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Tail Light Page – 1935 Chevrolet utility

 

By Bryan Cantrell (50)
    

 

 The caption to this photograph reads “On the western plains – when they were boggy they were just plain hell”.  I would have to agree.  It’s amazing what Chevs were subjected to when they were new!





The year was 1936 when the drought broke in Australia.  Three scientists were studying plants in western Queensland, travelling in a 1935 Chevrolet utility heavily laden with scientific equipment, camping gear, provisions and spare parts.  Swags were carried in the traditional method, wedged between the bonnet and the front mudguards.  Road conditions switched between two extremes.  All too often the road was invisible and the Chev was driven from one boggy patch to another.  Other times the road traversed rough gibber plains.  Along the way a bashed in sump was repaired and several broken springs replaced.

 

Later in the trip the scientists needed to cross the flooded Diamantina River to reach Birdsville.  Before attempting the crossing, the “usual precautions” were observed.  These were to remove the fan belt, wrap the distributor in a piece of old macintosh, and tie a sheet of canvas over the radiator grille.  Two scientists crossed on horseback, but the driver tackled the river, lurching over the rocky river bed and triumphantly roaring up the opposite river bank where the Chev came to rest dripping like a spaniel.  The water level had been above the seat and the driver’s trousers were well soaked.

 

This is a true story, as told by Francis Ratcliffe in his book “Flying Fox and Drifting Sand”, published by Chatto and Windus, London, 1939.

 

The photograph was scanned from the book by our daughter, Laura.  It is somewhat grainy but gives a vivid impression of the Chev with the front wheels throwing up impressive “bow waves” as it negotiates a boggy patch.

 



                                                                                                                                         

 

Chevrolet Flashback #10 A true icon, the last of the 4-cylinder Chevrolets

 

by Bryan Cantrell (050)
   

 

 

In continuing my “Flashback” series of articles, from time to time I thought it may be interesting to focus on a particular Chevrolet model and look at how such cars fared after leaving the new car dealer’s showroom.  Some had pampered histories, others were workhorses, and some suffered the indignity of having their bodies sawn in half to create a utility vehicle.  My collection of photographs of 1928 Chevs provides a good year on which to reflect.

 

Most of us will be familiar with Chevrolet’s advertising slogan for 1928 – “Bigger and Better” as shown in the accompanying reproduction of an original advertisement featuring the “winged wheel” motif adopted by Chevrolet in 1928.



Of course, it may never have existed at all if Chevrolet’s engineers had completed the development of the Chevrolet 6-cylinder engine a little earlier.  Perhaps a parallel may be drawn with the 1962/3 EJ Holden, the last with the original grey motor.  Historians tell us that the EJ was meant to be the launching pad for the new “red” motors, but engineering lag prevented this occurring.  This honour then fell to the subsequent model, the EH Holden.  So it was with the “National” Chevrolet in 1928.  It received a longer wheelbase (107”, the same as a 1929 Chevrolet), 4-wheel brakes, alloy pistons and a 2-port exhaust manifold, but missed out on the extra 2 cylinders!

 

None-the-less, the 1928 Chevrolet proved to be one of the best, and well deserved its strong reputation for simplicity yet reliability.  The enhancements to the engine provided more lively performance, a sweeter exhaust note and higher cruising speed.  Coupled with much better braking capacity, the “National” was streets ahead of previous Chev 4’s in overall driving pleasure.  Thousands of happy owners attest to this.  Further evidence comes from the numbers of 1928 Chevs still motoring in the safe hands of VVCAA owners.  My first Chevrolet was a 1928 Chevrolet Series LP 1-ton truck with the 4-speed gearbox, purchased in 1968; while it lacked the sparkling performance of a 1928 tourer, it did provide many years of trouble-free use.

 

Flashback to Brisbane in the 1970’s and 1928 Chevs owned by early members of the VVCAA (Qld).  One of these was Ron Baines (#123), who joined in April 1970. 



Ron was a light aircraft pilot, who had owned a 1928 Chevrolet roadster for many years, yet hardly used it.  In fact, when he joined the VVCAA the roadster was literally boarded-up under his house, never seeing the light of day.  Joining our club was the stimulus for Ron to wake the Chev from its hibernation and put it on club registration, after which he regularly attended club runs including the first Half-Way Rally in 1971.  Ron’s roadster was unrestored and was unsympathetically painted white all over, so it was not a particularly attractive vehicle.  Ron passed away before he could restore it and the car passed out of the club.

By contrast, the tourer owned by Robin Teys (#245), who joined the VVCAA in February 1972, was an unrestored vehicle in remarkably original condition – too good to restore and lose that patina of age.  It had been continuously registered since 1928 with an original “Q” plate – Q99-962.  It was one of those 1928 Chevs with the two-tone body paintwork, in this case chocolate brown over fawn with black mudguards.



Other members who owned 1928 tourers included Harry Burton (#060) and John Turner (#463), although I have not included photos in this story.  Harry and his wife Ann used their 1928 Chev as their “daily driver” to replace a 1926 Superior V tourer that Harry restored in 1966.  Harry’s car was partly restored (mechanicals and paint) by the previous owner (pale green body and black guards); Harry then engaged well-known Brisbane upholsterer Keith Albury to re-do the seats, trim and hood, thus completing the restoration.  The Burtons later left Queensland when Harry became an Antarctic scientist and subsequently Ann sold the tourer to Queensland member Geoff Thorne (#2158).  John Turner (#463) deserves a mention because he built up his 1928 tourer the hard way - from a collection of bits and pieces.  However, the end result was a Chev to be proud of, with a dark green body and black guards.

 

The remaining photographs are of non-member’s Chevs.  Firstly, a 1928 factory utility in the Queensland town of Warwick in 1974.  Far from its original glory, it is showing many signs of wear and tear and lack of TLC, but the curve of the body behind the seat and the lack of an external door handle both point to this Chevrolet having always been a utility.




The utility in the next photograph was seen in Pittsworth on the Darling Downs in 1971.  This Chevrolet appears to have originally been a roadster and still has the look of an effective workhorse.  Not so the ute abandoned behind a farmhouse outside Biggenden in Queensland in 1972.  Cut down from a tourer with a hessian sack for upholstery, it looks about as sad as a once-proud 1928 Chevrolet could be.  One can only guess at how much faithful service it gave before perhaps some minor mechanical failure relegated it to its final resting place.






Enough of 1928 Chevrolet passenger cars and their derivatives.  No discussion of any year would be complete without mentioning trucks, hence the photograph of a Chevrolet L-series “C” cab truck still in use in Brisbane in 1977. 



The Chevrolet practice of “using up” metal pressings from prior years on their trucks began early, and 1928 trucks continued to use the 1927 radiator shell and 1925/6 mudguards.  Purists may tell me that this truck is a 1927 LM model because it has 1927 headlight rims, which I concede, but as the early 1928 LO Chevrolet is identical except for the addition of 1928 headlight rims, I thought it would be suitable for this article. 

 

One interesting feature of this truck is the wide cab, extending beyond the valance panels and almost as wide as the cargo tray.  One supposes that this allowed seating for the driver and two passengers if required and is unusual in an era when truck cabs (such as the Holden body on my 1928 truck) were much narrower, with seating for only one passenger.  This photo shows the pressed steel running boards that were standard equipment on these trucks and the steel hubcaps.  The front bumper bar was presumably added by the owner – “factory” front bumpers became standard on the Series LP trucks in late 1928 as a sturdy steel “C” channel bar.

 

I’m certain there are many tales to tell about 1928 Chevrolets, such as that related by Geoff Hepburn some time ago about his father’s tourer - how he bought it back from a subsequent owner to restore it to its rightful place in the Hepburn family collection.  Perhaps this might inspire other members to write a story about their 1928 Chevrolet and continue this tribute to a fabulous year in the history of Chevrolet.




                                                                                                                                               





 


Chevrolet Flashback #9      1946?? Chevrolet Convertible




by Bryan Cantrell (050)   



This article continues the series (see earlier episodes below) of flashbacks of Chevrolets in Brisbane in the 1970’s, in the early years of the VVCAA. The feature car shown in the first photograph is a Chevrolet Fisher-bodied convertible owned by a Queensland police motorcyclist, Ron Gee. The car was photographed by me in May 1971 during a vintage car rally at Sandgate, on Brisbane’s northside, which was attended by several members of the VVCAA Queensland Branch. Although he was a genuine Chevrolet enthusiast, Ron did not join the VVCAA and passed away at a relatively early age.


 

Harry Burton (060) and Brian Leahy (074) came to know Ron Gee in his role as a police officer on points duty at a large intersection in Brisbane’s west. On a number of occasions they were pulled over by Ron as they passed through this intersection in their vintage Chevs, not for any traffic misdemeanor but for a chat! We believe that Ron stopped other drivers elsewhere as well, to have a closer look at their Chevrolet and to encourage them to join the VVCAA.

 

Now let’s take a closer look at Ron’s convertible. It has the look of a Fisher-bodied convertible, with a stainless steel moulding running through the line of the door handles along each side and a second, more slender, moulding just below the tops of the doors and extending around the back of the body. The front bumper bar has the more rounded profile of American Chevs of the period. It has a 1946 Chevrolet grille assembly, that’s for sure. But what about the bonnet? A close look shows that the long side moulding is from a 1942 model (not 1946) and the second short moulding below it is a feature of 1947 and 1948 Chevrolets. The front centre Chevrolet nameplate is from a 1948 Chevrolet, not 1942 or 1946. At the back of the car, the rear mudguard arch has been “squared off” as well. What is going on?

 
 

Ron Daw (056) believes that this convertible is a 1942 model, possibly imported to Australia by the US military during World War II. We presume that at some stage the front of the car was damaged in an accident and that it was repaired using later Chevrolet parts, namely a 1946 grille and a 1948 bonnet. Perhaps the rear wheel arches were modified at the same time. I guess we will never know, but it goes to show that things are not always as they appear on the surface. After Ron Gee passed away, his car went to a friend of his but we believe that it later changed hands. Until recently it was still somewhere in Brisbane.

 

Two other members of the VVCAA Queensland Branch owned 1946 Chevrolet Holden-bodied sedans. Jack Greaves (342) had owned his cream 1946 Stylemaster for many years, as his only car. It was photographed on a rally in 1977. He was a batchelor who lived at Greenslopes, not far from our meeting place in the St John Ambulance Hall in Mott Park. Jack joined the VVCAA as an Associate Member as his car was beyond the eligibility date of 1942 which was in force at that time. Jack was a thorough gentleman and we treated him as our equal, even if his car was a little young.

 

Being a Stylemaster, Jack’s Chev had fixed rear quarter windows and lacked front bumper bar over-riders. The car in the third photograph is a Fleetmaster owned by Roger Dunstan (117), which has over-riders and a hinged quarter window. It was photographed on a rally at Mt Tambourine in 1973. The Holden-bodied 1946’s had a flatter profile to the front bumper bar, as well as the unusual small central “cow-catcher” below the bar (between the over-riders on the Fleetmaster).

 

 

Finally, a photograph of a rather sad-looking 1942 Fisher-bodied Chevrolet sedan in a Dalby wrecking yard in 1971. The two yards in Dalby were a treasure trove of Chevrolet models and we visited them regularly in our search for parts and body panels in those early years. Even so, 1942 Chevs were rarely seen because so few came into Australia in the first place. This particular car was rough but restorable, but we passed it by because of the relative availability of other models in better condition for restoration. Such were the days!!

 



                                             



                                                                                                           








OLD CHEVROLET PHOTOGRAPHS AND OTHER THINGS

 
by Bryan Cantrell (50) 
 
I recently came across two photographs of my grandfather’s Chevrolets and thought that they were suitable to share with members via the ‘Royal Mail’. The first is a 1926 Superior V tourer, shown here on a family picnic at an unknown location. 



The second is his next Chevrolet, a 1936 sedan, parked in their street in Brisbane with some period “Queenslander” homes in the background. 
 
 
 
This car stayed in our family and was traded in by my father on an FJ Holden in 1954. I also enclose a photograph of the 1939 sedan that Judy and I owned in the 1970’s.



I was also spurred on by two articles in the October and December 2009 issues of the Royal Mail by Craig, which featured two Chevrolets which have been continuously registered since new. This started me thinking about Queensland car registration plates.
 
 
 
I believe that the longest-registered VVCAA (Qld) Chevrolet is Roger’s 1926 Superior K tourer Q64-482. 
 
 
Plates of this era were hand painted, with a black “Q” on a white background and white numbers on a black background. Vehicles carried only one plate, rear-mounted on the spare wheel bracket or similar attachment point. My grandfather’s 1926 Superior V tourer had the number Q67-559, logically following on from Roger’s earlier 1926 car. I believe that the Superior V was a uniquely Australian model produced by Holden Body Works in late 1926 and/or early 1927. It featured a single body bead along the bonnet and around the body near the tops of the doors. Most old photographs I have seen indicate that these bodies were finished in two-tone paint, with a darker colour above the bead. These bodies also had external door handles. In this way, they were a precursor to the 1927 Holden-bodied Chevrolets, of which Wal and Jen have a lovely example in their 1927 Capitol tourer Q74-081.
 
 
 
 The 1932 tourer Q158-208 restored by Noel and Edna is an example of the next stage of evolution, in which the “Q” and the numerals are cast alloy riveted to the metal backing plate. 



There was still only one plate per vehicle. These plates were produced in subcontracting workshops and I once met someone who worked as a rouseabout in such a workshop. He was able to describe how the plates were manufactured, from the casting shop for the “Q’s” and numerals, the sheet metal shop where the metal blanks were cut, the paint shop and finally the production shop where the finished plates were assembled. 
 
 
The change to these new-style plates was made in the early 1930’s, and the highest number on a hand painted plate of which I am aware is Q123-760, as fitted to Graham’s 1927 tourer. This is not an original number for a 1927 vehicle, but is the number that Graham says was on the car all the time he has known it. Presumably it is a replacement following the loss of the original plate.

 
The number of vehicles in Queensland pre-World War II was relatively small: e.g. my grandfather’s 1936 sedan Q230-879 and my 1939 sedan Q289-936.
 
 
 
My first car was a 1952 Holden 48-215, with the registration number Q566-218. The annual cost of registration was then £22.15.6; it is now over $800 for a 6-cylinder Holden in Queensland.
 
 
 
The “Q” plates continued to 1954/5, when Queensland introduced alpha-numeric registration plates in a series beginning NAA¸000. The new plates were metal stampings with a small “QLD” at the top; the black and white colour pattern was continued. For the first time two plates were issued to each vehicle. This bought Queensland into line with southern States, where front-mounted plates had been the rule for decades. Queensland still differed, however, in respect of number plate ownership. Queensland plates belonged to the Government and always remained with the vehicle to which they were originally allocated. When a car was sold, the number passed to the new owner, unlike in NSW and Victoria where owners could retain plates and transfer them to another vehicle.
 
 
Since then there have been many changes, including green on white plates with the slogan “QUEENSLAND – SUNSHINE STATE” along the bottom edge and later maroon on white plates. More recently a new era of personalised plates was ushered in as an extra-cost option to standard issue plates. Which is a long way from where we started!


                                                                                                                          


CHEVROLET
FLASHBACK #1

 
by Bryan Cantrell (050)
 


Back in the fledging years of the VVCAA I used to carry a camera in my Chevrolet, ready to capture photographs of other Chevrolets I saw on the streets of Brisbane. My aim was to build a Chevrolet compendium, with examples of each year model, to show prospective and new members how to identify Chevrolets and see them in their original condition. As a result, I have many Black & White prints and negatives on file from the 1970’s depicting Chevrolet vehicles (cars and trucks) going about their business. These were mostly unrestored relics, many bearing the scars of years of faithful service for their owners. 
I have also included a photograph of the front of this car, showing the grille badging – the Chevrolet “bow tie” on the centre bar and the small “Master” script above. As far as I know, 1935 was the only year in which Chevrolets carried “Master” insignia and at least two variants were used. These were the one shown here and another with a much larger cursive “Master” script separate from the Chevrolet badge in the top left hand corner of the grille. Other cars lack the “Master” script, but was this is original or perhaps due to the “Master” script being removed at some time in the car’s history? 

 





Typical of the cars in my photographs is the 1935 Chevrolet “Master” Sedan taken in the Brisbane suburb of Virginia in 1971, with the original owner at the wheel. The accessory wind deflector on the driver’s door was being appreciated on this wet and windy Sunday.


 



 

                                                  

CHEVROLET
FLASHBACK #3

 
by Bryan Cantrell (050)
 
 This article continues the series of flashbacks of Chevrolets seen on the streets of Brisbane in the 1970’s. This time I feature Chevrolets spanning 3 decades - the 1940’s, 1950’s and 1960’s, starting with a very original 1940 Chevrolet "Pullman" sedan.

 
 It was photographed in 1970 at the top end of Grey Street, near the South Brisbane Town Hall, the clock tower of which can just be seen in the background. It has good straight bodywork, and is complete down to the crank hole cover. Otherwise it is stock standard without an accessory of any kind. The registration plate is not original; it is 1964 vintage. Note the advertising on the corner store across the road: SU-TALL soap, Coca-Cola, STREETS icecream and VINCENTS APC. This area is now occupied by the Griffith University, South Bank campus.
 
The second Chevrolet is an unusual model for Australia, being a 1951 Chevrolet “Styleline Deluxe” sedan photographed at the University of Queensland in 1972.

 

This model is well-endowed with stainless steel trim: around the body at the base of the windows, around the front windscreen and around the tops of the doors . But there’s more - stainless steel trim, that is – the “spear” along the side of the body and the stone guard on the front of the rear mudguard. But there’s more – this time the skirt filling in the wheel arch of the rear mudguard that was standard specification in the USA. Who knows how this car reached Australia, but perhaps it was imported by someone returning from sabbatical leave overseas as it has an “A” parking permit on the driver’s side windscreen that signifies the car belongs to a senior staff member. All in all, a very distinctive vehicle that has a much smarter look than the 1951 Chevrolets sold through GMH dealers, which lacked such extensive ornamentation.
 
 The third Chevrolet is also a good original car still in regular use - a 1954 “210” sedan photographed in Bardon in 1972, with a nice example of a typical “Queenslander” house in the background. 



Another stock standard car lacking any accessories
 
 Finally, a 1967 Chevrolet Impala sedan seen in a used car yard on Kingsford Smith Drive opposite the Queensland Butter Board premises in 1974.



  I was alerted to this Chevrolet by Roger Dunstan and, after looking at it, I tried valiantly to persuade my father to buy it instead of the new Holden he was considering. Unfortunately I failed. Just 7 years old, this Chevrolet was in immaculate condition and would have been a very sound purchase, but Dad was put off by the V8 motor and the higher cost of registration and insurance.

                                                                                                                                                    

 

CHEVROLET  FLASHBACK #4 - IN THE MIDST OF THE GREAT DEPRESSION

 

 
by Bryan Cantrell (050)
 
 
This is the fourth in my series of flash backs to Chevrolets on the streets of Brisbane in years gone by. To set the scene for this article, let me pose what must be one of the most difficult questions one could ask of a Chevrolet enthusiast: “Which is the best-looking Chevrolet?” 
 
To respond to my own query, I guess that one might get many answers, since there are so many good-looking Chevrolet models to choose from, as well as individuals’ preferences. Remember that General Motors stole the march on us by promoting the 1927 “Capitol” Chevrolet as “The Most Beautiful Chevrolet in Chevrolet History” as GM closed in on its rival Ford in the sales race. The 1927 Chevrolet was also known as the “Peacock” model due to the use of a peacock in GM’s advertising program. 

 
The “Capitol” was certainly a stand-out from its forebears with full-crown front mudguards and bullet headlights which added a touch of modernity to an ageing design. Two fine examples are the roadster and tourer restored by Queensland members Vic and Pat Perry, as photographed at the gymkhana in 1982.


 
 
The 1928 Chevrolet slogan “Bigger and Better” and the 1929 sales pitch “A Six for the Price of a Four” are hardly inspiring, although the latter was highly appropriate to announce the arrival of the new Chevrolet 6 which would dominate Chevrolet models until the 1960’s. That engine, the “Stovebolt Six”, would go on to eclipse the production span of the Chev 4 engine it superseded and was fundamental in establishing Chevrolet’s reputation as “America’s Favourite Car”.
 
 
 
 
But, back to our question. What was beautiful in 1927 may not have endured because Chevrolet designs evolved decade by decade in keeping with the technical and body-style advances made in the motor industry worldwide, but particularly in the USA. So, it is unfair to compare, say, designs from pre- and post-World War II or between 1950’s and 1960’s cars, and so on.  It all seems too hard, so let’s forget the question and simply take a look at Chevrolets from the early 1930’s period.
 
 
 
 
Firstly, the 1930 tourer restored by Queensland member Darryl Stark. This elegant vehicle was painted by Darryl with a grey body and black mudguards and it will be well remembered by early members of the Queensland Branch of the VVCAA. It was a credit to Darryl’s restoration skills and looked a picture with its disk wheels in lieu of the optional wire wheels and the side-mount spare tyre.

 
However, the 1931 and 1932 Chevrolets took another step forwards in the styling stakes and will always be to the fore in deciding the most popular Chevrolet. It is something of a paradox that Chevrolet produced such elegant and seemingly expensivedesigns at the height of the Great Depression. Perhaps desperate measures were needed to boost flagging sales.




 
The 1931 and 1932 tourers shown here were photographed at the University of Queensland. These were the sorts of cars that university students drove in the 1970’s. The ’31 was probably the better of the two and was painted dark green all over. I used to see it regularly, whereas the 1932 is less well-known to me. However, it was still a very original example that would have been an ideal candidate for restoration. I personally prefer the simpler design of the 1931 Chevrolet and just love those parking lights on top of the front mudguards, a styling feature that is uniquely Australian and not seen again as standard equipment until 1940.
 

 
 
Finally, I include a photograph of a 1932 Chevrolet utility cut down from a tourer. It is a well-used vehicle that has lost most of its showroom lustre, yet it retains an undoubted charm. I photographed it in Toowong in 1970. It is a great example of a typical Australian utility and shows the careful thought that went into its design with a professional timber tray replacing the tourer tub. It also would have been a sound basis for restoration but I have no idea who owned it or where it ended up.
 
 
 
Now that I have seeded some ideas, I invite other members to add your sixpence-worth and write to the Editor of the “Royal Mail” nominating your favourite Chevrolet and why. I look forward to reading your contributions and taking this debate to the next level.

                                                                                            
 

CHEVROLET FLASHBACK #2 – The Trucks that Pay

by Bryan Cantrell (050)

This is the second in my series of Chevrolet flashbacks, featuring interesting Chevrolets on the streets of Brisbane.  The subject of this flashback is trucks of 1940’s vintage still in use decades later. 




The B&W photograph of a WWII Chevrolet “Blitz” was taken inSeptember 1973.  It was part of an auction by the Brisbane City Council (BCC) to dispose of superseded plant and vehicles. 
Members will be familiar with the 4-WD “Blitz” that served the allied armies with distinction in WWII.  Unlike most of its kind, this is a 2-WD variant of the ‘Blitz” with a box body which suggests that its military role was a mobile radio unit or something similar.  During its service with the BCC it is thought that it was a support vehicle for the Tramways Department on the corner of Boomerang Street and Coronation Drive at Milton, opposite the old Arnott’s biscuit factory.  The BCC bought many war surplus trucks and used them for many years in Brisbane and I remember that they were a common sight around the suburbs.

The colour photograph of the (?same) “Blitz” was taken at GM Day in South Brisbane in 1995, resplendent after a full restoration.  If it’s not the same vehicle, then it is remarkably similar.  Unfortunately I did not speak with its owner and was unable to check on its history.  [Note the unmistakeable boat-tail stern of Queensland member Darryl Stark’s 1932 Chevrolet Moonlight Speedster in the background of this photograph.]


 


Queensland Member Brian Leahy’s 1945 ¾ ton Series 13 utility was also owned by the BCC before he bought it in 1959.  Brian believes that it was used by the BCC Electricity Department.  It is a WWII unit and still showed signs of its wartime service when Brian obtained it, such as blackout dash lights, brackets on the mudguards previously used to mount military insignia and a dust filter on the generator, suggesting it was built for operation in severe conditions.  Brian also has a 3-ton “Lend Lease” Chevrolet truck.

 

The second pair of vehicles are 1940 Chevrolet ¾ ton Series 13 utilities  The more weather-beaten of the two was seen on a construction site at the University of Queensland and has a factory metal “styleside” tray. 




The other was photographed at the fresh fruit and vegetable markets at Rocklea in September 1974.  It was in much better condition and is fitted with a timber tray.  I guess its owner was a farmer who had bought a load of produce for sale.

 



The 1931 Chevrolet utility seen at GM Day is being followed by a nicely-restored 1940 utility.  What a coincidence it would be if this was also the same truck as I saw at the markets all those years ago, like the “Blitz” ?  We will never know.

 


Finally, a photograph of an enamel sign advertising Chevrolet trucks that I saw in a small motoring museum in the UK in 1996.


Following publication of my article "Chevrolet Flashback #2, the Trucks that Pay" I was contacted by Queensland members Noel and Edna with information on the 1931 and 1940 utilities mentioned in that article, as follows:
The original factory 1931 utility was bought new by Loganholme farmer Alf Nekker (Loganholme is near Beenleigh, south of Brisbane). Alf treated his utility with the best of care and avoided taking it out on rainy days. If he was caught out in rain, he would dry off the ute as soon as he was home (including the underside). Understandably, it was still in great condition when he finally parted with it about 5 years ago.

The 1940 15-18cwt utility with the timber tray was bought by a farmer in Rochedale near Brisbane, who happened to be Edna's uncle, Alan Fischer. It was also cared for very well during his ownership. Edna's father owned a similar truck.

Both vehicles are now owned by a member of the Queensland Historic Commercial Vehicle Club.

                                                                                                              

AUSTRALIAN 1954 CHEVROLET SEDANS



By Bryan Cantrell (050)

Leading up to the Centenary of Chevrolet, it is worthy to reflect on significant milestones in the history of Chevrolet passenger vehicles since 1911.  These include the 1913/4 “Royal Mail” in which the motor which universally became  known as a “Chev 4” was first used; 4-wheel brakes in 1928; the “Chev 6” engine in 1929; knee-action suspension in 1934; hydraulic brakes in 1936 and so on. 

 

 

 

The 1954 models are also noteworthy as they marked the end of an era for Chevrolet in mechanical design: the last of a long line of models with an OHV engine, a single universal joint, an enclosed drive shaft in a cast iron torque tube connecting the gearbox to the differential, and king pins in the front suspension.  It was also the last of the post WWII “new“ Chevrolets introduced in 1949. 

 

 

 

 

 
The “modern” Chevrolet , born in 1955, changed this forever with the introduction of an exposed drive shaft, two universal joints, ball joint front suspension and the first V-8 engine since 1918.  It was the forerunner of the Chevrolet cars we know today.

 

 

 

 

So, back to 1954.  Only a single model was available in Australia. This was the 210 series 4-door sedan, equipped with American “Fisher” bodies and exported through Canada, but partly fitted out (seats, trim, tyres and battery) by General Motors Holden (GMH) in Australia.  The cost of a 1954 Chevrolet was £1578, while a contemporary Holden sold for £1074.  The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) recorded 2295 Chevrolets registered in Australia during 1954.


The start

The GMH code for 1954 Chevrolet 210 sedans sold in Australia was 54-104B.  They featured carpet flooring; single tone leather seats with alternating wide and 4 narrow pleats; and two-tone door trims with arm rests on all doors.  No external rear view mirrors were provided.
Most bodies were painted in Duco lacquer manufactured by BALM (British Australian Lead Manufacturers Pty Ltd. As far as I can ascertain, no two-tone option was available. Interiors were painted in complementary colours, normally darker than the body colour, except for the lower half of the dashboard which was a pale cream/off white colour. The Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) is stamped on a plate attached to the front passenger door pillar.

 

The middle 
 
 

The VIN has the following elements:

54 1069 HS 51083 where

 

54 = 1954,

 

1069 = Fisher body code number for Chevrolet 210 4-door sedans,

 

HS = Holden’s Sydney, and

 

51083 = unique identification number for each vehicle.

 

I assume that these plates were attached in Australia because of the inclusion of the letters “HS” in the VIN.  This assumption is an extrapolation from the similar practice used by GMH for Holden cars and utilities built between December 1950 and July 1953.  GMH used the following codes to indicate their factories: 

HA = Adelaide,
HB = Brisbane,
HM = Melbourne,
HP = Perth and
HS = Sydney.

 

GMH also attached a Body Identification plate to 1954 Chevrolets, attached on top of the cowl on the driver’s side, with the following format:

 
Style No. 54 – 104B (the GMH code for 1954 Chevrolet sedans),

 

Body No. 1059 (unique identification number for each vehicle),

 

Trim No. 3 – 356 (3 = abbreviated paint code; 356 – trim code),

 

Paint No. 253 – 16314 (253 = lacquer; 16314 = full BALM paint code),

 

Top (blank),

 

Acc. 12 (month of production).

 

Paint codes overlap with those used on Holden vehicles and I was able to find paintcolour names for 1954 Chevrolets owned by    VVCAA members, using books by Norm Darwin and Don Loffler, as shown below.  Information on the second half of the Trim Code was harder to find, but I was given some details by Peter Kelly.

 

Acknowledgements

 

Darwin, Norm, 1983.  The history of Holden since 1917; E L Ford Publications, Newstead, Victoria.

 

Darwin, Norm, 2002.  100 years of GM in Australia; H@ND Publishing, Ballarat, Victoria.

 

Kelly, Peter (pers. comm.) 2011.  Information on Trim Codes.

 

Loffler, Don, 2002.  The FJ Holden: a favourite Australian car; Wakefield Press , Adelaide, South Australia.

 

Loffler, Don, 2006.  She’s a beauty: the story of the first Holdens: Wakefield Press,
Adelaide, South Australia, 2nd edition.

 

Compiled by Bryan Cantrell, March 2011.

 
Comparison of 1954 Chevrolet 210 sedans
owned by VVCAA members:

 

Peter (parts car)

 

VIN 54 1069 B 50123 (Engine No. R779964)

Style No. 54 – 104B,

Body No. 54,

Trim No. 8 – 357 (Blue),

Paint No. 253 – 15931 (Calamine Blue)

Acc. 5 (May 1954)

 

Kevin

 

VIN 54 1069 HS 50207 (Engine No. 781361),

Style No. 54 – 104B,

Body No. 108,

Trim No. 8 – 357 (Blue),

Paint No. 253 – 15931 (Calamine Blue)

Acc. 5 (May 1954).

 

Clive

 

VIN 54 1069 50313 HA (Engine No. 783458)

Style No. 54 – 104B,

Body No. 458,

Trim No. 33 – 417,

Paint No. 253 – 16210 (Guildford Beige),

Acc. 7 (July 1954).

 

Peter

 

VIN 54 1069 B 50745 (Engine No. R242262)

Style No. 54 – 104B,

Body No. 627,

Trim No. 4 – 356 (Red)

Paint No. 253 – 16258 (Black)

Acc. 9 (September 1954)

 

Bryan

 

VIN 54 1069 HS 51083 (Engine No.R119453)

Style No. 54 – 104B,

Body No. 1059,

Trim No. 3 – 356 (Red),

Paint No. 253 – 16314 (Birch Grey),

Acc. 12 (December 1954).

Jason

VIN 54 1069 HS 50216 (Engine No. R781354)
Style No. 54 - 104B,
Body No. 99,
Trim No. 8 - 357 (Blue),
Paint No. 253 - 15931 (Calamine Blue),
Acc. 5 (May 1954)


The end

1953 Supplement

 

Ian (150 series)

 

VIN 53 1200 69878D (Engine No. 688019)

Style No. 53 – 124B,

Body No. 69,

Trim No. 28 – 253 (Green),

Paint No. 260 – 16082 (Georgian Green metallic) 
Acc. 7 (July 1953).

 

 

Peter (210 Series)

 

VIN B 53 T 031859

Style No. 53 – 1069W

Body No. T8052

Trim No. 251

Paint No. 500

 

Peter’s car bears USA identification, indicating that it was built in Tarrytown, New York with paint combination 500 (Top 7349G Woodland Green and lower 7348 Surf Green).

Steve (150 Series)

VIN 53 1016 B75622
Body No. 821 (or 1821)
Paint No. 253 - 16019 (Malibu Ivory)
Acc. 2 (February 1954)

 

1951 Supplement (vehicles arranged oldest to newest)

 

Len

VIN 51 1016 HB 002

Style No. 51-104B (Styleline Sedan)

Body No. 61

Trim No. 5-180

Paint No. 207-15925 (Serge Blue metallic)

Acc. 7 (July 1951 build)

Engine No. R451516

 

Michael

VIN 51 1216 HB 141 (Utility)

Style No. 51-12061B

Body No. 365

Trim No. 2-200 (Brown vinyl) [This material became brittle with age and was also used on door trims and headlining on utilities 1949 to 1952.]

Paint No. 253-15914 (Sierra Rust)

Acc. 8 (August 1951 build)

Engine No. R475195

 

Doug

VIN 51 1016 HB 114

Style No. 51-104B (Styleline Sedan)

Body No. 639

Trim No. 5-180

Paint No. 207-15925 (Serge Blue metallic)

Acc. 10 (October 1951 build)

Engine No. 91042?

 

Roy

VIN 51 1016 HB 205

Style No. 51-104B (Styleline Sedan)

Body No. 1148

Trim No. 4 - 206

Paint No. 253 - 15922 (Lido Beige)

Acc. 1 (January 1952 build)

Engine No. R502685 (Original Engine
No. R501295)

 

Frank

VIN 51 1016 HS 56646

Style No. 51-104B (Styleline Sedan)

Body No. 1172

Trim No. 5 - 180

Paint No. 207-15925 (Serge Blue metallic)

Acc. 1 (January 1952 build)

Engine No. R491523

Should you desire to have the statistics of your 1951-1954 Chevrolet included in this article, contact one of the Committee Members listed.

                                                                                                                 

 

 

 

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