AskDefine | Define bodywork

Dictionary Definition



1 the exterior body of a motor vehicle
2 the work of making or repairing vehicle bodies

User Contributed Dictionary



  1. The exterior body of a motor vehicle
  2. The repair of such body

Extensive Definition

In automotive engineering, the bodywork of an automobile is the structure which protects:
  • The occupants
  • Any other payload
  • The mechanical components.
In vehicles with a frame or chassis, the term bodywork is normally applied to only the non-structural panels, including doors and other movable panels, but it may also be used more generally to include the structural components which support the mechanical components.


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 remained in production until the middle of the 20th century, for example the MG A which continued in production until 1962.
  • A steel chassis or ladder frame replaced the wooden frame. This form of body-on-frame construction is still common for trucks.
  • Monocoque construction, in which the metal body itself provides support as well as protection and there is no separate frame or chassis. Steel monocoque construction is now the most common form of car bodywork.
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, aluminium, fibreglass and several more exotic materials.

Body styles

There are several common car body styles:

See also

bodywork in Spanish: Carrocería
bodywork in Italian: Carrozzeria (meccanica)
bodywork in Romanian: Caroserie
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