Fisher Body
Overview
 
Fisher Body is an automobile
Automobile
An automobile, autocar, motor car or car is a wheeled motor vehicle used for transporting passengers, which also carries its own engine or motor...

 coachbuilder
Coachbuilder
A coachbuilder is a manufacturer of bodies for carriages or automobiles.The trade dates back several centuries. Rippon was active in the time of Queen Elizabeth I, Barker founded in 1710 by an officer in Queen Anne's Guards, Brewster a relative newcomer , formed in 1810. Others in Britain included...

 founded by the Fisher brothers in 1908 in Detroit, Michigan
Michigan
Michigan is a U.S. state located in the Great Lakes Region of the United States of America. The name Michigan is the French form of the Ojibwa word mishigamaa, meaning "large water" or "large lake"....

; it is now an operating division of General Motors Company
General Motors
General Motors Company , commonly known as GM, formerly incorporated as General Motors Corporation, is an American multinational automotive corporation headquartered in Detroit, Michigan and the world's second-largest automaker in 2010...

. The name was well known to the public, as General Motors vehicles displayed a "Body by Fisher" emblem on their door sill plates until the mid-1980s.
Fisher Body's beginnings trace back to a horse-drawn carriage shop in Norwalk, Ohio
Norwalk, Ohio
At the 2000 census, there were 16,238 people, 6,377 households and 4,234 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,950.3 per square mile . There were 6,687 housing units at an average density of 803.1 per square mile...

, in the late 1800s. Lawrence P. Fisher (December 14, 1852 in Peru, Ohio – March 21, 1921, Norwalk, Ohio) and his wife Margaret Theisen (January 8, 1857 in Baden
Baden
Baden is a historical state on the east bank of the Rhine in the southwest of Germany, now the western part of the Baden-Württemberg of Germany....

, Germany – October 13, 1936 in Detroit, Michigan) had a large family of eleven children; seven were sons who would become part of the Fisher Body Company in Detroit.
Encyclopedia
Fisher Body is an automobile
Automobile
An automobile, autocar, motor car or car is a wheeled motor vehicle used for transporting passengers, which also carries its own engine or motor...

 coachbuilder
Coachbuilder
A coachbuilder is a manufacturer of bodies for carriages or automobiles.The trade dates back several centuries. Rippon was active in the time of Queen Elizabeth I, Barker founded in 1710 by an officer in Queen Anne's Guards, Brewster a relative newcomer , formed in 1810. Others in Britain included...

 founded by the Fisher brothers in 1908 in Detroit, Michigan
Michigan
Michigan is a U.S. state located in the Great Lakes Region of the United States of America. The name Michigan is the French form of the Ojibwa word mishigamaa, meaning "large water" or "large lake"....

; it is now an operating division of General Motors Company
General Motors
General Motors Company , commonly known as GM, formerly incorporated as General Motors Corporation, is an American multinational automotive corporation headquartered in Detroit, Michigan and the world's second-largest automaker in 2010...

. The name was well known to the public, as General Motors vehicles displayed a "Body by Fisher" emblem on their door sill plates until the mid-1980s.

Fisher Brothers

Fisher Body's beginnings trace back to a horse-drawn carriage shop in Norwalk, Ohio
Norwalk, Ohio
At the 2000 census, there were 16,238 people, 6,377 households and 4,234 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,950.3 per square mile . There were 6,687 housing units at an average density of 803.1 per square mile...

, in the late 1800s. Lawrence P. Fisher (December 14, 1852 in Peru, Ohio – March 21, 1921, Norwalk, Ohio) and his wife Margaret Theisen (January 8, 1857 in Baden
Baden
Baden is a historical state on the east bank of the Rhine in the southwest of Germany, now the western part of the Baden-Württemberg of Germany....

, Germany – October 13, 1936 in Detroit, Michigan) had a large family of eleven children; seven were sons who would become part of the Fisher Body Company in Detroit. Lawrence and Margaret were married in Sandusky, Ohio
Sandusky, Ohio
Sandusky is a city in the U.S. state of Ohio and the county seat of Erie County. It is located in northern Ohio and is situated on the shores of Lake Erie, almost exactly half-way between Toledo to the west and Cleveland to the east....

, on May 11, 1876. Margaret Theisen Fisher resided at 101 Longfellow St., Detroit after her husband passed away.
The Fisher brothers were:
  1. Frederick John (January 02, 1878 – July 14, 1941)
  2. Charles Thomas
    Charles T. Fisher
    Charles Thomas Fisher was a Catholic American businessman and an automotive pioneer.Born in Norwalk, Ohio, Charles was the second son of Lawrence and Margaret Fisher. The family would grow to include seven boys and four girls...

     (February 16, 1880 – August 8, 1963) - 670 W. Boston Blvd., Detroit
  3. William Andrew (September 21, 1886 – December 1969) - 111 Edison Ave., Detroit
  4. Lawrence Peter (October 19, 1888 in Norwalk, Ohio – September 3, 1961 in Detroit, Michigan) - 383 Lenox St., Detroit
  5. Edward F. (February 23, 1891 – January 17, 1972) - 892 W. Boston Blvd., Detroit
  6. Alfred J. (December 7, 1892 – October 9, 1963) - 1556 Chicago Blvd, Detroit.
  7. Howard A. (March 10, 1902 – April 13, 1942)

Early history

In 1904 and 1905, the two eldest brothers, Fred and Charles, came to Detroit where their uncle Albert Fisher
Albert Fisher
Albert Fisher wasa pioneer in the burgeoning auto industry in Detroit. He was the uncle of the seven Fisher brothers, founders of Fisher Body. Albert Fisher built some of the first bodies for many automobiles and trucks. He built the first touring car body for Henry Ford...

 had established Standard Wagon Works during the latter part of the 1880s. The brothers found work at the C. R. Wilson Company, a manufacturer of horse-drawn carriage bodies that was beginning to make bodies for the automobile manufacturers. With financing from their uncle, on July 22, 1908 Fred and Charles Fisher established the Fisher Body Company. Their uncle soon wanted out and the brothers obtained the needed funds from Detroit businessman Louis Mendelssohn who became a shareholder and director. Within a short period of time, Charles and Fred Fisher brought their five younger brothers into the business.

Prior to forming the company, Fred Fisher had built the body of the Cadillac Osceola at the C. R. Wilson Company. Starting in 1910, Fisher became the supplier of all closed bodies for Cadillac
Cadillac
Cadillac is an American luxury vehicle marque owned by General Motors . Cadillac vehicles are sold in over 50 countries and territories, but mostly in North America. Cadillac is currently the second oldest American automobile manufacturer behind fellow GM marque Buick and is among the oldest...

, and also built for Buick
Buick
Buick is a premium brand of General Motors . Buick models are sold in the United States, Canada, Mexico, China, Taiwan, and Israel, with China being its largest market. Buick holds the distinction as the oldest active American make...

.

In the early years of the company, the Fisher Brothers had to develop new body designs because the "horseless carriage" bodies did not have the strength to withstand the vibration of the new motorcars. By 1913, the Fisher Body Company had the capacity to produce 100,000 cars per year and customers included: Ford
Ford Motor Company
Ford Motor Company is an American multinational automaker based in Dearborn, Michigan, a suburb of Detroit. The automaker was founded by Henry Ford and incorporated on June 16, 1903. In addition to the Ford and Lincoln brands, Ford also owns a small stake in Mazda in Japan and Aston Martin in the UK...

, Krit
K-R-I-T Motor Car Company
K-R-I-T was a small automobile manufacturing company based in Detroit, Michigan.-History:Its name probably originated from Kenneth Crittenden who provided financial backing and helped design the cars. The emblem of the cars was a swastika...

, Chalmers
Chalmers Automobile
Chalmers Motor Car Company was a United States based automobile company located in Detroit, Michigan. It was named after Hugh Chalmers of the National Cash Register Company. The brand is currently owned by Chrysler.-History:...

, Cadillac
Cadillac
Cadillac is an American luxury vehicle marque owned by General Motors . Cadillac vehicles are sold in over 50 countries and territories, but mostly in North America. Cadillac is currently the second oldest American automobile manufacturer behind fellow GM marque Buick and is among the oldest...

, and Studebaker
Studebaker
Studebaker Corporation was a United States wagon and automobile manufacturer based in South Bend, Indiana. Founded in 1852 and incorporated in 1868 under the name of the Studebaker Brothers Manufacturing Company, the company was originally a producer of wagons for farmers, miners, and the...

. Highly successful, they expanded into Canada, setting up a plant in Walkerville, Ontario
Walkerville, Ontario
The former town of Walkerville Ontario, Canada is now a heritage precinct of Windsor Ontario. Incorporated in 1890, the town was founded by Hiram Walker, owner and producer of Canadian Club Whisky. Walker planned it as a 'model town’ ) that would be the envy of both the region and the continent...

, and by 1914 their operations had grown to become the world's largest manufacturer of auto bodies. One reason for their success was the development of interchangeable wooden body parts that did not require hand-fitting, as was the case in the construction of carriages. This required the design of new precision woodworking tools.

Fisher Body Corporation and General Motors

In 1916, the company became the Fisher Body Corporation. Its capacity was 370,000 bodies per year and its customers included Abbot
Abbot
The word abbot, meaning father, is a title given to the head of a monastery in various traditions, including Christianity. The office may also be given as an honorary title to a clergyman who is not actually the head of a monastery...

, Buick
Buick
Buick is a premium brand of General Motors . Buick models are sold in the United States, Canada, Mexico, China, Taiwan, and Israel, with China being its largest market. Buick holds the distinction as the oldest active American make...

, Cadillac
Cadillac
Cadillac is an American luxury vehicle marque owned by General Motors . Cadillac vehicles are sold in over 50 countries and territories, but mostly in North America. Cadillac is currently the second oldest American automobile manufacturer behind fellow GM marque Buick and is among the oldest...

, Chalmers
Chalmers Automobile
Chalmers Motor Car Company was a United States based automobile company located in Detroit, Michigan. It was named after Hugh Chalmers of the National Cash Register Company. The brand is currently owned by Chrysler.-History:...

, Chandler
Chalmers Automobile
Chalmers Motor Car Company was a United States based automobile company located in Detroit, Michigan. It was named after Hugh Chalmers of the National Cash Register Company. The brand is currently owned by Chrysler.-History:...

, Chevrolet
Chevrolet
Chevrolet , also known as Chevy , is a brand of vehicle produced by General Motors Company . Founded by Louis Chevrolet and ousted GM founder William C. Durant on November 3, 1911, General Motors acquired Chevrolet in 1918...

, Churchfield, Elmore
Elmore (automobile)
Elmore Manufacturing Company was a manufacturer of veteran and brass era automobiles, headquartered at 504 Amanda Street, Clyde, Ohio, from 1893 until 1912. The company took its name from its original place of manufacture, the nearby village of Elmore. Founded by James and Burton Becker, Elmore...

, EMF
E-M-F Company
The E-M-F Company was an early American automobile manufacturer that produced automobiles from 1909 to 1912. The name E-M-F was gleaned from the initials of the three company founders: Barney Everitt , William Metzger , and Walter Flanders .- Everitt...

, Ford
Ford Motor Company
Ford Motor Company is an American multinational automaker based in Dearborn, Michigan, a suburb of Detroit. The automaker was founded by Henry Ford and incorporated on June 16, 1903. In addition to the Ford and Lincoln brands, Ford also owns a small stake in Mazda in Japan and Aston Martin in the UK...

, Herreshoff
Herreshoff (automobile)
The Herreshoff was an automobile built in both Detroit, Michigan and Troy, New York, by the Herreshoff Motor Company from 1909-14. The Herreshoff started as a small car with a 24hp four-cylinder engine, and was made with three different models. Later models were upgraded to six-cylinder engines up...

, Hudson
Hudson Motor Car Company
The Hudson Motor Car Company made Hudson and other brand automobiles in Detroit, Michigan, from 1909 to 1954. In 1954, Hudson merged with Nash-Kelvinator Corporation to form American Motors. The Hudson name was continued through the 1957 model year, after which it was dropped.- Company strategy...

, Krit
K-R-I-T Motor Car Company
K-R-I-T was a small automobile manufacturing company based in Detroit, Michigan.-History:Its name probably originated from Kenneth Crittenden who provided financial backing and helped design the cars. The emblem of the cars was a swastika...

, Oldsmobile
Oldsmobile
Oldsmobile was a brand of American automobile produced for most of its existence by General Motors. It was founded by Ransom E. Olds in 1897. In its 107-year history, it produced 35.2 million cars, including at least 14 million built at its Lansing, Michigan factory...

, Packard
Packard
Packard was an American luxury-type automobile marque built by the Packard Motor Car Company of Detroit, Michigan, and later by the Studebaker-Packard Corporation of South Bend, Indiana...

, Regal
Regal
-Musical Instrument:*Regal , a keyboard instrument manually pumped by bellows and having a raucous, nasal sound-Surname:*Steve Regal , retired American professional wrestler. Not to be confused with "Steven Regal", a former ring name of:*William Regal , real name Darren Matthews, a British...

, and Studebaker
Studebaker
Studebaker Corporation was a United States wagon and automobile manufacturer based in South Bend, Indiana. Founded in 1852 and incorporated in 1868 under the name of the Studebaker Brothers Manufacturing Company, the company was originally a producer of wagons for farmers, miners, and the...

.

The company constructed their signature factory, the Albert Kahn-designed Fisher Body 21, on Piquette Street, in Detroit, in 1919. The building is now part of the Piquette Avenue Industrial Historic District
Piquette Avenue Industrial Historic District
The Piquette Avenue Industrial Historic District is a historic district located along Piquette Street in Detroit, Michigan, from Woodward Avenue on the west to Hastings Street on the east. The district extends approximately one block south of Piquette to Harper, and one block north to the Grand...

. At the time, the company had more than 40 buildings encompassing 3,700,000 square feet (344,000 m²) of floor space.

In a 1919 deal put together by president William C. Durant
William C. Durant
William Crapo "Billy" Durant was a leading pioneer of the United States automobile industry, the founder of General Motors and Chevrolet who created the system of multi-brand holding companies with different lines of cars....

, General Motors bought 60% of the company. The Fisher company purchased Fleetwood Metal Body
Fleetwood Metal Body
Fleetwood Metal Body was an automobile coachbuilder. The name derives from Fleetwood, Pennsylvania, home of the company at the start, and lived on for decades in the form of the Cadillac Fleetwood and various Fleetwood trim lines on Cadillac cars....

 in 1925, and in 1926 was integrated entirely as an in-house coachbuilding division of General Motors. Fisher Body as a unique entity was dissolved by being merged with other GM operations in 1984.

Extent of operations

From its beginning in the "horseless carriage shop" in Norwalk, Ohio, to its sale in 1919 and 1926 to General Motors, the Fisher Body Company was built by the Fisher brothers into one of the world's largest manufacturing companies.

The company owned 160000 acres (647.5 km²) of timberland and used more wood, carpet, tacks, and thread than any other manufacturer in the world. It had more than 40 plants and employed more than 100,000 people, and pioneered many improvements in tooling and automobile design including closed all-weather bodies.

Fisher Body's contribution to the war effort in both World War I and World War II included the production of both airplanes and tank
Tank
A tank is a tracked, armoured fighting vehicle designed for front-line combat which combines operational mobility, tactical offensive, and defensive capabilities...

s. Alfred J. Fisher was Aircraft Director for Fisher Body. Fisher body developed the unsuccessful Fisher P-75 Eagle heavy fighter.

Fisher family

On August 14, 1944, the Fisher brothers resigned from General Motors to devote their time to other interests, including the Fisher Building
Fisher Building
The Fisher Building is an ornate Art Deco skyscraper located on the corner of West Grand Boulevard and Second Avenue in the heart of the New Center area of Detroit, Michigan. It is constructed of limestone, granite, and several types of marble, and was financed by the Fisher family with proceeds...

 on West Grand Boulevard
Grand Boulevard (Detroit)
Grand Boulevard is a thoroughfare in Detroit, Michigan, running east to west in some places and north to south in other places. It once constituted the city limits of Detroit. Grand Boulevard is named the "Berry Gordy, Jr...

 in Detroit. The brothers also mounted a bid to take-over Hudson Motors
Hudson Motor Car Company
The Hudson Motor Car Company made Hudson and other brand automobiles in Detroit, Michigan, from 1909 to 1954. In 1954, Hudson merged with Nash-Kelvinator Corporation to form American Motors. The Hudson name was continued through the 1957 model year, after which it was dropped.- Company strategy...

, but their tender offer
Tender offer
Tender offer is a corporate finance term denoting a type of takeover bid. The tender offer is a public, open offer or invitation by a prospective acquirer to all stockholders of a publicly traded corporation to tender their stock for sale at a specified price during a specified time, subject to...

 fell short of its market value and the effort was rejected by stockholders.

On January 19, 1972, the last of the Fisher brothers died. The seven brothers donated millions of dollars to schools, churches, and other charitable causes and were active in directing those endeavors.

The Fisher family has continued on in the automotive industry with Fisher Corporation (metal stamping), General Safety (seat belts), Fisher Dynamics (seat mechanisms & structures), and TeamLinden (seat mechanisms).

On July 22, 2008, Fisher Coachworks, LLC was launched with Gregory W. Fisher, grandson of Alfred J. Fisher, as CEO. The new company is developing a prototype of the GTB-40, a hybrid-electric 40' transit bus that uses Nitronic, a stainless steel alloy developed by Autokinetics of Rochester Hills, Michigan
Rochester Hills, Michigan
Rochester Hills is an affluent city in northeast Oakland County of the U.S. state of Michigan. As of the 2010 census, the city had a total population of 70,995. The city of Rochester is bounded on the north, south, and west by Rochester Hills...

, that allows the bus to be half the nominal weight of a standard transit bus and achieve twice the fuel economy.

Fisher milestones

  • 1930 - Slanted windshields for reduced glare
  • 1933 - "No-Draft" ventilation
  • 1934 - One-piece steel "turret top" roofs
  • 1935 - Former Durant Motors
    Durant Motors
    Durant Motors Inc. was established in 1921 by former General Motors CEO William "Billy" Durant following his termination by the GM board of directors and the New York bankers that financed GM.-Corporate relationships:...

     plant in Lansing, Michigan
    Lansing, Michigan
    Lansing is the capital of the U.S. state of Michigan. It is located mostly in Ingham County, although small portions of the city extend into Eaton County. The 2010 Census places the city's population at 114,297, making it the fifth largest city in Michigan...

    , opens
  • 1936 - Dual windshield wipers
  • 1969 - Fisher's "Side Guard Beam" is introduced
  • 1974 - Invented the ignition interlock system
  • 1974 - Produced GM's first airbag
    Airbag
    An Airbag is a vehicle safety device. It is an occupant restraint consisting of a flexible envelope designed to inflate rapidly during an automobile collision, to prevent occupants from striking interior objects such as the steering wheel or a window...

  • 1975 - Fisher develops GM's first all-metric vehicle, the Chevrolet Chevette
    Chevrolet Chevette
    The Chevrolet Chevette was introduced in September, 1975 and manufactured for model years 1976-1987 based on GM's worldwide T platform and superseding the Vega as Chevrolet's entry-level subcompact...

  • 1979 - Fisher Northern Ireland established, opens plant in Dundonald
    Dundonald
    Dundonald is a large settlement in County Down, Northern Ireland. It lies east of Belfast and is often deemed to be a suburb of the city. It includes the large housing estate of Ballybeen, and many new housing estates have emerged in the past ten years....

    , Northern Ireland
    Northern Ireland
    Northern Ireland is one of the four countries of the United Kingdom. Situated in the north-east of the island of Ireland, it shares a border with the Republic of Ireland to the south and west...

  • 1983 - Fisher Body and Buick division's Flint, Michigan
    Flint, Michigan
    Flint is a city in the U.S. state of Michigan and is located along the Flint River, northwest of Detroit. The U.S. Census Bureau reports the 2010 population to be placed at 102,434, making Flint the seventh largest city in Michigan. It is the county seat of Genesee County which lies in the...

    , operations are combined as Buick City
    Buick City
    Buick City was a massive automobile manufacturing complex in the northwest of Flint, Michigan. Elements of the 235 acre complex dated from 1904, but it became known as Buick City in 1985. The Buick Site is still producing components for GM facilities and outside buyers. Operations ceased on the...

  • 1984 - The Lansing factory is melded with Buick-Oldsmobile-Cadillac to become Lansing Car Assembly
    Lansing Car Assembly
    Lansing Car Assembly was a General Motors automobile factory in Lansing, Michigan. It contained two elements, a 1901 automobile plant in downtown Lansing, and the 1920 Durant Motors factory on Lansing's Far Westside....

  • 1990 - Fisher closes Elyria, Ohio
    Elyria, Ohio
    -Community:Elyria has an extensive, although financially burdened, community food pantry and "Hot Meals" program administered through the Second Harvest Food Bank and several churches Elyria is served by Elyria Memorial Hospital.-Recreation and parks:...

    , facility
  • 2008 - Fisher Coachworks, LLC officially launches and begins development of the GTB-40 transit bus

Advertising

The General Motors "Body by Fisher" advertising campaigns were legendary and brought many artists to the attention of the American public. McClelland Barclay
McClelland Barclay
McClelland Barclay was an American painter of pin-up art. Born in St. Louis in 1891, Barclay studied first at the Art Institute of Chicago, then later at the Art Students League in New York City, where he studied under George Bridgman and Thomas Fogarty...

 used artwork showing fashionable women to promote the image of comfort and style. Edgar de Evia
Edgar de Evia
Edgar Domingo Evia y Joutard, known professionally as Edgar de Evia , was a Mexican-born American photographer....

 photographed a large campaign for them through Kudner Advertising in the 1950s using leading name models, haute couture
Haute couture
Haute couture refers to the creation of exclusive custom-fitted clothing. Haute couture is made to order for a specific customer, and it is usually made from high-quality, expensive fabric and sewn with extreme attention to detail and finished by the most experienced and capable seamstresses,...

 from top fashion designers often with huge location
Filming location
A filming location is a place where some or all of a film or television series is produced, in addition to or instead of using sets constructed on a movie studio backlot or soundstage...

production budgets.

External links

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