Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Uncovering the paint code mystery on a pink patina 1953 Chevrolet Bel Air 2-door post

Gang, it looks like we got a mystery on our hands! Look what I found. It’s a pink 1953 Chevrolet in really great shape. Clearly, it has not spent its life in the elements. The owner said it’s a 1953 Business Sedan that he found in northern Birmingham, Alabama. He also revealed that the previous owners’ grandparents dated in the car. Way cool so far, but the current owner wouldn’t provide any further information. A quick walk around led to an interesting clue.  The tail lights indicated that this 2-door Chevrolet was a 1954 model. What gives? It’s not uncommon in automotive history to be fooled by the tail light stamping. Many times the next model year would use the same tail light lenses as the previous. Not the next year! Are we to believe in 1953 this car traveled to the future and used the next model year’s tail lights? So what do we have here? A mystery! We junkyardlife guys can always rely on the trusting cowl tag for information….or can we?

Warner Bros. Television
And I would have gotten away with it too, if it wasn't for you meddling kids
  As I pulled the mask off this pink villain, he turned out to be NOT a Business Coupe, but a once beautiful 1953 Chevrolet 2-door Bel-Air Sedan. From its birth in St. Louis, Missouri to the present, it had evidence of several different paint schemes over the years. We here at junkyardlife love the numbers. That will reveal the original paint color, right? Wrong. It had a paint code of 526 clearly stamped on the cowl tag. I looked very hard and could not find a corresponding color. I was about to re-visit the car and double check for researcher dyslexia when I came across a '53 Chevy forum from 2009 where an enthusiast was restoring an exact copy of the same car I had found. That '53 had the same cowl tag codes as this car and he also could not find paint code 526.

Interior of the 1953 Chevrolet reveals seemingly solid floor pans.

Alright, let’s look for clues. I'll take the hot chicks and go this way.
  The online ’53 Chevrolet forum concluded that the paint code was probably mislabeled 526 instead of the correct 516 when the stampings were entered by hand at some point at the factory.  Paint code 516 was India Ivory and Sun Gold. What a beautiful color combination that was! Two tone paint schemes sold very well and that combination was a very happy color that assured junkyardlife galoots to be in a good mood just glancing at it in a parking lot. The interior (code 247) was a light green ladder pattern that doesn’t exactly harmonize with the yellow and white but was popular in the 1950’s. This ’53 Chevy was born in St. Louis, Missouri. It makes you wonder how many “mistakes” there were. Don’t they make a lot of beer in that same city? That’s something to think about.
Sun Gold Yellow lurks behind thick layers of pink paint on this '53 Chevy.

Bounty of 1953 Bel Airs
  Chevrolet made a lot of Bel-Airs in 1953. So what makes a Bel-Air special? It cost a little more money due to having more trim adorning the car, especially around the windows. Not counting station wagons, 150s, or the most popular 210 models – Chevy built a total of 513,779 Bel-Airs in two-door, four-door, convertible,
hard-top and sedan bodies. The numbers reveal that this ‘53 Bel-Air 2-door post sedan is one of 144,401 built. That would indicate that there should be lots of these babies around but that is not the case. Few of the 1953 models have survived the six decades since they were built. Their younger brothers, the Tri-Five Chevys (1955-’57), get all the glory. Even four-door rust buckets of those models get restored, nevertheless 1953 was a special year for Chevrolet. It was the year that the Corvette was introduced to the world and Chevrolet’s Powerglide automatic transmission was making a name for itself. Life was good and only going to get better.
1953 Chevrolet Bel Air 2-door post.

I don’t know how to thank you kids and your funny talking dog enough
  So another interesting car with its mysterious paint code and tail lights from the future. Hopefully this beautiful post car will fall into the right hands and once again grace the highways in some form or another. It’s our job here at junkyardlife to make sure these pieces of American history do not get turned into soda cans or siding. Do what you can to help. Find it, buy it, bring it home, fix it and hit the road. See the USA in your Chevrolet indeed.
– Ron Kidd, junkyardlife
Send your photos, tips and stories to junkyardlife

Original 1953 Delco Model 986668 AM radio fills up a lot of room behind the shiny dash.


Anonymous said...

My 1st impression is that it would be easy to bolt a '53 front clip on a '54. It makes the purists shudder, but I've seen '66 Impala front ends on a '65, and so on.

Another possibility; is that the '53 and '54 tailight body assemblies are so exact in demensions, and maybe the spacing of a couple of bolts holding it to the car, that it was an easy swap!

Anders said...

The taillights is a bolton swap between 1953 and -54 Chevys.

Another piece from -54 is the hoddbird on this but the hoodemblem is the original -53.