1972 Chevrolet Corvette - Jewelry For Your Shark

Locating and reinstalling factory emblems on our '72 coupe

Jeremy D. Clough Jan 24, 2014 0 Comment(s)
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I'm not exactly a code-correct-overspray kind of guy, and if you've read any of the previous articles on “Scarlett,” our '72 coupe project car, that should be pretty clear by now. While I appreciate that aspect of the Corvette hobby, it's simply not my bag, and an abiding respect for what a numbers-matching car represents explains why I've never bought one.

1972 Chevrolet Corvette Emblem Volunteer Vette 2/22

01 Volunteer Vette Products provided the emblems for this project, including the crossed-flags piece for the nose. It comes with a pair of self-threading nuts.

1972 Chevrolet Corvette Emblem Reverse 3/22

02 One of the first things I did was to make this template showing the distance between the mounting holes. You can always just measure, but this removes that step, and the potential for error along with it.

1972 Chevrolet Corvette Emblem Filler 4/22

03 Fortunately, the filler material used to plug up the old mounting holes sucked in a little, leaving a barely discernible dimple in the paint. I used these to locate the holes, and marked them with a Sharpie.

All that aside, there are still some things that belong on a Corvette simply because it came that way, and one of them is the emblems. I'm not talking about add-on bling (like the “Chopper Edition” lettering glued to a pale-blue Crown Vic I once borrowed for an ill-fated dive trip to Florida), but the chrome emblems the car came with from the factory. Consider them jewelry for your Vette.

In Scarlett's case, the previous owner had the car painted, and in the process shaved the emblems on the front half. While the rear gas-filler emblem holes were still there, and the rear “C-O-R-V-E-T-T-E” letters were mercifully installed, the side Stingray emblems and the crossed flags from the nose were removed, and the holes were filled in and painted over. Perhaps it's a cleaner look, but I'm too used to those little flashes of chrome to not see a huge blank space when they're not there.

With that in mind, I contacted Volunteer Vette Products. Based in East Tennessee, not terribly far from where I wasted my undergrad years fly fishing and driving mountain roads, Volunteer has been manufacturing and selling Corvette parts for about 24 years, and they were happy to provide a new set of emblems for this project. Since we've already replaced the fuel-filler door with a chrome Le Mans–style filler from Mustalgia, the only ones we needed were the crossed flags for the nose and the two Stingray emblems from either side of the front fender. With these in hand, it was up to me to locate and re-drill the holes for them. Time to get your ears pierced, Scarlett.

1972 Chevrolet Corvette Emblem 5/22

04 Laying the template over the nose of the car to make sure the holes are laid out properly. Note that the paper template will have to fold over central ridge in the nose, bringing the holes closer together than they should be.

1972 Chevrolet Corvette Emblem Double Check Template 6/22

05 Using the studs on the emblem to check the marks made using the template. It’s pretty easy to scratch the paint like this, so be careful.

1972 Chevrolet Corvette Emblem Drilling 7/22

06 The moment of truth, when you actually start drilling holes in the fiberglass. Make sure to orient the drill bit at the same angle to the surface as the mounting studs will be.

1972 Chevrolet Corvette Emblem Drill Bit 8/22

07 Once you’ve started a hole, gradually enlarge it, one drill bit size at a time, to keep it clean. If necessary, you can “oval” the holes as you go, to account for minor alignment problems.

1972 Chevrolet Corvette Emblem Drill 9/22

08 Here’s what happens if you jump too much in bit size. It’ll be covered by the emblem, but still, perfection is the goal.

The nose emblem was by far the easier of the two, partially because there was a pair of small dimples where the material used to fill the mounting holes had sunken back in. Employing a template that I made using the emblem itself, I placed a small black dot in the middle of each of the two dimples to check the alignment.

I refer to the assembly manual for most projects, but unfortunately it casts no light on the nose-emblem install. While the side-emblem sheet does have dimensions for where the holes should be drilled (more on their laughable errancy later), the only relevant information it offers on the nose emblem is the torque value for the nuts that hold it in place. So, back to making a template.

For that, I took a white sheet of paper and laid it on top of a cardboard box, then punched the two mounting studs on the back of the emblem through the paper and cardboard, leaving a round hole in the paper from each stud. This is the template. I then laid that over the nose of the car and aligned it with the two black dots I had made in the original holes, and enlarged the dots to match the hole layout on the template.

For reference, when I drew a line between the center of each of the two holes, it crossed the center ridge of the nose approximately 63⁄8-inch from where the nose steps down for the front bumper. Your mileage may vary, especially if you're dealing with a car outside of the '68-'72 year range, where the front crossed flags are interchangeable ('73 and later models are dramatically different).

1972 Chevrolet Corvette Emblem Caliper 10/22

09 I used a dial caliper to pick the size of the drill bit. The studs measured 0.155-inch in diameter, and I picked the next larger bit size. Basically, you want it to slip in easily without being loose.

1972 Chevrolet Corvette Emblem Self Threading 11/22

10 The self-threading nut shown on the smooth stud. Once the emblem slipped into place in its holes, I used a socket to push the nut into place on the stud while turning it, cutting the threads.

While I started making the hole markings with a Sharpie, I later switched to a black dry-erase marker, which proved a better choice. Also, be aware that when you put the template on the nose of the car, it has to be bent in the middle, along the nose's center ridge. That will necessarily move the two holes on the template closer to one another than they are on the actual emblem, so you'll need to adjust accordingly when you locate them.

In my case, I did that by gently holding the emblem against the nose, with the two studs aligned with the black dots. This allowed me to see what adjustment needed to be made to make sure the studs would fit in the holes once drilled. With that checked, I then used the finest bit that would fit in the chuck of my 3⁄8-inch drill and drilled the two holes. Make sure you drill them at the angle at which the emblem will be installed: If you square the bit up with the angled surface on either side of the center ridge, the parallel posts won't be able to slip down into place.

With the first pilot holes drilled, check them again against the emblem studs, ovaling the hole if necessary to make them line up. That's pretty much the process: Drill the hole larger one bit size at a time, checking alignment and opening up the hole as necessary to one side or the other. It's a tedious process, but if you skip straight to the largest-size bit you'll need, there's a good chance it will chip the paint around the edges of the hole. (Ask me how I know.) It'll be covered by the emblem once installed, but it's worth avoiding if possible.

1972 Chevrolet Corvette Emblem Flags In 12/22

11 The end result, with the crossed flags riding proudly back on Scarlett’s prow.

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