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Body by Fisher

Listening to the radio while riding around in my parents’ car ('50s & '60s) I used to hear a chorus singing ‘Body by Fisher’, backed up by an orchestra. I eventually figured out they were car bodies, then that they were only on GMs. I wondered how one could buy a car body. I wondered if it made people buy GM. I remember the song though. I can’t find the song on YouTube; others have written songs with that title.

I just remembered being a kid and climbing out of my parents 73 Caprice with the “body by Fisher” stamp on the door sill. I further recall standing on the transmission / driveshaft tunnel peering over the front seats.

Thanks for the memories, sir.

Back in the days before unibody became the norm, different body builders built a body to fit a particular frame
Fisher body was a subsidiary of General Motors and built most of the GM car bodies. For a number of years, Budd Steel built bodies for Chrysler.


@Triedaq, your mention of Budd Steel makes me think of another division of Budd Corp., Budd Wheel.

Back in the 1920s and through the war years of WWII, among many other things, Budd Wheel produced the majority of locomotive wheel and wheel assemblies, and brake and brake assemblies for the U.S. rail industry.

They also manufactured products for the Big Three of Ford, GM, and Chrysler.

My grandfather was production manager of the Detroit plant of Budd Wheel from in the mid to late 1920s through his retirement in the late 1950s.

My grandmother had a lovely set of hanging flower planters that were failed test stamping samples of new hubcaps for one of the car companies. :grin:

I think the wood station wagon bodies that GM used before the all steel wagons replaced then in the 1950s may not have been made by Fisher body.
Also, the bodies of the 1954 Buick Special and Century station wagons, the first all-steel Buick wagons, may have been built by a different company than Fisher. Some Cadillac bodies back in the 1930s were made by Fleetwood.
I found it interesting that in earlier days, Fisher had the “A” bodies, the “B” bodies and the “C” bodies. The 1947 Pontiac could be had on the A body which was the Torpedo series. This is the same body used by Chevrolet, or the B body. This was the Streamliner series and was on a longer wheelbase. Oldsmobile, in 1947 had the 60 series on the A body, the 70 series on the B body and the 90 series on the C body. These Oldsmobile series weren’t just higher level trimlines, they were different cars with different wheelbases.

In the early years of the 20th century, one didn’t go to the dealer and simply purchase a “car”. You would purchase a chassis, with complete drive-train, and then select a body to be mounted on that chassis. It was the difference between having a custom made suit and buying off the rack. All GM bodies except wood station wagons and upper level Cadillacs were made by Fisher. The wagons were made by Ionia and the Caddy’s by Fleetwood body co. GM bought Fisher in either the teens or the twenties and the Fisher brothers became major GM stockholders.

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@old_mopar_guy is on the nose. Once cars got to be more common - late 1900’s - it was common to buy the car as a powered chassis without the body. The car would be delivered to the “coach builder” and a wood frame would be constructed and the metal (or fabric or wood) body would be built onto the wood frame and then installed onto the chassis. The bodies often cost as much as the chassis themselves. Very well heeled owners could have both an open top coach built for the summer and a closed top car built for the winter. The bodies would be swapped seasonally much like winter and summer tires!

Coach builders like Fisher, LeBaron, Dietrich, James Young, or Figoni and Falaschi would build bodies for multiple car manufactures. Fisher built bodies for Cadillac, Buick, or Studebaker, LeBaron built for Duesenburg, Rolls Royce, Hispano Suiza, Packard and more. Dietrich, an original LeBaron founder built for Packard, Franklin and Studebaker. James Young bodied Bentley, Rolls Royce, Singer, Sunbeam and even Alfa Romeo. Figoni and Falaschi designed some of the most beautiful cars I’ve ever seen for Delahaye and Alfa Romeo. See below for one example built for Delahaye.



Art Deco, I believe

Yup, those cars certainly had style :smiley:

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Fisher Body was another plant that left the upstate NY area that contributed to the extremely high unemployment of the 70’s thru the 90’s.

One friend of mine worked at Fisher Body after graduating college with an accounting degree. When they closed down in the early 90’s he went to work for Chryco’s New Process Gear since they were 49% owned by GM. Worked there for 15 years before he was laid off and New Process Gear eventually closed.

His Dad worked for Smith-Corona in Syracuse for 20 years until they closed. Then went to work for Carrier for another 20 years until they closed.

His brother worked for GE Television in Syracuse for 10 years until they closed, then when to work for Allied Chemical for another 10 years before they closed their Syracuse plant.

I just hope no one in that family goes to work where I work.

I have 2 friends and work colleagues that have similar work histories. Both engineers. Each worked for smaller companies that closed. Each were hired by ITT Automotive to work in a business my division of GM sold. ITT later sold that business to Valeo who moved the engineering jobs to another state. Each then transferred to the Delphi division I worked for and were there when it, too, filed for bankruptcy. One stayed at the business when it was sold to the Chinese and is still there. The other took a job at Kodak a couple of years before they, too, filed for bankruptcy and she retired.

I used to joke I’d never hire either of them at the new company I moved to since I didn’t want to bankrupt THAT company as well! No slam on their abilities as engineers… just the “Typhoid Mary” stigma each carried!

Mad Magazine had a cartoon. “You get more in a body by Fisher”
Showed guys loading bodies into the trunk. Bet my ‘59 Catalina could easily hold 6.

I recall seeing the Body by Fisher emblem on my friend’s family cars, but I never understood what it was there for. Either you like the body style and you buy the car, or you don’t and you don’t buy the car. I could never figure a reason to place a name on it.

The late great Tom Mccahill, automotive journalist at Mechanix Illustrated magazine, and the author of the most outrageous similes ever, tested a 59 Bonneville, the big brother to your car, and wrote that it “has a ride as smooth as a prom Queen’s thighs”.


I remember the “Body by Fisher” plate on the doorsill of the front passenger door of my parents’ 1965 Oldsmobile 98, a very comfy, gas guzzling, land yacht. It was a nice car to ride in and drive. Oh, and it handled quite nicely to drive … even at ahem excessive speed … like 92 to 94 mph. claiming an innocent youth :smirk:

On a side note, a close friend of my grandparents was chief accountant of Fisher Body for some years once upon a time back in the day.

I read many articles written by Tom McCahill and had some of his books.

I remember full page ads in magazines for Fisher bodies and these bodies were only on the GM brands. Now if Fisher had made a body that didn’t rust, it would have had something.