Early Body Builders

Early car bodies were built very much like carriage bodies. They were made largely of wood, which was shaped by a host of specialized hand tools. This was skilled work done by body builders. Even after sheet steel began to be used in car bodies, the steel was still installed over a wooden framework made up of pieces that had to be carefully shaped and fitted together. By standardizing the wood pieces Ford could reduce the skill required to build bodies. The great change came in the late 1920s and early 1930s, when car bodies began to be built completely from steel, with no wood framework. Stamped steel pieces were welded together, eliminating the skilled work. Today much of the welding is done by robots, eliminating the unskilled or semi-skilled work.

Here we see body building in the Ford Highland Park Plant about 1915 (top and bottom pictures), the Ford Piquette Plant in 1906 (left), and the Autocar Company, Ardmore, PA, about 1915 (right).


Images: From the Collection of The Henry Ford. 1)P.833.133, 2) P.188.23362, 3) P. and 4) P.833.402

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