Could we reenter the great age of custom coach building given a standard electric car chassis?

Tesla dealers usually have an example chassis. It seems as though everything important is contained within it. Is it possible that we could therefore go back to the great age of coach-builders? The beautiful Duesenberg that we admire in a museum probably does not have a body made by Duesenberg.

Government regulations are much more complex these days and perhaps represent an insurmountable hurdle for non-mass-production, but if a standard chassis were available could there be at least hundreds of custom road-legal cars built under kit car regulations?


  1. SuperMike

    April 29, 2017 @ 2:36 pm


    I know it’s possible to register kit cars, so maybe. Although one wonders if low-volume manufacturing would be killed off by insistence that they crash-test, etc.

  2. jack crossfire

    April 29, 2017 @ 4:28 pm


    They could sell bare chassis to hobbyists quite easily. They would collect dust like most raspberry pi’s. Millenials wouldn’t even know what they are. Their latest plan is to use the bare chassis as a tow truck for conventional cars.

  3. Bill

    April 29, 2017 @ 6:45 pm


    There is already a significant industry building custom motor homes on van and truck chassis. I bet those companies would be glad to build you a custom car IF you would pay enough for the first car. Those custom coaches cost $1000K or more.

  4. SuperMike

    April 29, 2017 @ 8:06 pm


    @bill good first customer:

  5. toucan sam

    April 29, 2017 @ 9:16 pm


    coachbuilding is still around but it is very expensive because it can’t be mass produced.

  6. Jackie

    April 30, 2017 @ 11:07 am


    Even though they have Tesla chassis on display I don’t think that you can just drop a body onto them in the same way that you could in the days when cars were “body on frame”. The Tesla’s, like every modern car, are “unibody”, where the body forms an integral part of the structure of the vehicle. The sides and roof get welded or otherwise attached to the chassis that you see and carry some of the load .

    My late FIL was in the truck trailer business and he pointed out to me, which I had never noticed before, that flatbed trailers have massive beams underneath the flatbed to support their load while box trailers don’t, because the box is structural and reduces the need for a frame. Next time you are on a highway, compare the underside of a flatbed truck with that of a box trailer and you will see what I am talking about. If you were to remove the roof and sides of a box trailer you could put it on display like a Tesla but you couldn’t really load it and drive it down the road because it would not be stiff enough and would collapse.

    I suppose it might be possible to engineer a custom unibody that takes the place of the Tesla unibody but it’s not just a matter of bolting an arbitrary body box onto a structural frame as it was back in the Duesenberg days.

    Coachbuilding for brand new cars hardly exists anymore but there is a large “hot rod” and custom car subculture where existing cars are rebodied or the factory bodies are heavily modified, with mostly mixed results. Often they start with older body on frame vehicles as their starting point because unibodies don’t lend themselves well to this.

  7. the other Donald

    April 30, 2017 @ 6:15 pm



  8. David Brown

    May 4, 2017 @ 6:30 am


    That’s supposedly the logic behind GM’s acquisition of – to create an ecosystem of people building cars based on the Bolt platform.

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