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The History of America’s Collision Repair Industry

Mar 18
The history of America's collision repair industry

The History of Collision Repair

The history of the automobile collision repair industry is closely intertwined with the history of the automobile industry itself. The first versions of the automobile began appearing in the late 1800’s. These were generally homemade and crude creations that were often motorized and modified horse-buggies. However, some ambitious inventors recognized the potential of the “horseless carriage.” Soon, vastly improved automobiles began appearing in France and Germany. These motor vehicles were greatly improved to the point where they took on the unique characteristics of an automobile as opposed to a crudely modified farmer’s wagon.


Automobile Evolution

In 1901, Mercedes produced a vehicle that is considered to be the first of what we now consider to be an automobile. However, the main drawback to Mercedes and other automobiles made at that time was that they were essentially made one-at-a-time from scratch. There was no standardization in the manufacturing process at that time. So, if an automobile broke down or was damaged, the owner’s only option was to go to the person or company that manufactured the car for help. The manufacturer in turn, had to have a replacement part made by a machinist. Obviously, this was a long and costly process. Fortunately, Henry Ford changed all of that by using his innovative methods to mass produce the Model T in 1908.


Early Auto Industry Jobs

Then first automobiles were an eccentric toy. Only the rich people could afford a car as a way to amuse themselves and others. In these early days, it took a considerable amount of skill and talent to safely operate a motor vehicle. Therefore, these wealthy people who could afford an automobile hired competent drivers to chauffer them around. These early drivers also became proficient in repairing vehicles to ensure job security. However, when Henry Ford introduced the Model T, the automotive world would change forever.


Automotive Industry Explodes

Henry Ford changed the world with his vision of making automobiles affordable “to the masses.” With his innovative mass production techniques, Ford was able to offer the Model T to the public at the affordable price of $825 in 1908. The Model T was the best selling automobile period. Henry Ford’s success in mass producing vehicles to allowed him to streamline his costs and take advantage of economies of scale to where he could eventually sell a model T for $575 in 1912. This was about a years pay for the average person. However, owning an automobile could reap enormous financial benefits that far exceed its cost. Thanks to Henry Ford, the United States produced 485,000 of the 606,000 motor vehicles that ere produced in 1913. Automobile sales continued to soar until by the 1950’s almost every American family owned at least one automobile.


Auto Collision and Mechanical Repairs

With the invention of affordable mass produced vehicles, came the corresponding growth in the need of skilled tradesman to repair and maintain these vehicles. As more automobiles were produced, there was a healthy growth in competition between car dealerships and privately owned mechanics shops seeking to get their share of the emerging and lucrative auto repair business. However, during the 1930’s, many car owners would take a do-it-yourself approach to automobile repair. Especially for cosmetic repairs like painting because many vehicles came from the factory with bad paint jobs. However, all of this would change as the automobile manufacturers concentrated on improving quality and attracting new customers. However, the advancements in vehicle technology would eventually make it hard for the average automobile owner to competently repair his vehicle.


The Collision Repair Technician v Mechanic

The complexity of the evolving automobile technology necessitated the separation of the automobile mechanics from the automobile collision repair technicians. Today, automotive mechanics deal with a wide variety of power train issues such as engine and transmission problems. They also deal with brakes, suspensions, sensors and even auto electrical problems. However, the auto collision repair technician often repairs almost incomprehensible damage to the vehicle’s structure. They can make a vehicle that is a mangled mass of metal look like a new car again.


Highly-Trained Collision Repair Technicians

Today’s collision repair technicians are among the most highly-trained professionals in the automotive field. Modern vehicles are a miracle of engineering excellence. Safety is the number one priority of today’s car manufacturers. Vehicles are designed to fold in and crush on impact during an accident. The reason for this is that the vehicle itself will take the impact of a collision instead of the passengers. However, these safer vehicles are often more challenging to repair because there is a lot more structural damage to the car. However, today’s auto body collision repair technicians have state-of the-art training that enables them to efficiently deal with these kinds of repairs. They work closely with automobile manufacturers to keep updated on the latest technological updates that will help them serve their customers better.

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