CORVETTE TIPS AND TECHNIQUES

1961-1962 CORVETTE FENDER TOP MOULDING & EXTENSION ALIGNMENT    


Most of us have noticed the rather poor fit where the top fender chrome strip meets the little pointed chrome extension at the headlight trim ring on the ‘61-‘62 cars. On the 1958-1960 models, the headlamp trim ring was chrome plated, and the top fender chrome strip mated with it in a smooth transition, giving it a clean appearance. On the ‘61-‘62 cars, however, the stylists decided to paint the headlamp trim ring the color of the car, and this left an abrupt termination of the chrome strip. They added the small chrome plated piece they called the “fender molding extension”, as you can see in the illustration. 

The problem is that the height of this extension piece is not the same as the height of the top fender-molding strip. This causes the small extension piece to sit up very high on the headlamp ring . I have seen this problem on many cars over the years, and I often wondered what could be done to correct it. I finally came face to face with the problem myself not long ago when I was reassembling my ‘62 Corvette. 

I realized that you only have two alternatives. One could be to lower the headlamp trim ring, and the other would be to raise the top fender molding. To lower the headlamp trim ring is almost impossible because the ring is located evenly around the headlamp units, and cannot be moved up or down very far. To raise the top fender molding would cause a gap between the trim strip and the top of the fender . I decided that this second alternative was the best because if you look at photo 1 you will see that the little “fender molding extension” sits up high on top of the headlamp ring and is therefore already causing a gap to exist between the molding and the fender top. If I raised the top fender molding to the same height, I would just be continuing with the same line, which was already determined by the installation of the “fender molding extension.” 













I did this by cutting off some of the fender molding at its leading edge as shown in photo 2. This leaves only about 1/8” of the depressed area intact. By doing this, the long molding will fit up under the trailing edge of the fender molding ex- tension. If the molding is not cut off as described, it will fit too far forward causing it to extend under the headlight ring, which will hold it down tightly to the fender, giving the appearance we see so often as in photo 1. 

I have studied many original ‘61-‘62 cars, and I have seen some very good fits on some of them. I believe that the early, original top fender moldings were similar to what I have come up with here. The gap, which remains open under the forward portion of the top fender molding, can be filled in with non-drying auto body putty. This will hide the open look of the poor fit here. This is the same type of putty, which is used to fill the gaps around the windshield lower molding where it fits to the cowl. Many of the gaps caused by poor body fit up can be successfully hidden with this material. You will find it in many places when disassembling a car.


















Another problem that had to be considered is that if someone were to press down on the trim strip over the spot where the putty was installed, it could crush out the putty and cause a mess. I, therefore, installed a small plastic washer around the forward-most mounting pin of the chrome strip to be used as a shim to hold the trim strip up at its proper height (photo 3).

The result of this work is evidenced in photo4. It shows the fit that I was able to obtain by a little extra time. Since I finished this car I was fortunate enough to take it to Bloomington and win the Gold Certificate, to Palm Springs and win the American Legend Award, and to Osage Beach to the NCRS National Convention and win a Top Flight Award. It has been a great season and it was worth all the work that went into it. 

If any of you need some of the small plastic washers, just send me a S.A.S.E. and I will send you a pair of them free. 


Click to download file

FenderTop.pdf


Photo #1

Photo #2

Photo #3

Photo #4