Friday, July 9, 2010

Car Construction

Car Construction

There are three main types of automotive bodywork:

* The first automobiles were designs adapted in large part from horse-drawn carriages, and had body-on-frame construction with a wooden frame and wooden or metal body panels. Wooden-framed motor vehicles remain in production to this day, with many of the cars made by the Morgan Motor Company still having wooden structures underlying their bodywork.
* A steel chassis or ladder frame replaced the wooden frame. This form of body-on-frame construction is still common for commercial vehicles.
* Monocoque, or unibody construction, in which the "chassis" is part of, and integrated with the metal body. It provides support to all the mechanical components, as well as protection for the vehicle occupants. Although there is no separate complete frame or chassis, many monocoque/unibody designs now often include subframes. Steel monocoque construction is now the most common form of car bodywork, although aluminum and carbon fiber may also be used.
Less common types include tube frame and space frame designs used for high-performance cars. There have also been various hybrids, for example the Volkswagen Beetle had a chassis, consisting of the floor pan, door sills and central tunnel, but this chassis relied on the stiffening provided by the bodywork, a technique sometimes called semi-monocoque construction.

Non-structural body panels have been made of wood, steel, aluminum, fiberglass and several more exotic materials.


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