Cast Iron, Tin Toys — August 1, 2011 at 12:08 am

Phaetons – aka Convertible Sedans – 2

BY BOB HERBERT

WHEN THE FAMILY CAR first appeared on our streets on or about the turn of the 19th/20th Century, it was greeted with a combination of wonder, surprise, and suspicion. And it looked as though it had lost its horse.

To calm down some of that suspicion, a good number of the first automobile models really did look like horseless carriages. It was done absolutely on purpose, to help establish a known style with the new motor puddle-jumpers. They intentionally wore body styles that looked like the familiar.

Back then, all cars were convertible. Until the closed body appeared a few years later, our automobiles copied the style of the horse drawn carriages—four doors, which were Phaetons, and two doors which were either Roadsters or Racers of some sort.

We’ve managed to continue to designate our automobile styles somewhat the same, until now. Phaetons—fully open-bodied Sedans with four doors, twin rows of seats, and a canvas top, existed per se up through the 1930s. The Convertible Sedan—similar but which could be entirely closed up with four windows—became the more popular convertible version.

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