1963 Corvette Launch

The 1963 Corvette was launched at the Chevrolet St. Louis plant that was originally built to build wood/metal bodies for circa 1920 Chevrolets.  During World War II the plant built amphibian vehicles for the war effort.  There was a water tank or trough in the plant to leak test the hull of the amphibian. This tank or trough was modified as a ramp to the basement of the building to facilitate entry of hi-lows to access storage and the salvage department for Corvette.

The 1962 Corvette body did not have a common metal frame for the windshield and for supporting the doors or door hinges.  So, the weld shop was expanded to fabricate the metal frame that workers quickly nicknamed the ‘birdcage’.  This metal frame was constructed of many pieces to form the windshield opening, door hinge support, door sill and lock pillar for the door latch hardware.  The coupe birdcage also had components that completed the coupe door openings and formed a sort of roll bar over the top of the body tying the lock pillars together, side to side.

Following the assembly of the birdcage, it needed to be protected from corrosion.  A ‘tank’ shaped pit was constructed that was used to lower the birdcage into where it was cleaned with a hot vapor of cleaning solvent, I believe it was either carbon tetra chloride or trichloroethene. The vapors were heavier than air so did not enter the work environment.  Following cleaning, sealer was applied to the coupe rain gutters and then the assembly was painted with a chartreuse, zinc rich primer/paint.

Then into the body shop followed by Trim, Chassis and Final Assembly.

Consider purchasing my new book “Corvette 1963 – 1967”.  This publication addresses production and design problems and my personal experience with Corvette.

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