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.


Monday, January 5, 2015

Oldest Production Chevrolet Found (Built and sold in 1913)

Found this posting on the VCCA Site

Posting is by the Chevy Guru (USA)

Well, if we further qualify it as "Oldest complete production Chevrolet Touring Car" - then yes, it sure looks like it! Maybe you saw the rather confusing ad in the latest Hemmings that just came out a couple of days ago. It said "Chevrolet 1912 touring car, 4-cyl, unrestored, barn fresh, complete…" I got my copy on Friday afternoon.

Well, I live and breathe the very early Chevys, and of course there is no such thing as a 1912 Chevrolet. So, did the seller maybe mean he had a Little? But there were no Little touring cars in 1912, only roadsters. And any Chevy from 1913 would have to be a 6 cylinder, and we only know of 3 of the early 6 cylinder cars - two of which are 1914 models. Did he simply have the year wrong? Not uncommon, of course. A 4 cylinder Chevrolet cannot be older than 1914 model year, although some people like to call their early Model H cars (Baby Grand touring cars and Royal Mail roadsters) 1913 models. The truth is, Chevrolet sold the first Model H in July 1913 and called it a 1914 model, just as today when next year's model is introduced months ahead of the actual calendar date (see the extensive article in the March 2014 G&D for more information than you want.)

So of course I had to call him. And before we hung up, I told him I would buy the car, and be there the next day. What he actually had - and now I have - is a very early production Baby Grand touring car, built and sold in the Fall of 1913. It would have properly been called a 1914 model. It is Car # 727, with hand-crank starting and acetylene headlights.

The Bank was already closed, but Saturday morning I was there to pull out the funds, came home and hooked up my trailer. The car was in Rochester, NY, about 330 miles east for me. By the time I packed for a possible overnight stay and got ready to be gone, I was on the road about 3:30 Saturday afternoon. Winds gusting to 60 mph along the Lake Erie shore for hundreds of miles kept my speed with the big empty enclosed trailer down to 50-55 mph to stay on the roadway on Interstate 90. It was a white knuckle drive for sure. It was almost 11 PM by the time I arrived. Honestly, I hardly looked at the car! Paid the man, winched it into the trailer and turned around for home. I ended up stopping for 4 hours of sleep about 3:30 AM in Erie PA, and finally rolled into home early yesterday afternoon, safely home with my prize. And as fate would have it, we were hosting a VCCA Region meeting at my house yesterday evening. At least I made it in time for the meeting and had something new and exciting to show the folks! It's still in the trailer as I type this, I have to move some things around to make room in the Shop for it - and hopefully sell a car for some space.

So why do I say it is the oldest complete production Chevrolet Touring Car? We have a very active Model H Chapter in VCCA, and a meticulously maintained database of all known Model H cars. This #727 is the lowest Serial Number for a Baby Grand, with a probable build date of September or October 1913. There are 4 known earlier Model H's, but they are all Royal Mail roadsters, not touring cars. Then there is the big Model C ("Classic Six") touring car in the Sloan Museum in Flint, but it was built in the summer of 1914. There is Pinky Randall's 1914 Light Six touring, built later towards the end of the 1914 production run. And there is the Model C in the Alberta museum, car # 93, but it is not complete. And finally, there is GM's so called "Old Number One" which was the prototype Baby Grand, started its life as a Little Six and was converted to the first 4 cylinder engine in 1913 - but that's not a PRODUCTION car, it's a prototype!

Therefore, I believe I can honestly say that this Baby Grand is the oldest surviving, complete, production Chevrolet touring car in the world!

The story is that the car was bought new in the Fall of 1913 by a farmer in the Berkshire Mountains of western Massachusetts, as the family's first automobile. In the late Teens, the farmer bought a newer car with an electric starter. This was found to be much more pleasant than cranking the Chevrolet, which by the early 1920s was relegated to the back of the barn. A later Star touring car was eventually parked in front of it at the end of its own service life. And then 90 years went by…. the grandson of the owner sold the farm recently, and the new buyer found the old cars. When asked, the grandson said that "grandpa's cars had been there longer than anyone could remember" and they went with the barn. So the new owner found a "car guy" to take away the old Chevrolet and the Star. The Car Guy transported them to Upstate New York, and advertised them in Hemmings. And I came and bought it.

The car shows every sign of having been sitting for 90 years. It is incredibly complete, even the side curtains are still in place under the rear seat. Every part is as it should be. Original paint is nearly all gone, but still visible. The engine turns and has compression. The Simms magneto, Zenith carb, script hubcaps (before the Bowtie) and all small components are in place and correct for the model. Plate glass windshield, original leather upholstery, etc, etc, etc. Very ancient tires and the original top are in shreds, as you might imagine. The only really serious deterioration is where water got into the right rear area in the back seat, and rusted through the body panel and rotted the wood in that right rear corner area.

As above, I don't even have the car out of the trailer yet, and have not had a chance to do a thorough inspection and inventory, or take good photos. But you can be sure I will do so in the coming weeks and months! For now, I can only offer the small photo from the Seller below.

Once I can inspect the rust and wood damage in that right rear area, and assess the overall condition of things, then I will make the decision if it can reasonably be preserved, or if it is more proper to do a restoration. In the mean time, I am just thrilled beyond words to have found this previously unknown old girl, and to have it in my possession!

Below, a couple more photos in the trailer.

101 year old radiator emblem - the Model H was the first model to use the Bowtie.

Script style hubcap (it has all 4)


And the "VIN" - Car Number 727, Fall of 1913 -

No comments:

Post a Comment