Wednesday, October 28, 2009

A Brief History (1900-1960s) of Automobile Chassis and Body Design

All Steel early Dodge

1934 Press
1934 Traction Avant
Mid-1930s GM Turret top steel body top

Hi folks -- I found this handout in one of my folders as I was sorting my materials on auto history and thought it provides a good overview one important aspect of development that I often neglect.

Origins to 1920 --
  • Coach structures -- phaeton, tonneau, landau, wagonette, etc.
  • Wooden frame/wooden body panels
  • introduction of steel and aluminum sheets
  • Development of hammer, dolly,and buck -- hand formed techniques
  • Metal sheet body on a wooden frame
  • 1915 Hayes body, and notions of structural functionality
  • Introduction of the Budd body-- entire steel car
  • 1922 Lancia Lambda -- monocoque structure with body and frame finding a common solution in the load bearing body
  • X-frame structure of the late 1920s Auburn

1930s & 1940s

  • Citroen Traction Avant (1934) -- mass production of the monocoque body
  • Small scale introduction of Chrome-Moly steel -- racing car bodies
  • Use of aluminum alloys -- Marmon
  • GM Steel Turret top
  • Riveted aluminum body -- 1948 Land Rover


  • Stamped steel unibody construction and mass production
  • Fiberglass body (1953 Corvette) over steel space frame
  • Maserati Birdcage (1959) complex tubular chassis skeleton

1959 Maserati Birdcage


  • Backbone chassis (1962 Lotus Elan)
  • Fiberglas reinforced plastics (Autobianchi Stellina) 1963
  • Persistence of Body-on-Frame solution for mass produced cars in U.S.

    1962 Lotus Elan

1 comment:

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