From the website of the Veteran & Vintage Chevrolet Association of Australia (Qld)
1930 UNIVERSAL SEDAN (or 1931 SUBURBAN?)
I will give you a hint, the best time to arrive at Ian and Nola's is around smoko, perhaps 10am. That is the time my wife Amanda and I arrived and came away several hours later full as a boot, that's after seeing their '30 Universal or '31 Suburban, but that part of the story will come later in the column.
It was back in '78/'79 that the Herse's took off to Mudgee on a rally in the '30 Roadster, all four of them in the front seat, that Ian thought he should be looking for another car. As Nola stated, "we looked like a tin of sardines driving down the road". On the return from Mudgee, Ian decided "we need a '28 Tourer to add to the collection" and was actively on the look out when Noel Enders of Ipswich mentioned that a "30 sedan was for sale out his way. Two '30's are better than one, so Ian went off to investigate and fell in love yet again. The vehicle was purchased for $900 and packed on the trailer for the homeward journey. On the way home Ian and Nola called in to see Ian's Brother, who on spotting the car stated, "you're on the wrong road for the dump". Undeterred the car came back to their shed and a meticulous rebuild.
Ian had gathered some information from the previous owner. He had purchased the vehicle from a lady in Ipswich, whose brother was the original owner. She had inherited the vehicle after her brother had passed away.The brother was a mechanic who was employed by Howard Motors based in Brisbane. The story goes that the owner of Howard motors, back in November of 1931, had called all the staff together at the end of the day and had told them the '32 models were expected shortly and until the '31 suburban was sold and off the lot, the staff could not go home. The mechanic either purchased the car because it was good , cheap or he wanted to go home, but anyway he became the owner. The new owner lived at Ipswich and travelled to Howard Motors daily in the Chev, which even today is a fair drive.
The vehicle when Ian and Nola purchased it had been sitting in a shed for years in the same condition as when the owner purchased it from the mechanics sister. Each of the four guards were torn to shreds and 3 wheels had been badly damaged, as all had been patched and welded at some point. Three doors were nailed shut,with only the front passenger opening, although the glass was missing. But the body was perfectly straight and rust free.
Ian got to work and discovered that the motor had a hole in the block the size of a fist, which had a piece of galvanised steel rivetted over it for a quick fix. The 2nd gear in the box had razor sharp teeth and the diff had a half turn in it before it took up. He decided the best thing to do is to start from a restored rolling chassis and this was not the one to start with. On purchasing another rolling chassis he commenced on a major rebuild, although he could not use one set of rear springs, as every leaf was broken and they were strenghtened by a shaped piece of Ironbark, attached by No.8 wire. Of the mechanicals of the original running gear of the vehicle purchased, Ian used only the horn and generator. Ian is well versed with anything mechanical, being of a farming background with heavy machinery knowledge and completed all of the rolling chassis rebuild withs parts sourced from Ian Maris. Ian had learnt something from when he restored his '30 Roadster some years before where he had used one of those new fangled machines to clean the motor, a water blaster! The owner of the machine had told Ian to just point and sqeeze the trigger which he did, after he saw the owner scarper away to the backblocks. He was covered in black s*** in the first second but decided to go on and finish. This time he took the clean option and acid dipped the motor and it came back as shiny as a sixpence. Over the moon Ian rebuilt the motor and all other mechanicals of the vehicle. On completing he started the motor every week and would bring it up to temperature before shutting it down. He found that the oil pressure was dropping although their was no oil loss. He kept checking the level until one day their was no oil showing on the dipstick. On pulling the sump off he found that the oil had turned to jelly and there was no liquid oil at all.He believes that the acid leaching from the block caused a chemical reaction which turned the oil to jelly. Luckily he had added Wynns Friction Proofing and the bearings were not affected. He trailered the body over to a timber "professional" on the Northside of Brisbane who at that time had a good name for his work. Some time later Ian picked up the completed body late afternoon, paid for it and trailered it home. Nola states that he burst in the next morning and said " I am going over to kill that b****". On checking the work ,he found nothing lined up or closed properly on the whole body. On calming down he went to work fixing the problems, which took all his spare time over 5 weeks. He added more bracing where required to stop the sagging and realigned the doors. This took five weeks of every bit of free time he had. Then to the panel repair and paint which Ian undertook himself and is a real credit to him. Upholstery was sent to a shop in Beenleigh and is still in very good nick, in gold velour, which suits the style of car.
In '82, the day before leaving to the Parkes rally, Ian picked up the car from the upholsterers. In the afternoon he arrived home proud as Punch and decided the head needed retensioning before leaving the next day. On goes the tensioner on the left hand front stud and the corner of the head fell off. Ian promptly got on the phone to his brother,who happened to be pretty handy in this department and before the evening was out the repair weld was complete. Early the next morning Ian and Nola drove to Parkes. No futher problems occurred apart from the fuel consumption, which averaged 6 miles to the gallon. This was rectified on returning to Brisbane with a complete carburettor rebuild.A short time after they were travelling South of Pottsville going up the range, when 2 young blokes were " sucking pieces off my bumper bar," following them in a 6 cylinder Cortina. At the top of the range Ian put the car in "angel gear" and let it coast down the steep hill. The Cortina could not pass due to the speed the Chev got up to and believe it or not, Nola was speechless.
Now back to whether the car is a 1930 Universal or a '31 Suburban.
During the depression all cars were selling slowly and it appears that this Universal was sent back to the distributor for a revamp. The seats were given a 5 inch pleat as with the '31's. A concertina luggage rack replaced the '30 model and a special bonnet was produced and fitted. The top of the bonnet remains the same, with the side panel now incorporating the 3 panelled flutes of the '31. This side panel is higher than the '30 model. The side suages match the thickness of the '30 model which is wider than the '31 model. This makes Ian and Nola's vehicle rather unique. I read the advertising spiel in the Courier Mail advertisement as pictured, quoting the '31 Suburban on a 107 inch wheelbase which is the length of a '30 model. The '31's came out on a 109 inch base. I guess that is some sort of proof that changes were made around that time. This car has travelled some miles since restoration. Along with the roadster, 50,000 miles in total has been covered and is still in perfect condition. It's a real credit to the owners and the way Ian and Nola are, I'm sure,another 50,000 is not out of the question.