There’s a barrage of new postings at the cohort, but how can I resist this one, by canadiancatgreen? A genuine Curbside Classic if there ever was one.
It’s an ancient Chevy sedan, with a roof rack and what appears to be a motorcycle carrier, out in the snow in wintry Edmonton. A comment was left by someone who saw the picture, saying it belonged to a neighbor and friend of his, and that the owner drives it around all year. Why not? These Chevies were tough, as was the Powerglide transmission behind the the “Stove Bolt Six”.
Except for the cars in the background, this tales me to Iowa in the early seventies. One could pick up well-cared for and garaged Chevies like this, often an old farmer’s car, for $50 back then, and they gave good service, despite being abused by the new owners. There was always something very comforting about riding around in a big, warm, old Chevy (or other big American car of that era) in the winter. They went about their second lives facilitating things their first owners never imagined. And they did it gracefully, reliably and cheaply. What more could a bunch of eighteen-year-olds with enough pocket change between them to buy an old Chevy want, in the middle of an Iowa winter?
Nice looking car. I reckon it’d make a good restoration, or restomod. I’ve always liked Chevrolet cars of 1949-1954.
In the 1960’s when I was a Farm Boy in Rural New Hampshire , these were maybe $35 cars and yes , they were very good indeed .
Sadly almost all of them never got any Routine Service whatsoever so when they refused to start one freezing Jan/Feb morning , they’d get towed off to that lower muddy field and left to rust to oblivion….
So many beautiful lightly rusted Automobiles and Trucks left to die….
We were and are a throwaway society. What a sad waste. Of course many of the cars we love to look at here were designed wilt planned obsolescence in mind so the owner was encouraged on many levels to want and buy newer, longer, wider, more powerful, whatever. Really sad as many of these cars could still be just fine with proper care.
You’re right and if not for the Low Riders and now the Rat Rod tossers , there would still be thousands of these doing Yeoman Duty on the Southwest to – day ~ they’re amazingly sturdy and reliable , the ” Target Lubrication ” oiling system was fine unless you drove it on the freeway .
I well remember 1040’s ~ 1954 Chevys with worn out ball joints , spring bushings and so on faithfully wheezing to life every morning and economically transporting people everywhere they needed to go .
The kids , it’s always the kids got them cheaply and chewed them up by the thousands until there were not so many left .
Every so often someone finds one languishing and calls me and I go make it run again , they’re almost impossible to kill and will run quite well with only 65 ~ 80 # per cylinder compression when properly tuned .
Nitpick, but ball joints were introduced in ’55. The king pins did get sloppy with wear, but easily repaired if you knew how. Corvettes had them up to at least ’62, maybe ’67.
Grandpa had a ’53 Belair in the same two tone green. No Powerglide, so I still remember the whine of the transmission, non-synchro in first, all these decades later.
Yes but ;
If I’da written ” the trunnions ” who the hell apart from you and I would have had _any_ idea what the hell I was talking about ? .
Paul – You’re right about these being common in the midwest during that time period.
I rode on a Wisconsin winter weekend with a friend from Madison to Oshkosh and back in his ’49 Olds four door sedan in about 1971 and a couple of years later another friend had one of those Chevrolet fastback four door sedans (“Fleetline”?) for service around DeKalb – after his Fiat 850 expired.
I always liked the cars from 1949 to 1952 better than those in the last half of that decade. However, those fastback GM cars were my least favorite. Fisher Body named these new for ’49 bodies the Dynamic Series. Of the 4 door fastbacks, the Chevy was named Fleetline, Pontiac was Streamliner, and even Olds used that body in 1949 only. Their 4 door fastback was called the Town Sedan. It could be had as an 88, or the 76. I own a ’49 Olds 76 Town Sedan. It is a one year only body with the 257 cu.in. flathead six which was used less than two years. It’s a project. I bought it because I wanted to save it and you just don’t see these cars anymore. 13,210 were built. There are around ten of these Oldsmobiles left that I am aware of.
Seeing this daily driver sure is a nice sight and I love the color scheme, but where is the secondary restrain system for the motorcycle? I am assuming that even if this vehicle gets mileage in the 20s it is still rather polluting due to the lack of a Catalytic Converter or am I wrong?
With a Powerglide, I doubt that one of these would ever see 20 mpg, and even with a cat, it would likely not have complied with emissions standards from even the 70s. Nobody cared what came out of the tailpipe in 1952, as long as it was not black, blue or white smoke. And some folks not even then.
Anybody worried about emissions should simply consider the total lifecycle of this vehicle. The natural resources devoted to construction, care, and maintenance have certainly been much better used than if this car had been crushed 30 years ago.
@principaldan….Very well said !
Amen. It’s much greener in the long term to keep an old vehicle like this going, rather than keep buying new Priuses or whatever.
Think this question of mine should be reserved for the next Beetle article since those get mileage in the 20s. Good points all the same.
Teddy (and everyone else in the discussion), I’m not taking sides-but have often wondered how to compare the emissions downside of older DDs with the environmental cost of building their replacement–is anyone aware of a solid study on this, however well it can be guesstimated?
I’ve seen to many different formulas used so that it is probably not easy to make a precise determination.
The real issue is that it’s all about scale: removing large numbers of “dirty” cars from the fleet can make a significant difference. But there are hardly any left anymore, so it’s now largely irrelevant. One ancient Chevy more or less is the proverbial grain of sand. It’s not worth trying to calculate.
Which is why states like California, which are very aggressive about emissions, gives exemptions to antique cars. The numbers are statistically meaningless. The tailpipe emissions are now exceedingly clean, on average. Other sources of emissions offer much greater scope for air quality improvements.
It’s not like these old cars are spewing lead and asbestos into the air. In their small numbers, one can drive them guilt-free. Even California agrees. 🙂
Define emissions. My point being that traditional tailpipe emissions were implicated in creating smog. If one lives in an area that has air quality issues, than it’s at least a theoretical consideration. Although one car just isn’t going to make a speck of difference; the proverbial grain of sand. Especially if one lives in an area that doesn’t have air quality issues.
The more current issue/definition of “emission: has focused more on CO2, in terms of greenhouse gases. That is a consequence of fuel efficiency, not how clean the exhaust is. If the Chevy gets 16mpg, it’s no worse than a new pickup, in that regard.
I had a ’66 Plymouth Sport Fury, and just for grins & giggles, I had a friend test it for emissions. To his suprise, it easily passed every requirement,
except NOx (IIRC)! 🙂
The first smog controls on cars in California was a closed crankcase ventilation system, starting with the ’61 models. Its hard to imagine today that there was a “draft tube” on older cars to vent blowby outside instead of burning it inside the engine. There was a time, decades ago, when California required 1955 and later cars to be retrofitted. Today, the total miles driven by antique cars is insignificant, as Paul has mentioned.
In AZ, all cars 1966 and older are emissions exempt (in CA and most other states it is 1974 and older) AZ also exempts any car which is registered and insured as a “collector car” My 1972 Pinto wagon is registered this way, because it won’t pass an emissions test, but runs fine. It can be tuned to pass, but will barely run. Since I have no emissions testing equipment, I had to take it to a shop that charged me almost $200 to rejet and retune it, take it through the emissions test (right next door) then bring it back and put it back the way it was, so it was drivable. I decided I was not going through that every year.
Emissions and pollution, etc., is a huge subject that would fill a large book. Cars are going to produce pollution somewhere. Even electric cars. All they do is transfer the pollution from the car to the power generating station. Building and then disposing of an electric or hybrid car creates more pollution than a gas powered car does during it’s lifetime. The way I see it is that the continued building of new cars creates a lot more pollution than keeping a car going for 50 years or so.
As for the PCV valve, it may have been designed as an emissions control device, but it turned out to be a huge advance in crankcase ventilation. By properly venting the crankcase and preventing a lot of sludge buildup, it made engines last a lot longer.
Memories! I spent hours and hours playing in one of these in the late 60s and early 70s, perfecting my shifting technique and my all-around (imaginary) driving skills. An uncle used a very rusty one as his daily driver, and it was always unlocked and available for a kid with an insatiable appetite for old cars.
I imagined that I would buy it when I turned 16, and I spent even more hours poring over the J.C.Whitney catalog, figuring out what parts I needed to bring the old thing back to showroom condition. The fates prevailed and it was gone by the time I could drive. The adult me knows what a horribly rusted money pit it would have been.
Actually, I had always understood that the splash-lubricated Stovebolt was one of the weaker sixes of that era for longevity. The Mopar flatheads were far better, as were (I believe) the Ford sixes. However, these were such an overall appealing package that for those inclined, another Stovebolt was always available to take its place.
Yes, and if I remember correctly, you could bolt in the last of the 235’s from about 1962 with a much better oiling system and engine bearings. Keep them alive!
Chevrolet was very proud of its efficient oiling system when it was released I have a 1937 Chevrolet sales data booklet as used by Chevrolet new car salesmen, 37 being the first year the modern blueflame 6 was in use yes they used that name, providing the oil jets were properly aligned with the scoops on the bigends very little could go wrong, they were not dippers as the common misconception has it, but actually caught a pressurised jet stream of oil.
Full pressure rod bearing lubrication came in about 1954. The 1962 seven main bearing Chevy II 194ci and 1963 230ci sixes were a clean break from the 1937 design.
Goes to show the wisdom of reading the comments before commenting lest thee be redundant. I drove a couple of these and liked them till the rods started knocking. One was a 1946 and the other a 1949. In 1954, the 235 was built with a bearing/oiling system that made the more resistant to teenagers. IMO the 235 was just as good as the 265/283 V8s. Just less power. YMMV but I do not recall the early chevy sixes as tough engines. They ran me off and into the arms of Henries flatheads.
I’m pretty sure twoeightythree is right about the swapability.
The old stovebolts didnt like high rpms no arguement there, a popular NZ trick was to swap in a Bedford truck motor identical to the stovebolt but 214 cubes with full pressure oiling and good for an extra 1000rpms, Bedfords were GM UK trucks they upgraded the motor for severe service.
GMC truck six-cylinder motors served much the same function here in the US.
Dad had a light blue ’54 Chevy Bel Air. He would cram all 6 kids (me sitting on my mom’s lap and my youngest sister sitting next to dad) into the car for church or to visit relatives for the holidays. Surprising, this thing had more passenger room than most cars today!!
The ad you posted is interesting on a couple of levels.
The ad is promoting the new availability of power windows and a power seat. Yet, the interior pictured shows manual window cranks at both the front and rear posistions.
Several years ago, I came across for the first time an on-line auction that was promoting a ’50s vintage car that had power front windows only, and manual rear windows. I thought it was a mis-print, or some bizarre modification by an early owner. Eventually, I realized, just as promoted in this ad, that power windows were sometimes only offered exclusively up front, or that you could by power rear windows for an additional charge. Just amazing how the manufacturers built zillions of variants of their cars, instead up getting economy of scale out of more consistant packaging of features. I wonder if that ever really made sense?
Dave, I thought the same thing at first, but those are manual vent window cranks up front.
I keep looking at the thing on the door behind the steering wheel at about the 8:00 o’clock position. It looks more like a crank to me, instead of window buttons. Regardless, strange if they were to leave the buttons partially obscured by the wheel.
Maybe the crank was turned into a two-position switch for up or down?
Power windows along with power seats were considered a luxury on Chevies, but they were available for the front windows only in `54. By `55, you could have them for all 4 windows, but they were rarely ordered. BTW, the only other car I ever saw with front only power windows other than Dodge Neons was a `61 Olds 98 four door pillared sedan with factory air nonetheless. Unusual,to say the least.
That arrangement is quite common outside North America, where spec levels are often lower. I had both a Daewoo Lanos and Leganza that had power front and rear crank windows.
More recently, the Dodge Neon could be had with front power windows only.
I rather have power rear windows so I could roll them up without reaching back.
I would prefer them on all four windows. I`m a lazy goof. BTW, that blue and white interior in the ad is quite snazzy for a low price[ in its day] car.
I’ve seen several 54 Bel Air convertibles at car shows that have the front power windows only. The control buttons are pretty small so I too think that illustration depicts a hand crank on the front door.
It’s strange but I think the interior illustration is for the purpose of showing the Bel Air interior trim as opposed to the power accessories.
Also to show the amount of space in the rear. Wonderful, isn’t it? Makes me want to climb through the screen and go sprawl out there!
As a foreigner I find it amazing how cramped big American cars of the seventies were. I guess once cars got lower, and seats moved forward off the axle, something had to give somewhere. But I’ll never forget riding in the rear of a ’74-ish Galaxie and finding how tight the legroom was – and I’m only 5’10”.
As a kid my uncle owned from new a 1954 Chevy 210 two-door sedan. You are totally correct, it was very roomy. I and my two cousins frequently rode in the back seat on the way to the lake for swimming. I remember how much room there was to spread out (and drive the uncle crazy with our fighting and throwing toys around). US cars of the early/mid 50’s were designed with space and comfort in mind. Fashion later took precedence over practicality.
How he deals with the salt and rust… I can’t just imagine. And it’s even not rusted around wheel well…
Those old Chevy’s some of the best in my opinion. Also yeah those cars are quite comfortable to ride in. I remember a while ago I had a ride in one similar to this one in mint condition only thing was a bit of rust on one of the fenders. So yeah quite great.
Chevrolets of this era are great vehicles, as long as you are not in any hurry to get somewhere. The splash and hope lubrication system does not blend well with high speeds. My grandparents next-door neighbor had one of these ca 1960 that I remember riding in occasionally; the interior seemed much nicer than either my grandparents’ 1952 Dodge or the 1954 Plymouth that my parents owned.
What does actually “cohort” mean? Is it another car blog?
It’s our associated Flickr page where readers can post their own CC finds. It’s accessible from the top menu bar “CC Cohort”. Or here: https://www.flickr.com/groups/1648121@N23/pool/
I opened an account at the Flickr page via this website some weeks ago. I had a terrible time posting, and to the best of my knowledge, did not successfully do so.
I may be dense. Are there instructions somewhere?
I can’t really help you. You’ll have to do some Googling or go to the Flickr main site for instructions. I used it a few years ago, and it was reasonably easy. Maybe someone else that’s a regular Cohort poster will chime in.
ah…thanks for clearing that up.
Roman legions had 10 cohorts, ea. comprised of 6 centuries of about 80 soldiers, depending on the era. I don’t know how this became Internet jargon.
Just as there are Civil War reenactors in the US, there are Roman Legion reenactors in Europe.
It’s not internet jargon. The more relevant and commonly used definition nowadays, and often the first one in dictionaries: A group of people banded together or treated as a group.
Yeah it is not internet jargon. It is commonly used to denote groups with similar characteristics. In the studies about education that I read it will often refer to kids of the same age, ethnicity, income level ect.
My first car in August, 1968. $75 bucks. The car was a real rust bucket, but that babbitt-beater 216 was tough as nails! Only kept it 3 months and bought an equal rust bucket – my 1961 Bel Air 2 door sedan.
These old cars were still a common sight in the 80s in NZ new cars were still quite hard to finance for the average Tom Whetu or Rangi and it wasnt untill easier finance and the tsunami of used Jap junk that the classics got towed to the scrapyard we were the Cuba of the south Pacific. Nice ol Chev.
Actually considering how well these cars were engineered and built for their day, I’m not too surprised.
This was the General at its absolute best.
These were quite common in the Pittsburgh area during my formative years of the late 50s and into the 60s. My paternal grandfather had an all-black 1951 model very similar to the one pictured. The 2-tone green is so evocative of the times.
Zackman, our family had a 1961 Chevy Bel Air 2-door sedan, purchased new. It was traded in before I was old enough to drive it.
My ’61 was black w/white roof. After my buddy and I fixed all the rust and replaced certain body panels, it was repainted Camaro rally green! Sold it in May, 1970.
Nice, looks just like ours except for the color (turquoise) and we had the dogdish hubcaps. Cohesive styling, such an improvement from the wild ’59 Chevy!
I don’t have photos, but I know my mother still has a few from back in the day.
There was always something very comforting about riding around in a big, warm, old Chevy (or other big American car of that era) in the winter. They went about their second lives facilitating things their first owners never imagined. And they did it gracefully, reliably and cheaply.
This is descriptive of my experience with my ’92 Vic. I’m the second owner, and it’s certainly had a harder life with our family as owners than it did with the original, but it takes it, as you said, gracefully, reliably and cheaply.
I joke that every 1949-1952 Chevy is still in existence somewhere. Every time you turn over a rock, you find one under it! Honesty, is there another long-lived car with such a high survival rate?
I am obsessed with green cars, especially two tones, and preferably old. Check, check and check.
Holden had the same colour scheme as this on their cars around the same time, surely it can’t be a coincidence.
Considering the huge variety of colour choices during the life of the FX and FJ models, I’m sure GM’s Art and Colour guys helped Holden more than a little bit. I remember reading there were a lot of Americans coming down here to “help” at the time.
I used to pass one of these on the way to school every day for years. XB-137, where are you?
Wally on “Leave It To Beaver” bought an early 50s Chevy during the early 60s for a couple hundred, right ? His buddy Lumpy, had a Ford from the 30s. And I’m not sure about Eddy’s car, a 40s Chevy ? I love that episode when Wally and Eddy tie a chain from a tree to the rear axle of Lumpy’s car.
Here’s Wally’s ’50 Chevy, from the IMCDB (link here). Lots of other great CCs on the “Leave It To Beaver” page.
I owned a ’51 Chevy coupe around 1972, that was a one owner car in good shape….looked very similar to Wally’s 50…in fact it was grey just like the one pictured and in fact as I recall, in upstate NY at that time, everything was in black and white just like the picture!
I paid $50 for my 51, which was a Deluxe…had the front bumper guard plus the wings on either end of the bumpers, and it had the sunvisor as well…old 6V system, vacuum wipers, and even the clock worked. I traded it even up fro a ’61 Impala convertible (exterior was done but floors tinned) that I wrecked shortly afterwards.
That was the car he was thinking about buying, but it smoked too much. So he got a Chevy convertible instead. His dad started out with a 57 Ford, and later to Dodges and Plymouths for the remaining seasons. The Uncle had a nice Imperial.
That would be this ’53. Nice choice. Is that patina or primer on the hood?
Now this is a 4 door even I would be happy to drive. I guess sedans can be made to look pretty decent after all. They don’t have to look like Toyota Camrys. This car would really stand out around here, where vintage cars, especially non restored ones, almost don’t exist. From what I’ve seen up there, it would probably go unnoticed in Oregon. That rack on the back bumper looks about right for a Honda Trail 90/110.
I recently spied a Chevy identical to the one pictured by MikePDX, EXCEPT that it was outfiited with American Torque Thrust wheels, RWL tires, AND the fender skirts! I nearly got whiplash eyeing it as it passed by in the opposite direction…it looked GREAT!! 🙂
The numeric portion of Alberta plates hasn’t had four digits for very long, and the plate doesn’t look nearly as weathered as the rest of the car – so I doubt the current owner has had this car a long time.
Assuming the plate numbers are roughly sequential, I would guess that this one was likely issued in 2012 or so. In Alberta, plates stay with the owner and not the car so it is possible that this is not the first car that the plate has been on.
All this leads me to think that the car hasn’t been daily driven very long in Edmonton in the Winter, which would explain the lack of rust.
There is no emissions testing of any kind in Alberta, and cars only require a safety inspection when they were previously registered out of province – although some insurance companies may request a safety inspection on an old car. This means that it is quite easy to keep driving an old car in Alberta if you want to.
Great find though, and nice to see it in the wild, but I hope it doesn’t get exposed to *too* much salt.
There is a very nice street parked, and occasionally driven, Volvo Amazon just down the street from me. While it’s nice to see it used in the manner for which it was intended, part of me thinks it’s too nice to be kept outside in Winter. While this Chevy has much more patina than the Volvo, I do hope the owner manages to keep it rust free as he or she uses and enjoys it.
My state does not require any type of safety inspection, which actually makes sense, other than the revenue it would generate, because almost no accidents are caused by safety related issues with the vehicles. It’s always the drivers fault. They do require emissions inspections on vehicles 1967 and newer (most states are 1975 and newer) which exempts my ’64 Fairlane. My ’72 Pinto is also exempt, because it is insured and registered as a collector car. Because of the emissions thing, ’66 and older cars are highly sought after, and can sell for some pretty high prices, even ones not generally considered collectible, like my 4 door Fairlane. I could build a 1000+ hp fire breathing engine with a blower and dual quads and drop it in that car, and it would still be completely street legal.
I see the old Chevy has a new Alberta plate so it hasn’t been on the road for too long. Perhaps it was made road worthy recently.
I’ll have to keep a lookout for it and see who the driver is.
I had a ’52 chevy business coupe 3-speed manual (yes!) as my first car wen I was 17 in 1967. No back seat, but it didn’t matter, the car was a gas ro drive and putter around town with my friends and gals.
RE : ‘ Babbitt Pounders ” :
They had _both_ dippers in troughs and target spray nozzles as the oiling system was very low pressure but rather high volume .
My first car was a 1952 Chevrolet Styline Deluxe, a white four-door with a stovebolt-six and a manual three-on-the-tree transmission. We got it the summer before my freshman year in high school in 2012. I was 15 going on sixteen, and a lover of antiques. We walked away with the car for 10,500. It had a lot of issues that we addressed very early, and before log it ran better than when we bought it, albeit with the leaks that were fairly typical of a car it’s age. It became my daily driver, and for three years has reliably taken me where I needed to go, and unfortunately is a little worse for wear as far as looks go. The paint is chipped and stained, and the passenger side door sports a dent via an idiot who couldn’t get the door open. However, it still starts right up with a turn of the key, and I get listless when I drive a car with power steering and an automatic trans. This car has been the source of many dear memories, and I will never let it go.
(The picture I posted is from the advertisement through which we first saw the vehicle.)
Looks nice ~
Still has the ” Babbit Pounder ” 216 C.I.D. & Torque Tube driveline ? .
I’m the neighbour of the guy that owns this Chevrolet, and he does drive it all year round, and I also drive my 36 GMC tow truck every day year round!
The 52 Chev is dead stock, still 6 volt, original engine and an automatic, he hauls his 1965 Honda on the back sometimes.
I have daily drove a 1952 Chevrolet for about 5 years now, all stock except for a bigger radiator. I drive to to work, I drive it on road trips (at a modest 65 mph of course), and will continue to drive it for the foreseeable future. There’s just nothing like it, and I hope to add a 1940 Chevrolet to my list of vehicles very soon. It takes a special kind of patience, and a deep love for the old machines that just never stop.