Touring car (automotive type)

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Adler 24/28 HP Tonneau (1908) with optional, fixed "Surrey" roof
Rolls-Royce 40/50 hp ("Silver Ghost") touring car (1912)
Chevrolet Independence Series AE Phaeton (1931)
Weather protection on a 1922 Chevrolet 490 Touring

The touring car is a type of automobile that was popular from the beginning of the 20th century to the mid-1930s. In the United Kingdom it was also called (four door) open tourer , in France Double Phaëton and later Phaëton and in the USA touring or touring car . The name went out of fashion from the 1920s and the differences to the sportier Phaeton and Torpedo blurred.

A touring car was suitable for longer trips - hence the name - and had an open structure with usually four to seven seats in two rows, which were directly accessible via side doors. Variants with three rows of seats and nine to ten seats are also known, with the middle row then consisting of two individual seats with a passage. A technical requirement were pressed steel chassis to give these structures sufficient strength for the attachment of side doors. Early versions were also called side entrance touring in English to distinguish them from the tonneau with its rear entry.

Until the mid-1920s, the touring car was the most common type of automobile alongside the roadster . Only then did closed sedans and coupés appear on a larger scale , which were initially also referred to as inner handlebars to distinguish them from touring cars .

In contrast to the sedan, convertible sedan or four-door convertible ( convertible sedan , Berline transformable ), the touring car had no B- and C-pillars and no side window frames. Front doors did not open until around 1912. This version was initially called fore door touring in the USA . The first versions had no windshields , afterwards vertical or almost vertical windows, usually foldable, were used. Touring cars have a light, usually unlined soft top. Additional weather protection is provided by either side panels made of fabric with viewing slits, which are attached to the convertible top and the body or door, or, in later versions, side windows that are inserted like the roadster. Expensive versions sometimes have an additional tonneau windshield at the rear, which can be swiveled behind the backrest of the front seat bench using a complicated folding mechanism.

Special designs of the touring car (examples)

British Alldays & Onions 5 HP Swing Seat Tourer (1905). The lever for unlocking the swiveling passenger seat can be seen
Corbin 4-pass. Runabout (USA, 1908). This design is also known as the Tourabout
A rare Roi-des-Belges Touring with front doors: Talbot Type 6AS (1910)
Panhard & Levassor Type X19 Skiff with curved fenders, body by the specialist Jean Henri-Labourdette (1912)
Duesenberg Model J Derham Tourster on long wheelbase with second windshield (1933)
Duesenberg Model J Derham Tourster, rear view (1933)
  • Swing Seat Touring : This design, which was only used in the first years of the 20th century, is a hybrid between tonneau and touring. The vehicle has no rear doors. The rear of the car is accessible by swiveling a front seat - usually the front passenger seat outwards - whereby an opening is released.
  • Roi-des-Belges , King Leopold , Tulipe : named after the first client of such a body, King Leopold II of Belgium. The body flanks are double-arched and thus form a tulip shape. Usually the rear bench is slightly raised. Roi-des-Belges went out of fashion after 1910, so they often did not have front doors; named after King Leopold II of Belgium .
  • Close-Coupled : rear bench moved a little forward; this means that the passengers in the tonneau are closer to the front passengers. In addition, there is more space at the rear for luggage.
  • Skiff : two to five-seater, open body in the shape of a boat made of wood; built according to the principles of shipbuilding. The fender line is often wavy; built between 1912 and approx. 1925.
  • Fore-Door Touring (USA): Early vehicles (not just touring cars) had no front doors. These prevailed from around 1910. In the transition period, many manufacturers provided their new models with front doors to distinguish them from the more old-fashioned ones with this designation. After the front doors became common, this term also disappeared.
  • Fore-Seat Touring : In the case of designs with a rear or underfloor engine , it was possible to integrate a bench seat into the front bulkhead . After opening the two-part cover, it became accessible, the upper part of which formed the backrest and the lower running board and leg support. Often a blanket could be attached which offered the passengers on this drafty seat at least a makeshift protection from wind and weather from the waist down.
  • Three-Door Touring (USA): When bodies with front doors instead of passageways appeared from around 1912, a driver's door that could hardly have been opened because of the shift lever and handbrake lever mounted on the outside was often dispensed with. Access to the driver's seat was via the passenger side door. When smaller, internally mounted operating levers became common from the second half of the 1910s and the gearshift soon moved to the center of the car, this variant disappeared.
  • Salon Touring with passage to the front bench; rarely without direct access to the front row of seats.
  • Tourabout : Light and particularly sporty version for usually four to five people. The name went out of fashion after 1910, so that such vehicles often did not have front doors. Depending on the bodywork, there were no doors at the rear either. The term overlaps with the Toy Tonneau .
  • Tourster : Word formation from "Touring" and "Roadster". This more modern name of the Tourabout can be traced back to the late 1910s (e.g. in Auburn ). The body of the Tourster is narrower than that of the normal Touring resp. Phaeton and usually shorter. The tourster is typically 4-seater and 4-door. Roadsters were also often offered with 3 or 4 seats, but had two doors. The term tourster overlaps with the torpedo , occasionally the terms foursome or sport model are also found . The last and best-known toursters include the specimens built at Derham in the early 1930s on the long Duesenberg chassis based on a design by Gordon Buehrig .
  • Convertible Touring : Touring with four doors, retractable or removable side windows and convertible top; This resulted in the All Weather Phaeton with extended weather protection and the Convertible Sedan (in Germany and France: Cabriolet, four-door).
  • Convertible Sedan : Salon Touring with removable, fixed roof. The roof would be called a hardtop today. This design did not catch on and the term was then used for a more conventional vehicle (see above).
  • Open Sedan : Touring with a non-removable, fixed roof and removable windows. The roof would be called a hardtop today. Concept and design did not prevail.
  • Open sedan : Touring with a non-removable, fixed roof and removable windows. The roof would be called a hardtop today. Concept and design did not prevail. It should be noted that the limousine was defined at this time with an open chauffeur compartment (but fixed roof), closed passenger compartment and partition. A chauffeur limousine according to today's understanding (closed all round, partition) would then be called Berline , Conduite-Intérieur or Enclosed-drive sedan .

After the Second World War , the open touring cars were only available for use by the military or the police . These vehicles were called Kübelwagen and generally had side windows made of soft plastic.


  • George Hildebrand (Ed.): The Golden Age of the Luxury Car - An Anthology of Articles and Photographs from Autobody. 1927-1931. Dover Publications, 1980, ISBN 0-486-23984-5 .
  • Hugo Pfau: The Coachbuilt Packard. Dalton-Watson, London; Motorbooks International, Minneapolis 1973, ISBN 0-901564-10-9 .
  • Lawrence Dalton: Those Elegant Rolls Royce. revised edition. Dalton-Watson Publishers, London 1978.
  • Lawrence Dalton: Rolls Royce - The Elegance Continues. Dalton-Watson Publishers, London, ISBN 0-901564-05-2 .
  • Nick Walker: AZ of British Coachbuilders, 1919-1960. Bay View Books, Bideford, Devon, UK 1997, ISBN 1-870979-93-1 .
  • Beverly Rae Kimes (Ed.), Henry Austin Clark Jr.: The Standard Catalog of American Cars 1805-1942. 2nd Edition. Krause Publications, Iola WI 1985, ISBN 0-87341-111-0 .
  • GN Georgano (Ed.): Complete Encyclopedia of Motorcars, 1885 to the Present. 2nd Edition. Dutton Press, New York 1973, ISBN 0-525-08351-0 .
  • Beverly R. Kimes (Ed.): Packard, a history of the motor car and the company. General edition. Automobile Quarterly, 1978, ISBN 0-915038-11-0 .
  • Mark A. Patrick (Ed.): Packard Motor Cars 1935-1942 Photo Archive. Iconographix Osceola WI 1996, ISBN 1-882256-44-1 .
  • Don Butler: Auburn Cord Duesenberg. Crestline Publishing Co., Crestline Series. 1992, ISBN 0-87938-701-7 .
  • Jon M. Bill: Duesenberg Racecars & Passenger Cars Photo Archive. Auburn Cord Duesenberg Museum (Ed.). Iconografix, Hudson WI, ISBN 1-58388-145-X .
  • ACD Museum (Ed.): 19th Annual Auburn Cord Duesenberg Festival; Official Souvenir Book. Brochure for the opening of the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Museum in Auburn, Indiana (USA) on Labor Day Weekend 1974.

Web links

Wiktionary: touring cars  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. a b c d e f g New York Times: Body designations according to SAE (1916)
  2. Kimes, Clark: Standard Catalog of American Cars 1805-1942. 1985, p. 895
  3. ^ Butler: Auburn Cord Duesenberg. 1992, p. 107.
  4. ^ Butler: Auburn Cord Duesenberg. 1992, p. 304.
  5. a b Terminology