The Chevrolet Corvette was one of the first automobiles employing something other than metal or wood for body panels. The fiberglass used to sheath Chevy's sports car is still part of the car's construction 55 years later. Repairing a quarter panel, the largest body panel on a Corvette, involves its removal. It is not always possible to pull out a dent--the cracked panel will need patching and refinishing.
Removing Composite Body Panels
Although originally made of fiberglass, today's modern Corvette is equipped with what Chevy calls "composite body panels." Originally, the panels were strictly made fiberglass, epoxy resin and paint; today, however, additional materials such as different kinds of plastics, resins and other reinforcement materials give both strength and flexibility to the large body parts.
Whenever you remove a quarter panel from a Corvette, do not force or try to pry it with a tool. If the panel does not remove freely after you believe you've removed all fasteners or overlaying body or frame parts, it means you've probably missed a fastener. Go over the area again, looking for recessed or possibly broken fasteners. A bolt or a clip with the missing head can still secure the quarter panel, but can be easily missed.
The Corvette's composite quarter panel is secured with screws, clips and also some tongue-in-slot devices. The best way to remove a clip is keep some needle-nose pliers in hand and pinch the clip from behind and push it out. Trying to snag a clip with pliers and pull it out may ruin the clip, and possibly the portion of the body panel that it secures.
Always use the correct tool for removing screws with either slotted Philips heads (cross slots) or hex heads (as found on bolts.) Using the wrong tool can strip the fastener and make removal very difficult. Chevrolet uses many hex-head screws to fasten these panels. Make sure the socket is tight, without any play. This will avoid rounding off the hex-head screws.
Removing the Quater Panel
You do not need to remove the rear wheel in order to remove the body panel, but doing so will provide easier access to the fasteners in the wheel well. Also, the body panel is fastened behind the interior panel in the hatchback. Don't force or pry when removing the body panel, and be sure to use the correct tools and to go all the way around twice to find hidden or damaged screws or clips. Removing the Corvette's quarter panel is not that complicated or difficult, but does require removing parts in the correct sequence to finally lift and remove the body panel.
- GM Corvette 1984-96 (Chilton's Total Car Care Repair Manual); by The Nichols/Chilton Editors; 1999
- Chevrolet Corvette 1984 thru 1996 Automotive Repair Manual; by Mike Stubblefield and John H. Haynes: 1997
- Photo Credit corvette image by Julianna Olah from Fotolia.com
What Is a Corvette Body Made Of?
The Corvette began production in 1953. The body panels are made from fiberglass and resin using two basic methods and continuously improved...
How to Remove Car Door Panels
The process of removing car door panels is essentially the same for each make of car. You may need to remove these...
How to Remove Rust from a Honda Accord Quarter Panel
Remove rust from a Honda Accord quarter panel without the need for fancy tools. The quarter panel is important to fix right...
How to Remove Body Panels
In recent years, many car manufacturer's have switched to using plastic or composite body panels to reduce some weight and make bodywork...
How to Remove a Dent in a Quarter Panel
Most motorists at one time or another will have a dent somewhere on their vehicles. Whether from a minor fender-bender, severe weather...
How to Replace the Belt Tensioner on a C5 Corvette
Working on a C5 Corvette is challenging. The various components are packed together very tightly. Accessing the back of the engine is...
How to Remove the Battery From a C4 Corvette
The C4 Corvette is the fourth generation of Chevrolet's popular sports car, manufactured from 1984 through 1996. The C4 has one of...
C5 Corvette Maintenance
The C5 Corvette is completely redesigned with all new body panels, interior and engine. This fifth design series Corvette requires maintenance procedures...
Corvette Front Bumper Removal
The near-seamless bodywork on the Chevrolet Corvette is achieved with meticulously manufactured composite body panels. These panels wrap the Corvette from front...