Sunday, May 8, 2016

Chevrolet From Good to the Best Years 1911 to 1954

Chevrolet From Good to the Best

1911 to 1954

-Alan Arnell

Henry Ford May have put the American consumer on wheels, however after the war they called WWII, Chevrolet went from a dull, but dependable “USA-1” to winning the desire for and love of millions, because of the Tri-Five Chevy’s practicality and pleasant styling.

“Baseball, hot dogs, apple pie and Chevrolet.”  That was was one of the advertising slogans Chevy used over the years.  The slogan was a mirror of the America’s spirit.  It really goes without saying, that people love the Chevy’s of 1955-57. Nostalgia, certainly makes an impact for that well deserved attachment, but the sheer numbers produced helps as well.  In that three year build span of the Tri-Five Chevys, nearly five million cars were built and sold.  A writer so accurately put it, “Just about everybody had one once.”

To see more art work go to LINK

Let us remember that Chevrolet did not set out to produce a classic, merely, they wanted to make, as some have said, “ average car that offered good dollar value, enjoyable to drive, easy to maintain and economical to operate.”  Certainly the high performance editions were intended to strike a responsive chord in the hearts of the horsepower lover, but the bread-and-butter models were build with Mr.Joe Average in mind.

From well before WWII, Chevrolet had prospered with nothing, but bread-and-butter cars.  Chevrolet was GM’s largest-volume division.  Chevy car sales drove GM to near total market dominance.  

1934 Chevy Sedan

Chevrolet's history traces back to its first sales year in 1912.  Developed by Louis Chevrolet, former race car driver and mechanical wiz.  However, wheeler dealer, on and off again, GM President and GM founder, along with being somewhat partners with Louis. William Durant put Chevrolet on the map.  Many times in his career Durant had differences with GM, thus leaving and then coming back again. The first time away from GM, Durant went out and started the Chevrolet empire.  Louis Chevrolet;'s part of the business was taken over by Durant and finally was cast aside by Durant, but he keep the Chevrolet name for the car company, because he liked the name.  You can’t argue with that logic!

1914 Chevrolet

Durant offered a lower-medium-priced car line and cars sales were moderately successful.  The low cost car offering was a direct reflection of Henry Ford’s Model T, which sold for $490.  Durant efforts to undercut the Model T prompted old Henry to lower the price of his car to $440.  Still, the Chevy brand of cars sold well enough to make a profit that springboarded Durant to,again, become GM’s president.  Once again at the reigns of GM Drant merged Chevy into GM.

GM before and after the war years took a large market share of the auto industry This was done with new-reliable-invented mechanical improvements, along with pleasing new car designs.  These two business practices drove many car buyers to buy Chevy brand cars.  The automaker did well enough that it created the slogan”USA-1”

From 1927 to 1959 Harley Earl was credited with establishing the first in-house styling department ever of a major automaker.  The famous department was named the Art & Color Section. Many pleasant car designs were assembled by his influence during his time at GM.

By 1954 Chevy and Ford products were closely matched.  Ford retired its old flathead V-8 for the new and improved “Y-Block Engine and updated to a ball-joint front suspension.  Chevy replied with more chrome and the fortified Blue Flame Engine.  Chevy model choices were expanded with a four-door Bel Air Townsman wagon, which joined the carryover One-fifty and Two-ten Handyman models. Also returning from ‘53 were two- and four-door sedans in each series, One-Fifty utility sedan and the Bel Air convertible and Sport Coupe hardtop. Meanwhile, the two-Ten Sport Coupe and ragtop were, dropped, as was the One-Ten club coupe. New option s included power brakes and power front seat and windows.

Now Chevrolet's all new new ‘55s were ready, and they could not have been better timed.  Another history making year was in the offering, and the first “Classic“ Chevy was ready to set Detroit on its ear.  A national love affair had begun.

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