(first posted 7/5/2015) It wouldn’t be a proper “jag” if I didn’t keep it going daily, so I have two hours left here on Sunday night to get a two-door sedan posted. How about this plump ’53 Chevy, posted by Mike Hayes?
The ’53 and ’54 Chebbies once were a very popular car among a certain age demographic, as well as with Mexican-Americans. For guys who were of a very impressionable age when these were new, they seem to have struck a nerve, as is so often the case. Has anyone done a study to determine at just what age a car makes the deepest and most lasting impression on a kid?
Of course, these cars were soon overshadowed by the V8-powered tri-fives, but they kept their charm and attractiveness with its true devotees. needless to say, many ended up with V8s under their hoods. A classic early-50d GM mobile – hard to really fault, but getting a bit long on tooth, given theta it was essentially a ’49 Chevy unde its skin.
I saw without a camera a 2 door Galaxie and a 2door 49 Ford yesterday, thought of you Paul so I took my camera in the truck today and only saw a Model A 4door, typical.
My grandparents were born in 1907 and they might have owned only one car their entire lives. It was a 54 Chevy Sedan painted green which was killed by a falling tree in the early to mid-1960s. Because they lived in the 4400 block of Osage Avenue in Philly it was easier to get around and to work than if they lived elsewhere. Also, Cataract surgery was not so good decades ago so grandma could not drive even after the recovery period.
These are nice looking cars and this one still looks good decades later. The YOM license plate is a nice touch.
I’ve always considered the ’53’s and ’54’s (especially – amazing how changing the turn signals can make a front end much more attractive) the most underrated Chevrolets of all. Completely overwhelmed by the tri-fives, they were really wonderful cars. And I just love the looks of a ’54 BelAir hardtop.
To me, a tri-five is a ’54-’56.
I am with Syke on this, though my love extends back to the 52 as well. Maybe 20 years ago, I stopped at a traffic light next to an old lady in a very well worn one of these. I loved seeing and hearing it move off when the light turned. These may be my favorite Chevys.
The sound of that old Chevy six is also one of my favorite sounds. Some of my lasting impressions are riding with my grandfather in his ’59 Apache with a 235 or in my uncle’s ’56 Ford truck with a six or his ’60 Apache with a six also. Sweet sounds.
@ twoeightythree ;
Nice to hear this , so few seem to understand any more .
The 216/235/261 Chevy i6 engines were all low compression and softly cammed so cutting off the muffler and running a full length large diameter exhaust , made them had a musical exhaust note , my ’46 Chevy pickup never had a muffler and never got a ticket , not even running fully loaded up and down hills in Bel Air , Ca.
Many are not aware these fine engines were track raced back in those days and did quite well although didn’t last very long when revved over 3,200 RPM for any length or time .
I like the 1949-52 fastbacks. The notchback cars are kinda conservative, without the more exuberant voluptuousness of the 1953-54’s.
Exuberant volptuousness. Nice turn of phrase!
I’m with you there though–the fastbacks are favorites of mine, but these ’53-’54 cars are the better notchbacks.
When I was a kid in the 1960’s, one of my Boy Scout “leaders” referred to these as the “Mexican GTO.” It struck me as being racist back then, and still does today. Too bad I have that association with these cars, as they were a great postwar design from Chevrolet, especially the earlier fastback coupe models.
The 1953 & 54 Chevys are my least-favorite models of the early 1950s. I prefer the lines of the 1951 & 52 models much better. The hardtop models were an improvement, though.
To me, these looked stodgier than a Plymouth, and the Plymouth was much more attractive. Must be the proportions or something.
“Has anyone done a study to determine at just what age a car makes the deepest and most lasting impression on a kid?”
Tongue in cheek or not, that is a great question. Age + naivete + exposure = awe. Old enough to know enough to be impressed and young enough to still be a relatively blank slate. Along comes the right car at the right place and, bam!, you’re hooked for life.
For me that was about six years old and it was a combination of the car (a 64 Ford) and who was driving it (my grandpappy).
IIRC these were not overly good handlers although good drivers .
The ’53 was the last of the ” Babbit Pounder ” 216’s , the ’54 ushered in the one year old full pressure 235 , a wonderful engine GM peaked and tweaked for many years .
Lovely car this .
They _did_ make pillarless Coupes of these , the Bel Aire ” Convertible Hardtop ” was what GM called it .
When I was a kid, back when this car was new, my grandparents had a black 54 sedan….it was a 4 door, though. I never saw either of my grandparents drive that car. My Mom drove my grandmother a few times that I remember. It wouldn’t be until LONG after they passed when my Mom told me neither of her parents had a driver’s license or knew how to drive. The Chevy was a “present” from my grandmother’s brother (a VERY rich lawyer in NYC) and was bought so that she/they would have a car….just in case.
I never saw the factory upholstery in that 54 as it had dark green “quilted” vinyl seat covers from new. I do remember it having “3 on the tree” and a band of green tint at the top of the windshield. And I vaguely remember that engine sound all 50s (and 60s?) Chevys had as they accelerated.
When I think of the styling of that 54, especially compared to the nearly identical 53, I get the impression that that model year Chevy was trying to….in a very subtle way, put a hint of Buick into their car. The grille and tail light change pull the 54 out of the realm of “just a Chevy” towards a path of Chevy….America’s choice.
BTW, 1 factor in my car “awakening”? Cereal companies putting models of popular cars in boxes of breakfast food. My family ate a dozen boxes of Post brand Rice Krinkles (a sugar frosted competitor to Rice Krispies) so I could have a “fleet” of miniature plastic Thunderbirds.
I also remember eating some long forgotten Post or Kellogg product so Mom could send in for a toy 1960 Plymouth that was displayed on the back of the box.
Unfortunately this 1960 Plymouth toy never made it to our houses mailbox for whatever reason.
No amount of coaxing by me could get her to send in another entry.
I had to gag down a whole box of Peanut Butter Capn’ Crunch in order to get the little plastic Dodge Charger when the company had a toy car promotion. I promptly broke it while assembling it. I think I decided to do without the Charger rather than eating another box of that cereal. I liked peanut butter, and I liked Capn’ Crunch. But the two together were, in the words of our most recent contributor, vomitating.
Those little Post cereal cars were made by F&F Plastics in, I think, Dayton, Ohio – or somewhere in Ohio.
Mostly they were Fords, starting in about 1954. There were some Mercurys and some Ford show cars. There were T-Birds – original ’55s, squarebirds and bulletbirds. There were 1960 Plymouths. And the last ones were Mercurys from about ’68 or ’69. These are fine little collectibles and I have several.
NO competition for the same year Ford.
Not a bad looker. The 2014 Indian Capital Car Show had one done up in classic low rider with Cadillac-ish pearl white paint.
Paul, you asked about the age when cars make a strong impression. Well, I was probably 3 when I started really becoming aware of cars, so that would have been when I noticed our neighbor’s ’53 or ’54 Chevy, and I never liked it. Compared to their sister’s black ’56 Chevy conevertible, or even the new ’64 Impala which replaced the older Chevy a few years later, that ’53 made a lasting, negative impression on me. As a teen I associated those pre-tri-five years with either really old people, or low -riders. But when I saw today’s picture, my reaction was “that’s a fine looking car!”. So those early feelings can be overcome, though it might take 50+ years …
This is a great question, and should be a full post / survey!
Yes. Definitely a perfect CC survey topic.
But I’m pretty sure age 6 will win. For me, that was when I got a Lotus Europa Matchbox, and when I saw a 67 Ford pickup – red with a camper on it – while my family was on vacation in Maine. (I always loved roadtrips!)
#1 Son swears he’ll buy me a Europa when he graduates from college and gets a good job. I hope he’s not on the six-year plan!
Wasn’t 1953 the first year that Chevy switched over to one piece windshields over the split/2 piece ones that were in cars since the 1930’s?
Yes, as well as Pontiac and all Chrysler divisions. Ford, Mercury and Lincoln switched to one-piece windshield in 1952 while Cadillac, Buick and Oldsmobile switched in 1950 or 1951.
Meanwhile, the Chevrolet pick-up truck stayed with split/2-pieces for the 1953 model year and got one-piece windshield and a new front for 1954.
Also, no fastback althought one blogger from Brazil imagined what if Chevrolet still produced a fastback Fleetine for 1953-54? http://garagemdigital.blogspot.ca/2010/02/e-se-fleetline-1954.html
Another guy amalgated the design of the 1953-54 with the 1957 model. http://garagemdigital.blogspot.ca/2010/04/chevrolet-1954-custom-inspirado-em-bob.html
Some models of the 47 Studebaker used a one-piece, I think mainly coupes. The 49 Land Cruiser sedan used a one-piece also.
Also, the 1948 Nash used a one-piece, Hudson introduced with the Jet in 1953 but it drained the ressources to redesign the senior line and the main redesign the old Hornet got was a one-piece windshield for 1954.
I have a 57 but I really think the 54 or 55 were my favorites. I think I would have to convert to 12v system if I had a 54. Otherwise, take them just as they came. Of course, I would prefer a 2 door post wagon like the 150 or 210. I guess if you get right down to it I would prefer a panel delivery over a wagon. I don’t remember any from 1954 but am sure they had them.
I love the look of this car. The stock-looking paint color, the narrow-stripe whitewalls and those old-school wheels make a very good combination. I was lucky to get an unobstructed shot of it, too. A minute or two after I took these pictures, somebody pulled in right beside the old Chevy.
The pictured car very closely resembles the first family car I can (vaguely) remember, a ’53 210 2-door in light blue. As for the comparison with Ford and especially Plymouth, the Chevy is a better looker IMO.
My Dad had a 1953 Chevrolet 2-door hardtop (think it was the 210 model), dark blue with ivory top and powerglide transmission when he was stationed in Okinawa, Japan. I think he paid something like $2500. A year or two after he bought the car and reading a Chevrolet Speed Manual, Hot Rod and Car Craft magazines, he de-chromed it, then tore down the engine and tried to soup it up with a dual carburetor and Mallory distributor setup. But his most ambitious customizing idea involved trying to remake the car into a “long nose” two seater. Don’t see how he could have done it and it never went past the daydreaming stage. Photos of the car shows a prematurely-aged old car, even though it was only a few years old at the time. When he was transferred to Panama five years later, nobody would buy it and he eventually sold it to a junkyard.
I’ve often thought about getting a 1953 Chevrolet 210 or Bel-Air 2-door hardtop. I’d prefer the 3-speed manual instead of the Powerglide. Anybody know how much a good, roadworthy (not Concours restored or customized or restored with all the bells & whistles) stock condition would cost?
These cars used a 6-volt electrical system, didn’t they? Any issues getting replacement battery, bulbs, etc? How much is involved in converting to 12-volt? Is unleaded 87-octane gas a problem? What about auto insurance?
My paternal grandparents had two ’53 Chevy’s, a Custom Cab 3600 pickup and two-tone green Bel Air. Memories of the straight six “blat” and whine of Saginaw non-synchro first gear still stick in my mind. I will admit that I never liked the car, and still dont particularly like the ’53-’54 styling of any of the “low priced three” cars. Ford was the most modern in both styling and mechanicals, with the 223ci six and Ford-O-Matic, but still not very attractive.
I became aware of cars at about age four, when the ’57 models came out. I still love all of them.
In the 1950’s these were more common than Accords and Camrys are today. Chevy sold 1.3 million of these in 1953 and another 1.1 million in 1954. Honda and Toyota would kill for those figures today. Everyone knew someone who had one and everyone had ridden in them at one time or another.
I recall that most seemed to be the mid level 210, which was fairly well trimmed and even had a clock. Powerglide and the 3-speed seemed evenly split. They were stone reliable and many owners kept them for years. An elderly widow in the neighborhood had a ’54 210 2 door sedan with Powerglide and then rare power steering, but no radio. I think she had maybe 40,000 miles on it when she traded it on a new Bel Air in 1960.
Yup, the first car that my mother bought on her own was a used 53 Chevy 210 sedan. This was about 1954 as she was graduating nursing school. She drove it for the next 4 or 5 years until she was married and my father traded it on something. Back in the early 70s, it was still not that uncommon to see these running around in daily service.
@ CPJ ;
RE : sales of ’53 & ’54 Chevies ~
Look in the details and you’ll find they ran production flat out and made more cars than they could sell in ’54 , quite a few wee sold in ’55 as left overs to fleets .
Something like 300 different ways one could order a ’54 Chevy with all the various options , colors and fabrics .
“Two-Door Sedan Jag Cohort Outtake”
But there’s no such thing as two-door sedan Jags — only pillarless coupes!
Well, you obviously missed my post on the exceedingly rare Jaguar XJ6-2D two door sedan. That’s what happens if you don’t check in with CC every day 🙂
Or there was always the earlier 240-2…
Wow; love it! Is it real, or PS?
Yes, an alter I’m afraid. Might make a nice RL project for someone though.
This car has just the right amount of attitude. Lowered, whitewalls and torq-thrusts, but nothing that can’t be undone. Really speaks to me!
The car I came home in. Still recall riding standing up in the front seat with Mom’s arm automatically raising up in front of me everytime a quick stop came up. The arm reaction was still automatic until the day she could no longer drive around 2007. I always wanted that little red sucker that was the radio station indicator behind the little glass window.
A good time & place to post one of my guilty pleasures – pure Americana.
These cars continue to be very popular in SoCal. I’ve always loved them. They were omnipresent in my childhood in the Midwest. A favorite uncle bought a new 54 and kept it in fine condition for ten years. IMHO the equivalent Fords were better looking but felt tinny compared to the higher quality Chevrolets.
1953 Chevy 2 door sedan
My first car. Purchased used in 1959.
Rugged, reliable (except for a carb that kept gumming up).
It drove like a tank.
Can’t say as how I could really recommend it.
Here’s a 57 I shot on the weekend. This is driven kind of regularly in summers, I’ve seen it in this same spot in a local plaza parking lot. Maybe it’s owned by the guy who works in the guitar shop. Maybe it’s the lady who runs the fish and chip shop. Or the bartender at the pub. Anyway, having a B pillar makes it a sedan, but its roofline is unchanged, so not sure if it meets your definition of a 2 door sedan. But it’s quite nice. Quite nice indeed. Chevys lost a lot of bulge in four short years.
There’s only one thing wrong with that 57, Lee. It isn’t in my driveway. 😉
Both my grandfathers bought ’51 sedans. We ended up with one that my dad drove to work from about ’63 to ’68, my aunt inherited and drove the other for about the same period. I think she had a Nash Metropolitan before it. I remember them as tall, dark, and slow.
These cars certainly have a different vibe than the following 55-57 models. The earlier cars seem to be either restored to stock or made into a traditional Lowrider. The Tri Fives were usually set up as hipo Street Machines, jacked up with engine mods, wide wheels, and floor shift manual transmissions, as their popularity extended into the muscle car era. The difference was the new V8, like the ’32 Ford, there were plenty out there equipped with a V8, and an engine transplant wasn’t needed. Swapping a V8 into the pre 55s required changing the transmission and rear end, the early cars had torque tube drive. The sixes could be hopped up with multi carb set ups and even replaced by the big GMC engine. These modifications took more skill and resources, while the post 55 models could be improved with bolt on parts.
Growing up in the Sixties, it was clear that there was a definite split with Chevrolets, cruiser or hot rodder. The early cars really disappeared from the street for quite awhile during the 1970s. The early cars styling fit in with traditional custom building and a big powerful motor wasn’t really needed.
What made all Chevies, from 1949 through the 1980’s popular with working class guys was the easy interchangeability of drivetrain components. Chevy kept their engines and transmissions series going for decades. It was always easy to drop by a wrecking yard and find a good used motor to drop in.
Chevrolets from the 1947 to the 1980s have always been popular cars with the Mexican American community. The early models are now the core of iconic traditional Lowriding. Referring to early Chevys as Mexican GTOs is kind of funny, but pretty true. I personally don’t take any offense at that remark.