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What GM thinks about plastic panels vs fit/finish.

Old 10-07-2003, 04:54 PM
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What GM thinks about plastic panels vs fit/finish.

"EDWARD LAPHAM COMMENTARY: Saturn being different is over-rated

Automotive News / October 07, 2003

Do you remember how Saturn boasted about being a different kind of automaker with a different kind of car?

The original S-series Saturn, introduced in 1991, is fading from memory, having been replaced by the Ion. Saturn also has the bigger L-series car and the Vue SUV. Coming for 2005 is the Relay minivan, and later, probably a sports car.

Does it matter that the Relay minivan will be the first Saturn vehicle built without plastic door panels and fenders? Probably not. The Ion and the L-series still have them.

Plastic body parts that resist dings have been part of Saturn’s brand character from the beginning. But GM says today’s minivan customer demands a level of fit and finish that’s hard to achieve with plastic.

Sometimes, being different is over-rated.
"





THE QUESTION ON MY MIND:

If it's not good enough for a Saturn minivan...why would it be good enough for a 5th gen Camaro?
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Old 10-07-2003, 05:31 PM
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I like the plastic better, lighter and doesn't dent.

THe Vette and XLR do ok with none steel body panels

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Old 10-07-2003, 05:34 PM
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i like plastic because it weighs less and it still looks fine to me
just gotta keep that weight down on the next camaro, and if plastic is the answer, go ahead and use it
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Old 10-07-2003, 05:36 PM
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I agree with Z28x... and I HATE door dings
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Old 10-07-2003, 05:58 PM
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I have a few small dings in my rear quarters and hood....Plastic panels are fine though! I'd rather have more plastic than less....

BTW how much difference in panel gap is caused by the temp changes?? I never noticed much difference....probably becuase the f-body gaps are pretty large to begin with.
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Old 10-07-2003, 06:11 PM
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They don't move much in normal everyday temperature. But cars must function from -40ºC to +40ºC, so engineers really have to prepare for the worst case scenario.

I think Saturn's switch to metal panels is purely economic. Plastic panels take longer to make and cost more, and changing the design of an existing vehicle to accept plastic adds development cost. The panel gap argument is just a red herring.
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Old 10-07-2003, 06:16 PM
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I really don't like the finish on plastic panels....especially on darker cars....it looks alittle wavy. The gaps have to be larger to accommodate expansion and contraction. It's hard to introduce new colors too

From my perspective...it just doesn't look very good. I'm not sure if there is weight advantage either.

The manufacturers like them though, they are MUCH cheaper to tool up.
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Old 10-07-2003, 06:20 PM
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Good thing there's paintless dent repair....dings are a PITA...
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Old 10-07-2003, 08:31 PM
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I like the plastic.

1) Dent-Proof.

2) Supposedly cheaper and easier to update styling, though that was never taken advantage of with the 4th Gen, though it was mentioned quite a bit when the 93 was released...

3) I think the "plastic panels suck" mentality is overrated and shortsighted. I don't think panel-gap is anywhere near as bad as some would like you to think. Plus, I'd expect an even better version of this now that it is 12+ years past the 93 model, should it be used again on a 5th Gen.
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Old 10-07-2003, 09:23 PM
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Considering I own 3 cars (they are all bright red) with plastic non-dinging body panels (94 Z28, 03 Vue, and 03 ION Quade-Coupe) I rather have larger body gaps then my doors riddled with dings.

I tend to keep my cars a long time and I religiously keep all my cars waxed and polished and non-dinging body panels help keep the car looking new. When I tell people my Camaro is 10 years old they dont believe me since they think its only a couple years old.

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Old 10-07-2003, 09:36 PM
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I guess I'm just more picky than you guys.
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Old 10-08-2003, 12:06 AM
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Sorry, give me something that fits.

They can do it on the Corvette and XLR--why not on anything else?
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Old 10-08-2003, 06:23 AM
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1-2mm bigger gaps look better than dented sheet metal
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Old 10-08-2003, 08:16 AM
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Originally posted by Z28x
1-2mm bigger gaps look better than dented sheet metal
Not for me it doesn't. There is nothing that pisses me off more than seeing dents in my car and seeing them everyday.
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Old 10-08-2003, 10:17 AM
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I didn't mind the material used in the 4th gen doors, but the front fenders were too weak. I kind of miss not being able to lean on the car up front. I know this sounds stupid, but it was disconcerting the first time I leaned on the front fender, and it dented in about 4 inches. At least it popped right back though .
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