From the website of the Veteran & Vintage Chevrolet Association of Australia (Qld)
CHEVROLET FLASHBACK - IN THE MIDST OF THE GREAT DEPRESSION
by Bryan Cantrell
This is the fourth in my series of flash backs to Chevrolets on the streets of Brisbane in years gone by. To set the scene for this article, let me pose what must be one of the most difficult questions one could ask of a Chevrolet enthusiast: “Which is the best-looking Chevrolet?”
To respond to my own query, I guess that one might get many answers, since there are so many good-looking Chevrolet models to choose from, as well as individuals’ preferences. Remember that General Motors stole the march on us by promoting the 1927 “Capitol” Chevrolet as “The Most Beautiful Chevrolet in Chevrolet History” as GM closed in on its rival Ford in the sales race. The 1927 Chevrolet was also known as the “Peacock” model due to the use of a peacock in GM’s advertising program.
The “Capitol” was certainly a stand-out from its forebears with full-crown front mudguards and bullet headlights which added a touch of modernity to an ageing design. Two fine examples are the roadster and tourer restored by Queensland members Vic and Pat Perry, as photographed at the gymkhana in 1982.
The 1928 Chevrolet slogan “Bigger and Better” and the 1929 sales pitch “A Six for the Price of a Four” are hardly inspiring, although the latter was highly appropriate to announce the arrival of the new Chevrolet 6 which would dominate Chevrolet models until the 1960’s. That engine, the “Stovebolt Six”, would go on to eclipse the production span of the Chev 4 engine it superseded and was fundamental in establishing Chevrolet’s reputation as “America’s Favourite Car”.
But, back to our question. What was beautiful in 1927 may not have endured because Chevrolet designs evolved decade by decade in keeping with the technical and body-style advances made in the motor industry worldwide, but particularly in the USA. So, it is unfair to compare, say, designs from pre- and post-World War II or between 1950’s and 1960’s cars, and so on. It all seems too hard, so let’s forget the question and simply take a look at Chevrolets from the early 1930’s period.
Firstly, the 1930 tourer restored by Queensland member Darryl Stark. This elegant vehicle was painted by Darryl with a grey body and black mudguards and it will be well remembered by early members of the Queensland Branch of the VVCAA. It was a credit to Darryl’s restoration skills and looked a picture with its disk wheels in lieu of the optional wire wheels and the side-mount spare tyre.
However, the 1931 and 1932 Chevrolets took another step forwards in the styling stakes and will always be to the fore in deciding the most popular Chevrolet. It is something of a paradox that Chevrolet produced such elegant and seemingly expensivedesigns at the height of the Great Depression. Perhaps desperate measures were needed to boost flagging sales.
The 1931 and 1932 tourers shown here were photographed at the University of Queensland. These were the sorts of cars that university students drove in the 1970’s. The ’31 was probably the better of the two and was painted dark green all over. I used to see it regularly, whereas the 1932 is less well-known to me. However, it was still a very original example that would have been an ideal candidate for restoration. I personally prefer the simpler design of the 1931 Chevrolet and just love those parking lights on top of the front mudguards, a styling feature that is uniquely Australian and not seen again as standard equipment until 1940.
Finally, I include a photograph of a 1932 Chevrolet utility cut down from a tourer. It is a well-used vehicle that has lost most of its showroom lustre, yet it retains an undoubted charm. I photographed it in Toowong in 1970. It is a great example of a typical Australian utility and shows the careful thought that went into its design with a professional timber tray replacing the tourer tub. It also would have been a sound basis for restoration but I have no idea who owned it or where it ended up.