Among car enthusiasts, refers to a pre-war convertible sedan. They can be identified by the fact that thier convertible tops stretch all the way from the windshield to the rear of the body. (i.e. there is no trunk or rumble seat behind the roof of the car) As not many phaetons were produced, many street rodders have taken to the practice of liberating sedans of their roofs.

The brand name of Volkswagen's high-end luxury sedan, currently in development and scheduled to debut in its final form in the spring of 2002. The project was first announced in September 1999, and an early interpretation was shown at the Frankfurt International Auto Show later the same year. The internal name for the car was Concept D1 – the first generation of the full-size D-class platform.

Current VW claims as to the car's features include:

The Phaeton is slated to be built in VW's new Transparent Factory in Dresden, which also features a Customer Delivery Area where buyers may pick up their vehicles and receive a VIP-style orientation. Volkswagen hopes eventually to deliver as many as 150 units daily, with a workforce of about 800.

The car itself distinctly resembles its smaller siblings, the Passat and Jetta, but with an even stronger, broader-shouldered appearance and a higher beltline. Despite the huge and unashamed VW emblems on the grille and decklid, many parts of the car (especially the taillights) stylistically echo a top-of-the-line Mercedes-Benz or Lexus model. For that matter, VW's decision to market the car under their own nameplate, as opposed to selling it as an Audi or creating a separate luxury marque like the aforementioned Lexus, is a bold move to say the least. It remains to be seen whether buyers will decide that any Volkswagen – regardless of features – is worth the estimated $75,000 price tag, especiallly with so many other players in the same niche.

Specifications (preliminary, estimated):
  • Wheelbase: 2.880 m
  • Overall Length: 5.055 m
  • Overall Width: 1.903 m
  • Weight: 1960 kg
  • Standard Engine: 3.2l V6; power 241 bhp (177 kW), torque 232 ft-lb(315 Nm)
  • Available Engine: 6.0l W12; power 420 bhp(309 kW), torque 405 ft-lb (550 Nm)
  • Available Engine: 5.0l V10 TDI diesel; power 313 bhp (230 kW), torque 553 ft-lb (750 Nm) - world's most powerful passenger car diesel

Sources:, and a few other websites and magazine articles.

The phaeton was a small, lightweight carriage, and not much to look at by today's standard of storybook carriages. But in the early 1800s it was one of the sports cars of the day. Not, admittedly, because of its horsepower, but because it was small and speedy and agile, and because only the wealthy could afford such an unnecessary carriage. It was pulled by only one or two horses, and intended to carry only one or two passengers (although some had a small seat for a groom in the rear. It was a bit of an oddity in that it was actually driven by the owner, rather than a coachman.

While there was a truly dizzying array of carriages labeled as phaetons, in general they all shared a comparatively light build, with open sides, no doors, large wheels, and small canopy to protect the driver from the sun or light rain. They were well-sprung, although they appeared around the same time as macadamization, thus making this feature less important in some models. Because they were fast and light they were comparatively dangerous and prone to tipping over, although there were models that were designed more appropriately for ladies and the elderly.

The phaeton was an interesting mix of the decadent and the dangerous, which is part of the reason for the large variety of makes and models. The popular spider phaeton was particularly light, with a small body and narrow wheels, fast and nimble. On the other end of the spectrum was the George IV Phaeton, designed for an elderly and rather fat King George, who had enjoyed the more sprightly phaetons of his youth and requested one that he could easily mount. This low-slung, less sporty design later became known as a 'park phaeton' or 'lady's phaeton'. If you wanted a more rugged phaeton, you might go for a mail phaeton, designed with the same spring system as the mail carriages, and often used by gentlemen on longer journeys. (Of course, a long journey called for a proper coach in most cases; the phaeton was used for travelling by post, moving quickly and stopping only to trade out hired post horses as each set tired). There were less practical models too, including the high perch phaeton, which was designed with such an impressive suspension system that you needed a ladder to mount it.

The phaeton was considered the youthful and dashing counterpart to the more respectable and stately landau. However, if you wished to be even more dashing and daring, one might opt for a curricle, a small two-wheeled chaise which also used two horses -- a truly overpowered mode of transportation, even faster and more dangerous than the phaeton.

The phaeton was named after the Greek myth of Phaethon, which literally means 'shining'; it most likely gained this name because classical references were fashionable in Europe at this time. It is pronounced fey-it-in.

Pha"e*ton (?), n. [F. pha'eton a kind of carriage, fr. Pha'ethon Phaethon, the son of Helios. See Phaethon.]


A four-wheeled carriage (with or without a top), open, or having no side pieces, in front of the seat. It is drawn by one or two horses.


See Phaethon.

3. Zool.

A handsome American butterfly (Euphydryas, ∨ Melitaea, Phaeton). The upper side of the wings is black, with orange-red spots and marginal crescents, and several rows of cream-colored spots; -- called also Baltimore.


© Webster 1913.

Log in or register to write something here or to contact authors.