1924 Chevrolet Superior
I sold this car to a Florida client in mid September, 2016. I have gotten this 1924 Chevrolet Superior running and took it for a test drive of around 12 miles, and it performed admirably, other than the ancient transmission is very tricky to shift. I started getting the hang of it towards the end of my test run, and with some stick time I think I would had it down pat. Up to this point, I had gotten the aesthetics done a few weeks ago and ran it around the block, perhaps half a mile, to see what happened: all the 4 gears worked (reverse and three forward), the brakes were OK and all of the electrics worked, with the exception of the horn button at the top of the steering column – I could not figure out how to extend the wire through the steering column. Nobody within the Chevrolet antique club had any clue, as none of them had this model, so I simply added a horn button at the bottom of the dash. The future owner can figure this out, not a deal killer in all likelihood, as the horn works, but just not as originally configured by Chevrolet in 1924. Additionally, the speedometer does not work, but all of the components are intact and present. Likely the link cable is badly worn, these link components are hard to find, but are out there; it just takes time to track them down.
A few weeks ago, I ran this car on the road for the first time in perhaps 30 years, the engine overheated quickly and it ran poorly, even though I had re-built the engine and carburetor a few weeks before. I determined that the original radiator needed to be rebuilt along with a poorly re-sealed gas tank which turned the gasoline a red color, and the sample I drew into a clear jar looked like strawberry Gatorade. Both radiator and gas tank were re-done by professional shops (not cheap), and I am confident the way it runs now that these issues are behind me.
- Engine: This engine is an overhead valve motor, and was one of the earliest overhead valve engines on the market, all other cars of the era continued with the ‘flat head’ configuration (of which your 1916 Overland is a prime example); it was manufactured one year before Chevrolet started putting valve covers over the valve train, and it has exposed rockers, push rods and springs. You will notice that this engine is gray-green, which was the factory engine color of most of the major car manufacturers of the era to include Willys Overland, Chevrolet, Dodge Brothers and Oldsmobile along with a few others. It requires being kept clean, and needs oiling after every 50 miles of operation. A drop of oil at the hole on the top of each rocker arm, a drop of oil on the rocker arm at the top of each valve stem, and the felt washers need to be saturated with oil. Yes, a pain under normal circumstances, but considered just part of the driving experience back in the day. The original oil can is present on the fire wall. I disassembled the engine down to the crankshaft and felt that it was in relatively decent condition overall. The cast iron pistons in the car were stamped .003” on the top of each, and I was not able to find .003 rings for it, but rather found .005” NOS oversize rings for it, honed each cylinder to facilitate the new rings to seat properly, and hand filed each ring end down to .003” and hand fitted them so that the compression is now excellent. I also installed new ignition components, to include spark plugs, wires, cap and rotor, and hand lapped each valve, adjusted the Babbitt bearings to within .015” clearance on rods and mains, reassembled and it runs very well now.
- Clutch: The clutch was very grabby on the initial run, as it has a leather lined conical clutch assembly common in the era. I applied liberal amounts of leafsfoot oil to the lining, and now the clutch is much smoother, and will become ever smoother with additional mileage put on the car.
- Interior: the previous owner (‘grampa’) had installed a professionally done convertible top and genuine leather upholstery, which are in great shape. From my best guess, this was done in the early to mid 1990’s by ‘grampa,’ and when grampa passed at that point of its restoration, the car was kept in a temperature controlled shop (which looked more like a 1930’s era gas station), for approximately the next 20 years, until I purchased the car from the son at grampa’s compound in Columbus, OH. I have all of the restoration photos in an album, which contains more than a hundred photos of every step of the process grampa went through, and it was a frame-off process.
- Tires: the tires on the car when I purchased it 5 months ago had no mileage on them, but were approx. 20 years old and had age cracks present, so before it would be considered road worthy, I replaced the four tires with new Firestone tires, and kept the best condition original tire as a spare. All are inflated to 50 psi, and with the exception of the minor age cracks in the sidewall of the spare, are good to go.
This car to the casual observer looks much like a Ford Model T (any color you want, as long as it’s black, as ol’ Hank Ford quipped), with the obvious exception of the blue Chevrolet ‘bow tie’ radiator badge. Unlike the Ford Model T, however, the Chevrolet was built much stronger than the Model T, and could survive a moderately severe crash intact, whereas a Model T would have been completely demolished in a similar impact. This car is about 18” longer wheel base, larger front and back seat area, and weighs about 500 more pounds than a Model T; all in all a larger, sturdier car, in addition to a faster car, with three forward speeds rather than the Model T’s high and low forward gears only.
Not many Chevrolets have survived from this era, as Chevrolet made much of the interior structure of wood, (of which was all replaced in this car by grampa in the early 1990’s), as most Chevrolets rotted away and were crushed and used for scrap metal in the metal drives of World War II.