More About SACC

Solid Axle Corvette Club

by Noland Adams

So why are you here? Perhaps you have a newer Corvette and are just curious about SACC. Perhaps you own or want to own an old Corvette. It doesn't matter why you're here, but we're glad you are.

SACC is the initials of the Solid Axle Corvette Club. So, just what is a solid axle Corvette? The rear axle housing on all 1953 to 1962 Corvettes was a one-piece shell. The rear differential (rear gears) and the axles were mounted within this rear axle housing. (The rear axle housing is sometimes called a solid [or straight] axle housing.)

Beginning with the 1963 model year, Corvettes had an independent rear suspension (IRS). The rear differential is built into the center housing: universal joints and short shafts (called jack shafts) transfer power to the rear wheels. Each rear wheel reacts independently to the road surface, and has earned the nickname "rubber axle".

The 1953 to 1962 Corvettes were unique, that's for sure. They shared many suspension and power train (engine, transmission, and brake) components with Chevrolet passenger cars. With a fiberglass body, all the body parts and exterior trim were Corvette-only items.

The late model Corvette owners (1963 and newer) laugh at the old solid axle Corvettes and call them dinosaurs. There have been many articles written about the pokey six cylinder engines in 1953 to 1955. However, those comments are taken out of context. While not the fastest American car in 1953 and 1954, Corvettes held their own, and did even better with the V8 in 1955. (1955 Corvettes were built with both 6s AND V8s.)

The truth is, the 1953 to 1955 Corvettes WERE crude. GM was learning about fiberglass car body construction, and the Corvette improved greatly for 1956. Corvettes got better every year. With a favorable power to weight ratio, 1957 Corvettes were very good performers. By 1962 body fit was good, as was exterior finish, and the mechanical components were refined and dependable. Powered by a 327 cid engine, the '62 has become a favorite.

Yet the perception among the new Corvette owners (1963 and later) is that all solid axle Corvettes "drive like a truck". When a solid axle Corvette is restored or repaired, one must pay careful attention to the suspension, steering, and other related mechanical factors. The front coils must be replaced and the rear leaf springs rebuilt or replaced as necessary. New shocks are a must. The steering system must be overhauled. Even the seats effect the way a driver sits in the car. If he (or she) is not comfortable, the car will not be pleasant to drive.

Most mistakes in restoring a 1953 to 1962 Corvette are in overlooking  worn parts in the suspension. Tight, binding, or loose steering can make steering control a nightmare. Some owners make a big mistakes using heavier springs. This makes the car sit higher, and it looks and rides awful. Or some use stiffer shocks. Then the old Corvette does steer and ride like an old truck. And it shouldn't. Those old Corvettes were a pleasure to drive, and they should be again.

Now to the most important little piece of metal on old Corvettes: the serial number plate. In 1970 the serial number changed to be called the vehicle identification number (VIN) plate, so you can call it either name these days.

In 1953 the s/n plate was installed on the side of the left windshield "dog leg". In 1956 it moved to the left front door post. In mid-1960 it moved to an under hood location where it was spot welded to the steering column, where it stayed through the end of 1962 production.

I want to bring your attention to the serial number plates on 1953 to early 1960 Corvettes. They were retained by two binding head Phillips screws. Binding head screws are flat on the head mounting area, with a routed top. They are bright silver, and replacements are available at most hardware stores.

A serious problem may develop when an old Corvette is stopped by a traffic officer. All police officers are aware of the theft of valuable old cars, so such a car could get stopped for a routine check at any time. Laws vary by state, but certainly an officer would expect to see a serial number plate (or a VIN plate) in place.

But traffic officers are trained to look for serial number (or VIN) plates riveted or spot welded on place. Even if you have the original plate in place on your 1953 to 1960 Corvette, officers have been known to question the mounting of the plate via two screws. Often their actions the same for a car without a plate at all: impound the vehicle and force the owner to prove that it is a valid number on the serial number plate. Then the vehicle is towed to a storage area, where the owner will pay the storage bill. An officer who is specially trained will check, and the numbers on the frame must match the numbers on the plate. One Corvette owner in the state of Washington had his Corvette impounded four months before he was able to convince the authorities.

To avoid this situation, always have your serial plate properly installed on the car. Be sure your registration is complete and the information is accurate. Remember, if the officer has any doubt he (or she) probably has the right to impound the car on the spot.

You can take one more "ounce of prevention". Years ago I wrote an article on the original serial plate being attached by two common screws. Maybe- just maybe- having a copy of this article as further proof might convince the officer that your car is equipped as it was when it left the factory, then he (she) may not impound your Corvette. 

Noland Adams

SACC Officials:                                                                                              

Founding President: Noland Adams, CA
President Emeritus: Max Brockhouse, IL
President: Brad Bean
Vice President: Larry Spilman, NJ
Secretary: Bruce Fuhrman, CA
Treasurer: Lucy Badenhoop
Charter Manager:  Ken Amrick
Eastern Regional Reprsentative:  Ron Dill, FL
Central Regional Representative:    Jack Hollada, DC, TX
Western Regional Representative:    Bill Stalder, CA
 MagazineEditor:  Ken Amrick, PA
Website Editor: Doc Hollada, TX

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This site is maintained by:  Jack Hollada, DC