The History of Automotive Repairs – Why We Need Trained Technicians in the Collision Repair Industry

Vehicle History Overview

  • They don’t make them like they used to.

The First Cars

  • The first motor cars were nothing more than a buggy and engine (Generally repaired by blacksmiths and carpenters. These cars were very expensive, which only the wealthy could afford)
  • Model T was the first car mass production on an assembly line in 1908 (Ford’s Vision was to produce an affordable car the average person could purchase)
  • Model T’s came in black only to keep the costs down. (The price came down once the assembly line was streamlined, but in 1908, the cost for a Model T started at $825. By 1913 the cost of the car reduced to $550)

Cars in the 1960s

Cars were made the same basic way up through the 60s

  • Body Over Frame
  • Rear Wheel Drive (Same concept, but the cars were very big, bulky, and heavy)

Except people in the 60s wanted SPEED! They achieved this with Big Block Motors, which created a lot of Horsepower. (The Birth of Hotrods, Rat Fink, Flames, and Pin Striping).

Cars in the 1970s

  • The government place strict fuel economy and emissions control laws
  • Customers demanded cars with increased fuel economy
  • New laws and customer demands started the automotive explosion of engineering ideas and changes in the automotive industry

Changes to comply with Demands and Laws

  • Smaller bodied cars and smaller engines
  • Aerodynamics (Increase Fuel Mileage)
  • Lighter cars by using different materials and designs
  • More work-hardened areas created during formation of panel (Body Lines)
  • Safety

Construction of Interstate Highways + Higher Speed Limits + More High Performance Cars = Accidents and More

Deaths from Auto Accidents

Federal Laws were passed to regulate safety. These laws included:

  • Installation of seatbelts
  • Safety glass windshields
  • Head restraints
  • In 1979, the first driver side airbag was introduced
  • Airbags are mandatory in motor cars produced after 1990
  • Unibody Torque Boxes: Allow controlled twisting and crushing
  • Crush Zones: Made to collapse during collision (To act as an absorber, absorbing the impact)

Modern Day Cars

  • Carbon Fiber Parts
  • Aluminum Parts
  • More Plastic Parts
  • High Strength Steel
  • Boron Steel
  • Unibody Construction
  • Space Frame Construction
  • Computer
  • Hybrid Cars

Now they even have cars that will tell you when you’re lost, where to turn, Parallel Park for you.


While the modern day cars appear to be made cheap and unsafe, they are actually designed to crush or collapse, while transferring the energy around the stronger passenger compartment to protect the passengers from injury.

There is considerably more damage to modern day cars during a collision than the older vehicles, which gives the perception that “they don’t make them like they used to”. However, in reality the cars are taking the impact instead of the passengers.

The lesson was designed to give you a little history, but to also emphasize that just a hammer, dolly and a few wrenches are not going to repair today’s cars. We need highly trained collision repair and automotive technicians to repair today’s vehicles.

Source by Donnie A Smith

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