I’ve never received a message in a bottle, but I have now received a message in a car body. It’s not a message from a place, rather it’s a message from a time, 1953, which was indeed very different. It was before TV was universal, when most families would spend the evening listening to the radio, reading, playing games or just talking. Our big national priorities revolved around fighting communism, amid a cold war with the U.S.S.R., a hot war in Korea and some temperature of war domestically with Sen. McCarthy and others looking for communists in government and institutions. Rock ‘n’ Roll wasn’t a thing just yet. Women usually wore dresses/skirts, men usually wore hats and everybody dressed up to travel. Air conditioning was rare in homes or cars. I could go on.
Yes, 68 years is a long time. It happens to be the average American lifespan in 1953 (It’s 78 now). It’s longer than almost anyone’s career, even The Rolling Stones (if only barely). It’s particularly long for any complex machine to still be functioning as it was designed to with no refurbishment and only minimal repairs. Yet here we have a Chevy that may not look pretty, but the fact that it has lasted that long gives it a beauty beyond looks.
This will be a full Curbside Classic article, with the first portion covering the backstory of the 1953 Chevrolets. If you want a shorter version, just skip to the story of this particular car by scrolling down to the picture of a barn.
Few spend much time thinking about the 1953 Chevrolet. The plain sister no one thinks to mention, they were made just before the bright dividing line in Chevrolet history drawn in 1955.
Up until that time, Chevrolet was content to serve without complaint as the lowest rung in the GM ladder of brands since 1918, the direct competitor to Ford. Chevys were practical, unpretentious cars for people with a strict automotive budget, and they had great success serving that market. They began regularly outselling Ford in 1929 and by the 1940s and early 50s unquestionably dominated the low-priced car market.
Chevy sold the same basic car all through the 40’s, minus the three year war pause, of course. Here a 1948 model makes the case that it is the ideal choice for climbing Pike’s Peak. The basic shape and proportions were familiar to anyone who’d seen Chevrolets going back to at least the mid-30s.
To 1949 Chevy customers, the all-new model would have been something of a revelation. The integrated front fenders and prominent trunk were a big departure. Though GM’s postwar redesign was stylistically revolutionary, it was no more so than other makers’ and the subtle separate rear fenders were a conservative choice that was dropped by all GM divisions except Chevrolet and Pontiac by 1951.
Chevy left the 1949 model virtually unchanged for four years, except for a new dashboard in 1951, a fully automatic transmission in 1950 (the two-speed Powerglide, beating Ford by a year), and other detail changes. That’s a long time for the 50s, when major styling revisions were getting more and more frequent. Pre-1955, Chevrolet was a pretty conservative division. They gave their car a long-due styling update for 1953, and yet it still looked pretty much the same!
Look at the 1949 picture and then the 1953. They look quite similar, but the more you look, the more you see that almost everything is slightly different. I believe all the sheetmetal is new except for front doors. The separate rear fenders are still there, except they are now seamless and not actually separate.
The big claims to newness were a one piece windshield and a wraparound rear window. The fastback body style option was dropped and this is the first year for a full Bel Air model line to replace the Fleetline Deluxe, where previously Bel Air had just been a two-door hardtop sub-model since 1950.
Dashboards were new again. It’s a pretty nice design. Undeniably low end, but still attractive. The driver got a full gauge package plus clock, and key-turn starting for the first time. Tachometers wouldn’t be seen in [non sports] American cars until well into the 1960’s (anybody know the first?). The simple but attractive steering wheel really dominates the space! Chrome facing on the passenger side classed it up quite a bit. The generous ashtray is subtly integrated into the chrome trim. It’s good that the ashtray is large, because it’s been scienticiously proven that while every cigarette you smoke takes 7 minutes off your life, the minutes are given to Mick Jagger, for the betterment of humanity.
If Chevrolet was conservative in their styling, they were even more so mechanically. The “Stovebolt” 6 cylinder OHV engine dates back to 1929 (so called because its numerous bolts looked a bit like an old stove’s). When the Stovebolt was released in 1929, Chevy gave you “A six for the price of a 4”. This trumped Ford, who still only offered a four for three more years before responding with their famous Flathead V8. Chevy’s response was an enlargement and re-engineering of their six for 1937, but it was still called a Stovebolt by fans. Chevy did not respond with their own V8 until 1955 and, apart from minor displacement and power changes, provided buyers essentially the same six cylinder engine in all their cars from ’37 through ’54, and as the base engine through 1962.
Starting in 1953, Chevy officially called their engine the Blue Flame Six and painted it a bright blue. But the engine in this car isn’t blue, you may notice. That’s because the 115hp 235 c.i. Blue Flame was exclusive to automatic-equipped cars, (including the 150hp triple-carbed new Corvette). Standard transmission cars got the tan-painted 108hp 235 c.i. Thrift King (isn’t that an exciting name!). You can make out a little of the original tan paint on the valve cover. There’s no emissions controls at all, but gas mileage is not bad and having a car running this long is a form of conservation. Taking care of the Earth is important, because after all, what kind of world do we want to leave to Keith Richards?
One of the most durable fantasies of just about every classic car lover is happening upon the perfect “barn find”. This is where you find a low mileage example of a rare and desirable car stored away in a barn (or a garage can count for the non-literal), not seen or used for decades. You pull it out into the sunlight and apart from a good coating of dust, it is perfect and ready for a drive through the country with just a new battery, fresh gas and air in the tires. The owner inherited the car and doesn’t really know it is special, just that he wants it out of the way and will cut you a great deal to help him with that.
Often the reality is more like this. And the owner wants $100k for it.
Well, this 1953 Chevy is a bona fide barn find. According to the owner, it came from an estate sale in Ann Arbor, Michigan where it had been residing unused for many years in an actual barn. What saved the car from being a basket case was that the barn had a wood floor and many cats lived in this barn, which made it rodent-free and kept the little rascals from nesting in the interior, chewing up the wiring or any other mischief mice like to do to a car.
The odometer reads 21k miles, which is believed to be actual. The best evidence for this is the interior, sporting what the owner believes, and I agree, is the original cloth upholstery.
This is no small thing. The odds are not good at all that a car from the 50’s or earlier will survive with its original upholstery. In cloth. Completely intact. Including on the driver section.
Bel Air trim included a rope handle on the front seat and an ashtray, both pretty swanky for a Chevrolet at that time.
Here’s something else you don’t see every day: a gas station maintenance sticker from 1962. There are several of these on the door jamb, the most recent from 1969. In 1969 it had almost 16k miles. The story received by the owner is that the original owners stopped driving at some point and gave it to their niece, who drove it until 1974, at which point it was put in the barn and not touched until the 2020 estate sale.
The car didn’t require too much work to get back on the road. Besides tires, fluids and hoses, it received new brakes and a master cylinder and a generator rebuild. A carburetor cleaning is about all that’s been done since, otherwise it is as parked in 1974, which appears to be quite similar to how it came out of the factory in 1953.
If you live in or have driven through Texas, you are likely familiar with Buc-ee’s, the Texas-sized convenience stores. They are tough to miss as you drive any of the major highways in the eastern half of the state. If you don’t notice the multi-acre site with 100 or more gas pumps, or the 50k+ sq.ft. store, or the surprising absence of big-rigs, you probably saw one of the dozens of humorous billboards leading up to each one.
Inside, you’ll find massive displays of snack foods, deli counters, ~30 cash registers, ~80 soda fountain dispensers and their claim to fame: giant bathrooms with dozens of stalls fanatically kept to a hospital-rivaling level of cleanliness. How could you not stop? On a busy travel weekend, nearly every gas pump will be used and it will be jam packed in the store.
We certainly couldn’t resist Buc-ee’s lure last spring on a trip to Galveston. I was focused on driving and finding a gas pump when my wife says, “Did you see that old car?”. I hadn’t, which places in doubt my supposedly powerful car spotting abilities. Sure enough, sitting a few pumps away was a charming 1953 Chevy, getting a fresh tank of Buc-ee’s blend of ethanol-free 92 octane gasoline, as all classic cars would love to have. The owner was happy to talk about the car and let me take all the photos I wanted.
As I approached the Chevy, I initially thought this isn’t too exciting because it’s pretty rough around the edges, albeit stock, solid, and complete. On talking with the owner, though, I found that it is rough looking because almost everything on it is from 1953, including the paint, the engine, and the aforementioned interior.
Did you notice the taillights? The story the owner was told is that the original owners were a pair of sisters who were quite frugal, beyond even what their car ownership habits would indicate. At some point the right taillight was damaged. The repair shop happened to have a 1954 taillight on hand and rather than pay to order a new correct 1953 taillight, they said just use the 1954.
As I mentioned earlier, the 1953 and virtually identical 54 Chevys were the calm before the storm. They are not nearly so famous and popular as the cars to come, that is, the now-iconic 55-57 Tri-Five Chevys and many subsequent models. 1955 was the start of a new era for Chevrolet when they often featured bold styling and optional high-performance engines. Ford had been the choice for hotrodders and gearheads for a long time, but that near monopoly fractured in 1955.
The owner says he doesn’t plan to do any visual refurbishment beyond a good coat of wax. I think that’s great because this car in its original state is a message from another time. When its chrome and paint were shinier, the world was a much different place and it’s fun and enlightening to see a mechanical artifact survive in such an unmodified and relatively preserved state.
So, what was the message this car is sending? “Live simply, love deeply and don’t judge a book by it’s cover.” I swear that’s what it said to me. I think I also heard it say “Better dead than red”, but I might not have heard that part correctly.
Come back next week, same time, same station for another message I received from 1953 about some completely different cars.
Photographed in Texas City, TX on April 26, 2021. No beavers were harmed.
Postscript: Rolling Stones jokes are the best, for some reason, probably because the band is so genuinely great and admirably long-lived. Their current 2021 tour is exclusively sponsored by Alliance For Lifetime Income, a retirement investment organization. Now that’s rock’n’roll! They are playing the classics and new songs like I Can’t Get No Circulation, Let’s Take A Nap Together, and You Can’t Always Chew What You Want. Ok, the songs are a joke but their sponsor is real.
I literally LOLed at “what kind of world do we want to leave to Keith Richards?” Great job on the article.
I liked “it’s been scienticiously proven that while every cigarette you smoke takes 7 minutes off your life, the minutes are given to Mick Jagger, for the betterment of humanity”
You can add years to your life by not smoking, but those are the crappy years that come at the end.
Great story? Keep ’em coming.
Meant “Great story!”
That phrase confirms to me you as a diehard Simpsons fan.
Me too. I use it practically daily.
Love the article. My dads family had a ‘53 Pontiac and being from Canada (eh) the lower level Pontiacs and Chevys were very similar vehicles.
Right, the Cheviacs! Haven’t seen many, but Chevys that look like Pontiacs is what they sound like.
Definite Simpsons fan, though if I got that term from there it’s just in my subconscious now (not at all surprising). Really just through about the 10th season for me. They have moments of brilliance still, but don’t generally enjoy the newer ones as much.
My mother’s parents owned a 54 Chevy very similar to this car (a black 4 door sedan) but I think it was a lower trim model. Neither of my grandparents could drive, but my grandmother’s brother gave them this car when it was brand new for use in emergencies. Back then, 4 of my uncles and my Mom lived within walking distance of their parents home and between the 5 of them only 3 had access to cars.
I seem to remember that rope attached to the back of the front seat, but can’t say for sure it was in that car. I do remember the soft moan/groaning sounds that Chevy 6 cylinder engine made pulling into the garage at my grandparents house. After the climb up the steep street leading to their house that car knew it was heading for an extended rest and was relieved?
To be honest, no American car manufacturer built a 53 or 54 model that appeals to me. Before or after? Maybe. But for those 2 years…ugh.
BTW,there are 2 Buc-ee’s in the Florida,both on I-95 on the route towards Orlando.
I also saw that Bucees is expanding into the southest outside TX.
A *very* nice survivor .
the engine is a 216CID and was painted gray, not tan .
I’d love this car but would re chrome the bumpers because rust never sleeps and yes, I have seen 1953 Chevies (and others) with holes rusted clear through the massive bumpers .
No; it’s a 235. The 216 had been retired by then.
I’d thought the ’53 stick shifts still had 216 babbitt pounders .
My bad .
The owner confirmed to me that it is a 235.
You raise a good point though. Today I looked up the original Chevrolet specification book on the GM Heritage Center website and it lists a 216, however it only refers to it as the Sedan Delivery engine, while the 235 is called the passenger car engine. In researching the article, I had read that for the revised 1953 model Chevy made the 235 standard, with a version for manual transmissions and a version for Powerglides, which is confirmed by the 53 brochure. The GM spec data is consistent with that. It seems my original reference had the power figures wrong, which I have now corrected in my article.
It was pretty common in the day for most car companies to offer a slightly higher horsepower engine for the automatic transmission cars as the automatics in the day would rob a car of some of its power. The higher horsepower would help compensate for that.
Nice writeup and a nice car that emerged from its slumber without too much trouble, it seems.
I’m a 1953 vintage myself, and it was in that year that the U.S. finally passed the “half of American homes have TV receivers” standard. Post-WWII TV growth had been stifled by a 1948 FCC “freeze” on new stations (wanting some breathing room to codify some broadcast standards, etc), which wasn’t removed until spring 1952. Korean War demands for some precious metals also crimped TV set manufacture for a while as well.
Thanks for reminding me what a different, long-gone world I was born into!
Thanks! Thankfully you weren’t kept in a barn for 46 years!
More American homes had TV’s or telephones than indoor flushing toilets then too .
The ’53 & ’54 Chevies had mechanical wind up clocks too ~ I saved one from an abandoned ’54 Chevy wagon in 1967 and it kept time until I left it behind when I left the East Cost in 1970 .
I like them now, espcially the hard tops but you had to be there in the 1960’s to grasp how dumpy these were considered, good sturdy reliable cars yes but so was that $125 ’55 Chevy 150 stripper and it looked newer .
The quintessential early ’50s American car. It’s the sketch you would draw if asked to make a picture of a car from this era. More handsome than its rival Ford and lacking the eccentricities of the rival Plymouth, no wonder it was a best seller! Leading the “low price field” with a hardtop coupe and a full automatic didn’t hurt matters either.
My high school principal, first name Jack, was known as “Happy Jack” for his perpetual smile and slightly goofy demeanor. Adding to that image, in the early ’80s, he daily drove a 1953 Bel-Air sedan, maroon, white top, white rear quarter trim, fender skirts, powerglide. It added to his Happy Jack image, but being a car nerd myself, I thought it totally cool. It was also cool that he thought even such an obvious car would remain unmolested in a high school parking lot, and I’m not aware he ever had any problems.
“More handsome than its rival Ford”
I am kind of the other way on these, and have always thought the 52-54 Ford was particularly attractive while the 53-54 Chevy was kind of fat and a step down from the 52, that I consider the most attractive of that run.
A family in the neighborhood had a ‘54 Bel Air 4-door from new, brown with cream roof and trim. They had many kids, and each one, in turn, got to drive it to high school. It was in perfect original shape, down to the hubcaps, with the straight six and the “power glide” emblem across the rear of the car.
That car would quietly glide along in no particular hurry, with a soft burble coming from the tailpipe. This was in the late ‘70s.
One day, it was stolen from the high school parking lot. The family, and the neighborhood, were heartbroken. It probably ended up as a Lowrider, or parted out for a Lowrider, up in L.A. somewhere. The Lowrider had just regained wide popularity at the time.
You found a true time machine. While ’53 Chevies may not be rare or particularly desirable (IMO), finding one on the road functioning pretty much as it left the factory 68 years ago is amazing. Your article really nailed the details. Well done.
When I was a kid, my scoutmaster was still driving his well worn ’54. He’d sometimes let some of us older scouts practice driving it when we were camped in open fields with no other scout troops nearby. I spun my 1st donut in some mud with that ’54. That stunt got me jerked out of the driver seat for the rest of the campout – but it was so worth it!
Nice find! I would spend a lot of time looking at this car at a car show. I am tired of seeing so many of typical cars at shows that the odd-ball or rare (but not necessarily priceless) cars attract my attention. I do my best to watch out of the corner of my eye the owners of countless Hellcats or Chevelle SSs as a walk right by and take tons of pics and talk to the owners of cars like this instead.
BTW, Bucees is also in Warner Robins, GA along I-75 presently. I visited the Jacksonville FL recently and will be returning later this month.
Earliest tach? Maybe Corvettes for American cars? Had to be some by the early sixties.
My Dad’s father had a black ’53 Chevy as his first (and only) car. He drove a Baltimore Transit Co. bus for many years, and like a lot of us, didn’t want to do what he did for a living in his off time.
My Dad was more of a car guy than his dad back then. He wanted a new ’57 Chevy, but could only afford a slightly used ’56. He got a Model Two-Ten four door sedan. When his dad passed away a short time later, Dad suddenly owned two Chevys. He sold the ’53, as he was planning to get married to my Mom in August of 1959, and they only needed one car (Mom didn’t drive a the time, and I wasn’t even an immediate thought, yet 😉).
When I was little, Dad told me of his dad’s ’53 Chevy, not too dissimilar from our subject car. Most likely, his dad didn’t spring for the Bel Air, and most likely got the 210 or 150, or whatever the equivalent namesake was in those days.
From that point on (I was about 6 years old and he had just bought a new ’66 Impala at the time) he started to teach me how to identify all of the Chevys from this point forward… 1953. When I saw the first picture with the ’54 taillight, I was confused. I almost scrolled down right way to call out the misidentification, but I am glad I read the rest of the story!
That actually sounds like something his own dad would have done, being frugal from what I understand. I never met my grandfather (either one) as t(he)y died before I was born, unfortunately. I would have loved to have heard the stories of his bus driving days, or my Mom’s dad’s stories of working on the B&O railroad.
Too bad your parents didn’t keep the 53!
Thanks for holding your fire. I’d like to believe all us CC writers would never make a mistake that grievous. If I did, though, Paul would certainly catch it in editing!
This is when Chevrolet starts to mean something to me, as my earliest memories as a child start after my third birthday (9 July). Do not remember what dad was driving that year (it’d be a Bel Air hardtop, that’s a given, but I cannot remember the color). Primary memory was that Corvette that dad brought home, and promptly traded off.
Taillights: there’s a cute ownership story in the writeup that might have slipped past you…sounds plausible to me!
Regarding the ’53/’54 taillights: It never ceases to amaze me how a few slight detail changes (taillights, front turn signals) made the ’54 a better looking car than the ’53 in my eyes.
By the way, the one ’53 dealer promotional model I have is a Bel Air two door sedan, grey top on a white bottom.
I agree, somehow the 54 taillights do look better.
The first of my family’s cars that I remember is our ’54 Chevy 210 Delray club coupe that we had from ’54 to ’61. Red with a white top, black and white vinyl interior, 3 speed, heater, and a Motorola radio. What a stripper that would be today but a pretty normal suite of equipment back then. Very similar car to this one. She took us all over the place, from Portland to the coast, to Phoenix, and to Yellowstone, and I never remember my Dad having any real problems with her. Good, solid, basic, dependable family cars; that was Chevrolet. I can almost hear Dinah Shore singing……
One thing I never could figure out on the ’53s. The turn signal indicators on the dash were white plastic, glowing green when the signals were on. Unfortunately you could only see them at night. ’54 went to green plastic you could see all the time. Why white???
Later in high school a good friend had a ’54. I remember helping him put a McGurk (?) twin carb manifold on it and we kept trying to find the additional power it promised. Good times.
Interesting detail about the turnsignals. At least they fixed it for 54, so good attention to detail by Chevy, even if they did miss it prior to releasing the 53.
What a fine time capsule; I’m glad to know it’s being appreciated as such and will be kept that way.
I’m with Jim Cavanaugh on these: the new ’52 (and up) Fords looked more modern, for obvious reasons, as they were all-new, unlike these Chevys. They always struck me as a bit pudgy and dull. But lovable, all the same.
Not only the Fords cars, Ford also redesigned their pick-up truck for 1953 as well while Chevrolet keep the “Advance design” unchanged for ’53 but some changes will come for ’54 until the “Task Force” gen arrive.
My mother graduated from nursing school in 1954 and got her father to co-sign a note on a dark green 1953 Chevy 210 sedan, which she kept until after she got married in 1958. She always remembered her 53 Chevy fondly. This Bel Air has a really fancy interior for the time and would have been a really nice car for someone.
That interior, by the way, is simply fabulous. Those cloth interiors of the 40s and 50s were none too durable, and if you didn’t wear them out the sun rotted them. It is so great to see this one. And the taillights are hilarious.
You got me thinking about the first non-sports car to get a tach – my nomination (which will probably be surpassed by someone) is the 1955 Studebaker President Speedster. Whether it was first (and whether it was a non-sports car, which Studebaker may have argued about in 1955) is another thing.
All Cord 810/812s had a standard tach. But there may well be earlier ones.
Good find! I’d say the fact Studebaker gave it a tach indicates they were trying to portray it as a sports car, even if it wasn’t really one. Those Studebaker hardtop coupes were probably the sportiest regular American car of the 50’s (at least the early-mid 50’s), as far as looks go.
I’m impressed to see a time-capsule 1953 car running, without restoration. Yes, it’s easy to see how this is reworked from the ’49-’52 Chevy, but because so many things were reworked, it looks much fresher than it has any right to. It comes off better to my eyes than the Olds, Buick, and Cadillac of the same time, that all look a bit blocky (and those had a lot of their late-’40s look still going on, too).
I think I’ve read that TV came to Tucson in 1953, and that may be near when my folks got their first TV, a Philco TV-radio-phono console. By the end of the year, the RCA all-electronic color TV system, fully compatible with existing black-and-white sets, had been approved as the U.S. color TV standard, and sets went on sale the next year. Movies went wide screen in ’53, too, with stereo soundtracks. Big changes everywhere!
So is this a decent DD?
There are far more of these cars around than one can imagine.
and then some
and some more out of a couple of dozen scattered about
Great story and great car. I love what the owner is doing (or not) with it. Just keep it waxed and running and enjoy it.
The story about the barn cats is good too. Although I’ll not hesitate to note that cats can do their own damage to cars over time. Fortunately this Chevy outlived both the mice and the cats.
And while I’m glad that I live in the Northeast where we simply do not have room for something like Buc-ee’s I do have to be duly impressed by their “Wall-o-Jerky”, which flat out amazed me and the kid when we last encountered one in a drive across TX.
Alternative-universe department: As a kid growing up in fifties-sixties Australia, I don’t remember seeing any of these at all. The ’49-’52 generation I was familiar with, but not these years. Fords yes, Plymouths (and their Plodge and Plysoto cousins) were all over the place, but somehow not these. Earlier and later generations, yes. Holden did assemble these, but I guess folk in my part of town preferred the other brands for whatever reason. For an almost-total reskin, they did come off looking somewhat dated.
CC-in-scale built up one of these last year, a stock conversion of the Revell drag-only kit. Sorry it’s not black though. 🙂
Hey, neat! Reminds me of the ’53 Plymouth posted here on CC five years back.
That’s a great find – and it was probably relatively inexpensive. It’s a nearly perfect driver, although I’d replace one taillight or the other for symmetry’s sake, regardless of the story’s charm.
Am I right in thinking that ’53 Powerglide cars had full-pressure oiling?
That’s what I read, new for 53 on the Blue Flame I believe.
Yes, only the PG-equipped 235s in ’53. Both versions in ’54.
Nice old Chevy. Sometimes it’s better to just keep one of these in good running and driving order and not worry about restoring it to showroom condition. The patina of the body and interior just adds more character to the car. A few years ago my wife and I came across another barn find – a 1940 Cadillac. It was in nice shape, and the owner said it had been stored since the mid Sixties. He was a mechanic, so he had no problem getting it running and driving, and with 90,000 miles on the original flathead V8 he said it had never been apart. They used it for a summer driver and took it everywhere. I’m sure that old Chevy will still be tooling around for a long time yet. It certainly has a lot of catching up to do after its extended slumber.
A ’53 Chevy was My First Car! Shared it with my brother (a twin). Two door, 150 or 210. Blue and white.
Bought it in 1957. Can’t remember how much we paid for it. Of all the 1950s Chevies the ’53 was the worst looking, in my opinion. But I agree, Jon, the dashboard was attractive.
I don’t believe I have ever owned a GM car since (and there have been hundreds).
In recent decades, however, success has not been measured in how many, but how long. Kept a Toyota going for 34 years and a Ford for 25. An attempt to boycott the up-front embedded carbon it takes to manufacture new ones. Sources say the big ‘six-pak’ PICKUP trucks that serve as the family sedan these days represents 80 metric tons of carbon before you even begin to apply pressure to the gas pedal.
You’ve owned hundreds of cars and measure your ownership in decades…impressive!
The “hundreds of cars” was in my youth.
Nowadays (and for the past 40) I live a low carbon lifestyle. Hence keeping them running forever avoids the embedded carbon in manufacture.
Our neighbors had a ‘53 until they replaced it with a ‘64. I’m sure I rode in it sometime … by the time of my first memories of the car, it already looked old compared the longer/lower/wider 1959 and newer cars that were common sights. But a step newer than the previous generation. In the Fall of 1964, when we were returning from Europe on a cargo ship with our European-delivery Volvo in the hold, the ship’s Swedish captain told us he drove a 1953 Chevy. Best car ever, he thought, and couldn’t understand why we as Americans would want a Swedish car. And when we got home, I saw our neighbors’ new ‘64, the ‘53 (blue and white) was gone, and I have no particular memories of ‘53 Chevies since then.
Today I’m having trouble getting the CC Effect dialed in exactly right. lol
Getting closer. May need calibration?
Thanks for a great writeup on a nice old ’53 Chevy. My next door neighbors had a ’53 Bel Air 4 door up until 1970, then bought a very clean ’64 Impala. I was lucky enough to ride in both, but liked the old ’53 a bit more. The only thing I would have to add to this one is the fender skirts. Wonder if they are in the trunk.
In the garage.
What’s up with one 53 tail light and one 54?
Read under third photo from the bottom.
This is my “ranch find” I came across in 1984 in central Idaho. The gentleman rancher tried to give it to me but I insisted he take $25 to make it legal ! It had been stripped to a certain degree but the parts have all been readily available during my restoration. The body had it bumps and bruises but was rust free. I’ve relocated her to Vermont now and spends her time roaming the country visiting “the girls”.
How I found her-
Her life today-
What an excellent find! It will be a wonder if this car ever makes it to 100,000 miles though.
The Rolling Stones might be retired by then.
Re: The 1954 tail lamp on the right hand side… That’s going to leave the car without a rear turn signal on that side of the car, unless some creative work with the wiring was done. 1953 used the upper section of the lamp for tail/brake, while the conical center lens had a separate bulb that was utilized for the turn signal. 1954 combined those functions into the one tail/brake bulb. Interesting.
Wonderful find! My parents’ first car was a ’53 Chevy 210 2-door sedan. I was born the year before.
Thinking about the rear lights on the ’53, I recall (maybe no longer correctly?) that the upper section is a taillight only, and the center portion is combined brake and turn signal.
This is a daily driver in my neighborhood
Sorry the pictures didn’t take first time.
No the second .
These like almost all 1950’s cars make find daily drivers but don’t go fast nor handle well .
My 1st car. 1953 4 DR. Bel Air. Light yellew with green top and green dash and interior. 3 on the tree. The selling point was it had 4 bar spinners. $150.00. The kid I purchaced from got a new GTO from his parents for graduation. Great times.
My very first car was a green & white 1953 4-door Bel Air. At ten years of age, it had plenty of rust and pitted chrome and would go through two engines during my less than a year of ownership. By strange coincidence, I recently stumbled upon the bill of sale in a box of old papers. $165.00 + $4.45 tax + $2.50 filing fee.
Great piece – loved it. Even the Stones jokes.
Hi Jon! I stumbled onto this site and found you here. I think we went to college together for a couple of years, at Miami University, in Oxford, Ohio. We met in marching band there. My name was Chris Moeller then. Assuming you’re the same person (whose love for “woody” station wagons always cracked me up!), I’d love to hear from you. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Nice story. Looking forward to reading Part II.
My father had a dark blue & white 953 Chevy 210 2-door with powerglide transmission bought new while stationed in Okinawa during the 1950s. It was a nice car until he tried to make a hot rod out of it. Removed all the side and hood chrome moldings and mildly souped up the engine. Given the climate in Okinawa, it already looked like an old car within a few years. Ran across the bill of sale and Chevrolet Speed Manual among his papers and stuff.
I prefer the 1954 styling over the 1953. 1954 grill, headlights, turn signals and tailights looked cleaner and hinted at things to come in 1955.