an
unusual combination of test pilot and designer, and then a factory
manager. After the War he became interested in motor racing and in 1922
he persuaded Sir Herbert Austin to prepare an Austin Seven chassis for
him, which he and his father, George, bodied. His success in racing
encouraged him to offer his own Austin Seven-based sportscars to the
public through his father’s garage, George England Ltd.
England believed that the biggest
problem with existing coachwork was its weight and therefore inertia,
and he set about designing a light but very snug body. This was
achieved by the use of plywood box-girders and an ash framework covered
with thin plywood panels, from which the door and window openings were
cut afterwards. The entire exterior was then covered in fabric;
although steel paneling was later offered. Its most novel feature was a
three-point mounting system that isolated the bodywork from the chassis
thereby reducing the creaks and groans experienced with normal
composite bodies. On the outside, it looked just like a Weymann, but
its internal construction didn’t infringe on any of Charles Weymann’s
patents. In fact, E.C. Gordon England applied for and received a
British patent for his version of the flexible body.
The first Gordon England model
sold to the public with the new plywood-based body was the Austin Seven
Brooklands 2-seater of 1924. Each Brooklands racer came with a
certificate attesting that it could reach the speed of 80 miles per
hour (approximately 130 km/h). E.C. Gordon England co-piloted one of
his own cars in the 1925 24 Hours of LeMans, but failed to finish the
The firm, still named after his
father, was renamed George England (Motor Bodies) Ltd. in 1925. Later
that year, Austin dealerships started selling his 2-seat Cup model and
Fabric Saloon. That model evolved into the Austin AD saloon of 1926 -
Austin's first closed car on a Seven chassis - with England supplying
all of its bodywork. In 1927, almost 20,000 Austin Sevens were built
with England bodies.
The England system was used on a
Rolls-Royce chassis as early as 1925 and by 1927 it had been applied to
Bentley, MG, Morris Oxford and Wolseley chassis. They exhibited a
handsome aluminum-paneled Invicta at the 1927 Olympia, which was Great
Britain’s version of New York’s Auto Salon. The company continued to
exhibit at the London Show through 1929 when it was reorganized as
Gordon England Ltd.
In 1928 the Holbrook Company of
Hudson, NY became the sole US licensee of the Gordon-England patent
light-weight body. Before Holbrook produced a single example, the
British firm bought a controlling interest in Holbrook, hoping to
establish a US branch just as Weymann had formed the Weymann-American
Co in Indiana. Unfortunately, the Depression put an end to the
experiment months later and the combined firm declared bankruptcy at
the beginning of 1930.
GOUTTE d'EAU (Fr.)- a body with a
"tear drop" design, flowing down to the rear.
GOVERNOR - a device used with the
carburetor to maintain constant engine speed regardless of load.
GP (Fr.) - Grand Prix (Great Prize)
GRAIN - the embossed decorative
pattern found on the outside (facing) of surface coated top materials.
It might resemble a leather or animal hide surface, in keeping with the
makers desire to provide an artificial leather. In other
instances, the grain might be a geometric pattern, or it might resemble
a cloth or linen surface texture. Some of the more common grains
encountered in soft-top trim materials are:
an animal-hide type of
a reptile-hide pattern,
commonly used from ~1912 to ~1930
an animal-hide pattern,
extensively used in No. America for decades
an animal-hide pattern, used
in the 1950’s and 1960’s (Packard + Jeep)
a fine geometric pattern
used for Jeep® vinyl tops since about 1970
a flattened “pebble” grain,
not currently available
Long / Long Cobra
reptile-hide pattern, an
enlarged version of Cobra grain 1915 - 1930
a deep animal-hide grain
common in Europe in the 50’s and 60’s
a pebbly geometric pattern,
most common 1915 to 1930
a geometric pattern, see
a shallow and subdued
animal-hide pattern for accessory materials
the Orig. Equipment
“standard” during the era of vinyl soft-tops from about 1954 to about
1994. Also known as “diamond” or “pinpoint” grains. This is
a geometric pattern made up of tiny, four-sided pyramids.
In addition to the soft-topping
embossings noted, there were other grains used for vinyl roof cover
fabrics during the North American vinyl roof cover craze from the
mid-sixties through the seventies. Notable examples are Laredo grain on
Chryslers, Corsica and Valino grains on Fords and Elk, Levant and
Tuxedo grains on GM cars. Yet another array of grains (with and
without accompanying surface print patterns) were used on vinyl
upholstery materials for cars. Likewise, other grains were used
on some top decking materials from the 1920’s and 1930’s. Embossing
techniques improved over time. Prior to 1920, coated surface
embossings were shallow and indistinct. Improved embossings gave
a better surface appearance on toppings made in the twenties and
thirties. Vinyl embossing yields much better depth or definition,
so the modern day surface-coated fabrics look better than their
GRAN TURISMO (It.) - grand touring
GROOMING - in the early days of
enclosed car motoring, grooming consisted of choosing upholstery
materials (plain cloths, striped cloths, uncut mohair, velvet, figured
velour, silk armures), and tufts, fitting the interior with window
regulators, door pulls, light switch plates, dome lights, ventilators,
corner lights or reading lights, "chofones" (i.e. chauffeur
inter-phones), cut glass flower vases, vanity cases and their fittings
(mirrors, notebooks, card cases, bottles, pin cushions, ink wells,
stamp boxes, pens, pencils, paper, envelopes, etc.), smoking cases,
cigar/cigarette lighters, ash trays, clocks, pillows, back-rest
pillows, robes, motor rail pockets, foot warmers, hand warmers and the
GT - Grand Touring
GTO (It.)- Grand Turismo Omologato,
a racing car that had to be homologated (produced in a limited number)
in order to qualify for a racing series.
HACK - Slang term for a taxi cab.
Occasionally used to refer to a bus, some early literature pictures
International school buses with placards identifying them as a "school
HARDTOP - originally a convertible
body with a non-removable hardtop installed at the factory. The main
feature that distinguishes a hardtop from a sedan is that when the
front and rear windows are rolled down, there is one large open space
with no frame or post between the front and rear seat area. Another
feature is that the doors do not have any external frames to support
HAARTZ CLOTH - a generic term used
more or less indiscriminately to refer to most any rubber-combined
cloth top material especially the cotton fabric manufactured by Haartz
of Boston, MA.
HAPPICH - a German cloth top
material marketed by Gebruder Happich GmbH and manufactured by
Rode and Schwalenberg GmbH. While offered under the Sonnenland
trade name since 1972, the Happich name is still associated with this
material. It is also known among car enthusiasts as the "original
HASKELITE - trade name for an
easily-formed metal-faced plywood product used in forming the roofs and
sides of commercial vehicle and bus bodies made by the Haskelite
Manufacturing Corporation of Chicago, Illinois.
HEADER BAR - the front support of a
convertible or soft top that secures it to the windshield frame
HEADLINER - the inner lining of the
roof area, rear quarter panels and rear roof panel of a car
HERDIC - a type of
used as an omnibus, invented by Peter Herdic of Williamsport,
County, Pennsylvania in 1881.
HOMASOTE - a produced that
superseded the Agasote fire-resistant high-density fibre-board panel.
Homasote panels added a high degree of weather-resistance and became a
popular automotive roofing material in the late teens and twenties. It
was also used by commercial body builders as interior and exterior
panels in delivery van and ambulance bodies. Homasote was a
product of the Agasote Millboard Company/ later the Homasote Company of
West Trenton, New Jersey. - see AGASOTE
HOOD - the sheet metal covering the
HOOD (Br.) - a convertible top
HYPALON - a synthetic rubber
developed by DuPont. Haartz (and possibly DuPont) offered this as
a surface coating on line of top materials in the 1950’s. In the
automotive industry, Hypalon material is best remembered as being used
as roof cover material on Packard Caribbean hardtops in the mid-fifties.
IMPERIAL - an enclosed body
featuring a fixed or mobile glass division between front (driver) and
rear (passenger) compartments.
IMPERIAL CABRIOLET - a sedan with
enclosed or blank rear quarters and a leather top covering simulating a
"cabriolet", that is a convertible, with its top up.
IMPERIAL FRONT - a Town Car with a
convertible chauffeur's compartment that included a temporary roof for
use during inclement weather.
IMPERIAL LANDAULET - a sedan
featuring glass division and opening roof portion over the rear seat
INNENLENKER (De.) - interior-drive
or enclosed-drive limousine
INSERTS - the part of the seat
cushion and back rest between the bordering bolsters.
INSIDE-DRIVE LIMOUSINE - a
fully-enclosed, chauffeur-driven limousine. Previously these cars had
been open or partly open in the driver area.
IN THE WHITE - bodies delivered to a
chassis manufacturer minus trim, paint, varnish and hardware.
ISINGLASS - typically a window made
from thin sheets made of a material other than glass. Early isinglass
was made from a transparent sheet of gelatin, processed from the inner
lining of a Sturgeon's bladder. As it was flexible, it was perfect for
the storm curtains and window on early touring cars. The term is
now commonly used as any non-glass sheet material which passes light,
such as mica, oiled paper, celluloid or plastic. Early isinglass of all
varieties yellowed and scratched easily.
JONARTS - a trademark of Haartz used
most prominently for the company’s premier rubber-combined cloth top
materials from the late 1920’s into the 1950’s.
JUMP SEATS or OPERA SEATS - two,
wide auxiliary seats that folded into the division partition or the
rear of the front seat and could accommodate up to 3 adults in relative
comfort for long-distance travel. They were fitted in a number of the
larger sedans, limousines and touring cars.
KAPOK - a light weight fiber
insulation obtained from the fruit of the Asian Kapok (silk cotton)
tree. Both cork and Kapok fiber matting were commonly used for
insulating refrigerated truck bodies prior to the introduction of spun
glass (fiberglass) insulation in the mid 1930s.
KELSCH - a patented felixble body
system similar to Weymann used by a few Italian coachbuilders from the
early 1920s to the beginning of WWII, most notably Mario Casaro and
Giovanni Boneschi of Turin (Torino).
KHAKI CLOTH - an uncoated, tightly
woven cotton fabric dyed a khaki shade used for automobile tops
prior to 1915.
LACQUER - a new kind of paint
introduced by General Motors in 1923/1924 which considerably speeded up
body production (also see DUCO)
LANCEHEAD (or RAISED) PANEL -
coach-builders term describing the raised and pointed panel pointing
forward on the cowl of some Fleetwood custom bodies. It was generally
matched by a second, curved panel running from the radiator back across
the hood and down to the body sill, following the curve of the
side-mounted spare wheel.
LANDAU - derived from the name of
the German city of Landau. It was used in earlier times to describe an
open, 4-wheel, horse-drawn carriage with front and rear suspension,
having two opposite-facing seats aligned in parallel to the wheel
axles, and one or two folding tops for both the front and the rear
seats (in France the term "landau" describes an infant carriage - a
pram - with a folding top). Also can be any two seated vehicle which
could be fully converted by a two section opening convertible top.
LANDAU BARS (or IRONS) - these could
be functional or purely decorative; they are to be seen on many formal
sedans and limousines fitted with a leather roof covering. They could
be painted, nickel-plated or chromium-plated according to customer
preference. When functional, they formed an integral part of the
folding mechanism for all or part of the roof covering. The decorative
irons were attached to the rear roof quarters whereas the functional
ones reached down below the belt line. Some folding tops featured
concealed bows built inside of the roof.
LANDAULET (Fr.) - In automobile
parlance, a "landaulet" describes an automobile in which the driver's
compartment is separated from the passenger area by a fixed or mobile
glass division. This was generally a formal body style with a leather
or cloth roof portion over the rear seating area that could be folded
back to afford the occupants the pleasure of an open air ride.
Landaulet feature (folding roof) was reserved mostly for town cars
although it was used also occasionally on sedans and limousines.
LANDAULETTE (Fr.) - a two door car
with a Landaulet roof (the top over the rear seats folds down).
LEATHERETTE - a surface coated
material for tops, upholstery and interior trim on automobiles.
Since the 1950’s the term has been used more or less generically for
all kinds of vinyl coated fabrics, and remains in active use.
Also see ARTIFICIAL LEATHER
LIGHT - a side window.
LIMOUSINE (Fr.) - plural LIMOUSINES
 From the French limousin and
limousine, belonging to or originating in the French town of Limoges,
more famous for its porcelain tableware than for these early luxury
horse-drawn carriages and chauffeur-driven automobiles. The
limousine generally differed from the sedan in having a glass partition
or division between the front (chauffeur) and rear (owner/passenger)
compartment. Early partitions were fixed and the rear-seat occupant
could hail the driver through a microphone and horn speaker; other
partitions had a hole drilled in them. Later partitions were in two
parts that slid open to left or right; others wound down into the
partition by means of a crank or, later, an electric motor.
 Derivation, French. A motor
car body with a permanent top projecting over the driver and having a
protecting front. The name was originally applied to a cloak worn by
the inhabitants of Limousine, an old province of central France. It was
later extended to the covering of a carriage, and then to one type of
enclosed motor car body. At present the term often is applied to a
complete car having a limousine body.
LINING - the backing or inside
surface of a top material. Besides referring to the inside
surface of the topping itself, the term often applies to the additional
lining of uncoated cloth inside the top frame and bows, functioning as
a headliner. Tops with a separate liner inside the top frame have
been available on some vehicles through all eras of automobile
production, and back into the heyday of horse-drawn carriages.
LITES (Br.) - Windows
LIVERY - in the early days of
enclosed car motoring many owners employed chauffeurs and sometimes
also a footman. Proper livery (or clothing) for the chauffeur enhanced
the general appearance of one's automobile. Double-breasted suits were
considered correct apparel as were breeches with puttees (far smarter
than trousers). Caps were a must, and cap protectors were needed in
cars with open front chauffeur compartments.
MACKINTOSH - a rubber-combined
raincoat material produced in the 1800’s which came into use to
describe any kind of rubber-combined cloth fabric by 1900. With
respect to auto top materials, it usually referred to those composed of
cotton fabrics on both sides.
MARQUE (Fr.) - (Pronounced
"Mark") a make or brand of car
MERITAS - a nitrile-coated
artificial leather produced by Standard Textile and used in place of
aluminum or steel in composite body construction. Meritas was very
similar to Zapon - another leather-alternative - and was used by the
John W. Henney Co. and other North American coachbuilders in the
mid-1920s. Like Zapon, Meritas was a heavy chemical-impregnated fabric
that was successful in preventing the drumming frequently heard in
metal-bodied vehicles. Unlike Weymann, who were coachbuilders, Meritas
was not. A Meritas body was a wood-framed body covered with
Meritas-brand fabric. Weymann bodies were light ash-framed bodies built
by a French coachbuilder named Charles T. Weymann and were usually
covered with Zapon, an artificial fabric made by a competitor of
Meritas'. A small number of American coachbuilders built Weymann bodies
under license. The Weymann-American Company of Indianapolis, Indiana
was an American coachbuilder partially owned by Charles T. Weymann that
built bodies for Stutz and others in the early 1930s.
METALLIC PAINT - an accidental
DuPont invention from 1928, when a steel mixing ball broke up while
mixing a batch of maroon lacquer for three Cadillac show cars. Also
called opalescent paint.
MM - Mille Miglia, a 1000 mile
Italian road race from 1927 to 1957
MOHAIR - the yarn and cloth produced
from the hair of Angora goats. In automotive textiles mohair was
a robust and very cleanable fabric, used both for top material and for
closed-car seating fabrics (the latter was usually made up with a pile
surface). The term was indiscriminately used and in the top
material field it generally meant a rubber-combined cloth topping
having a face fabric of mohair yarns and cotton yarns, or entirely of
mohair yarns. It was introduced to the North American auto
industry in 1907 by J.C. Haartz of Boston, MA. The period of
greatest use was from 1907 through 1915, although some usage occurred
in the United Kingdom into the 1950’s. Some early advertisers
claimed to offer “silk mohair” and “cotton mohair”. The former
was untrue. The term “mohair” is still used in the United Kingdom
to refer to rubber-combined cloth “hood” (top) fabrics, although
little, if any such material contains true mohair.
Mohair exterior cloth on period top
materials can be distinguished by two senses. The mohair cloth
feels harsher than comparable cotton cloth (such as on the top material
lining). In appearance, fresh surfaces of mohair cloth are
shinier than cotton (imparting a synthetic-looking sheen). Under
magnification (use at least 10X magnification), mohair fibers and
fiber-ends look like bundles of fine wires, quite distinct from cotton
or wool fibers.
MOON DISCS - a smooth,
chrome-plated, convex hub cap or full wheel disc, sometimes with a full
width "spinner" blade (used as a grip to remove the cover) that
flickered as the car was under way; these were a popular Hollywood
accessory in the Thirties.
MOTHBALLED - US Government order all
unsold 1942 vehicles mothballed on February 14, 1942. See the timeline
below for further details:
Jan 1, 1942 – The Freezing Order:
The government banned the sale of all new cars until Jan 15th
when a rationing plan would be released.
Jan 10, 1942 - The Freezing order
was amended to permit the sale of cars to the following: 1) US Army,
Navy, Marine Corps. and certain other US Government Agencies; 2)
Certain individuals with an assigned rating of A-1-J or higher; 3) US
Defense or Armed Forces contractors holding an A-1-J or higher
Jan 14, 1942 – The Stockpile
Order: The government issued an order to stockpile all cars shipped
after Jan. 15. Vehicles shipped after that date could not be sold until
permission to sell was granted by the government. Obtaining said
permission took many months, and some approved buyers had to wait as
long as a year to get a vehicle.
Dealers were required to make the
tires and tubes from stockpiled vehicles available for sale to any
"appropriate agency" if so requested. The selling price of stockpiled
vehicles was limited to the manufacturer's list price (fob), plus
federal excise tax, freight and 5% of the list price plus freight, or
$75, whichever was lower. Starting on Feb. l, dealers were allotted a
monthly allowance of 1% of the list, or $15, whichever was lower, for
storage, maintenance, insurance and finance charges.
Jan 15, 1942 – The planned
rationing order was postponed indefinitely.
Feb 1, 1942 - All US motor vehicle
production is halted.
Feb 14, 1942 – Mothball Order -
The government places all new cars currently in dealer inventory into
MOTHER-IN-LAW SEAT - a single seat
attached to the back of a two-seat car, the forerunner of the rumble
seat. It can also denote a seat placed on the opposite side of the car
from the driver.
MUFFLER CUT-OUT - a valve located on
the exhaust pipe between the engine and the muffler. When opened it
allowed exhaust gas to pass directly to the open air which made a great
noise and slightly increased power.
NAUGAHYDE - a surface-coated fabric
originally made for the automotive upholstery in the 1930s and later
for furniture by the U.S. Rubber Co., later Uniroyal.
NEVERLEEK - a surface-coated, double
texture material made by the FS Carr Company in Massachusetts from
about 1915 through 1930.
OPERA COUPE - a two door closed car
with a small folding seat beside the driver. This allowed easy passage
to a rear seat for two, usually offset to the right in left-hand drive
OPERA LIGHTS - side lights mounted
on center pillar or quarter panel.
OPERA SEATS or CHAIRS - fitted
in some short wheel base sedans to increase passenger capacity from
five to seven for short distances. An explanation of the origin
of the name is provided in the Fleetwood color portfolio of 1930
models; these opera seats were designed on the same principle as the
strapontin (the small, folding seat that is mounted on the end of many
of the rows of seats in the Paris Opera) only more comfortable! The
so-called "opera seats" could consist either of two side-facing seats
or more commonly the LH seat facing sideways and the RH one facing the
rear; these occasional seats were not as luxuriously finished or as
comfortable as the full-width "jump seats".
ORLON - DuPont’s trade name for an
acrylic fiber cloth used as facing on some rubber-combined cloth
toppings in the 1950s. During most of this time it was only
offered in its “natural” color of cream white (which would yellow
noticeably with prolonged weathering) but after 1954 black Orlon became
commercially feasible. Orlon cloth was of very fine weave and is
sometimes mistaken for vinyl.
PANEL BROUGHAM - see BROUGHAM
PANTASOTE - a synthetic leather
material used for the folding tops of some formal, landaulet models; it
was less flexible than canvas but afforded greater protection in
inclement weather. The Pantasote Company of New York offered several
varieties of top materials by 1905 at which time they introduced the
first surface-coated, double texture material. This latter
offering had a unique surface coating that could withstand exposure to
gasoline and oils. Thus, it became one of the favored choices of
car makers throughout North America. Pantasote offered the
standard black surface coating (with at least a few choices of
embossing patterns by the mid-teens) as well as brown and two shades of
red. The trade name was also used generically for surface-coated,
double texture toppings.
PARTITION - see DIVISION GLASS
PETTINGELL AUTOMATIC HAMMER - also see C.F. PETTINGELL
Charles Franklin Pettingell of
Amesbury, Mass. established a machine shop in 1873 that specialized in
building precision milling and wheel-wright machinery for the carriage
industry. An early product of the firm was the C.F. Pettingell Rim and
Felloe Rounding Machine which was used to manufacture carriage wheels.
Pettingill’s shop was destroyed by
the 1888 Amesbury Fire, but he rebuilt and continued to introduce new
machinery. By the late 1890s C.F. Pettingell manufactured over 30
different machines, all earmarked for the carriage building industry.
Products included tenoners, tilting arbor bevel saws (table saws) and
irregular template dressers for wooden working plus friction cutters
and rolling formers for sheet metal fabrication and their ever-popular
rim and felloe rounding machines.
In 1905, C.F. Pettingell retired
and A.G. Bela purchased the firm reorganizing it as the Pettingell
Machine Co. The firm’s most popular product was the Pettingell
Automatic Hammer, which was available in two sizes, the #1 and the #2.
Body panels that required several days of hand hammering could be
finished in less than an hour using the labor saving device which was
designed specifically for the automotive body business. The firm’s
largest customer was the Fisher Body Corp. who used over 500 Pettingell
power hammers in their factories. During the teens, twenties and
thirties their specialized equipment could be found in every firm in
the country that dealt with either manufacturing or repairing composite
Very few Pettingill Automatic
Hammers survive, and restored examples sell for $20,000 or more.
PHAETON - from the Greek "Phaethon"
who drove the chariot of his sun-god father, Helios. (pronounced
"fate-un" in the USA "feet-un"" in the United Kingdom) an open car of
the classic era for 4 or 5 passengers with a convertible top for
inclement weather; protection from the elements was not as good in this
body style as in the "all-weather" style or the "Touring Car", which
often included optional side-curtains for optimum protection in the
foulest of weathers.
PHAETON - (Carriage teminology) The
word comes from Greek mythology. Phaethon was the son of
Helios, who drove the Chariot of the Sun so recklessly that Zeus,
fearing he would set the earth on fire, struck him down with a bolt of
thunder. The first known use of the term to identify a carriage
comes from 1735 when the French applied it during a period when it was
much in vogue to use such classical pseudonyms. The term spread
rapidly to England and then America.
The term is generally applied to
four wheel vehicles that are a bit lighter than standard
carriages. Generally, the body is a single piece and can be
either for two or four passengers. There is no specific driving
seat; for this would be an owner-driven vehicle that was considered to
be sporty. Berkebile concludes his description of the vehicle by
saying: "Usage of the term became so general and loose toward the end
of the era, that often there was little distinction between certain
phaetons and a carriage bearing some other name."
PICKING-OUT (Br.) - a molding color
in contrast to a body color
PIPING - an upholstery trimming
stitched along edges, generally of seats and seat backs; cloth and
leather were used.
PLEATS and PIPES - a style of
upholstering where material is folded or separated by stitched seams.
PLYMETL - trade name for a
metal-faced plywood product used in commercial vehicle and bus bodies
made by the Haskelite Manufacturing Corporation of Chicago, Illinois.
"Plymetl side paneling is stronger than any sheet metal of the same
weight, lighter than than any sheet metal of equal strength. The
paneling is attractive because the stretcher-leveled steel faces
of Plymetl have no distorting highlights, and the specifically prepared
surface of the steel face takes and retains fine finishes."
PONTOON FENDERS - a generic name for
the bulbous fenders that were popular in the forties; coined by US
automobile designer Brooks Stevens in the early fifties these appeared
as a single ovoid shape, sometimes running back into the front door,
with only a semi-circular opening for the wheel.
PONTOP - a DuPont coated fabric
trade name. This one applied to a line of surface-coated top
materials for open and convertible cars as well as for closed car top
decking. The earlier Rayntite product line was apparently merged
into this product line by the early 1920’s.
POULTRY BUS - A purpose-built or
modified truck or bus used to carry poultry cages.
PROFESSIONAL CARS - Ambulances,
Flower Cars, Funeral Vehicles, Hearses and Limousines are all
considered to be Professional Cars. With few exceptions, hearse and
ambulance bodies were sold by coach-builders and not chassis builders.
While Cadillac offered a commercial chassis specially built for those
purposes, and published literature on same every year, this was more of
an effort due to the prestige and high visibility associated with
funeral cars than anything; and commercial chassis sales themselves
were always a small percentage of Cadillac production. It was the
coach-builders who handled marketing of professional cars, and that's
why the proper terminology for them lists the car by coach-builder
before mentioning the chassis builder, such as a Superior-Cadillac
rather than a Cadillac-Superior. Hearses and ambulances were a market
in their own right where chassis builders only worked with the
coach-builders to provide what they needed in most cases. Some hearses
are more collectible than others because of who built them or how the
car differed from other coaches. Years ago, a distinctive hearse was a
matter of pride to many funeral directors, and it's not uncommon for
people to prefer one make of professional car over another. Every brand
of coachwork had its advantages and disadvantages; this affected a
buyer's decision as to what make of coach they bought. There's a lot
more to hearses than meets the average person's eye.
PULLMAN - The name Pullman alone is
suggestive of the noble character of the new VIP limousine: In the
mid-19th Century the American industrialist George Mortimer Pullman
from Chicago (Illinois) made a name for himself by building
particularly luxurious railway cars. Since then the name "Pullman" has
stood for the highest level of comfort on wheels. In 1928 the standard
German reference work "Kraftfahrer und Kraftfahrzeug" defined the
Pullman limousine as a "large, comfortable touring and VIP car with a
partition between the driver's seat and passenger compartment".
PYRALIN - Transparent synthetic
material used to make roll-up windows in woody wagons during the 1920s
and 1930s. Held up much better than ISINGLASS, and was far more
resistant to yellowing, scratching and cracking. Developed by
DuPont, Pyralin was could be tinted and was originally used to make
jewelry as well as handles for furniture, vanity sets and silverware
and is still used in manufacturing semiconductors.
PYROXYLIN - a cellulose nitrate
compound used to coat automotive trim materials for many years up to
QUARTER WINDOW or QUARTER LIGHT- the
side window behind the rear door. In very early British usage, the rear
window was sometimes counted as a quarter light;
RAYNTITE - DuPont's trade name for
their surface-coated, double texture topping, first offered about
1915. By the early 1920’s, this product line apparently merged
with their top deck material line under the name Pontop.
REPTILE SKIN - used as an upholstery
material in some modernistic coach work by Fleetwood and other custom
coach builders. Nordberg of Sweden did the interior of a 1929 LaSalle
convertible coupe for HRH King Gustaf Adolf of Sweden in reptile.
REXINE (Br.) - British-made
nitrite-coated synthetic leathern, used primarily in covering Weymann
patent bodies. also see Zapon
ROADSTER - an American term
referring to an open body with one wide seat capable of taking tow or
three abreast, possibly also having a dickey seat. The American
equivalent of the British 2-seater. From the 1930s on it has come
to mean the same thing as a 2-seater sports car.
ROI DES BELGES - an ornate tulip
phaeton, quite popular in Europe during the early 1900s. The body style
was named after the topless limousines favored by King Leopold II of
Belgium, the Belgian Monarch who had a much celebrated affair with the
notorious Parisian dancer and post card pin-up Cléo de Mérode.
ROLLED BELT - styling term
designating the convex-curved molding around the car body level with
the base of the windshield.
ROYALITE - a pre-formed vinyl
RUBBER-COMBINED - a cloth top
material construction in which two layers of cloth are put together, or
combined, using an intervening rubber film.
RUMBLE-SEAT or DICKEY SEAT - a
folding seat in the rear of an open roadster. or convertible coupe body.
RUNABOUT - a very early 2-passenger
automobile body style closely resembling a horse-drawn carriage; by
adding a demountable "tonneau" behind the front bench, it could be
turned into a 4-passenger vehicle.
RUNNING BOARDS - to assist entry and
exit from a vehicle a rubber or leather covered metal shelf was run
between the front and rear fenders of an automobiles. Cadillac's 1938
"60 Special" model, was the first production car to eliminate them
although they were simply hidden behind the doors.
SALAMANCA (Br.) - a style of fast
touring TRANSFORMABLE (usually five-passenger) limousine popularized by
Rolls-Royce. Named after the the Marquis de Salamanca (Don Carlos de
Salamanca), a Spanish nobleman and Rolls-Royce agent who won the
Spanish Grand Prix of 1913 in a Silver Ghost.
SALOON - a vehicle with the driving
seat inside the enclosed car with no separation from the rear seats.
SCOOP FENDERS - an incredibly
unattractive fender that featured forward thrusting front edges and
droopy-looking rear edges. Rollston built 4 Duesenberg Model J bodies
that included scoop fenders.
SEDANCA de VILLE see TOWN CAR
SHEETING WEAVE - similar in nature
to duck weave, yarns alternately go over, then under the intersecting
yarns. Sheeting fabrics usually have finer yarns and a more open
weave structure than duck weave cloth.
SHOOTING BREAK (Br.) or SHOOTING
BRAKE (Br.) - a station wagon, in Britain a break (station wagon) used
for hunting or shooting, hence shooting break or shooting brake. A
British dictionary gives the definition of "brake" as "a kind of
vehicle - see break". The definition for "break" as a noun reads "a
large wagonette: a carriage used in breaking horses."
SILENTBLOC - a system of fabric body
production in the manner of Weymann. See WEYMANN
SKIFF or CAB-SKIFF - an open sports
car with streamlined, light bodywork
SONNENLAND - the well-known
"original German" cloth top material (also known by the name Happich)
produced by Rode and Schwalenberg GmbH since 1972. In about
thirty years of making Sonnenland, product evolution resulted in
several variations within this line, most of which remain available or
in production. Sonnenland almost invariably consists of a mostly,
or all-acrylic exterior cloth, rubber-combined with the well-known
dobby-weave (criss-cross pattern) inner cloth.
SPEAKING TUBE: an early one-way
intercom system used in chauffeur-driven automobiles that allowed the
rear compartment passenger to communicate with the driver. The system
consisted of a portable mouthpiece in the rear that was connected via a
long tube to a fixed, trumpet-shaped listening device mounted near the
driver's ear. The system was eventually electrified with a microphone
replacing the rear compartment mouthpiece and a speaker replacing the
trumpet. Also see AUTOPHONE
SPLASH APRON - sheet metal panel
concealing the chassis frame members typically located above and
usually supporting the running boards.
SPLASHERS - early wire-framed,
leather-covered fenders were sometimes known as splashers because their
primary function was to keep mud from splashing up on the highly
polished finish. also see SPLASH APRON
SPORTIF - a very tight or narrow
phaeton. Used by Locomobile among others.
SPORT COUPE - a closed coupe with a
cloth top and sometimes landau irons resembling a convertible.
SPORT TOPPING - the high-style cloth
toppings that came into use in the 1920s for the sportier convertible
and open bodied cars. Sport topping became synonymous with
convertible topping in general, both cloth and vinyl, through the
STATION WAGON - a utility car built
of wood, typically with four doors.
STAYFAST - an acrylic-faced
colorfast cloth top material produced by Haartz since the late 1970’s.
STEP PLATES - flat castings mounted
laterally in lieu of full-length running boards on sporty body types to
assist entry and exit; these became popular in 1930. There were also
small flat, rear-bumper and fender steps allowing access to auxiliary,
fold-away seating in the trunk or "rumble" area.
STRANGLER (Br.) - a carburetor choke
STREAMLINING - in automobile body
construction, unifying uncoordinated body elements into a whole and
giving a shape intended to reduce to the greatest extent possible the
turbulence caused by the automobile penetrating the air at speed.
STYLING - the term describes the
marriage of art and technology and is attributed to Harley Earl's
Art and Color Department which produced the 1927 La Salle for General
Motors. Interiors of the luxury sedans, limousines and town cars,
however, tended towards the baroque and it was to be a few more years
before a conscious effort was made by the new auto stylists to match
interior designs to exterior styling themes and colors.
SUBURBAN - a seven passenger
DOOR- a door hinged at the back and opening at the front, aka
rear-hinged door, typically for the front seat. At speed any chance
opening would cause the door to whip backward with great force.
However, there were sound reasons for the practice. On long chassis of
the day - with engines mounted further back than is now usually the
case - the front edge of the front door came close to the center of the
wheelbase, at a point where the chassis was most flexible. Hinging the
door at this area could produce considerable distortion and develop
unwanted rattles and squeaks.
SUPERLEGGERA (It.) - super light
SURREY - a body style from the early
1900s that replaced the tonneau with a full width rear seat and
entrance from both sides (no doors).
SYLENTLYTE – concocted from the
words "silent" and "light." Sylentlyte was a thin-walled aluminum
casting system developed by William Brokaw and Thomas Hibbard of
Hibbard & Darrin for use in building automobile bodies. For a
four-door convertible, 10 main Alpax castings were used to form the
body structure which was topped off with a convertible top that
featured hollow metal bows instead of the heavier wooden ones.
Four-door sedan bodies used the open car’s 10 castings mated to a
separately cast roof assembly that bolted to it. Alpax was an aluminum
alloy used by the Montupet Foundry that was widely used in France for
pistons and other highly stressed cast aluminum parts.
Since most large European and
American cars of the late 1920s were similar in size, a single set of
castings, with minor alterations, could be fitted to all of them by
using a sandwich of long wooden shims. Aluminum sheet stock was used to
cover the exposed shims prior to mounting the bodies.
In the March, 1930 S.A.E. Journal
Hibbard related (note: this piece was written before the market crash):
“My own firm has been working for
some time on all-:metal bodies and has two types of construction well
developed and adaptable to fairly small production. In one type of body
we make the doors with a cast aluminum-alloy frame covered with a
sheet-aluminum panel, and build up the cowl and rear panels in the same
way. In the other type we cast the entire exterior of the door in one
piece and build up the other panels from castings. This last method is
in some respects preferable but requires exceptional foundry
facilities, alloys considerably lighter than the ordinary casting
alloys and very difficult pattern work.
“Our models are designed around a
panel construction stopping at the belt, as a great proportion of our
bodies are collapsible. The roofs of bodies having solid roofs are
separate structures. We find our metal bodies lighter, stronger, more
easily reparable and much less sensitive to climatic variations than
bodies built over wooden frames.
There was considerable interest in
the trade, and Hibbard & Darrin leased a showroom on 57th Street in
New York to promote the idea to American coachbuilders and
manufacturers. Unfortunately the showroom opened a few weeks before the
1929 market crash and hopes of licensing the system in the US vanished
almost overnight. Additionally the benefits of the system -
lightweight, rust-proof and rattle-free – couldn’t outweigh its many
problems. Each cowl and front door assembly had to be hand-made in
order to match the many different lengths and brands of chassis and the
molds needed to form the panels were very difficult to make and the
resulting castings were often seriously flawed. The biggest problem was
that the bodies were very expensive to make and after a handful were
built, Hibbard & Darrin closed down the Sylentlyte production line
The Sylentlyte system was not the
first time cast-aluminum was used for auto bodies. From 1910-1919
Pierce-Arrow built all of their bodies using cast aluminum body panels
affixed to a wooden frame.
TALLY HO - early 20th century name
for a bus, typically used by resorts and hotels. Horse-drawn pleasure
vehicles in the late 1800s also used the term.
TEAL - DuPont offered a line of
rubber-combined cloth top materials under the Teal trade name in the
late 1920's and1930's. The occurrence of this trade name in
automotive trim specifications will be evident if the word “teal” seems
to contradict an adjacent color name (i.e. “weatherproof top of gray
TENDELET (Fr.) - a protective cover
that could be placed over the rumble area of 2-passenger roadsters,
coupes and convertible coupes.
TENITE - a hard plastic material
used in the manufacture of steering wheels, transmission and signal
TEISSEIRE - a c.1920 French patent
for convertible bodies which featured soft fabric-tops with 2-piece
THERMOSOTE - a tar-impregnated wood
fibre insulation board manufactured by the Agasote Millboard Co.
THREE POSITION COUPE - A Coupe De
Ville which may be presented as a fully closed coupe, a deVille Coupe
with the front section open or a fully collapsible convertible.
TONNEAU - plural, TONNEAUX (Fr.)
 - the rear compartment of a
car body, usually an open touring body.
 - (meaning detachable) - a
removable passenger compartment that offered additional seating for two
or more passengers and was mounted at the rear of a body behind the
front seats. It comprised a single door at the rear and was available
on "Runabout" models during the 1900s. In later cars, the TONNEAU
was the passenger area behind the front seat; the term also may
describe the piece of cowling sometimes installed behind the front seat
to protect the occupants of the rear compartment; the second cowl could
be raised to facilitate entry to and exit from the rear seat.
 Derivation: originally a
French word meaning a barrel; a wooden vessel formed of staves and
hoops and made to contain a TONNEAU (1,000 kilogrammes) of oil. Later,
a horse-drawn carriage, known in England as a governess car, having a
rear entrance. A similar type of body was first applied to a motor car
by M. Huillier, of Paris, and by reason of its resemblance to a barrel
and to the horse-drawn TONNEAU already existing, was known as a TONNEAU.
TONNEAU COVER - a soft, fabric
envelope (later made of rigid fiberglass) to hide the unsightly soft
top frame and material when in the folded position. Some post-war
manufacturers featured sliding or folding metal panels under which the
folded soft top disappeared completely out of sight.
TONNEAU WINDSHIELD - an auxiliary
windshield mounted to the TONNEAU and which, in general, could be
folded forward, flat against the TONNEAU to let the "air in your
hair". Some coachbuilders offered a TONNEAU windshield that could
be lowered into the partition between the front and rear seats.
TOP BOWS - the cross beams of
folding framework of a convertible top that supports the cloth, leather
or rubber top and keep the top tight when in a closed position.
Formerly made of hardwood, they soon where manufactured of metal.
TORPEDO (Fr.) - an very smooth
touring car without horizontal moldings. The French equivalent of
Phaeton. Also a long sports vehicle with hood, which was attached to
TOURER (Br.) - the British
equivalent of a Touring car or Phaeton
TOURING or TOURING CAR - an early
body style designating an open car accommodating at least 4 persons;
fitted with a folding top (and occasionally waterproof side curtains)
for use in inclement weather; more generally, a large family-sized
convertible automobile with 4 doors and a seating capacity for 5 to 7
TOWN CABRIOLET - A town car in which
the covered rear section converts to an open car.
TOWN CAR - generally a
chauffeur-driven automobile with an open front compartment and,
sometimes, a metal or makeshift leather covering to protect the
chauffeur in inclement weather. The passenger compartment, separated
from the driver by a fixed or mobile glass division, usually had
exceptionally luxurious appointments. Many town cars had a
"speaking-tube" mounted on the "B" pillar, the outlet of which stood
close to the left ear of the driver; the driver's seat and front door
panels of most town cars were finished in fine grain black leather; a
waterproof foul-weather cover was stored in a special compartment in
the division, behind the front seat; it could be pulled out and
buttoned on the windshield to protect the driver. Also known as a
SEDANCA de VILLE or TOWN BROUGHAM.
TRAM - A wagon typically pulled by a
tractor, usually with more than one wagon connected together.
Some streetcars, trolleys and trolley busses are erroneously referred
to as trams.
TRANSFORMABLE (Fr.) a four door
convertible with windows - see ALL-WEATHER. Some early examples were
built using the Baehr patent - see BAEHR PATENT.
TRANSFORMABLE TOWN CAR - see Town
TRUNK and TRUNK RACK - until the
mid-30s most cars were fitted with a folding luggage rack at the rear
on which was strapped a removable trunk; in the 30's there was a move
toward a fixed trunk rack and trunk in which fitted luggage could be
carried. The first integral trunk made its appearance on the 1938
Cadillac Series 60 Special sedan.
TUDOR SEDAN - Ford's term for a two
TULIP BACK (Br.) - a Panel Brougham
or Coupe deVille (very early type) with quarter panels and rear body
panels that flare outward at the top to a flat sharp edged roof line.
Also, an early vehicle whose Tonneau is shaped like the body of a tulip.
TULIP PANEL - body panel between
bottom of rear window and rear of trunk lid.
TULIP PHAETON - an early vehicle
whose Tonneau is shaped like the body of a tulip.
TULIP STYLE - see TULIP BACK
TURRET-TOP - the solid pressed-steel
top used by General Motors and introduced on the closed body Cadillac
and LaSalle models of 1934.
TWIN SIX - Packard's first twelve
cylinder car introduced in late 1915 and produced until 1920. When the
new V12 was reintroduced by Packard in 1932, the term was reused for
that first year only.
UNDERSLUNG - an automobile whose
frame passed underneath the axles. Used primarily by the American Motor
Company of Indianapolis from 1907 to 1914
VANA - another patented
body-building process where a chicken-mesh wire frame is affixed to
standard wooden body framing, then covered in a synthetic concrete
mastic much as a mason towels on concrete. When dry, the material was
sanded and painted much the same way that modern body filler is used.
Similar to the Kenneth L. Childs patents, although his bodies were
covered in padded Nitrite-based fabric, rather than the vegetal
concrete used by the Vana process.
VESTIBULE SEDAN - a closed body
style with an arched rear compartment door extending into the roofline.
The high door allowed distinguished owners to enter and exit the
vehicle without removing their hats. Popular from the early teens
through the early twenties.
VICTORIA - a close coupled two door
sedan or an enlarged coupe with a rear seat also knmown as an OPERA
COUPE. Also a four door open car with folding top over the rear seat
only. Known in France as a COUPE MILORD.
VINTAGE - formerly a term describing
cars built between 1915 and 1925 but now used broadly, especially in
England, to include cars manufactured between 1920 and 1942.
VOITURE (Fr.) - French for car
VOITURETTE (Fr.) - an early touring
car with two seats only and no hood.
WAIST-LINE see BELT-LINE
WIESE CLOTH - William Wiese &
Co. was a New York City supplier and importer of automotive upholstery
and trimmings. The were a major supplier of Bedford Cord and some of
the broadcloth imported by the firm became known in the trade as "Wiese
WELT or SEAMING - a feature of
upholstery work consisting of a double-edge, strip, insert or seam; a
fabric or leather covered cord used to separate or outline a section of
a cushion or back-rest.
WEYMANN - developed by Charles T.
Weymann and patented in 1922, it consisted of a nitrile coated fabric
(typically ZAPON or MERITAS) that was stretched over an ash frame that
was fastened together by small strips of perforated steel plate. The
body was incredibly light and the metal strips prevented the wood from
rubbing together and squeaking (a major problem with many coachbuilt
WHEEL DISCS see DISC WHEELS
WINDLACE - the fabric or leather
covered, spongy piping or "wind hose" applied around doors to prevent
WINDOW REVEALS - the frame around
the body side windows, which could be chrome-plated or painted a
lighter color to make them stand out.
WINDOW STRAP - a strap attached to
the base of a window which passed inside the body up to the sill and
into the interior of the car. It could be used to pull the window up.
Holes in the strap could be buckled against an interior pin to hold the
window at various elevations.
WINDSCREEN (Br.) - windshield
WINDSHIELDS - the windshields of
early cars were a flat, one-piece of glass set vertically in the "A"
pillars; as styling became the order of the day in the twenties there
was a move towards "V"-shaped, two-piece windshields, for better air
penetration, then back to a flat configuration raked back at a
sometimes steep angle, cutting down wind noise and improving even more
the penetration factor. Shaped glass was introduced gradually after
WWII and reached their epitome in the late fifties when there was such
a vast expanse of windshield, back light and side glass to make some
General Motors and Chrysler detractors refer to them as "rolling
WING (Br.) - fender
WINTER FRONT - a patented name for a
shuttered radiator cover by the Pines Co. which could be opened and
closed to regulate engine temperature.
WIRE WHEELS - Wire wheels made their
appearance almost at the same time as the wooden so-called "artillery"
wheel but they were an expensive option; hub and rim were connected
with cross-laced steel spokes; after the war the wire wheel made a
comeback on 1950s Cadillacs, Lincolns and Packards.
WOODGRAINING - the art of giving an
imitation wood finish to metal surfaces. The Di-Noc company of
Cleveland held a patent on their woodgraining process which was
referred to as Di Noc.
WOODY - a motor vehicle
incorporating natural finished wood for structure and all exposed parts
of the body. The term has been loosely applied to any car which uses
wood on the exterior.
ZAPON - an artificial leather
produced by a company of the same name in New Jersey from the mid-teens
through the 1930’s. Zapon may be best known for the artificial
leather they made for fabric skinned car bodies of the 1920’s,
particularly those built by Weymann.
© 2004-2015 Mark Theobald -