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Classic & Vintage Automobile Luggage

by , January 31, 2011

It doesn't get any better

A real treat as we look into a very special carry category

When Carryology contributor Brian Park started some work with Spirited Automobiles, he was not quite ready for just how special a carry culture he would be introduced to. Thanks to the good folk there, we now have a small introduction to the world of classic and vintage automobile luggage to share. We hope you love it as much as we do…

Brian: We use cars to transport ourselves and, more often than not, our things. To this end our cars have trunks, folding seats, roof racks, armrest stow compartments and cup holders. However, before all these carry compartments were standard, automobile manufacturers supplemented their vehicles’ carrying capacities with luggage that strove to do justice to their vehicles. We’ve put together a brief history of the beautiful, unique luggage that can be found in classic and vintage automobiles.

An external trunk for a classic Rolls Royce

Many early automobiles did not have enclosed trunks, so manufacturers addressed their customers’ carrying needs by simply mounting traditional traveling luggage onto their vehicles. Like carriage makers, automobile manufacturers mounted trunks on the roofs and backs of their cars. The Rolls-Royce above has a very distinctive touring trunk. I can only assume that the storage drawers underneath the beautiful decanter set are full of expensive cigars and other luxurious vices.

Cavernous touring options

There was a period of overlap between mounted luggage and the modern enclosed trunk. The enclosed trunk offered manufacturers an additional challenge, as they had to build fitted luggage for their cars. This 1935 Mercedes-Benz 500K Touren Wagen has fitted luggage recreated by Taris Charysyn to the exact specifications of the original. Taris has a small workshop in upstate New York where he builds luggage for classic and vintage automobiles using the original techniques and materials. His luggage is indistinguishable from the originals, and his work restoring original luggage is very fine as well.

Mercedes Gullwing

Red Leather never looked so good

Post-war Mercedes-Benz luggage was made by Karl Baisch until 1958.

For the tiny boot option

The golf bag carrier was an option from the factory on Mercedes-Benz 300SLs. The trunk is not large enough to accommodate a handbag, let alone a set of clubs. The design of this carrier is quite clever in that one can open the trunk without removing the carrier. This particular photo was taken at a concours over a decade ago. Today, a carrier like this on a 300SL would significantly increase its value. It is presently owned by 300SL restorer Mark Passarelli.

The rarest of luggage options on the 300SL was the ski rack. They made one, and it is owned by Frank Spellmann. The image introduces this post, or you can read about it in the article “1963 300SL Roadster”, by Frank Spellman, Frank Barrett, Star, July/August 2001 (archived at PaulRussell.com).

Mercedes-Benz HEPCO luggage

In 1959 Mercedes-Benz switched from Karl Baisch luggage to HEPCO. This later luggage was criticized for being of poorer construction than the artisanal work of Baisch. Although this 1964 300SL is fitted with its original HEPCO luggage, it is still quite a special car in that it has Chassis 003257. That is the second-last 300SL chassis constructed, but in fact the last car to leave the production line in early 1964. It was a US model Roadster that was delayed on the line to be converted to European specifications before being sold to a German client who, I believe, still owns it today.

Breathless beauty

Leather luggage for a very special car

This 1964 Ferrari 500 Superfast Series I is another example of Taris Charysyn luggage.

Much of this luggage is not practical by today’s standards. Having to undo all kinds of buckles and then lug wheel-less bags through a hotel, or having to uncouple an enormous traveling trunk from the back of your car and get it onto an airplane, are daunting tasks. However this impracticality probably mattered less in the days when porters and bellboys were taking care of much of the carrying. Just as classic cars have value far beyond their driveability and lack of temperature controls, I think there is something intangibly amazing about this crafted luggage.

Brian Park and Robert Dening curate a collection of vintage and classic cars and run a blog about it called Spirited Automobiles. We highly recommend checking it out.

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  • huy

    Ando, one of your best posts yet! These kind of posts keep Carryology fresh. Love it.
    –huy

    • http://www.bellroy.com ando

      Oh, if only I could take credit! We are so stoked with the growing band of contributors to the site… they are bringing all sorts of new angles to carrying. We’re pretty excited about some of the other contributions we’ve discussed for this year as well, so hopefully we can keep on keeping it fresh!

  • http://www.abbyjenkins.com abby jenkins

    I bought some vintage auto suitcases the other day at an auction house and was wondering how I could find out more about it. Looks like the old Mercedes pieces and is made in Germany. Any suggestions as to where to look for more info?

  • Dave

    Epic post, love this “luggage art”

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  • Hilton Wolff

    Hi
    Please help
    Were custom made suitcases made for the following cars and if so are they still available?
    Mercedes 107
    Mercedes 129
    Mercedes 116
    Much appreciated
    Thank you
    Hilton Wolff – South Africa +27118846004–+2711824445432

  • http://brianpark.me Brian Park

    Hi Hilton, it’s nice to see folks are still interested in automobile luggage. I don’t believe that luggage was an option with any of the cars you mentioned; however, a custom luggage maker like Taris Charysyn (http://www.tarischarysyn.com/) would certainly be able to make you something that looked both stock and handsome.

    Good luck!

  • woody spencer

    i HAVE IN MY POSSESION A PIECE OF HISTORY. A HARD CASE PIECE OF LUGGAGE TITLED AUTO LUGGAE {REG. DESIGN} MADE IN ENGLAND . IT APPEARS TO HAVE BEEN MADFE FOR AN MG OR TRIUMPH . ANY CLUES

  • Fernando Gonzalez

    I want to ask if you have bags for. MB 230SL 1966 W113, can you help me

  • tom ohara

    need luggage trunk for 1934 packard 1101 convertible sedan if you dont have any idea where i can obtain it. thank you tom

  • Fernando González

    Hi,
    I’m looking for a kit of
    Suitcases for a Mercedes pagoda 230 sl 1966 ?can you help me?
    Thanks
    Fernando E. González S.
    Mexico City
    52813838
    044 555 4 333 111

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  • Tony Russo

    I own a 1930 Ford Model A Tudor, with the original style luggage rack offered as a Ford accessory. It measures 16″ x 33″. Recently I found a ” car trunk ” , much the same as the one shown here on the back of the Rolls-Royce above, but it is black in color, covered with some sort of leather or vinyl, with black leather corner re-inforcements and leather trim straps, and what appears to be stainless steel buckles. The trunk opens on the top, and has side catches to allow the front to be opened in a downward fashion, allowing easy access to its contents, fits exactly on the car’s luggage rack and is without a doubt old….like from the 20′s or 30′s and it’s in really good shape. On the right side at the bottom, there is an oval plate the is stamped ” The Auto Luggage Factory, Miami Floria and the number 04 is stamped into the center of this plate. Is there any information out there on who the ” Auto Luggage Factory ” was ? If possible, I would like to be able to add the information about the trunk to the extensive record book I have on the car itself. Oh, and by the way, the trunk looks perfect on the back of the car, so I am glad I bought it, even if it turns out to be nothing spectacular. Thanks in advance for any information you can supply or suggestions you may have on where to get information about the manufacturer and the history of the trunk. Sincerely, Tony

  • godfrey miller

    WANTED! looking for original factory supplied accessory luggage for the XJ220 JAGUAR please!

    • Richard howell

      Hi Godfrey, Any idea what the original XJ220 luggage looked like? Or who made it?

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  • jim severine

    I am seeking a luggage box which could be installed on the BACK of a vintage roadster. Can you direct me to a supplier for such?

  • http://www.nashvillecustomleathers.com Philippe Mugnier

    We make custom luggage to fit vintage roadsters and various automobiles. Only using the highest quality full grain leathers available. Let me know what you would like and it can certainly be made in the same handmade fashion as the most luxurious autos ever were.
    6152662058

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