Old-world luxury was hard to attain, but easy to define. In a world where everything was built by hand, the most premium goods were made by the most skilled craftspeople: inlaid wood, layers of hand-rubbed lacquer paint, interiors upholstered in satin and even silk. The best carriage builders of the 19th century transitioned into being top-tier coachbuilders and automakers in the next century.
Modern luxury is not so much a repudiation of old-school, pre-war craftsmanship, but an evolution of it. If the first premium automobiles were carriages with motors, the new class of post-war luxury cars were the next generation’s idea of what personal comfort should entail. Handcrafted quality yielded to sophisticated suspensions and massive motors as these old-world companies became sophisticated engineering firms. The following examples embody the pinnacles of each of their respective companies. But before we go forward, we might as well highlight one classic luxury car of the post-war era: