1908: The Founding of a World-Class Automobile Coachbuilder

July 22, 1908

The automobile coachbuilder Fisher Body Company was established in Detroit. This company’s ancestry can be traced to Lawrence Fisher, who — along with his brother Andrew and brother-in-law Joseph Weisenberger — set up Fisher Brothers Carriage Company in Norwalk, Ohio, in 1880 to produce horse-drawn vehicles. 

All seven of Lawrence Fisher’s sons spent at least a few years working for their father’s carriage business. In addition, Lawrence Fisher taught his brother Albert how to make carriages. At some point during the late 1880s, Albert Fisher made his way to Detroit and established Standard Wagon Works there. 

By 1908, Lawrence Fisher’s sons Fred and Charles were working for Albert at Standard Wagon Works to help produce bodies for horse-drawn carriages as well as several automakers. The brothers decided that same year to launch a new enterprise that would focus only on bodies for automobiles. This was because Fred and Charles Fisher realized that, when it came to automobiles, stronger and more durable bodies (rather than those traditionally used for horse-drawn carriages) were urgently needed to better withstand the increased vibrations and speeds of that new mode of transportation. Consequently, the brothers and their Uncle Albert established the Fisher Body Company.

Their company soon grew by leaps and bounds, and its customers included Ford, Cadillac, Chalmers, and Studebaker. By the time the company became the Fisher Body Corporation in 1916, it was able to produce up to 370,000 automobiles bodies annually and had mushroomed into the world’s largest manufacturer in that industry. 

In 1919, General Motors (GM) bought 60 percent of the Fisher Body Corporation.  Seven years later, the Fisher Body Corporation’s operations were fully integrated as an in-house coachbuilding division of GM. This division was dissolved in 1984, with some of its facilities taken over by the newly launched Fisher Guide Division and the other plants absorbed elsewhere within GM.

Photo Credit: Coachbuilt.com

For more information on the Fisher Body Company, please check out http://www.coachbuilt.com/bui/f/fisher/fisher.htm and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fisher_Body

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