GM highlights Corvette’s lightweight legacy

In 1953, the Corvette was only supposed to be part of General Motor’s Motorama exhibit at the New York Auto Show. To say that it was well-received is an obvious understatement, because it has become one of the most recognized cars from GM’s Chevy division.

If you can improve the technology, you can improve results. An article on GM’s website features a story how technology has influenced the beauty behind the Corvette since the very first one from the 50s.

Harlan Charles, Corvette’s marketing manager, says horsepower isn’t the only measure of performance. “Balance and low weight are just as important, and that’s where the Corvette excels. It has a heritage of employing cutting-edge technologies and materials to help optimize performance.”

Using those “cutting-edge technologies and materials” started in 1953 when the body of a Corvette was made out of fiberglass, and since then, GM says every Corvette has featured a composite-material body.

The idea of using fiberglass came from Harley Early. According to GM, it was lightweight, rust-proof and provided an economical way to create the Corvette.

By the late 60s, starting with the third generation of Corvettes, body parts were manufactured with a press mold process, GM says. SMC, or sheet-molded composite, can be molded into complex shapes without wasting material. The fiberglass material and resin were shaped in a die-like tool that produced smoother parts more quickly, and according to GM, this helped lay the groundwork for a change in the body panel’s material by 1973.

Fast forward to 1997, the first year of the C5. GM says the ‘97 Corvette was larger, longer and wider than the previous year’s model; however, it weight nearly 100 pounds less, thanks to the technology of advanced materials.

SMC body panels were made with more plastic and was composed of 40% resin, 33% calcium-carbonate filler, and 20% chopped fiberglass, with the last 7% being resin and hardeners to improve the out-of-mold surface, GM says. For the C6 Corvettes, the same material is also used.

This was just a brief summary of GM’s story, but if you want to read more about it, check out the article here.

Photo Credit: General Motors



See more from PowerBlock:

2-Minute Tech

PowerBlock Magazine

On this day in 1953, GM produced the first Corvette

Did you know, PowerBlock fans: On this day in 1953, GM produced the first Corvette.

The concept of the Corvette was developed by Harley Earl and was named after a Navy warship. Earl, who earned a strong reputation with building the Buick LaSalle and the LeSabre, introduced the Corvette as part of GM’s traveling Motorama display at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York.

It immediately became popular, and 300 hand-build white Corvette convertibles were produced that year.

The Corvette is now produced in Bowling Green, Kentucky.