Introduction: Body Panel Shape & Paint Quality
As announced last year by BGA Plant Manager Kai Spande, not all of the '18's will be painted in the new paint shop. This was confirmed this past weekend by Harlan Charles when he mentioned slow-cooking the 2018 for those painted in the new building. (Harlan also said that we shall see 2018's at next month's BASH.) Thanks also to "jagamajajaran" for his earlier sharing of a fair amount of this info -- though shared by him as "speculation" at that time.
New paint shop picture credit to "jagamajajaran!"
Why is slow-cooking the paint important?
The painted body panels are now going to be baked in the new paint shop at around 175 degrees instead of approximately 275 degrees as in the current paint shop. This is occurring as the new "cooking booths" are now almost three times longer. Why we really care, is that the panels are primarily made of different plastics and resins (glass fibers are now only 20%), and we all know that high heat is not good for plastics and resins, causing them to potentially "soften and even outgas." In the case of body panels, the higher heat increases the amount of potential in the panels for some waviness -- as we have seen in some C7 panels (not happening often, but most typically being observed in the doors). [What none have ever understood is while most C7's are not showing panel waviness, how come a small number have?] Thankfully that is going to be an issue of the past for Corvettes painted in the new building.
Ergo, not only in the new paint shop will be have state of the art paint equipment, and all panels will be "truer" as a result of the much longer paint booths with much lower paint curing temperatures!
GM has committed to "exotic car" paint quality as a result of these two major changes. That is something we can all celebrate!
What does this all mean if someone is ordering an 2018?
We know that the "earliest" 2018's, those produced in June and July, will not be painted in the new paint building because it won't then be ready for painting customer cars.
If you want a Corvette painted in the new body shop, and earliest arrival is critical to you, stay tuned to the BASH's reveal of the three new 2018 colors, for those will be painted first in the new body shop. However, even here a caution, that what we know to this point in time is that the Plant will be closed for three months (August, September and October), and as there is always an initial at least two week quality control hold on the new model year, best/earliest estimate is that the first of the 2018's painted in the new paint shop will be on transporters around November 15th.
Originally Posted by CorvetteBlogger
Let us assume that the three new 2018 colors are: Pearlescent Metallic White (PNW), Daytona Orange Sunset II, and Bowling Green Metallic II. Note please that none of these are confirmed, but the stars and the planets are aligning that there is an excellent chance that PMW will be an '18 color.
So if you want one of those three colors , and if getting one ASAP is very important to critical for you, and as the Ordering Guide will be released mid-April, in advance of the BASH (again according to Harlan), but for those wanting to see the new 2018 colors in person, you are going to have to wait for the BASH reveal two weeks thereafter. However, as typical, the actual ordering window does not open until sometime in May, so no problem.
One further caution: While GM has typically has had the newer year's colors on C7's displayed at the BASH, this is never a 100% certainty, and perhaps, hope not but perhaps, there may be only a painted color sample for one or more of the new for 2018 paint colors.
But let's instead say you wish want your 2018 to be a "legacy color" -- one of the 2017 colors that was not discontinued during the current year, and continues on through 2018. As these legacy colors are not going to be immediately being produced at the new shop, but phased in as soon as possible into the new paint shop, how do I know when to order my legacy-colored 2018 that will be painted in the new building? Darn good question. Most believe that the most popular legacy colors will be the first transitioned over to the new paint shop, so Black and Torch Red will probably be painted there before the lower-volume-produced legacy 2017's. I deliberately left Arctic White out, because I believe as per above, we shall see the new PMW be one of the new '18 colors and painted in the new shop asap.
But what if you want Corvette Racing Yellow -- a lower requested 2017 color (that, IMO, will be carried one as that is the color of our C7.R's)? No one yet knows, and I believe this is true even within GM, i.e., "how soon can the legacy colors be transitioned over to the new paint building" is just an informed guess. Of course, if you live in a northern climate, and do not want your '18 delivered in a January snowstorm, the easy answer to order it in February, have it be painted in the new paint shop in late winter, arriving at your dealership the first 70 degree sunny spring day.
Of course, all the above is based on current public statements, including all GM Corvette staff either saying, "based on current practices and estimates," or just conjecture. We will learn more about these matters at the BASH!