Corvette Central

Concept 57 - Body

The concept behind P-57 was to build a modern '57-style Corvette, and not to rebuild one. What that means is that we are basically building an entire vehicle from mostly new parts. In the last installment, we covered the Street Shop chassis buildup. Now we need a body to drape over P-57's gorgeous chassis. While finding an original body and rebuilding it is an option consideration, we chose to go with Corvette Central's Concept '57 body for P-57.
The availability of the pre-assembled Corvette Central body makes locating a useable donor body unnecessary. The body is constructed from all new parts and would not need reconstruction. This greatly shortens the build timeline for the project and the amount of labor required to properly rebuild a used body. While a Concept '57 body will fit on a stock frame and is designed to utilize factory parts, there have been a few modifications to the body that allow for upgrades. Of course, these are options, and you can still get the Concept 57 body as an original if you desire.
BUILDING A BETTER BODY: Let's face it, there have been improvements made since Chevrolet first started
building the straight-axle Corvette. The Concept '57 body uses Owens Corning fiberglass mat and Ashland Chemical Co. resins for increased flexibility, which will help reduce cracking and aging of the body during use. The adhesives used to bond the surfaces together have 50-70 percent elongation properties combined with 3,500lb per square inch shear strength, making the bonds on this new body far more flexible and stronger than the original bodies.
All the original hinges can be used on the new body, but Corvette Central also offers gas-operated trunk hinges and an improved hood hinge that can easily replace the original style if the customer so desires. Also, the bodies are factory assembled on a jig to prevent any warping or distortion, and all the primary mounting hardware locations are factory machined or clearly marked on the body so there is no guesswork when fitting the pieces together. One of the major benefits of using a new '57 body is that the inner fender wells can be ordered in original or modified form to allow for modern independent front suspensions. The bodies wear an ivory gel-coat and are ready for preparation and finish painting.
Another benefit to using the Concept '57 body is that it automatically enrolls you in Corvette Central's Start-to-Finish program, which can save you considerable dollars over the life of the project. And, you can purchase the exterior chrome kit (PN 750058) from Corvette Central and save a bundle over purchasing all the parts separately.
1. The headlight mounting flanges are bonded into the hody as well as the core support. You can see the X-bracing through the grille opening; which comes pre-machined to allow fit of the original grille trim.
4. The body will only be as good as the forms from which it comes. The molds for the Concept '57 one-piece body were designed for precision, long life and repeatability of dimensionally correct pieces.
2. This is how the body is shipped. The doors are in the two cardboard boxes sitting on the floorboards. The hinges are already mounted and the entire body is shipped on its own platform, which also serves as a dolly for finishing and painting of the body.
5. For assembly, the body is placed on a jig to ensure that everything fits properly. The door post/hinge supports and latch plates are factory installed on the jig and the major door hardware locations are pre-drilled.
3. The floor pan, rear wheel wells and trunk floor, and outer skin of the body are each molded as one piece, eliminating the bonding seams of the originals and allowing a more even paint finish (a concern only if originality is an issue). An enlarged transmission tunnel provides clearance for most GM manual or automatic transmissions.
6. When we picked up the body for P-57, we simply had to roll it out and onto the trailer. Having a set of wheels to place the body on made the short trip much easier, and in just a short time, we had an upgraded, pristine '57 body to put on our chassis. Definitely a time-saver over restoring one.
7. The hinges and supports for the doors are already installed, as are the steel rocker panel and underbody reinforcements. They are all factory riveted and bonded just like the original '59-'62 design.
8. When the body is shipped, the dash panel is shipped separately so the customer can access the area behind the dash more easily. The customer can then mount the dash panel when they are ready.
9. & 10. Depending on the style of suspension used, the customer can choose the original style inner fender or the custom style that allows more room for the control arms on a newer style front suspension.
11. Here's Henry Younger of Walden and Younger Corvette Restorations, proudly admiring the body for P-57. As you read this, he'll be busy at work fining the new body to the chassis. We'll have more on that in our next installment on P-57.
12. A new no-cost option on the Concept '57 body is the use of gas-operated trunk hinges instead of the original-style spring hinges. The spring hinges are still available if the customer prefers the more original style.

Thanks to Corvette Enthusiast - Written by: Andy Bolig
Copyright 2006