By Deane Barker

The monocoque shell of a Lamborghini Aventador

The name is French for “single shell.”

This is a type of vehicle where the main load-bearing structure is an enclosed shell, rather than behind (1) body-on-frame, or (2) unibody.

A unibody vehicle has panels which are fastened together to provide structure. However, a true monocoque is characterized a single assembly where the skin surface of the container itself absorbs forces.

This is also common in aircraft and boat construction.

Why I Looked It Up

I heard it in a MotorWeek retro review of the Ferrari F50. I had heard the term for years, and generally associated it with high-end sports cars. I knew it had something to do with the type of construction, but wasn’t sure of specifics.

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