The purpose of this Blog

This blog is to detail my 43 years (1973 - 2016) with a 1928 Chevrolet tourer, affectionately called "The Red Chev".

The acquisition, restoration, improvements and my experiences over the years are covered in as much detail as I can remember.

Some of the later postings include car club outings and other vintage car items that I hope will be of interest to people.

If you have the time, scroll back to where it all began in 1973 and follow the journey so far.

Thanks for dropping by.

Regards Ray Dean

See my new section "The Red Chev - Repairs, Improvements, Maintenance and Technical Details" located on the left hand side of the screen.


Friday, September 21, 2012

1928 Chev. The last of the 4-cylinder Chevrolets

From the website of Veteran & Vintage Chevrolet Association of Australia (Qld)

by Bryan Cantrell (050)

In continuing my “Flashback” series of articles, from time to time I thought it may be interesting to focus on a particular Chevrolet model and look at how such cars fared after leaving the new car dealer’s showroom. Some had pampered histories, others were workhorses, and some suffered the indignity of having their bodies sawn in half to create a utility vehicle. My collection of photographs of 1928 Chevs provides a good year on which to reflect.

Most of us will be familiar with Chevrolet’s advertising slogan for 1928 – “Bigger and Better” as shown in the accompanying reproduction of an original advertisement featuring the “winged wheel” motif adopted by Chevrolet in 1928.

Of course, it may never have existed at all if Chevrolet’s engineers had completed the development of the Chevrolet 6-cylinder engine a little earlier. Perhaps a parallel may be drawn with the 1962/3 EJ Holden, the last with the original grey motor. Historians tell us that the EJ was meant to be the launching pad for the new “red” motors, but engineering lag prevented this occurring. This honour then fell to the subsequent model, the EH Holden. So it was with the “National” Chevrolet in 1928. It received a longer wheelbase (107”, the same as a 1929 Chevrolet), 4-wheel brakes, alloy pistons and a 2-port exhaust manifold, but missed out on the extra 2 cylinders!

None-the-less, the 1928 Chevrolet proved to be one of the best, and well deserved its strong reputation for simplicity yet reliability. The enhancements to the engine provided more lively performance, a sweeter exhaust note and higher cruising speed. Coupled with much better braking capacity, the “National” was streets ahead of previous Chev 4’s in overall driving pleasure. Thousands of happy owners attest to this. Further evidence comes from the numbers of 1928 Chevs still motoring in the safe hands of VVCAA owners. My first Chevrolet was a 1928 Chevrolet Series LP 1-ton truck with the 4-speed gearbox, purchased in 1968; while it lacked the sparkling performance of a 1928 tourer, it did provide many years of trouble-free use.

Flashback to Brisbane in the 1970’s and 1928 Chevs owned by early members of the VVCAA (Qld). One of these was Ron Baines (#123), who joined in April 1970.

Ron was a light aircraft pilot, who had owned a 1928 Chevrolet roadster for many years, yet hardly used it. In fact, when he joined the VVCAA the roadster was literally boarded-up under his house, never seeing the light of day. Joining our club was the stimulus for Ron to wake the Chev from its hibernation and put it on club registration, after which he regularly attended club runs including the first Half-Way Rally in 1971. Ron’s roadster was unrestored and was unsympathetically painted white all over, so it was not a particularly attractive vehicle. Ron passed away before he could restore it and the car passed out of the club.

By contrast, the tourer owned by Robin Teys (#245), who joined the VVCAA in February 1972, was an unrestored vehicle in remarkably original condition – too good to restore and lose that patina of age. It had been continuously registered since 1928 with an original “Q” plate – Q99-962. It was one of those 1928 Chevs with the two-tone body paintwork, in this case chocolate brown over fawn with black mudguards.

Other members who owned 1928 tourers included Harry Burton (#060) and John Turner (#463), although I have not included photos in this story. Harry and his wife Ann used their 1928 Chev as their “daily driver” to replace a 1926 Superior V tourer that Harry restored in 1966. Harry’s car was partly restored (mechanicals and paint) by the previous owner (pale green body and black guards); Harry then engaged well-known Brisbane upholsterer Keith Albury to re-do the seats, trim and hood, thus completing the restoration. The Burtons later left Queensland when Harry became an Antarctic scientist and subsequently Ann sold the tourer to Queensland member Geoff Thorne (#2158). John Turner (#463) deserves a mention because he built up his 1928 tourer the hard way - from a collection of bits and pieces. However, the end result was a Chev to be proud of, with a dark green body and black guards.

The remaining photographs are of non-member’s Chevs. Firstly, a 1928 factory utility in the Queensland town of Warwick in 1974. Far from its original glory, it is showing many signs of wear and tear and lack of TLC, but the curve of the body behind the seat and the lack of an external door handle both point to this Chevrolet having always been a utility.

The utility in the next photograph was seen in Pittsworth on the Darling Downs in 1971. This Chevrolet appears to have originally been a roadster and still has the look of an effective workhorse. Not so the ute abandoned behind a farmhouse outside Biggenden in Queensland in 1972. Cut down from a tourer with a hessian sack for upholstery, it looks about as sad as a once-proud 1928 Chevrolet could be. One can only guess at how much faithful service it gave before perhaps some minor mechanical failure relegated it to its final resting place.

Enough of 1928 Chevrolet passenger cars and their derivatives. No discussion of any year would be complete without mentioning trucks, hence the photograph of a Chevrolet L-series “C” cab truck still in use in Brisbane in 1977.

The Chevrolet practice of “using up” metal pressings from prior years on their trucks began early, and 1928 trucks continued to use the 1927 radiator shell and 1925/6 mudguards. Purists may tell me that this truck is a 1927 LM model because it has 1927 headlight rims, which I concede, but as the early 1928 LO Chevrolet is identical except for the addition of 1928 headlight rims, I thought it would be suitable for this article.

 One interesting feature of this truck is the wide cab, extending beyond the valance panels and almost as wide as the cargo tray. One supposes that this allowed seating for the driver and two passengers if required and is unusual in an era when truck cabs (such as the Holden body on my 1928 truck) were much narrower, with seating for only one passenger. This photo shows the pressed steel running boards that were standard equipment on these trucks and the steel hubcaps. The front bumper bar was presumably added by the owner – “factory” front bumpers became standard on the Series LP trucks in late 1928 as a sturdy steel “C” channel bar.

 I’m certain there are many tales to tell about 1928 Chevrolets, such as that related by Geoff Hepburn some time ago about his father’s tourer - how he bought it back from a subsequent owner to restore it to its rightful place in the Hepburn family collection. Perhaps this might inspire other members to write a story about their 1928 Chevrolet and continue this tribute to a fabulous year in the history of Chevrolet.

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