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American Made Restoration Sheetmetal: Thicker, More Accurate and Better
This entry was posted on November 7, 2014.
What sets CARS Inc. U.S.-made reproduction sheetmetal apart from the competition? Quality of the actual stamping? Correct factory gauge steel? Every bend, cut, notch, curve, and radius being as exact to the original GM sheetmetal as possible? The correct answer is all of the above!
When you see "Made in the USA" on your CARS Inc. replacement or reproduction sheetmetal, you know it will fit right, look like the factory and carry the quality worth being made in America.
CARS Inc. was one of the first aftermarket companies to start reproducing sheetmetal. As its owners saw the supply of N.O.S. (New Old Stock for the newcomers) dwindling, they recognized that demand for new sheetmetal would only grow stronger, as more and more cars were restored in various styles. What started with basic stampings of new doorsill plates has grown in 30 years to cover almost every piece of metal for '55 and '57 Chevys, and the list of items for '56s is growing fast.
While it would have been easy for CARS Inc. to take the route most other manufacturers were following, outsourcing heavy production of this type to facilities overseas, CARS Inc. chose to keep production located right here in America, where the highest standards of quality control and manufacturing could be followed.
As CARS Inc.'s Dale Deaton explains, "CARS has always made the most correct and best fitting parts. When off-shoring became popular for cutting costs and increasing profit margins, we kept our engineering and manufacturing in the USA to maintain the high quality that we’ve become known for."
"As far as our sheetmetal is concerned, we not only stamp it right here in Michigan, we also rely on many of the tool-makers and stamping operators who originally did the same work for GM and other automakers. In some cases, the originally tooling is used. And for the parts where we had new dies made, we used the best original parts we could find to create tooling that duplicated every detail from the factory."
It doesn't stop there. The quality process starts before any new parts are produced, with the sheet steel used in the stamping process. CARS uses the same gauge steel GM used originally, steel that’s also made in America. Even though that steel is more difficult to work with because of its thickness and density, and costs more to ship to customers, it’s one of the key factors in being able to supply the highest quality parts possible to customers that are restoring/rebuilding classic Chevys.
After new parts come out of the presses, they receive thorough quality control checks to make sure everything's as it should be. If any piece of CARS Inc made sheetmetal doesn’t measure up, it's not sent out to the customer. Weigh that against overseas made parts, that are stamped out as quickly as possible, given the minimum of quality control checks, then crated up and shipped to America. And the steel those overseas parts are made from? Who knows what was put into the smelter at the foundry to make the sheet steel for production? Impurities in that process can have effects through production and right to the point of installation. Combine that with inconsistent gauge thicknesses of the steel used, and it boils down to not knowing whether the parts you've just spent hard earned money are worth it.
That attention to quality and exactness translates not just to the enthusiast rebuilding a car himself, but also to the shops rebuilding cars for people. When ill fitting replacement sheetmetal has to be modified/massaged to fit properly on a customer car, that adds expensive labor hours that a shop has to charge for. A low quality quarter panel, door, fender, floor patch, rocker panel, etc., can end up costing a customer thousands of dollars more in billable labor hours.