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Bohman & Schwarz

Bohman & Schwarz

Christian Bohman was born in 1892 in Sweden. He had been working as an apprentice with a coachbuilder in Stockholm, Sweden. In 1910 he immigrated to New York, where he worked for Holbrook, Brewster and Healey & Co. The latter was purchased by the Walter M. Murphy Co. in 1921 and Bohman moved to Pasadena to become chief body assembler for the new firm.

Maurice Schwartz was born in Austria in 1884 and started his career at Armbruster in Vienna in 1904. Six years later he moved to the Springfield Metal body company in Massachusetts, USA. He later worked for Willoughby in Utica, New York and for the Fisher Brothers in Detroit and in 1918 he went to Earl Auto Works in Los Angeles, where the famous Harley Earl was his boss for a while. In 1920 Schwartz built a custom Essex touring car for personal use featuring a custom radiator shell that also housed the cars headlights, sheet-metal aprons and a custom body with a fixed California-style top with removable windows. Schwarz was a perfectionist and very skilled wood-worker and pattern-maker as well as a master in brass and aluminum casting.

In 1919 the Earl Automobile Works merged into the Don Lee Coach & Body Works, Cadillac's official West Coast distributor. Schwartz stayed with the Don Lee organization for several years where he was engaged in building Harley J. Earl's designs before he moved to Murphy in 1924 and became friends with his colleague Christian Bohman.

Bohman left Murphy in 1930 to establish his own shop and two years later, when Murphy closed, Maurice Schwartz joined his friend. They purchased some of Murphy's shop equipment at auction and managed to take over some unfinished Murphy contracts. Their new company was set up in Pasadena, California. Schwartz took charge of the manufacturing and Bowman became sales and business manager.

Although many of their designs were developed in house, as the business expanded, the partners called on a variety of talented designers they had worked with at Murphy. The combined talents of Herb Newport, Franks Spring, W. Everett Miller and interior designer and salesman Lamar Bresee produced some of the most famous and outrageous custom Duesenbergs ever made. Wellington Everett Miller was Bohman & Schwarz long time freelance designer. He worked for Murphy at the age of sixteen as an apprentice and later went to Packard as a designer in 1929 before joining Bohman & Schwartz to contribute designs and layouts to the new firm.

Bohman & Schwarz's clients included many celebrities, and wealthy industrialists and movie stars, a.o. Clark Gable, Ethel Mars, Kid Spaulding, Jeanette MacDonald, Bill "Bojangles" Robinson, Barbara Hutton, P.K. Wrigley Jr., movie director Roy del Ruth and Rust Heinz. They also built a number of cars for the movie industry.

Almost all coachwork was carried out on new chassis, but the client was king, so they also performed modifications to existing bodies or created new bodies for chassis that still had some miles left. Many of the Duesenbergs bodied by Bohman & Schwartz were put on existing earlier chassis that had formerly been limousines.

Elderly customers often requested Bohman & Schwarz to move their cars' roofs up to a more aristocratic height, while others ordered motorized rear seats that enabled them to enter and exit without difficulty. For the wheelchair bound, they devised portable aluminum tracks that could move a chair in and out of the vehicle and they even built wheelchairs matching the car's interior. They also developed a wheelchair turntable for the rear compartment, a ninety degree rotating front seat for easy access, and a front seat wheelchair lift that allowed the invalid to sit in the front seat.

Bohman & Schwarz built a series of European-style convertibles on various chassis. A 1939 LaSalle and two '40 Cadillacs were built without a firm order, in conjunction with designer W.E. Miller, but half a dozen 1940 Packard 180 4-place convertibles with cut down doors and speedster windshields were ordered by Thompson Motors, the Pasadena Packard dealer. They also built a few woodie wagons on Rolls-Royce, Chrysler, Cadillac and LaSalle chassis from 1939 through 1942.

Bohman & Schwarz made it through the Second World War by doing sheetmetal subcontract work for aerospace industries and moved to a two story shop at 306 North Hudson Avenue in 1945. In 1947 the two friends agreed to dissolve their partnership. Bohman formed a new partnership with his son, Lawrence Christian Bohman, called "Bohman & Son". This new company was housed in the first floor of the building. Schwartz moved his machinery upstairs and continued building special bodies there until 1951, when he moved to his own building at 1901 E. Walnut Street, Pasadena. Schwartz remained active until he died in 1961 at the age of 76.

Source: www.coachbuilt.com & RM Auctions.

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More info: www.coachbuilt.com/bui/b/bohman_schwartz/bohman_schwartz.htm 

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