by John Pfanstiehl
Mirrors don’t get a lot of attention — until driving. Then the driver’s gaze constantly moves to the Corvette’s outside mirrors. That’s natural because the rear and side visibility is limited on most Corvettes. The mirrors take on increased safety value when changing lanes on multi-lane roads.
There are a number of reasons for replacing old mirrors. Corroded and unsightly chrome are cosmetic reasons. A loose mirror that constantly falls out of adjustment and degraded mirror glass are good functional reasons for replacement.
Fortunately, early Corvette mirrors are easy to replace. And they brighten up the exterior for a very reasonable price. Zip Corvette offers many options in addition to complete mirror assemblies. These include replacement glass, the outside mirror bracket (note right and left are different), outside mirror mount screw, mirror mount kits and even an “Objects in Mirror” decal.
Also note that the 75-79 mirrors have slightly larger head design than the 68-74 mirrors. The parts choices can be viewed on Zip’s website by selecting “Exterior Trim” and then selecting “Outside Mirrors.”
The following shows step by step replacement of the chrome outside mirrors on a C3 but the procedure has much in common with other generations.
01: These two new replacement mirrors show that good things can come in small packages. Both come with gasket, plate and screws. Ordering them together from Zip saves about $10, too. The mirror dimensions are 5-3/8 by 3-7/8, similar to original mirrors.
02: Loss of the optical quality of the mirror glass is reason enough for replacement. Depending on the reflections, this mirror had become almost useless for seeing what is behind.
03: The chrome on the old mirror had become dull and pitted after many years on the road. The chrome on the replacement mirror was excellent. Another common reason for mirror replacement is the ball joint becoming so loose that the mirror frequently falls out of adjustment.
04: Remove the mirror mounting screw with a 5/32-inch Allen wrench.
05: Next, remove the screws from the mirror mounting bracket. Note that these two old screws do not look identical. Surprises can happen when working on Corvettes around 50 years old.
06: Upon closer examination, the longer old screw had fine threads. The original and new replacement screws are ¾ inch long and 10-24 thread.
07: A 10-24 tap or rethreader tap helps to repair corroded or damaged threads in the metal nut plate located under the fiberglass. Be careful to engage the tap threads properly and keep the tap square to the plate.
08: When the mirror and bracket are off, it’s a good time to use polishing compound to remove any accumulated dirt or wax or black marks from the previous gasket.
09: A new gasket, mirror screw, bracket and bracket screws are included with each replacement mirror from Zip. The gasket is easy to spot, but the mirror screw and bracket are shipped installed inside the mirror base.
10: Install the mounting bracket and gasket. The factory installation manual lists the torque as 15-20 in-lb. Tip: applying a drop of thread lock and snugging the screws works well.
11: Install the mirror and mounting screw. It often helps to wiggle the mirror a little while inserting the screw and then again while tightening. The installation manual lists a slightly higher torque on this screw, 20-30 in lb.
12: Examine the alignment of the gasket to the base of the mirror assembly. In this case, it would look better if the gasket was moved up a little.
13: Tip: draw a line around the bracket on the gasket to mark its current position. That makes it easier to see how far the gasket is moved when adjusting its position with respect to the bracket.
14: The smaller screw holes on the replacement gasket (as opposed to the large holes on the original gasket) prevented the gasket from being moved up. A paper punch worked to quickly trim and enlarge the holes in the right direction.
15: The beautiful chrome on the replacement mirror brightens up the look of any classic Corvette. Plus the mirror’s glass is crisp and clear now and the mirror doesn’t fall out of adjustment after going over a bump.
16: Rubber well nuts are used to attach the passenger side (right) mirror by the dealer or owner on early Corvette generations. Right side mirrors were not original equipment and therefore there is no nut plate. After the well nut is inserted into a hole in the door’s fiberglass, the rubber expands when the screw is tightened.
17: A template shows where to drill the two holes for the well nuts and is included with the 68-74 right hand replacement mirrors from Zip. Tip 1: use a small drill to center the hole, don’t use a prick punch. Tip 2: don’t forget to put the window all the way up before drilling!
18: Another surprise: a custom nut plate was previously installed in this door. The enlarged size of the rear hole undoubtedly was too big for a well nut and required this addition. At this stage, installation of the right mirror followed the same steps as the left mirror and was just as easy.
19: A convex mirror from an auto parts store can be trimmed and installed over the flat mirror glass on the right mirror to provide increased visibility by reducing the blind spot.
1968-1979 Corvette Outside Mirror Replacement
Source: Zip Corvette Parts
8067 Fast Lane | Mechanicsville, VA 23111 | (800) 962-9632
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