[VIDEO] Company That Made First Corvette Bodies Profiled

Company That Made First Corvette Bodies Profiled

Here is a neat video package from WKYC that profiles Molded Fiberglass Companies based in Ashtabula, Ohio. MFG was founded in 1948 by Robert Morrison who initially was using glass reinforced plastic to make shelves for Wonder Bread. Morrison recognized the many benefits of fiberglass and made several attempts to convince GM that it was suitable for automotive bodies. In 1953 following the introduction of the Corvette at the Motorama show in New York City, GM gave MFG the contract to build the bodies for the Corvette.

I’d like to point out one error in this story. They said Ford was introducing the Thunderbird and GM needed to play catchup with the Corvette. It was actually the other way around. A small error, but an important one because Corvette sales were lackluster in the first years and the car was nearly canceled except GM didn’t want to ceede the sports car market to Ford’s rival two-seater.

To read more about Robert Morrison and Molded Fiberglass Companies contribution to Corvettes, I highly recommend reading Randy Leffingwell’s Corvette Fifty Years which details the meetings between MFG and GM. The book is available at Amazon.


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  1. John Smay, my father in law, passed away a few years ago. For years he had told me the story of how he had worked for Bob Morrison in Ashtabula Ohio. First developing resin mixes and molds for chairs and other items, then for the Chevrolet Corvette. In fact, John had so much contact with the chemical resins that around 1950 he and his wife Dorothea moved to California’s dry climate on doctors orders. From that time on he had troubles with styrene, which are common in styrofoam and polyester. Simply touching a styrofoam coffee cup would produce blisters on his fingers.
    He told me he had developed a simple machine with a motor and rotating spindle with a finishing nail. The spindle would turn and pick fiberglass threads off a fiberglass block and then it would deliver the glass threads via a fan down a tube to be blown on a molded metal screen. A layer of glass, then resin sprayed on, then more glass, more resin. With this process the first Corvette bodies were produced. Long nights were spent perfecting the resin mix, all prior to any knowledge of how the chemicals affected the bodies immune system. He told me that he took tedious notes which were left at the Morrison facility.
    John was very proud of the fact that he had developed the chemical and physical methods and processes of creating any molded shape, especially the Corvette. Even though it had a determental effect on his immune system and caused him to move to California. He always spoke very highly of Bob.
    John was a great guy. He loved animals, helped the poor and needy, attended and supported the local Catholic church and adopted and raised a wonderful daughter (my wife). Had he not worked for Bob, gotten sick and moved to California, I would never have met and married my wife.
    I miss John. I miss sitting in his house in Whittier California each Sunday. As our kids played in the yard we would sit and watch football and talk about his days in Coleman Michigan, Ashtabula Ohio and Pittsburg Penn.

    Martin Strudwick

  2. I worked for Bob Morrison from 1961 til 1969 when 3 of us got together and formed our own factory for the manufacture of fiberglass parts for the Corvette and Ford Mustang. The company was Transplastics; located in Conneaut, Ohio. Bob Morrison was quite a character, but a good guy to work for. I quit managing Transplastics in 1974 and started my own business. (Hulbert’s Restaurant in Ashtabula Harbor,Oh.) I am now retired in Florida,
    Jim Hulbert

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