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6th September 1921
Page 21
Page 22
Page 21, 6th September 1921 — THE IMPORTANCE OF COACHWORK.
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Which of the following most accurately describes the problem?

By " The Inspector.'

k•WEEK or two ago I took as the subjeet. of my • article. " The Importance. of Paintwork." I feel Tshould like to elaborate that idea a little us _week by endeavouring -to emphasize the growig importance of coachwork. • Those of us who have, in the . past, been assoated with the touring-ear branch of the industry ave. long been well aware of the extreineimportance hid/ became appropriate, and has indeed remained ppropriate, to the coachWerk -part of the complete ehicle, so far as it influenced sales. Other than ie keen mechanical' amateur and the expert, the ,e.rage to-day, it must be admitted, not ifluenoed to any noteworthy •extent by chassis detils..11e or she is content to take a great deal of ich information. for granted. The price, the reputaon granted to a chassis by other users, the rep"dion of the makers for service and considerate ,eatment; all these things count with the ordinary iassis buyer, but, with few exceptions, such ensimer takes very little -trouble with regard to, shall say, the cardan joints:, nickel-chrome steels, coincation chamber, form, cam, contours, ete., etc.

Certain classes of tcnring-car vehicles have their wn classes of custathers, of course. There is the Ter-exquisite class—at present alone on a pinn'ae; then there is a range of very excellent machines ?longing to the next class.. There is the middle'ass car, and then there is the very cheap car. And ic choice between the .various makes:depends to .relatively small extent en technical arguments in ipport of the design..

This state of affairs we have, not quite arrived at k the commercial vehicle trade, as„ of course, we lye many -more men engaged on the operation side ! 'it who are thoroughly -experienced and proper irdified experts. Nevertheless, it would Ire nossi_e, although on the present occasion it would perills not be diplomatic, to divide the known types commercial_ vehicles into certain classes and eerin gradings, quite apart. from their load-carrying ipamties, but with particular reference to their =ding, if such a classification can be used. • The mice between one or other machines so grouped „ very largely, if not entirely, in the hands of the desman, who must obtain his opportunity and Ting his influence to bear from all quarters, and so

• ess the firm honking of an order, armed with [eh varied forms of persuasion.

It cannot be denied that, other things being equal, Lore is generally a aecond, third, fourth or fifth mice of machines in any one grade, and, when 1 order is to be booked, very little useful influence .11 be brought to bear by super-technical arguents with regard to the constructional features ' the chassis. Care for chassis efficiency is, more ten than not, rightly left in the hands of manufacrers, whose reputation is far too precious an asset r them to gamble, to any considerable extent, ith untried novelties, or with design details which .ey are not satisfied will stand the tremendous ram of public test in industrial employment.

But it is a fact that a great number of sales are imulated and confirmed after a customer has criticly examined some example of coachwork in a way at, to an increasing extent, seldom happens with

the chassis. GenerallY speaking, the owner or the user is a very keen critic of coachwork. In a way,. this part of the complete vehicle is an easier thing to criticise than are the mechanical details of the chassis. Dimensions, heights and size, knee room; capacity of cab, height of tilt, sizes of doors, tail= boards and gangways, and the hundred-and-one other similar details are matters upon which an ordinary business man is, as a rule, quite competent and ready to express a useful opinion without .possessing very great technical knowledge.

• This is true of vans and wagons as well as of passenger vehicles, but it. is particularly applicable in the latter case. Given any one of the better types of chassis, the char-a-banes owner is not nowadays so fussy as -to whether he has one or, other chassis as he is that he shall obtain a body that suits his ideas and requirements exactly—I ant negleeting the side issue of chassis standardization for the moment. It may be. that he has a taste for very distinctive colouring, and it is very often the Case that such colouring may not appeal in any way at all to the makers ; they may consider it hideous taste.; but this is a requirement which very often makes an order.

It is not the writer's intention in any way to suggest that particular chassis have not their own special claims on users' attention. It is Obvious that they have, but his point should be Confined 'to an insistence on the growing importance of the effect of carefully and cleverly designed coachwork on the placing of orders by careful buyers.

This leads us to the assumption which the writet considers is a correct one—that we have not reached anything like finality in respect of coachwork design and construction yet. The ehar-a-bancs, particularly, he regards as a comproffilse, and, indeed, as a type which will ultimately disappear as such. It has really survived from the old horse char-itbanes days, and, as constructed at present; it impo'ses the severest possible limitation in respect of its all-the-year-round employment.

The public is extremely fickle in many ways when it comes to methods of travelling, and, whilst the present writer is proceeding, news comes of tremendous nuts in char-à-banes fares, which have been necessitated solely because of the re-institution of railway week-end and cheap travel facilities. A certain section of the public, is away off to the trains immediately, the fares co•me down a shilling or two, and from that it is pretty obvious the public does not indulge in long-distance open-air travel on the high roads—in its present char-a-banes farm, at any rate—because of a love for such travel as compared with progress in the ordinary railway train. Now. thatwe have entered definitely oil 'the' era of competition. as .between rail and road travel, it is the writer's _opinion', for what it is 'worth, that longdistance 'travel in cliars4nbanes over ordinary and comparatively Uninteresting -roads between definite terminals will not survive as an alternative to the train at cheap fares. People do not want to travel. from York to Landan far. the Mere pleasure of sitting for many hours in the fresh air; but the conclusion has also been arrived at. that when it is a case of travelling for sight-seeing purposes, through beautiful country without any particular object, the char-a

Lanes or its descendant will always be able to "put it across" the train.

If that is to he so, the coachbuilder will still have ample opportunity to evolve bodywork that shall be particularly suited for road passengers, and it will particularly have to be of a type that will finally abolish the cumbersome, ungainly and uncomfortable Cape-cart hood device. We live in a country where the weather is fickle, where we cannot always depend on such wonderful summers as that we have experienced this year. This is one direction in which there is ample opportunity for further inventive and clever designing. , The evolution of more satisfactory passengE carrying bodies will do an enormousftmount of goo in stimulating sales ; far more good than the evoi tion of chassis improvement. We have plenty good chassis at the present time—good enough satisfy the ordinary user and buyer. As we progre in design in that direction, we shall not increasing please the owner, but we certainly can do much stimulate and interest him by improvement in coao work. A tremendous lot in the future of this indu try hangs on our capacity for Concentratingcoachwork problems, and evolving new and bat, types both in respect of passenger-carrying ar goods-carrying machines.


Locations: Landan, York

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