Old crane-neck phaeton, c 1770.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Phaetons are named after the son of the Greek god Helios, who was allowed by his father to drive the chariot of the sun acros the heavens for one day, with disastrous consequences. They are light four-wheeled open carriages which were usually drawn by one or two horses. Various modifications of the phaeton were fashionable during the 19th century for pleasure driving, and the vehicles represented a large proportion of English carriages in the 19th century.