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There are three different types of Corvette Body Panels available for 1968-1982 Corvettes. Press molded Panels which are original for 68-72 Corvettes, Hand Laid Panels - replacement for 68-82, and Sheet Molded Composite Panels which are original style for 1973-1982 Corvettes. For more information on each panel and how it is manufactured, continue reading below.
Press Molded Panels – 1968-1972 factory fiberglass panels were produced in molds that created an exceptionally strong part that were smooth on both sides. To help keep your Corvette as original as possible, Zip offers as many press molded pieces as are available. Panels are manufactured to higher quality standards than possible for hand laid panels, using fiberglass mat and resin placed inside matched male/female molds – then pressed together under high pressure and heat to ensure consistent thickness. Original panels are black in color and do not have a gelcoat surface. Note press molded panels require the use of bonding strips when installed.
Hand Laid Panels – Replacement fiberglass panels are built by layering fiberglass mat and resin into a single mold. Construction of each piece begins with the spraying of gelcoat into a female mold; once cured, alternating layers of fiberglass matting and resin are hand rolled to eliminate air pockets and ensure an overall uniform thickness. Once “popped” from the mold, panels are hand trimmed and ground to final shape. Hand laid panels have a smooth exterior and a rough fiberglass/resin underside.
SMC Panels – 1973-1982 Corvettes were assembled of panels made from a sheet molded composite (“SMC”). SMC panels are formed by a high-pressure mold compressing a mix of fiberglass, resin, catalyst and release agent. SMC pieces are smoother than press molded fiberglass panels and have a marbled appearance – typically gray in color. Note SMC panels require special adhesives for bonding.