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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
A new member recently posted a thread questioning the role the American Sunroof Corporation (ASC) played in the developement of the SSR. This prompted me to get off my butt and dive head first into something I have been meaning to do for ages.
However, I knew if I didn’t get this started, like so many other things I have good intention of doing, it would never get done. So hopefully, with input from others with knowledge of the time and events, this can become a thread that I could comfortably consider moving into the Heritage Center.


I am not sure how many realize what a large part ASC played in the building of the SSR.
Most will immediately think of what is possibly the most appealing aspect of the SSR, and how ASC was largely responsible for the design and development of the SSR's amazing roof, the first vertically stacking convertible hardtop.
But how much more did the ASC group do?

Rick Wagoner had made surprising commitments to commence production of the SSR within a very short time frame which put a lot of pressure on the GM engineers etal to make it happen.
The Lansing Craft Centre (LCC) was not yet ready for SSR production. The first 5 of the Signature Series SSRs were virtually hand built entirely at the ASC plant in Oak Park MI.
GM assigned Ted Robertson, Ed Ivey and Mickey Sabol to oversee the engineering and development at ASC Oak Park.
ASC opened another facility in Lansing, strategically located much closer to the Lansing Craft Centre, important because there would seem to have been a steady stream of body components being transported back and forth between them.
One of the pictures shows a storage rack with “Return to ASC” on it. These racks were designed to hold body parts of all shapes and sizes.

There were about 7000 total welds on an SSR - ASC performed an estimated 3000 of those (approximately 42%).
When viewing the pictures it will become obvious where many of these welds were performed on the body.

Debbie Cook (HotRodGirl) was able to obtain a large number of pictures taken at the ASC facility during the SSR build and graciously shared them with us.

The pictures make a statement themselves and uncover a good part of the story, but in some ways raise questions as well.
The paint process comes to mind – just one issue that will require adjustments in this thread.
I think I have the answer to part of this which I will share further on.


ASC in July.JPG ASC Crew & HRG.JPG ASC.jpg ASC Assembly stations.jpg ASC Stations.jpg

1. The ASC facility in Lansing MI
2. Debbie Cook and part of the ASC Group
3. Inside the ASC
4. & 5 Various work stations throughout the plant
 

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Discussion Starter #4 (Edited)
Left Side Panels - ASC.jpg LSide Body Panel - ASC.JPG Left R Q's - ASC.jpg Body Front - ASC.jpg Front - Side View  - ASC.jpg

1. Body sides
2. Body panel clamped to work station
3. Left Quarter ready for placement
4. Front Clip – firewall
5. Front clip – side view – lots of welds
 

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Discussion Starter #5 (Edited)
Tail Gates ready for paint - ASC.JPG Grilles - ASC.jpg Door Skins - ASC.JPG Door Panel - ASC.JPG

1. Tail gates ready for delivery to LCC for paint
2. Front Grilles – looks like might be painted yellow
3. Doors - also for delivery to LCC for paint
4. Inner door panel

The tail gates and door skins were sent to LCC for paint.
Picture #5 in Post 10 does not show it but the tail gates were set as though they were attached but actually about a foot behind the body.
The doors were bolted in but left ajar, the hood attached but partially open and the roof was attached but "exploded" in order for paint to reach all areas. The body, doors, roof components, tail gate and hood were all painted in one spray session.

After the door skins and tail gates were painted they were returned to the ASC where the inner workings were installed, the inside tail gate cover as well as the inside door panels installed.
This operation was very well synchronzed as these components had to be returned to the LCC to meet up with their assigned SSR in a timely fashion at the appropriate work station.
 

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Discussion Starter #7 (Edited)
Painted Deck Lids - ASC.JPG Raw Tonneaus - ASC.JPG Raw Roof Top Assembled - ASC.jpg Painted Roof Top - ASC.JPG Painted Roof Tops - ASC.JPG

1. Painted complete cargo lid
2. Raw tonneau covers
3. Roof panel
4. Painted roof panel
5. Roof panels on rack

The deck lids, roof storage covers and front & rear fascias were either painted by ASC or a subcontractor arranged by them.
 

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Discussion Starter #8 (Edited)
Rear Window Shells - ASC.jpg Assembled Roof - ASC.JPG Painted Roof Complete- ASC.JPG Painted Rear Window Shell - ASC.JPG Inside Assembled Roof - ASC.JPG

1. Roof rear window frames
2. Assembled roof – rear view
3. Assembled roof – attaching weather strip
4. Painted window frame
5. Roof – inside view

The painted roofs were returned from the LCC for completion of the build - window install, weatherstripping, electrical etc.
The completed roofs would then be returned to LCC for installation.
 

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Discussion Starter #9 (Edited)
Cabin Floors - ASC.jpg Floor Assembly Stations - ASC.jpg Dash Gauges - ASC.jpg Assembled Dashes - ASC.JPG Engines - ASC.jpg

1. Cabin floors – many visible welds
2. Floor assembly line
3. Dash Gauges
4. Completed dashes (I think I read somewhere this dash was used in the Aurora)
5. Engines

Cabin floors would be attached with the body prior to being sent to LCC for paint.
Completed dashes would also be sent to the LCC to meet up with their intended recipients.
Power trains were installed on rolling frames at ASC. They would be attached with their intended body at LCC where all connections would be made, interiors installed and all other procedures in order to produce the completed SSR ready to roll off the line.
 

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Discussion Starter #10 (Edited)
With exception of the few SSRs built entirely at ASC:
All SSR’s have this RPO
JJA – Power train dress subassembly installed
I interpret this RPO to mean that all wiring harnesses etc were installed off-site (at ASC)
If they were built at ASC there was no need for this RPO. Make sense?

SSR Engines @ ASC.jpg

Besides the 5 Signature Series I think several other units were built entirely at ASC as well.
On reviewing the Build Sheets 5 of the first 6 EX VINs were :yellow: and did not have the JJA RPO.
If my theory is correct, these were also built at ASC.

MarcNY posted pictures of his SSR being painted at the LCC - none of it had been painted at ASC.
The roof components were painted on the SSR, removed and sent to ASC for assembly.
ASC would return a replacement assembled roof to LCC so the SSR would not be interrupted on the assembly circuit.

#9684 Paint Process.3.jpg #9684 Paint Process.jpg #9684 Paint Process.2.jpg #9684 Paint Process.1.jpg

I would like to see pictures of what an SSR looked like on arrival at the LCC for paint.
Was the body on the rolling chassis with power train installed and removed for the paint process?

On Page 65 of SSR: An American Original there is a picture “On the Floor at ASC” which shows several SSR’s in various stages of development. The center one may be a clay model.
 

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Discussion Starter #11 (Edited)
As I mentioned recently in another thread, every SSR that left the LCC was built totally stock as per the build sheet.
GM entered into some Joint Ventures (or at least made some deals) with several buyers that did custom builds for SEMA shows. A number of the first ones built (VIN's 300 - 320 or so) were part of this group.

There were others where GM made separate agreements with ASC to do custom SSR's.
ASC also did some on their own, but every one of these left the LCC as a stock SSR.

Examples:

VIN 301 - The SoCal Push Truck
This was a joint effort by GM, ASC and SoCal Customs
My opinion is this was the second 2003 regular production built. It began as a stock :black:
ASC installed a 6L and M10 6sp transmission, as well as changing the entire interior and rear bed, made the push truck mods etc. It was then sent to SoCal Customs to do the final touches, but ASC did the bulk of the SoCal IMO

So Cal Push Truck #301.JPG

VIN 13 - The West Coast Edition - Tangerine/Cream
Again, the same 3 parties.
This was supposed to be the first of many, yet it remains 1 of 1

SSR_2.jpg

ASC was solo on the Diamondback

rear.jpg

as well as the ASC Blackbird - I can't locate my Blackbird pictures, but as I recall, they were not that good anyway.

and the 2005 Lamborghini Orange owned by former CEO Paul Wilbur

Front.1.JPG

2005 Silver over Black - #19855 - One of 4 MY2005 test TuTones
They were painted at ASC as a preliminary look at the TuTone paint process.
This one was delivered new to Les Stanley Chevrolet from ASC with this paint combination.
Scott Montgomery at Les Stanley remembers this SSR and the story behind it well.
I do not know if these were a joint effort with GM or not.

1GCES14H15B119855 ASC Factory 2 Tone.jpg
 

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Discussion Starter #13 (Edited)
From discussions with Mike Moro - (MikeinAZ)

ASC was responsible for ordering all body components (fenders, doors - all of it)
ASC entered into contracts with the various vendors and was responsible for payment to each.
GM was responsible for maintaining inventory for all of the regular GM parts and pieces.
This worked well for GM as all they had to do was cut one check each month for ASC.

On November 21 2005 when GM announced the closure of the LCC thereby spelling the end of the SSR the ASC immediately laid off all employees and cancelled all contracts for parts.
This left GM scrambling to negotiate all new individual contracts for the parts that ASC had cancelled, ultimately leading to a shortage of items - a lack of replacement fenders a few years ago comes to mind.
 

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CASH:> Your asc pictures ask me more questions than give answers? All body metal coming from [a] stamping plant is covered in [a] light oil to prevent rust. The parts are welded with the oil still on the parts. The vehicle is assembled with as many sheet metal parts as [they can]. Doors, trunks, hoods, etc, or in our case, the bed cover. You can see this in Marc's pictures. Missing are the tail gate/bed cover but the hood is in place. Then all of the sheet metal parts go into a bath to clean the oil off of them. A very dangerous area where few people are allowed. I believe [3] baths in different chemicals? Since about 1988 all parts then go through a dip in primer for the 100,000 mile rust protection. In our plant the first you see of [this] is when the body, et-all goes into the ovens to bake the primer on. I never did figure out how this is done without paint runs in the primer?

I see welding fixtures at ASC but doubt they did the cleaning, prep, or primer of the parts? I have to think welded parts were sent to [a] Gm plant where the system above was up and running? Remembering these tanks are huge and are held at specific temperatures. Then painting could have been done by hand as in any body shop? although, the electrostatic, robotic, paint system could have been up and running at the Craft center at that time. Two tones were probably done by hand As robots would have had to be re-programed to do them?

Just my thoughts, Birdmans
 

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HobbyBob
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:liebe011:Dale, this is a great compilation of information of SSr history. Thank you for your efforts in informing us about the inside info of our unusual vehicles. And a tip of the hat to HotRodGirl for the quality photos.:cheers
 

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Questions, Questions!

Cash or anyone else,
Do you have a question about our SSR's that has bugged you over the years? Maybe we could ask someone in the know on Friday at ASC? :banghead

:black::)
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Cash or anyone else,
Do you have a question about our SSR's that has bugged you over the years? Maybe we could ask someone in the know on Friday at ASC? :banghead

:black::)
I just got off the phone after spending an hour plus on the phone with Mike Moro.
Mike has been able to provide some insight into the events of the time which he learned from talking to the folks at the LCC at the reunion. I will intersperse his information in various posts above - Thanks Mike! :thumbs
I wish I had read your post before we talked as I imagine there are some things we could ask - just need to think about it.
 

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