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Cars > vegavairbob’s Garage > Blog > Chevrolet Centennial: Prewar Cars 1911-1942

 

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vegavairbob

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Chevrolet Centennial: Prewar Cars 1911-1942

By vegavairbob

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Cover photo for the Prewar Chevrolets album
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1911: Louis Chevrolet completes the first Chevrolet prototype.
1912: Chevrolet Type C, a six-passenger touring model is Chevy's first car - has the largest engine (299 cu in) until the late 50s. A few are built late in the year.
1913: The Type C is formally introduced January, 1913, but is known as "Classic Six" by midyear and sold throughout 1913 with few changes from Louis Chevrolet's prototype - available only as a four-door touring model, the "Classic Six" has an expansive 120-inch wheelbase - at 3350 pounds, it weighs half-a-ton more than that year's largest Buick, and at $2500 cost nearly twice as much. Calender year sales are accordingly modest.
Series L Light Six and Series H Four bow in July for 1914.
1914: Type C phased out by early 1914, leaving the Series L Light Six touring ($1475) as the "senior" Chevrolet. Series H Four roadster and touring models ($750-$875) account for 80 percent of sales. An electric starter and lights available for $125 on both models; Chevrolet's now familiar bow tie emblem debuts.
1915: Series L Light Six dropped after a final 500 1915 models are built. Chevrolet unveils a new Model T fighter in April: the 1916-model 490 ($490) Orders pour in.
1916: The 490 roadster and touring model match Ford's price but ups the "Tin Lizzy" by offering electric starter and lights for $60, not available on the Ford at any price. Colors? Black. Series H returns for its final year.
Chevy output soars to 63,000 cars, led by the 490.
1917: New Series F introduced, replacing the Series H. The two-pass roadster and five-pass touring models ($800) have a two-inch longer 108-inch wheelbase. Electric starter and lights now standard on all Chevrolets. Series D V-8 debuts as early 1918 model in four-pass roadster and five-pass touring models ($1385). Production totals 125,000 placing Chevy fourth in the sales standings.
1918: Series F replaced by Series FA . Chevy's "quality" four cylinder car has a larger improved engine and offers a new enclosed two-door sedan model ($1475). The 490 receives detail engine upgrades and adds new two-door sedan and coupe ($1060); Both the FA and the 490 sedans featured removable center posts - a breezy preview of the Post World War II "hardtop."
Chevy claims third place behind Ford and Willys-Overland.
1919: Series D dropped - advanced though it was, the Series D V-8 was trouble-prone, this and an even stiffer price of $1550 in 1918 worked against Chevy's V-8 models. (Chevrolet wouldn't return to V-8s until 1955). Improved Series FB replaces FA - Chevy's best for 1919 offers new four-door sedan ($1885) which bows mid year joining the the roadster, touring and two-door sedan.The 490 changes little with orders rising over 47 percent. Prices are up - the 490 roadster ($750) continues to be the most affordable. Car sales reach nearly 150,000 as Chevrolet moves up to number-two.
1920: 490 gets appearance modifications including new wider running boards that flowed into the front fenders; Open cars adopt twin "portholes" for rearward vision with the top up; The headlights are directly attached to the fenders. Prices drop in response to postwar depression.
1921: 150,000 490s are unsold in part due to the product's reputation. The public had come to realize that the Chevy 490 was by no means as tough an automobile as Henry Ford's Model T. Chevy drops from third to fifth in industry sales.
1922: Radio first offered as an option; Utility Coupe and four-door sedan join the 490 lineup. Hayes-Iona Body Company continue to build bodies for the four-seat coupe and the sedan. (Fisher bodies used for the Utility model). All 490s get a lever activated parking brake; FB model changes confined to technical details; Dramatic price cuts - Sales triple moving Chevy once again to second place.
1923: Superior model debuts, replacing both the 490 and FB - featured a tall hood - an inch longer wheelbase - mechanical components nearly identical to those of the 490. Two-door Sedanette with small, removable trunk is new body style; Ill-fated "Copper Cooled" model introduced; Production of 1-millionth Chevrolet takes place on February 22.
1924: Superior models continued in an updated Series F; Deluxe versions of the touring, coupe, and four-door sedan are cataloged. Sales drop. A stagnant product line is blamed.
1925: Superior K introduced with improved engine and running gear; Duco colors offered; Sales increase by 70 percent. 2-millionth Chevrolet produced.
1926: Series V introduced mid-year; Dressy Landau sedan joins; Production climbs past 730,000
1927: Capitol Series AA with updated styling and technical features; Coupe with rumble seat debuts; Closed cars garner top sales positions in Chevy line. Ford shuts down for five months for Model A changeover; Chevy outsells Ford for the first time.
1928: National Series AB introduced on longer wheelbase; Chevy offers its first convertible; Despite Ford's new Model A, Chevy still leads sales race.
1929: "Stovebolt Six" introduced - Chevy has the first six cylinder engine in a low-price car; International Series AC cars wear freshened styling; New Landau Sedan with folding rear roof section; 6-millionth Chevy rolls out on June 25th, but Ford retakes the lead in sales.
1930: Chevrolet the first to introduce articulated brake shoes for positive braking action; Convertible Cabriolet dropped; Production slumps due to economic conditions; 7-millionth vehicle produced.
1931: Independence Series AE debuts with longer wheelbase, more body styles; 8-millionth Chevrolet built.
1932: New Confederate line offers two trim levels - handsome Cadillac-like styling; "Cast Iron Wonder" adds 10 horspower; "Silent Second" transmission arrives; Numerous mechanical upgrades for all models; Depression deepens - Chevy car sales drop nearly 50 percent.
1933: Chevolet launches the Standard Six - advertised as the cheapest six-cylinder enclosed car on the market. Chevrolet introduced vacuum spark control, no draft ventilation and heat control. Car line receives lower, more streamlined styling in new Eagle and mid-season Mercury series; "Stovebolt Six" adds five more horsepower in Eagle models; Closed cars feature Fisher Body's new "No-draft" ventilation; "Starterator" automatic starter adopted; Chevy car sales rise 55 percent as America gets a "New Deal."
1934: Streamlining more evident on new Master and Standard models; Independent "Knee-Action" front suspension; more powerful "Blue Streak Six" Chevrolet builds its 10-millionth car.
1935: New styling graces all-steel "Turret Top" Master Deluxe bodies.
1936: Four-wheel hydraulic brakes debut. Passenger-car sales rebound to 918,278
1937: "Blue Flame" six gains size, power.
1938: Only minor changes in model lines; car sales drop 50 percent in an unexpected recession, but Chevy tops the industry after bowing to Ford two previous years.
1939: Trunkless sedans phased out during the year, but Chevy catalogs a station wagon for the first time; Optional steering column shift debuts; Chevrolet builds its 15-millionth vehicle as car sales inch up to 577,278
1940: "Royal Clipper" styling for fully redesigned bodies; Convertible returns in new top-line Special Deluxe Series; Sealed-beam headlights adopted; Chevy remains "USA-1" as car sales improve to 764,616
1941: A vintage year for Chevrolet cars brings eye-catching new styling, a three-inch longer wheelbase, concealed running boards, and numerous technical improvements; Blue Flame Six becomes 90-horspower "Victory Six." 16-millionth Chevrolet rolls off the assembly line; Chevy car sales soar beyond one million for the year.
1942: America enters World War II in December 1941. "Blackout Specials" mandated after January 1; Civilian production ends on February 9 as U.S.industry gears up to defeat Axis powers. Chevy car output stops at 254,885 units.

see also-
Chevrolet Centennial: Postwar Cars 1946-2012
http://www.mo...49-2012-10503

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Read comments on this blog post 1 – 4 of 4

TerryO’s Profile Photo
TerryO
Mar 6, 2012 at 6:00 pm
Lots of effort went into this, thanks Bob.
 
CorvairJim’s Profile Photo
CorvairJim
Mar 2, 2012 at 3:06 am
Yeah, Bob, this is the way to handle a project like this. It's the only way to give each year and model the attention it deserves without completely overloading the reader.

A note in response to RancheroBoy: 299 c.i. was nothing! There were 4-cylinder engines in the 800+ c.i. range back then. Big-bore, L-O-N-G stroke, low-revving torque monsters. These were used almost exclusively in racing applications. Even some road cars had engines in that size range, but they were usually "Multi-Cylinder" jobs, with 6 to 12 cylinders. These engines could pull effortlessly from under 5mph up to their top speed in high gear.
 
Crazyfast79TA’s Profile Photo
Crazyfast79TA
Mar 1, 2012 at 8:08 pm
Great start to your series!
 
RancheroBoy’s Profile Photo
RancheroBoy
Mar 1, 2012 at 3:23 pm
Wow 299 CI in 1912. I had no idea they had anything that large back then
 

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Cars > vegavairbob’s Garage > Blog > Chevrolet Centennial: Prewar Cars 1911-1942

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