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Cars with aluminum/carbon fiber or other non rusting bodies


Does anybody know what consumer grade cars are made with aluminum frames and carbon fiber (or fiberglass) bodies? The only one I know of is the Lotus Elise.



There are no regular production cars built that way other than the one you mention. Land Rovers used to have aluminum bodies that did not rust. Unfortunately the rest of the vehicle was not so great.

The Tesla has considerable weight saving alloys and plastics. It’s not a real bread and butter car though.

Did they change Corvettes? I didn’t get that memo.

Corvettes, Audi A8, Jaguar XJ. You got big $$? Otherwise, none.

Corvettes still have a rust-prone rolled steel frame. OP is asking about exotic materials. The McLaren GT and the new Mercedes Gull Wing have considerable of these materials but both sell substantially in excess of $100,000.

I’d love to get a Tesla but it’s a little out of my pay grade :slight_smile:

The Lotus can be had used for around 30K from what I’ve seen online.

Some Saturns had ABS body parts, but they aren’t made anymore. You will only find this stuff on expensive cars because it is more expensive to use than steel bodies, and price is king on almost all cars sold. Would you buy an aluminum bodied Corolla if it cost $3000 more than a steel Corolla? If you would, you are about the only person that would. Carbon fiber composites would add $100,000 to the price of the car. Would you pay $120,000 for a Corolla?

I don’t agree with the idea that cars have to be aluminum or carbon fiber or fiberglass to be rust free.
All cars can be corrosion resistant to the degree that they will last as long as you want with the right maintenance.

In addition, I feel that stainless steel, with a minimum of 10.5 or 11% chromium is also very corrosion resistant, may cost too much for car bodies, but adding lesser levels of chromium in varying levels to different parts as required can very cheaply add to a car’s longevity. Aluminum and fiberglass present problems of their own so that steel has remained the material of choice. Rust is a car manufacturer’s friend, and much research has gone into, not preventing rust, but controlling it at an acceptable level for the consumer and the turnover routine requirement for car maker profitability.

Besides, I would argue, rusting of non structural components does enough in the appearance of car ownership to insure safer cars are rotated into service. All are bean counter decisions and not your or mine. Just make a concerted effort to maintain a car body with the same eagerness we give to the “way too often discussed” oil change interval, and your car will outlast your desire to keep it. Make it worth much more at trade in time too.

Thanks for your reply. What problems do aluminum and fiberglass have?

How do you keep a car rust free with maintenance? Especially in the north where the roads are often salted in the winter?

Weekly wash with underbody spray. Look around, see which cars appear to survive the salt well, they are much improved.

I guess I need to find a new excuse to get an Elise :slight_smile:

“Thanks for your reply. What problems do aluminum and fiberglass have?”

“How do you keep a car rust free with maintenance? Especially in the north where the roads are often salted in the winter?”

They are both very labor intensive to build and repair as steel lends itself to being stamped more easily with more structural strength as well. Aluminum is used more than before, but sheet metal is still too soft.

As far as maintenance is concerned, not only cleanliness but shutting of the O2 in the rust process helps. Motor oil applications, grease, or linseed oil is more environmentally friendly in weld joints will stop rust in it’s tracks. It’s not a one time do it forget it like most people would like but bi annually will work. Pay attention to all scratches as well. When you see your first bubble, your car is on borrowed time and only oil can slow or stop it.
Spraying under the car of course helps, but nothing can stop salt spray from entering the door seems from window frame when car is splashed from above , rear quarters or running boards. You have to address the oxide formation angle. I live in rust belt NE and have never have rust problems with body panels using this method with cars 10 to 15 years old. I only wash/wax cars twice a year…that’s it.

So the body remains rust free, while the frame/unibody rust away.

Lest you forget that unibody is sheet metal connected to welds often.The frame is treatable also and unibody treatment (cars) actually get a lot of the frame member welds at the same time as sheet metal treatment. So with non body on frame, it’s usually not an issue. It takes a little persistence when you realize that car makers actually design cars with a finite life expectancy.

But, If you don’t want to get a little dirty for 20 minutes every other year, if you live in area when it’s not that big a problem, you don’t keep a car that long, don’t care that much about trade in value or actually look for an excuse they provide, free of service, to trade; why bother.

Maybe I’m wrong, but I’ve found body damage do to internal rust, degrades the value of a car much more than ANY single mechanical failure I can think of.

Why would you need an excuse? If you want one, and can find one that’s in good shape, but it and let others envy you. :stuck_out_tongue:
Just make sure you know what you’re getting into insurance wise before you buy it.


Fiberglass not an exotic material. But I missed the part about aluminium frame.

OP referred to carbon fiber as the exotic body material. You referred to Fiberglass as in Corvettes. Fiberglass, as in the Corvette body, is quite heavy for its strength, and is limited to low volume production. For years Corvettes were limiting their production to 50,000 or so because of floor space limitations.

I used to be in the boat business and fiberglass manufacturing facilities have to be very large conmpared to steel because of the curing process. It’s just not a good material for high volume low cost car production, and it can’t touch carbon fiber in the strength to weight area.

About 20 years ago Ferrari launched a serious research program with Alcan (Aluminum Company of Canada) to develop a complete frame and body combo (space frame/monocock) from aluminum. I don’t know were it ended, but I’m sure they learned a lot.

Would you drive a Lotus in the snow & salt?

Would you drive a Lotus in the snow & salt?

If I actually had one I probably wouldn’t.

I asked my original question to find out if there is a car out there more appropriate to use as a daily driver that has a non rusting frame/body.