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Where can I find Chevrolet production information for 1949-1952?


Pontiac59
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I'm a little confused. A couple of websites I've found say that Chevrolet began production of 1949 passenger car models on 1/7/49, and 1950 models one year later - both say almost the same thing word for word, which leads me to believe they both come from the same original source - perhaps a book like Krause's Standard Catalog of Automobiles?

My 1950 contradicts this information. The serial number letter code for producton month is L - December. The numbers on it are too low for it to be a late car - it has a two digit body number and a 4 digit sequential serial number, that if you subtract the 1001 start number, makes it below 200. Chevrolet made around a million and a half cars that year, with 45,000 or so the same model as mine, so if it were a late car I'd expect at least a 4-digit body number and 5 or even 6 digit sequential number in the serial. (the original motor is long, long gone so no clues there, I think it was removed before I was even born).

When I got the car it had a 1949 grille, but it also has had the front fenders and left door changed, so I assumed that was just what was available at the time. All of the other details, what's left of them - interior colors, stripes and such - match up to what's correct for 1950 and for it's original body color.

This has me curious just what is correct and when the model changeover occurred - and also just how many the plants were building in a day at that time, as it would seem this car was built on the first day or so they made 1950s. But either I'm searching with the wrong terms, or this data is going to be found in a book somewhere that is not posted to the internet.

Anyone have any ideas?

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Guest Jim_Edwards

First, it was the practice of domestic automobile producers to shut down for retooling for two weeks at or around the first of July give or take a week or two in those days, GM was no exception. Secondly, GM produced Chevy's in many different assembly plants across the country at the time and each had their own set of serial/sequence numbers. Beyond that, it sounds as if your Chevy had likely been in one or more collisions given the number of apparently mixed body parts you describe. By the time 1949 models rolled around the post WWII practice of getting things down the line with what was available was over plus your car was a new body design first produced in 1949. I don't think you have any mysteries, just a 63 year old car that is a surviving road warrior with a few battle scars.

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It would be interesting to see what the NADA books have to say. This car is a Tarrytown build if that makes a difference.

The fenders and door all were originally black on an originally tan car; the hood is original to the car, so it's not likely it was wrecked, just rusty. But who knows if the grille was changed or not; I just know the nose has been off it before. Probably by whoever put the 235 in it that it had when I got it.

That said, the numbers don't lie, I don't think GM shut down in July or August to retool to only build only 200 cars before Christmas, or even before December 2nd, and then apparently not sell any before the second week of January 1950. Espeically when the changes from 1949 to 1950 are so minor. The sequential numbers in the serial applied to every car they built, so car number say 1055 could be a sedan and 1056 a convertible. They had to build over 700 per day at each plant to meet the million and a half or so total 1950 Chevrolet cars produced (and that in one shift, working roughly 250-260 days a year). I'm not going to post the actual number on this car, but it works out to below 200 - the start numbers were all 1001. That would make it built before lunch on the first day - and given the greater number of dealers at the time, I wouldn't be surprised to find out it was the first '50 sold by one. But it also says it was made in December - not July, August, September, etc. -

A late start on the 1949 cars, since it was a complete retool, is no surprise, and the further back you go the closer to the actual end of the year they did model year changeovers (even in cases like where Chryslers over serial number XXXXX would be titled as the next year with few/no changes, and a true next model not come out until midyear).

Chances are I just need to hit a library with a decent automotive section and see what I can find there, or pick up a Standard Catalog Of Chevrolet. My guess is maybe the Janaury date is when they officially went on sale, but production began beforehand and either they did a soft transition, or they purposely built ahead of time so all the dealers would have plenty in stock.

One thing seems certain, if I knew how many they built per day via a documented source, and exactly what day the changeover was made to 1950 production, I should be able to pin down both the day it was built and likely even come fairly close on what time it was completed. Which normally is not something you can easily do.

Edited by Pontiac59 (see edit history)
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First, it was the practice of domestic automobile producers to shut down for retooling for two weeks at or around the first of July give or take a week or two in those days, GM was no exception. Secondly, GM produced Chevy's in many different assembly plants across the country at the time and each had their own set of serial/sequence numbers. Beyond that, it sounds as if your Chevy had likely been in one or more collisions given the number of apparently mixed body parts you describe. By the time 1949 models rolled around the post WWII practice of getting things down the line with what was available was over plus your car was a new body design first produced in 1949. I don't think you have any mysteries, just a 63 year old car that is a surviving road warrior with a few battle scars.

change production year in july jim ?, i'm incline to agree, back then, most model year change would have happen in november or early december, and i can quote, the 1953 pontiacs started production on november 17, 1952, and lasted untill november 20, 1953, the 1954 pontiac started production in early december, 1953. chevrolet would have introduce their new model even earlier than pontiac, to keep close to when ford started their model year production. ford did a public showing in dealer's showroom nationwide on july 18, 1948, for the new 1949 fords. and the 1950 fords started in the fall of 1949. charles coker, 1953 pontiac tech advisor.

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Guest Jim_Edwards
change production year in july jim ?, i'm incline to agree, back then, most model year change would have happen in november or early december, and i can quote, the 1953 pontiacs started production on november 17, 1952, and lasted untill november 20, 1953, the 1954 pontiac started production in early december, 1953. chevrolet would have introduce their new model even earlier than pontiac, to keep close to when ford started their model year production. ford did a public showing in dealer's showroom nationwide on july 18, 1948, for the new 1949 fords. and the 1950 fords started in the fall of 1949. charles coker, 1953 pontiac tech advisor.

Indeed possible and probable that various GM products suffered delayed market introduction given the series of union strikes that took place at GM between 1949 and 1954, some of those strikes lasting over 100 days. However, the two week summer shutdown for retooling for the next model year was actually part of early GM and union agreements which was also carried over to the other automakers. Tumultuous times to say the least.

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Guest Oracle

I have some GM of Canada figures sent to me some years ago by ....GM of Canada! Windsor Transmission Plant were building engines for Chev and GMC throughout the 1949 Calendar Year. There was an inventory 25-29 July 1949 which may explain a dramatic drop in production compared with June and August, with figures ramping up in September. The December figures show 4271 Chev and 2227 GMCs as 1949 model units plus 757/738 units as 1950 models. suggesting that late December was the start of 1950 MY production. In previous years 1947-9 start-ups were in December, with 1946 April 1946 though I can tell you that the first 1946 MY Chevy car was actually built in Oshawa on the 30th October 1945. The GM North American strike later hit the production and 1946 series assembly finally re-started in April after the settlement.

Turning to Oshawa CKD production: 1947 started Feb 1947, until 26 Jan 1948 and then 1948 MY started and ran until Jan 1949, with 1949 MY starting in April 1949 and running until Dec 1949, followed by 1950 MY that started in Feb 1950 and cointinued until Dec 1950. By 1956-59 year starts varied each year: September, October or November depending on Model Year!

In Canada at one tiome they tended to shut down for the new year and re-open in January though I confess that I am not sure whether this applied in 1949/50. There was a McKinnon Industries strike 14th July 1948 that affected Windsor two days later as they used McK castings.

Edited by Oracle (see edit history)
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