As car enthusiasts, we tend to dwell on the more glamorous parts of auto body production, if you will—the stages that take a body design from the sketchpad to the clay modeling studio. This 1959 film from the Fisher Body division of General Motors takes a rather different approach. Here, the clay model is more of a stepping-off point in the body manufacturing process. Hence, the name: Up From Clay.
As we can well imagine, automobile body production is a fiendishly complicated and elaborate process. That was true in 1959, and it’s still true today. There are many illuminating points in the film, but one of our favorites came at around the 11-minute mark with the die profiling phase, sometimes known in the biz as Kellering. Here, gigantic Keller die-tracing machines transfer the contours and surfaces of the prototype parts, in pantograph-like fashion, onto the stamping dies that create the production components. Welding, trimming, and painting are also covered in the story, naturally, and for a razzle-dazzle moment, at the 10-minute mark a new ’59 Impala Sport Sedan is treated to a rude rollover test. Enjoy the film. h/t Mac’s Motor City Garage >