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Cars can come in a large variety of different body styles. Some are still in production, while others are of historical interest only. These styles are largely independent of a car’s classification in terms of price, size and intended broad market; the same car model might be available in multiple body styles (model ranges). For some of the following terms, especially relating to four-wheel drive / SUV models and minivan / MPV models, the distinction between body style and classification is particularly narrow.

In automotive engineering, the bodywork of an automobile is the structure which protects: the occupants, any other payload, and the mechanical components. In vehicles with a separate 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.

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. A steel chassis or ladder frame replaced the wooden one. This form of body-on-frame construction is still common for commercial vehicles.

Monocoque or unibody is a construction, in which the chassis is part of an 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 sub frames. Steel monocoque construction is the most common form of car bodywork, although aluminum and carbon fiber may also be used. Modern cars may also use polycarbonates.

Less common types include tube frame and space frame designs used for high-performance cars. There have also been various hybrids (Volkswagen Beetle had a chassis, consisting of the floor pan, door sills and central tunnel). Non-structural body panels have been made of wood, steel, aluminum, fiberglass and several more exotic materials. There are several common car body styles:


Sedan, known as a Saloon Roadster
Hardtop Convertible
Coupe Cabriolet
Station wagon or Estate car Sport utility vehicle (SUV), Coupe Utility or Ute
Lift back  


Types of bodies: shell, forming the exterior of a car.

Hatchback: two-door passenger compartment with a door at the back.

Sports car: small, two-seated automobile.

Four-door sedan: passenger compartment with four doors and four side windows.

Limousine: large, six-seated passenger compartment.

Convertible: car with a removable roof.

Hardtop: two-door passenger compartment.

Van: small vehicle used to carry baggage; a small van.

Pick-up truck: a small truck.


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