With the advent of the automobile, the term was adapted to open touring cars, also known as phaetons.
The most impressive phaeton was the English four-wheeled high flyer. The mail and spider phaetons were more conservatively constructed. The mail phaeton was used chiefly to carry passengers with luggage and was named for its construction, using "mail" springs originally designed for use on mail coaches. The spider phaeton, of American origin and made for gentlemen drivers, was a high and lightly constructed carriage with a covered seat in front and a footman's seat behind. Fashionable phaetons used at horse shows included the Stanhope, typically having a high seat and closed back, and the Tilbury, a two-wheeled carriage with an elaborate spring suspension system, with or without a top. A variation of this type of a carriage is called a Victoria, with a retractable cover over the rear passenger compartment.
Each June, during the official Queen's Birthday celebrations, Queen Elizabeth II travels to and from Trooping the Colour on Horse Guards Parade in an ivory-mounted phaeton carriage made in 1842 for her great-great-grandmother, Queen Victoria.
In her later years, Queen Victoria greatly enjoyed travelling in a phaeton drawn by a single white donkey, or mule, when on her holidays in Cimiez, then a small village on the outskirts of Nice, in the South of France. There is a print of the monarch enjoying her morning excursions on page 490 of the Illustrated London News of April 10, 1897. In addition, there is a photograph in the Royal Collection, dated 1898. There are also other photographs, using a black donkey, taken at Windsor Castle.