During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, there were a huge variety of vehicles. Because there were so many, it sometimes became confusing as to their names, where they originated from, and the differences between vehicles. Thus, to help people understand titles, origins, and descriptions of vehicles from the 1700 and 1800s, here is a list from L to R.
Landau – It is believed that the name came from the German town Landau, in Bavaria, where it was supposedly first built. A description of the Landau in 1790 claims:
“[T]hey are heavier and more expensive than the common coaches … the upper parts are covered with a black grain-leather which cannot be japanned, and of course does not look so well as fixed roofs … [but] they are the most convenient carriages of any.”
Mechanically the Landau was said to be like a Coach but had a let-down top and leather quarters.
“Various devices have been adopted for constructing the tops, those in most common use being known as the ‘Lohner’ and ‘Kelliner’ systems, named after the inventors. In many cases, the weight of the tops is balanced by springs, to assist in lowering and raising them, which are then known as ‘automatic tops.'”
Landau, Barker-Line – This was an English-quarter Landau characterized by a “Barker quarter” that had a curve instead of an angular corner. It achieved its name from the coach-building house of Barker in London who popularized the style.
Landau, Canoe-Shaped – This Landau had a continuous curve which could be distinguished from the English-quarter or drop-center patterns.
Landau-Demi – See Demi-Landau.
Landau, English-Quarter – This Landau had a drop center distinguishable from the canoe-shaped Landau.
Landaulet – This was synonymous with the Demi-Landau. The Landaulet was essentially a Coupé with a let-down top; or more properly a Landau Coupé, seating two instead of four passengers. Click here to see the Demi-Landaulet for more information.
Leamington Cart – See Dog-Cart.
Litter, Horse – This was a portable bed carried by a horse.
Lumber-Wagon – A strong constructed, springless wagon used for haul heavy freight.
Mail-Coach – See Coach, Mail.
Mail-Phaeton – See Phaeton.
Malvern-Cart – See Dog-Cart.
Malvern-Phaeton – Popular in about 1850, this was a variety of a Park-Phaeton that was popular in England.
Menagerie-Wagon – A wagon consisting of animal cages on wheels and used primarily by circuses.
Monalos – A variety of Chaise created in 1867 by a Boston, Massachusetts, surgeon and described as follows:
“A sort of Chaise, with wheels five feet in diameter, cranked axle, thoroughbraces and wooden springs, strapped to the shafts in a novel manner. The body, a sort of Buggy … was fitted with a top, having a place for professional instruments made at the back … as it was of the Sulky class intended for one passenger only.”
Monitor Buggy – Variation of the Square-Box Buggy, having a deep sunken bottom and concave sides. It was first introduced by James W. Lawrence in about 1839.
Monocycle – A one wheel vehicle patented on 26 April 1832 by Englishman Charles Hammond.
Moray-Phaeton – A version of the Park-Phaeton that was popular in England about 1830.
Mountain-Wagon – A thoroughbrace traveling wagon used in the Pacific states of the United States and described as being strong and light. One person wrote, “These are made for the purposes of crossing the Sierra Nevada’s and the Rockies; and some people insist that they can even climb trees.”
Night-Oil-Cart – This was a water-tight Cart that conveyed human wastes and feces from privies, necessaries, or cesspools and was so named because the collections and removals from cities were accomplished at night.
Norfolk Shooting Cart – See Dog-Cart.
Omnibus – Public vehicles to convey large masses of people seemed to originate almost simultaneously in France, England, and the United States, although it appears that France was actually the first country to introduce them, having accomplished this in 1819. “To these vehicles was given the general name of Omnibus, as a sort of classic invitation to the public to partake of their hospitality.” The Omnibus in the United States was somewhat different from the European ones, although generally all had their individual title prominently painted on the vehicle’s main panel. The Omnibus belongs to the Wagonet class because it has two seat-boards extending lengthwise, with a rear entrance, paneled side with numerous windows, and a standing top.
Oxford Dog-Cart – This was local English term applied to an early Dog-Cart, used particularly for tandem driving and characterized by high wheels known as “Oxford Bounders.”
Parisian Buggy-Cart – Although called a buggy, this vehicle from the 1890s had two wheels, thereby making it a cart. It also had a collapsible top and was described as
“a tilbury with the front portion modeled after that of an English cart, and with the intention that the shafts should pass through the front panel into the interior of the body. This arrangement necessitates that the body should be made a little wider than would otherwise be the case, thereby materially modifying the usual form of the tilbury body.”
Parisian Phaeton – This was a class of Ladies’ Phaetons with graceful angular outlines and extreme lightness. It had four low wheels, seated only two people, and generally had no driving-seat as it was either driven by the female occupant or from the rumble, which was usually added.
Park-Phaeton – This term was applied to the class of phaetons adapted for park driving.
Patache – A French vehicle that was a rustic cab, more like a covered cart, without easy motion where riders expected to be jolted.
Patrol-Wagon – This was a wagon specially designed for Police Departments and used for patrol duty and was first used in Chicago in 1886.
Perch Carriage – A vehicle with a perch.
Phaeton – Phaeton was a character from classical mythology. The term was likely first used in France during Voltaire’s time or perhaps in England during Queen Anne’s reign. However, the term began popular during the Regency when “reckless turnouts of the sporting gentry … seem to have been among the first appropriately dubbed in honor of the luckless adventure of the divinity of that name.” It applies to vehicles for “the pleasures of self-driving.” There were numerous types of Phaetons: Pony, Basket, Mail, Prince Albert, Stanhope. The mechanical characteristics of the Phaeton are that it has four wheels, has no raised coachman’s seat in front, and, in many instances, has a hood over the driver’s seat. For more on Phaetons, click here.
Phaeton, Cab – A contraction of the Cabriolet-Phaeton that is applied to a modification of the vehicle of the same name. It had a reduction in the extreme height of the fore part, was more symmetrical and compact. This vehicle remained in vogue much longer than the Cabriolet-Phaeton and influenced the Victorian Cabriolet in its design.
Phaeton, Cabriolet – This vehicle was an attempt to reduce or modify the Perch-high Phaeton, known as the Cabriolet-Phaeton. An attempt was made to combine the fore part of the Perch-high Phaeton with the two-wheeled Cabriolet as its hind part. Unfortunately, what was produced was considered “inharmonious” and was short-lived.
Phaeton, Mail – Named for its “mail-springs,” the Mail Phaeton was used for long drives over rough roads and the mail-spring were invented to help improve the ride. Mail-springs also reduced the ridiculous height of the Perch-high Phaeton or the Cabriolet-Phaeton, and thereby created a vehicle much better suited to the demands of pleasure driving. Mail Phaetons were heavy and substantial. They had a square-box bodies with a perch and four rather low, stout wheels. There was a raised driver’s seat, protected by a hood and apron and a seat for grooms behind. They hung on two sets of mail springs. These vehicles were always driven with a pair of horses. They were still built by the late 1800s but much lighter because of improved roads.
Phaeton, Demi-Mail – A modification of the Mail Phaeton without a perch that was also generally lighter and hung on elliptic springs.
Phaeton, Perch-High – Previous to the Phaeton, the sporting gentry drove two-wheeled vehicles, such as Chaises, two-wheeled Buggies, or Tandems. To gain better control of the horses and to “ratify whimsical tastes,” it became fashionable to drive from a high seat. The Perch-High Phaeton was the first attempt to make this happen. One early description of this vehicle follows:
“A monstrous-looking vehicle was known under the name of a [Perch-High] Phaeton … The vehicle looked like a mechanical illustration of the play of ‘Much Ado About Nothing.’ It was a contrivance to make an enormously high and dangerous seat for two persons, inconvenient to drive from, and at the same time to consume as much material and mix up as many unsightly and inharmonious lines as possible. The framework of the carriage was constructed with iron perches, the outline of which was hideously ugly, but the camel-looking hump had at least the mechanical advantage of permitting a higher fore-wheel than could otherwise be used. The shape of the body as though the rudest possible from capable of affording a seat had been put together. The leathern head rose from the body at an angle which seemed to indicate that it could get no rest, and the black box or locker introduced to fill up the under part of the body was made with straight lines, as if to make the whole still more heterogeneous and unsightly. The huge double-curved hind-spring, with its leathern brace, was so contrived as to occupy one-half of the total length of the vehicle, and the odd-looking stay which prevented it from falling over in front, masked its total insecurity. … The servant’s-seat … place on curved block without any springs, completed this extraordinary looking vehicle.”
Phaeton, Queen or Queen’s-Body – A variation of the Ladies’ Phaeton characterized by a curved bottom line.
Phaeton, Stanhope – Named after the Earl of Stanhope because of his instance on experiments and changes related to the suspension of Gigs that resulted in the Stanhope vehicle. These changes included the “true platform spring” and the Stanhope pillar. This vehicle consisted of a “square-box body, four wheels, and [was] hung on platform-springs without [a] perch.” It also had no hood and a front driving seat that was level with the seat of the grooms.
Piano-Box Buggy – A variation of the Square-Box Buggy in that it had round corners and a molded top and bottom, which was introduced in New York in about 1855.
Polo-Cart – An English variety of a light road-cart.
Porte-Chaise – Contraction of the Chaise-à-Porteurs.
Portland Cutter – A two-passenger sleigh that originated in Portland, Maine, and made by the Kimballs.
Post-Chaise – These were “simply a species of chair suspended between two poles or shafts, and supported by two wheels.” The body of the Post-Chaise was later applied to the Chaise de poste and the resulting vehicle was given the same name, i.e., Desobligeante. The English Post-Chaise differed from the French one in that it was mounted on four wheels instead of two. It was known in England as the Chariot and in France as the Diligence or Berlingot but driven by postillions instead of from the box. Moreover, it was used for public conveyance or leased to individuals who wanted to undertake certain journeys. The Post-Chaise was also distinguishable from the Traveling Coach because it had a Coupé body instead of a full Coach body and was driven by postillions.
Prairie Schooner – This was used in America during the migration of settlers to the West in the mid-nineteenth century. It had white canvas supported by curved top bows hickory hoop sticks, four wheels, and an open box that measured about 12 feet long and 4 feet wide. Its wheels were about 4 or 5 feet in diameter to have clearance to avoid rocks, streams, etc.
“A long centre reach or perch connected the front and rear axles; bolted to this were the hounds, two of which braced the rear axle and another two maintained rigidity to front axle and wagon tongue or draught pole. A box was usually provided at the front of the wagon to hold a few tools for repairs. … A seat was fixed either on the front of the wagon or just within the cover.”
Pung – A term used in New England for a light business vehicles on runners.
Push-Cart – A hand-cart that was pushed instead of drawn.
Quaker Chaise – See Chaise, Quaker.
Quartobus – This was a version of a four-wheel public cab invented by a Mr. Okey and introduced in London in 1844. It accommodated four passengers and was characterized by it short coupling that allowed it to be easily drawn.
Queen-Phaeton – See Phaeton, Queen.
Rockaway – There are several explanations as to how the name was given to this vehicle. 1) Supposedly given because it was descriptive of the motion of the vehicle. 2) Thought to have been borrowed from a watering place of the same name on Long Island, New York, known as Rockaway. 3) They were first built in 1830 at Jamaica, Long Island, and supposedly to mislead a customer, the name Rockaway was applied. 4) They were called the Rockaway because they were used to shuttle passengers between Jamaica and the Atlantic Ocean beaches of Long Island’s Rockaway Peninsula. The early Rockaways were primitive carriages, little more than mere wagons, and thought of as the “poor man’s coach in North America.” Later, they were improved on and said to be “a peculiarly American type of carriage.” Curtains were gradually added, then doors, panels, etc. However, it was always a family carriage. By the 1880s, it was described as
“[A] four-wheeled covered carriage, with either curtained or paneled sides, with or without a perch, always with elliptic or platform springs, with the driver’s-seat a part of the body proper … and with the roof projecting over the driver’s-seat.”
Rolling-Cart – This was a primitive manure cart used in England in the 1700s. These carts “consisted of three pieces of strong elm, two feet in diameter, and each eighteen inches long, through which a strong iron axles was passed, so as to protrude a few inches in each and beyond the rollers, also allowing an inch between for convenience of turning around.” Interestingly, the men who handled them were called “high-rollers.”
Roulette – A French vehicle of the 1700s, also called a Brouette or Vinaigrette. See Brouette for more information.
Runabout – A four-passenger open wagon invented in Syracuse, New York, by Orville H. Short.
Runabout-Wagon – A four-passenger general utility wagon introduced by H.A. Moyer of Syracuse, New York.