Image of the evolution of auto body

A Drive Through Autobody History

Auto bodies have gone through numerous transformations over the last 100 years. Originally, people turned to machinists and bicycle repair techs for auto body repairs. As cars progressed in design and auto bodies became more specialized, auto body repair specialists slowly emerged as a singular discipline. Autobody mechanics have evolved greatly over the last century, below we’ll cover the course of this evolution and the historical events that triggered every change that led the industry to where it is today. From politics to scientific discoveries, auto body history has been greatly influenced by a number of factors beyond the car industry.


Henry Ford mass produces the car in 1908. Hooray! Everyone is excited, but no one knows how to go about fixing it or making alterations yet. The car is entirely novel to absolutely everyone and auto body fixes are left in the hands of bike repair techs and machinists who are confident in their ability to figure things out. Most of the 1910s are spent finagling this new machine, figuring out what can be fixed and changed and what should be left as is. The car is heavy, no standardized parts exist yet, and changes are haphazardly made and seldom longterm.

1920s – 1950s

By the 1920s, there were a great deal of people driving cars, this led to the need for more specialized and efficient means for repairing and fixing damage. Manufacturers finally began producing standardized parts that could be easily replaced if need be, which led to the introduction of private auto body repair companies! This was an excellent shift as it led to car-owners being able to fix their cars instead of trashing them.

Unfortunately, production was put on hold in 1939 when World War II began. There was a steep decline in car usage, decline of production of standardized parts, and subsequently a decline in auto body repairs. Efforts were instead put towards the war.

However, by the end of the war, America saw an incredible economic boom. People had money again and wanted to spend it on cars and nice things. This reintroduced auto body repairs and the introduction of cosmetic auto body services. It was a party, to say the least!


By the 1960s, cars were becoming more intricate, stylized, and unique. It was during this time that auto body repairmen began to take on cosmetic auto body requests, such as paint colour and glazes, and got a lot more precise with the fixes they made in order to adhere to new safety standards. Because safety precautions began to become implemented, an auto body technician’s job became a lot more precise and detail-oriented, specifically with collision repair in mind. 

As cars became faster, accidents increased, and knowing how to fix dents and repair problems became increasingly important.


In the 1970s, plastic became popularized and cars became more fuel efficient and light. Safety features such as seat belts, safety windshields, torque boxes, and head restraints became more widespread. Cars became even more safer (and faster!) and collision repair work by auto body mechanics became more standardized. Again, this was an excellent shift as it guaranteed the safety of every customer, regardless of the problem. Guesswork was surrendered in favour of evidence-backed solutions for safer auto body improvements. 

1980s – Present

The turn of the century brought the introduction of computerized systems and modern electric systems to cars. As a result, auto body mechanics have a much larger knowledge base about cars than at any other point in history. 

Although auto body mechanics specialize in collision repair, dent removal, and car painting, we also now carry a comprehensive knowledge of the rest of your car in order to best serve ever customer. If you’re looking to make any improvements to your car, call Grandcity Autobody Shop Vancouver or Grandcity Autobody Shop Richmond for a quote today!