Throwback Thursday: Grille Edition

This gorgeous sea-green 1947 Chevrolet graced us with an appearance at a local car show this summer:

1947 Chevy

Chevrolet did not have a true post-war car until 1949, so this ’47 is very similar to those produced in 1942, 1946 and 1948.  They all have good-looking grilles, and just look how this one shines:

1947 Chevy Grille

The grille used in 1948 was very similar to  1947’s with the main difference being a piece of center moulding.  The following diagrams are taken from the 1953 edition of Motor’s Flat Rate & Parts Manual:

Motor’s Flat Rate Diagram
Motor’s Flat Rate Diagram

I always pick up these old manuals when I see them because they contain a wealth of helpful knowledge, but I also like looking at them for the nostalgia value.  Just imagine, in 1953, you could purchase one of these very substantial grilles AND a bumper for around a hundred bucks!

Willys Aero

When most people hear “Willys,”  they understandably think of jeeps, but Willys first manufactured passenger cars.  In fact, during the early 1900s, Willys was second only to Ford in production of automobiles.  In the midst of the roaring twenties, Willys produced over 200,000 units in 1925 alone.   Willys encountered financial problems during the depression but was saved by World War II’s demand for jeeps.  After the war, the company, led by Ward Canaday, again wanted to try its hand at passenger cars and finally achieved this goal with the Aero in 1952.

The Willys Aero is a great-looking car with small fins and elements of airplane design like a cockpit-style dash and split windshield, aerodynamic lines and this airplane hood ornament:

Below the hood ornament there is a large “W” embedded in the grille:

The car featured a uni-body construction with a low center of gravity and a 108” wheel base.  Considered a light car at 2562 pounds, it weighed hundreds of pounds less than a Ford or Chevy.  It would also run 500 miles on one 18-gallon tank of gas!  The car didn’t sacrifice power, however, with a 90 hp Hurricane 6 F-head engine under the hood.  In January, 1952, Popular Science Monthly featured “The Story of the New Aero Willys,” and asserted that “Its six-cylinder engine develops more horsepower per cubic inch of piston displacement than that of any other U.S. car, regardless of price.”  The magazine further extolled the virtues of the Aero by saying that it cruised beautifully at 75 mph and that both the engine and transmission demonstrated “excellent smoothness.”

In 1952, the Willys was available in the Aero-Lark, the Aero-Wing and the Aero-Ace.  In 1953, the Aero-Wing was replaced by the Aero-Falcon and a hardtop coupe, the Aero-Eagle, was added to the line-up.  When asked about the choice of the name “Aero,” Canaday replied that “it’s the nearest thing to flying you’ll find on the highway.”

The Aero was only manufactured for four years.  Willys was purchased by Kaiser in 1953, and Henry Kaiser made the decision to focus on jeeps a couple of years later.  It was another example of a car ahead of its time, and one more that’s being added to the list of cars I’d like to own!

Nebraska Junk Jaunt 2018

If you are able to schedule a “junk vacation” (junk-ation?) this month, head to Nebraska for the 15th annual Junk Jaunt.  The Junk Jaunt is 500 miles of garage sales and purveyors of all kinds of antiques and junk, over 700 vendors in all.

There are several must-shop hot-spots along the way, and one of the best is the village of Cairo, which is pronounced KAIR-oh, like the syrup.     Most of Cairo is covered with vendors, including main street, the ball field, the Community Center and a large field next to the Lutheran Church.  To find all things gas, oil and automotive, just look for this DT Vintage sign in the “Big Ass” Shed north of the ball field.

1958 Chevrolet Impala

Everyone loves a ’57 Chevy, but I always preferred the lower and meaner ’58.  The 1958s represented a complete design change featuring dual headlamps, triple tail lamps, flared rear fenders and a wraparound windshield.  The sales brochure called it “Sculpturamic” which must be the Latin term for smoking hot.  These Chevy’s were bigger and lower than the 1957s and sported an X-type frame for support.  The Level Air Suspension System was an option and, best of all, so was the new 348 Turbo-Thrust V8.  Offered in 3 series, the Bel Air, the Biscayne and the Delray, the ’58 Chevy Impalas really were “all-new” for 1958, and they were also first class: