This book traces the development of coachbuilding from the era of the horse drawn carriage to the early 1980s, and describes the way in which the motor vehicle has evolved in all its forms. Emphasis is placed particularly upon the body building process and the ways in which traditional skills were adapted over the years. The effects of fashion, manners, and, indeed, of two World Wars, are explored perceptively and entertainingly. While British coachbuilding provides the central theme of the book, the industry is, of all those which have flourished in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, one of the most truly international. From the earliest years of body building, free exchange of ideas between Britain, Europe and the United States resulted in British chassis with French bodies, for example, or American chassis with British bodies — vehicles whose very construction testifies to the multinational nature of the industry. The spread of pressed steel in mass-production and the increasing American influence after 1930 upon European body styles are also discussed. The text is lavishly illustrated with 300 black and white photographs, including images from the likes of Barker and Hooper coachbuilders and 25 colour plates, many previously unpublished. Both unusual and classic designs are shown, ranging from the nineteenth-century mail coach to the golden era of the 1920s and 1930s, with Rolls Royce, Bentley and Sunbeam chassis being clothed by custom coachwork - onto the Lagondas of the 1950s and the British Leyland Metro of the 1980s. In this informed, enthusiastic study, George Oliver celebrates the achievements, past and present, of this major industry and provides a visual feast for the connoisseur of fine craftsmanship.