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
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