Throughout the Edwardian era, motoring remained the province of the rich in Britain. During this period cars changed a great deal, as they became comparatively more reliable and refined.
Most manufacturers still produced only the chassis, which would then go to a coachbuilder who would add bodywork to the customer’s preferred design. This system created some remarkably elegant motor bodies.
Both exteriors and interiors retained many direct influences from horse-drawn vehicles. The names of body styles reflected their origins, like coupé, landaulette and phaeton. As the popularity of self-propelled vehicles increased, many of those who had made a living from building horse-drawn carriages switched to the production of car bodies. Lovingly created from fine timbers, beautifully trimmed and carefully hand-painted to a superb standard, some of these Edwardian cars were a tribute to the coachbuilder’s craft. The more luxurious cars had fully upholstered seats, carpets and curtains or blinds, like the 1913 Argyll on display at the National Motor Museum. This contrasts sharply with the very basic furnishings of vehicles at the lower end of the market.