Well there's controversy as to why fiberglass was used. One theory is because of the was shortage on steel Another was because of the response Chevy got from the Motorama's and they wanted to get the car into production as fast as possible. Making tooling took time and the Corvette was in product within six months of the debut in New York. Fiberglass was faster. Another was for weight savings so as to make a true "sports car" quick and nimble. I think it was used because fiberglass was cheap and Chevy wasn't sure if the vehicle was going to sell in number enough to make it worth while to make the tooling
I think you are right booth, there are a number of possibilities and which one is truly right I think will come down to what you want to believe.
I missed the answer about a shortage of steel, there was still a shortage created by the Korean war and GM was afraid that if the car was a hit they might not be able to extend their allocation.
Whomever answered because of the steel shortage has the floor, has anyone got an answer about the components in a gen 1 V8, which is not an official question.
Lets get a little more "continental" with the next question. What does the automotive term "left handed" refer to in Europe?
Corvette’s Unique Body
by Rick Montgomery
Many things make the Corvette a unique automobile -- inno
vative styling, sports car heritage, always a
winner, and the flagship for GM’s performance and technological
image. One of its most unique features, however, is its fiber
The Corvette wasn’t the first fiberglass bodied vehicle to exist,
but it was the first mass produced car to utilize the material for
its body panels.
Harley Earl was one of the first designers to consider using
fiberglass for automobile bodies. He saw the U.S. Rubber Com
pany’s concept car, Alembic 1, in the early 1950’s (See ASC jan/
Feb 2006), and was impressed with the quality and shapes that
could be achieved with the plastic material. At the time GM’s
Project Opel vehicle was being considered and a
very short de
velopment and build schedule was anticipated. A major concern
with the short build schedule was whether the futuristic, sleek,
low body design could realistically be fabricated in steel. Steel
dies of the day lacked the forming capability they offer today.
The fiberglass “lay-up” process didn’t present those problems1a
fiberglass panel could be made over whatever mold was created
and could be made in a
matter of a
few days. Fiberglass became
the material of choice for the new concept car.
The story.of how fiberglass came to the Corvette is high
lighted in two displays at the National Corvette Museum. The
first, showing GM’s Parts Fabrication Operation where the
body panel molds were made and the lay-up process refined and
perfected, is a
documentary on the early days of fiberglass de
velopment. The second, honoring Robert Morrison of Molded
Fiber Glass Company (MFG), highlights the company which
was given the first Corvette body contract in April, 1953. Both
displays provide a
fascinating insight into the creativity and risk
taking employed by both organizations at a
time when plastic
body technology was in its infancy.
GM’s Part Fabrication Operation was the perfect organization
to take on the fiberglass development process. Parts Fab, as it’s
known, is located directly across from the GM Technical Center
entrance on 12 Mile Road in Warren, Michigan. For years its
main customer has been the GM Design Staff, so it was no sur
prise that it would get the assignment for Project Opel. While
Parts Fab may not have had all the expertise necessary at the
time, it had the skilled technicians and materials experts to fig
ure out how best to make fiberglass panels. Many questions had
to be answered:
of plastic resin
and hardener was
best? How many
layers of fiberglass
How large can the
panels be? How
long do they need
to cure for maxi
How do you sur
face the panel to
aid in final finish
ing? Is it better to
panel or multiple
smaller ones? All
of these questions,
and hundreds of
others, needed to
be asked and answered before fiberglass could go into produc
The Parts Fab video showing at the NCM reflects the process
used for making the first Corvette bodies. A small number of
technicians, using paint brushes, liquid resin, cut glass mat and
cloth, worked together to fabricate the various body panels over
mahogany molds formed for each individual body section. After
curing, the panels were removed, trimmed, and glued together
into one complete Corvette body. This was the assembled body
that was installed on the Corvette chassis at the Flint Manufac
Parts Fab was not created to be a
large volume manufacturer.
The quantity of bodies needed for the new Corvette could not
be met using the Parts Fab facility. Thus, a
high volume pro
ducer had to be found. Ed Cole was aware that a
in Ashtabula, Ohio, was using fiberglass to make bread trays for
bread delivery trucks. The trays were molded, fairly large and
similar to a
small auto body panel. Bob Morrison, the owner of
the company called MFG, was invited to Detroit to determine
if MFG could meet Chevy’s needs. Morrison really had no
idea how he was going to do this job, but he knew he’d make
Robert S. Morrison, 2003 NCM
Corvette Hall of Fame Inductee
it happen if he received the
contract. After the meeting
it didn’t seem Morrison was
going to be selected. He
returned home disappointed.
Later that evening, however,
he received a call asking if
he could make the first run
of bodies by the June, 1953,
start date. He said he could;
his confidence exceeding his
knowledge of how to do it.
One of Morrison’s suppliers
was a company called Owens-
Corning Fiberglas (OCF).
It was a leader in fiberglass
manufacturing, making fiber
glass cloth, mat and building
insulation. Being aware of the
challenges facing Morrison,
OCF provided some techni
cal and financial help to get
MFG started in automotive
body work. OCF knew that
success by Morrison could re
suit in more business for OCF
in selling fiberglass materials.
Needless to say MFG was a success. Morrison found the way
forward to make the first 300 Corvette bodies and continued
supplying Corvette parts for many years.
Owens-Corning’s involvement with the Corvette also grew
over the years, but in a totally different venue. As Corvette’s
reputation as the “fiberglass sports car” expanded, OCF saw
a public relations opportunity to associate the company with
Corvette racing. Two young racers from Detroit, Tony DeLo
renzo and Jerry Thompson, had been successful Corvette pilots
for a number of years. Even on their shoe-string budget the
two racers were able to win many SCCA events. With a little
assistance from Curtis LeMay, an OCF Board Member at the
time, and Dollie Cole, wife of Ed Cole, in
1968 OCF became the main sponsor for
the two-Corvette race team of DeLo
Corvette racing history was enhanced
greatly by the exploits of the Owens-
Corning Fiberglas Corvette race team.
During the years from 1968 to 1971 the
DeLorenzo/Thompson OCF Team won
nearly every race they entered, usually
with one OCF car finishing first while
the other came in second. DeLorenzo
and Thompson gave many up and com
ing Corvette racers the confidence to try
their luck in competitive racing. The suc
cess of the OCE team was the harbinger
of today’s C-5R and C-6R racing efforts.
Although the specific fiberglass compo
sition has changed over time, Corvettes
and fiberglass have been closely associat
ed for the past 55 years. The combo will
likely continue for many years to come,
not only because they work so well to
gether, but because, like a V8 engine, it’s
just part of what a Corvette is all about.
A mural on one of the NCM walls shows fiberglass body panels produced for Corvette.
An exhibit in the NCM Skydome answers the questions “Why fiber glass?”
Taken from: This article http://www.moldedfiberglass.com/libr...elebration.pdf
Every one probably already read this But maybe some didn't
Your wecome Chris
Well I guess this one was a little to obscure. Maybe we better get back to the good old USA.
What does the automotive term " left handed" mean in Europe? Left hand drive.
Somebody else ask a question.
That is what I meant with my first guess! I didn't explain it well but my guess was basically cars from outside the country that have left hand drive.
Well anyway, here is a softball question, what motor is in the photo?
Looks like a Corvair to me. Years ago we took one of these engines adapted a very large generator to it and used it as a GPU to start one of our airplanes. A UC-78. Wished I still had it.
On my question, yes, it's a corvair, your floor.
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