Corvette's Ashtabula Connection
Corvette Picture Panel donated by The Robert S. Morrison Foundation
In 1954, the Chevrolet Corvette became the first production automobile with a molded fiber glass reinforced plastic body after Robert Morrison, founder of Molded Fiber Glass (MFG), convinced General Motors that reinforced plastic had a use in the automotive industry.
Morrison had come to Detroit in 1953 to discuss what MFG could do to support GM, but the purchasing folks he was to meet with were too engaged in discussions about steel body components to see him. As he departed, the elevator opened to reveal Purchasing Director Elmer Gormesen, who informed him that the decision to make the car of steel had been rendered. GM anticipated demand of 10,000 units, and no sufficient fiberglass capacity existed. Morrison assured Gormesen that MFG and Owens Corning could come through on the production.
The following day Morrison returned home to Ashtabula, OH to learn the news that GM had made a turnabout decision to go with fiberglass! When Chevrolet gave the project the green light, Morrison initiated all of the financing, production facilities, engineering support, tooling and production personnel to make it happen. He partnered with automotive engineers and material suppliers to resolve concerns about a production site, equipment and scheduling.
As the cooperative process developed, the basement of Morrison's home became an impromptu design center for the Corvette fiberglass parts. MFG employees and GM's engineers worked side by side on a ping-pong table.
MFG has produced fiberglass composite parts for the Corvette since 1954. In 2003, Robert S. Morrison was posthumously inducted into the prestigious Corvette Hall of Fame.
History Narrative Compilation by Carol Johnson