Note: This is the second of three articles in a series of articles on the first brochure of Clearfield Plastics of Clearfield, Pennsylvania. Click here to review all articles in this series.
Back in the ‘50s, any fiberglass company would be thrilled to get a letter from Road & Track Magazine inquiring about the company and specifics on what is available for customers to purchase. I’m sure that’s how Harry Heim felt. He was Vice President and Production Manager / Engineer for Clearfield Plastics, Inc., of Clearfield Pennsylvania, and responded to their inquiry in a letter to Road & Track in October, ’55.
Let’s review his reply to the magazine and some of the photos he included. This is a rare glimpse into the “business side” of running your own fiberglass company – straight from the proprietor’s mouth back in the mid ‘50s.
Hold onto your fiberglass hats, and away we go!
And remember…as with every image here at Forgotten Fiberglass, use your mouse to click on any photo and make it appear larger on your screen.
Clearfield Plastics, Inc: October 28, 1955
Reinforced Fiberglass Plastics
Research and Product Developing
“Our Growth Is Characteristic of Our Quality Workmanship”
Here are the pictures and the descriptive bulletin you wrote for on our competition type body made to fit the Topolino of 500 Fiat. The body will also fit Crosley and can be reworked on Morris Minor with a little chassis modification:
For The Fiat:
To start assembly have chassis modification (Fiat chassis modification are covered in bulletin in kit) all made then bolt fiberglass floorboards in whatever place you want them, as to leg room, motor room, etc. Bolting methods are covered in a bulletin supplied with the body.
After floorboards are secure, check size inside body where it will contact floorboards, then trim floorboards to size. Fit body down over floorboards to proper height and laminate body and floorboards together (as per instruction in kit).
Trim fender wells to fit and laminate in place in same manner. Body is then ready to fit doors, hood and finish. You will find this manner of making a body makes a very rigid and sturdy body and not a body that is hung by hangers at six points around the chassis.
For the Crosley:
The same as for the Fiat except the floorboards may be lengthened about 6 or 8 inches, if desired for more leg room, by placing the cut in two floorboards on a piece of metal about 12 inches wide that has been shaped like a cross section of the floorboards, then laminate a piece of fiberglass in this space.
For the Morris Minor:
The Morris has to be cut 7 inches shorter and lowered. To do this cut body off leaving the platform, since the Morris has no chassis a couple of square tubes or angles have to be welded on the underside of the platform so as to make a chassis sort of member.
At the same time, cut 7 inches out of the platform and driveshaft before putting on channel or angle members. After chassis work, the body should be the same for the Fiat.
Since making our original pamphlet many other questions have arisen which we wish to cover with this notice. Also, due to the fact that it is difficult to show the true beauty and functional lines in so few pictures, we are enclosing extras to show every possible angle. At the recent Watkins Glen Grand Prix where the car was on exhibit, comment and enthusiasm was 100% that the pix did not do the car justice.
Track of the Fiat and Crosley must be widened to about 48” in front and 47” to 48” in back. The method of doing this is very simple and is fully covered by complete drawings supplied in the kit. The reason for making it wider would be found in some of your newest sports cars from Europe, most of them being in the vicinity of 56” track and 90” – 94” wheelbase.
This makes a very fast handling car, more easily handled in both cornering and sliding. By widening the Fiat from 44” to 48” track with the 78” wheelbase, we are almost the same ratio as the best Europe has to offer.
Because of the lowness of the body, it is necessary to lower any but a special chassis about 4” by “Zing” in front and by blocks under the springs in back. This is quite simple and is covered by drawings in our kit. The job was done for us by an outside contractor for $20.00.
- Ground clearance on the body is only 6 ½”
- The Fiat as is the case with other engines, has been moved back of the front suspension for good weight distribution
- The finished car is 10” 6” long tip to tip; 32” high at the highest point; and 56” at the widest point
- The body has been wind tunnel tested and a great deal of its design is to obtain good brake cooling, making brake changes in most cases, unnecessary
- The dash is blank and no cut outs so the use of any desired instruments are possible as is the rear of the car so a variety of tail lights, etc., can be utilized
- The lights in the grill in the pix are road driving lamps, ample for racing requirements, but for state inspections the use of sealed beam headlamps becomes necessary.
- For this, we suggest a fold-away, under-the-hood lamp similar to the Lotus. However, some prefer lamps in the front of the fenders a la Maserati. We feel this spoils the design of the car.
While the stock lasts, immediate deliveries are being made. We will acknowledge any order for a body and give you shipping date which will be within a couple of days. With an order for a body a deposit of at least $100.00 is required plus crating charges in advance. The balance will be C.O.D.
Bodies can be picked up by you at our plant Saturday or Sunday only, and no crating charge is made. In case of additional technical questions, our engineer, Harry Heim, can be contacted at the plant by phone (Clearfield 5-9677) any week day between 9 and 5.
I can hear you asking…..”how could they ship bodies so fast in ’55?” This question goes out to Clark Mitchell. Clark….can you tell us the story about how the 100 Clearfield bodies came to be? I bet our fiber gang of ‘glass guys would love to know “the rest of the story…”
Have at ‘em Clark 🙂
It’s interesting that the information above from Clearfield Plastics consistently refers to “complete drawings supplied in the kit.” I’d love to see some of those drawings! We’ll have to be on the lookout for them. Clark Mitchell and friends – any ideas here? And as always, we’ll share what we find here on Forgotten Fiberglass 🙂
Hope you enjoyed the story, and until next time…
Glass on gang…