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INNOVATIVE CONSTRUCTION AND ASSEMBLY

A number of innovative construction and assembly approaches applied during the 1982 Firebird's manufacturing result in an automobile of incredible quality and value. Some of these techniques are incorporated to ensure an automobile of outstanding structural integrity... others result in improved exterior and interior fits and finish...while some provide the road isolation and acoustical insulation that is such an important contributor to the Firebird's smooth, quiet ride.

Often, an individual technique results in more than one of these benefits. In every case, the new process was selected for its conformance to the 1982 Firebird program objectives of improved structural rigidity, for a more durable "feel"... reduced variations in vehicle-to-vehicle assembly quality... meeting the corporate target goal of 5-year cosmetic/10-year corrosion protection ... and significantly improving fuel economy via the utilization of lightweight materials and/or new construction techniques wherever possible.

Some of the construction techniques utilized to meet these objectives include:

   The application of a unitized body construction design. Eliminating the need for an independent frame, unitized body construction integrates the structural properties of a frame into the body assembly. The result is a measurable reduction in vehicle weight, with no loss of structural rigidity or interior space.

   Unique underfloor longitudinal rails provide structural rigidity at the front-of-dash area.

   The transmission (with L4 engine) features a subassembly support mounted to the primary support with rubber cushions, for additional vibration isolation from the passenger compartment.

The radiator support is now an integral part of the body assembly and features upper and lower "cradle-type" insulators for vibration control. The radiator features aluminum cores for optimal heat dissipation and plastic end tanks for light weight.

   The roof features a stamped, one-piece outer panel with integral windshield opening for optimal structural integrity and quality glass fits. The improved fit and flush mounting of the windshield not only help aerodynamics but also result in reduced wind noise and water leaks.

Though it is an option, the 1982 Firebirds' glass hatch panels exhibit a quality construction that is a direct result of their design as an integral part of the vehicle. When the roof panels are in place, body rigidity is equal to a base car without the hatch option. With the panels removed, torsional strength is much improved over a similarly equipped '81. Water leaks, wind noise and appearance have all been significantly improved because of a new double seal.

   The wheelhouse outer panels are galvanized for corrosion protection and then welded to the outer quarter panel.

   After all of the Firebird's major body components are assembled, the entire unit is treated in the cathodic ELPO primer dip, an immersion bath process that electrically bonds a corrosion resistant coating to all body and sheet metal surfaces.

  The front fender wheelhouses feature black molded polypropylene liners to eliminate road spray from the engine compartment, and to protect against stone throw and corrosion damage to the body.

   As an added deterrent to rust, an anti-corrosive wax coating is applied to the inside of the lower fender, from the feature line to the bottom edge.

  The unsightly lower rear bracket that secures the fender to the body is now hidden by a special plastic shield,

  Plastisol spray is applied below the feature line on the Firebird's exterior, to the front fenders, doors and rear quarter panels, and along the full length of the rocker panel for protection of these highly visible and vulnerable metal panels against stone throw and rust damage.

  To reduce weight, aluminum hoods are used on models with a high level of optional equipment. These units not only help fuel economy, but have the added advantage of being completely corrosion resistant. The retractable headlamp doors are also aluminum.

Inside the Firebird, the attention to quality construction, fits and finishes continued...while isolation of the passenger compartment from extraneous noise, temperature extremes, and engine and road vibration also received major emphasis.

  The 3mm molded foam headliner is bonded directly to the roofs outer panel. A fiberglass filler eliminates the need for additional acoustical insulation. The inside garnish moldings normally found at the windshield and backlight have been eliminated for a "cleaner' look and the headliner is now "tucked under" around these openings.

   Whether vinyl or cloth, the interior door trim panels are fabricated as one-piece for easy installation and consistent fits, and foam-backed—for good acoustical insulation.

   The carpet is one-piece and foam-backed and covers the entire floor, The carpet includes amberlight and a sound barrier as an integral part of its assembly.

  The rear load floor area will feature an acoustical layer assembly made up of amberlight and mastic under the carpet, and sound absorbers behind all of the cargo area's molded plastic trim.

  The one-piece instrument panel is securely fastened to the console—which in turn is fastened to the floor—to provide increased stability for reduced squeaks and raffles. Electrical wiring has been routed with clips rather than tape.

  Rather than piercing the console trim plate to accommodate the switches for optional accessories such as the power windows and mirrors, eight specific trim plates are now made, each accommodating a particular configuration of possible switch combinations.

In the last few years, the automobile industry has moved rapidly to supplement manually operated assembly procedures with computer and robot supported automation. Not only do these innovative manufacturing approaches provide the inherent benefit of complete control over the basic quality of the final product, but the consistency of that quality is predictable and unquestionable.

To achieve a level of quality assembly even greater than that exhibited by any previous models, Pontiac engineers worked closely with General Motors Assembly Division (GMAD) plant personnel to select the optimal fabrication techniques necessary to assure the highest degree of structural soundness, excellent fits, and superb finish for the new '82 Firebirds.

Some of the '82 Firebird's quality assembly techniques include:

  Bolting (rather than welding) on the front end sheet metal with a special squaring fixture for improved body fits and consistent assembly quality. This procedure is performed in the body shop so that the front end sheet metal is painted with the rest of the body, and paint match and finish damage problems are avoided.

   A computerized torque mounting system will ensure that critical fasteners are tightened to specification not too tight or too loose.

  Computer assisted front end alignment and automatically match-mounted tires and wheels will complement the suspension systems with ensured alignment and wheel balance performance.

   On-line electrical testers will be utilized during assembly to inspect the entire IP harness and other critical systems during 100% of production.

  The "net hole concept" is incorporated during the Fire-bird's assembly—where the engine compartment upper rail assembly meets the body side frame where the roof, windshield opening and hatch lid are secured to the body...and where the sheet metal is bolted to the front end.   

-The 1982 Firebird Book, 11/81