Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0
HarleyEarl

Body by Fisher

11 posts in this topic

For many years GM had a badge on their cars, stating it was a body by Fisher. What did that mean?

Posted Image
0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
If I remember correctly, didn't the Fisher body plant engineer most of the body structures for GM or something like that? I remember the sill plates on my parents cars had the "Body by Fisher" logo on them.. and the GM logo on the seatbelts.
0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
okay this was told to me... i dont know if its true... but fisher used to make horse arrages, and the original automobiles were just horse carrages with an engine... so fisher made the body and the automotive company threw in the engine and tranny... so body by fisher was because the frame of the car was made by a different company... usually it was a plack in the sill of the door
0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Errr, not quite. The Fisher Bros. did start out building coach bodies before they switched to auto bodies, but it didn't work how you say. Eventually the companies building cars settled on the BOF design system, with the frame, chassis, engine etc. combined into a "rolling chassis". While many eventually had their own body shops there were hundreds of other firms such as Fisher, Brewster, Weymann, LeBaron, Derham, Hooper, Mulliner, Ghia, Touring etc. who created their own bodies, often for several manufacturers. For expensive cars like Bentley, Rolls-Royce (who eventually aquired their own in-house coachbuilders) and Ferrari this continued through the '50s and '60s. The same model often had a range of alternate bodies from different coachbuilders. Fisher became part of GMin 1919, producing most of the company's bodies. Early bodies however were largely wood and fabric, just like coaches, but Fisher I think developed the first all-steel body. The all-steel body required larger capital investment and therefore volumes than smaller coachworks could handle. The all-steel Fisher body became a marketing point for GM, but not all GM products had a "Body by Fisher". Many Cadillac models instead had a Fleetwood body, another coachworks that bought by GM. Although initially you could get a range of either Fisher or Fleetwood bodies, by the '40s standard Cadillacs had a Fisher Body, and the more expensive models were usually Cadillac-Fleetwoods (there were more than one for many years), although you could still get a body from another firm (so a Series 75 Cadillac was usually but not necessarily a Fleetwood).
0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Hmmm... which brings to mind another point. I wonder if Fleetwood, the maker of camper trailers and mobile homes, is a descendant of the company that made bodies for Cadillac?

EDIT: with a little research, it seems they are two totally different entities, with the motorhome/camper/house company founded in California in 1950, and the Fleetwood coachworks started in Fleetwood, PA in 1909 and integrated into GM by 1931.

I think "Fleetwood" is a very cool name, evoking speed and old-world luxury in one word.
Edited by ocnblu
0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Great post, griffon. I am unaware of any other Cadillac Series 75 coachbuilders after circa 1940 beyond one-offs tho- what did I forget?

Fisher Body's all-steel shells were introduced for '35. It was the first, as the Turret Top eliminated the ubitquitous fabric insert for the main portion of the roof. This is where the claim to 'all-steel' is earned (for closed bodies: prior to that the only true all-steel bodies were roadsters).
However, it should be noted that there was still some wood bracing inside the shell; radical strength & crash tests of the day proved the superiority of composite all-steel shells with wood bracing.

One of the Fisher Body strength tests involved taking one of the best of the competition's "all-steel" body (actually 20% wood- too much and not ideally engineered) and one of their own Turret Tops, placed both on 45-degree inclined surfaces and applied a 9,000 load on one upper rear corner. The competitors shell deflected 11", all glass but the lower windshield broke (and that pane was sprung from it's frame) and all doors were crimped & inoperable. All panels were damaged and the shell was rendered unrepairable.
The Fisher Body deflected only 4", only the windshield cracked and the overall damage was easily repairable in any competant body shop.

During this period, Fisher had 1000 production body inspectors, but Cadillac employeed another team of body inspectors following up Fishers for even their Fisher-bodied Cadillacs.

It should be pointed out that the Fleetwood facility was another in-house coachbuilder (for Cadillac)... I'm not sure but at least well into the '70s if not notably later.

For a completely-owned division, it is interesting that Fisher had a lot of say in the design of upcoming proposals, assumedly from a standpoint of feasability. For many years I never realised they had any input beyond "We'll get right on it." A terrifically interesting chapter in the General Motors story, and an underappreciated one at that. There must be an authoritative book on Fisher somewhere- I must track it down.
0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Derham made a number of Series 75 limousine bodies post WWII. I can't remember the last true custom Cadillac body (before modern "custom" cars), but I think it was a 60 Special. After Fleetwood was acquired by Fisher Body to ensure a supply of custom bodies for Cadillac, they continued to build bodies for other manufactures including Lincoln and Packard, but the design dept. was soon integrated into Harley Earl's Art and Color. After a brief period in their own Detroit factory after moving from Pennsylvania Fleetwood was essentially merged into Fisher operationally. For a while they were just more opulent Fisher bodies, but with expansion of the Cadillac model series they were reserved for more expensive models such as the 60 Special and Series 75, and with the discontinuation of the model numbers eventually just a model name. It would be good to see GM re-establish Fleetwood as an in-house be-spoke customisation unit for Cadillac, much as Jaguar, BMW (part of M GmbH) and Mercedes use. E.g. unique interiors, low-volume off-catalog body variants (a short run of very-expensive STS coupes for example) - an adjunct to the V-Series.
0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I was expecting Derham. Brunn, Bowham & Schwartz and Franay of Paris are some others, but all these were one-offs or extremely limited runs and not Cadillac-solicited nor catalogued, but customer-requested. Cadillac did not fancy their cars 'tampered' with by outside coachbuilders, many of whom produced designs either too radical or disharmonious to the factory design. I have seen countless pictures supporting clearly this. Of course that did not stop outside coachbuilders or outright customizers, as Cadillac has been nearly a life-long subject of the torch. It has been my impression that the Detroit-Fleetwood plant was distinct & free-standing well into the '70s. I need to research this point, at least for my own interest.
0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
After reading a few books on GM, Fisher Body may have been a wholly owned subsidary of GM, but if you were to ask people that worked in the FB division, they worked for FB not GM. It was a highly territorial divison and one of my favorite quotes from the books that i read went something like this "GMAD and Fisher body were run like individual fifedoms where if plant space was shared, they would draw division lines between the two stating terrority." -- not a direct quote but something like that was said to roger smith by an anaylist.

Here is some more cool facts about Fisher at the wiki

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fisher_Body
0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
You all win this triva question....great detailed info....very interesting bit of GM history.
0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Your content will need to be approved by a moderator

Guest
You are commenting as a guest. If you have an account, please sign in.
Reply to this topic...

×   You have pasted content with formatting.   Remove formatting

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0



  • Who's Online (See full list)

    There are no registered users currently online

  • Who's Chatting

    There are no users currently in the chat room