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Maurice Schwartz

Maurice Schwartz

Maurice Schwartz was born in Austria in 1884 and learned the art of body building at the Armbruster Kaiser Koneg Hofwagen Fabrick, the Vienna firm that built carriages for the Kaiser. In 1910 he was recruited by the Springfield Metal body company to come to the United States to work in their plant in Springfield, Massachusetts. In the next few years, Schwartz went on to work for Willoughby in Utica, New York and for the Fisher Brothers in Detroit. In 1918 he came to Los Angeles where he joined the Earl Automobile Works (soon to become Don Lee Coach and Body Works) under the eye of the then relatively unknown Harley Earl.

In 1920 Schwartz built a custom Essex touring car for himself that featured an unusual custom radiator shell that also housed the cars headlights. He was adept in many of the old-world skills such as wood-working, pattern-making, and brass and aluminum casting. Schwartz tolerated nothing but the best in anything that he did. He wasted no time on idle talk and put in an exact day's work. Yet he was also said to be a warm and kind person who loved and told splendid jokes.

In 1924, Schwartz went to the Walter M. Murphy Co. in nearby Pasadena, where he met Christian Bohman. Bohman left Murphy in 1930 to establish his own shop, but faltered and joined forces with his friend Maurice Schwartz when Murphy closed in April, 1932. See the Bohman & Schwartz gallery for more info.

Bohman & Schwartz as a company was closed in 1947. The partnership was amicably dissolved in 1947, and Bohman formed a new partnership with his son, Lawrence Christian Bohman, called Bohman & Son which was housed in the first floor of the building. Maurice Schwartz continued in the business alone, upstairs in the same building, and continued building special bodies there until 1951, when he moved to his own building at 1901 E. Walnut St., Pasadena.

Notable Schwartz creations from the time include a series of Cadillac woodies that were built for Hollywood stars such as Gene Autry, Marie McDonald (a gift from millionaire husband Harry Karl) and Mexican president Miguel Aleman.

Between 1947 and 1949, six Cadillac woodies were purchased by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer studios, of which one was built on Cadillac's 163" commercial chassis and featured 6 doors. He also built a handsome 3-passenger coupe on a 1949 Cadillac Series 75 chassis and a formal town car on another Cadillac commercial chassis in 1949 for Mrs. Morgan Adams.

Through the 1950s he survived through normal body shop work, modifying vehicles for invalid use, and building replica bodies for the late William F. Harrah's collection. Schwartz remained active right up until his death in 1961 at the age of 76.

Sources: RM Auctions & Coachbuilt.com

Forum: Bohman & Schwartz

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