1928 Chevrolet National Series

1928 Chevrolet National Series

 

Owner: Mel Chamberlain

 

The modern day version of the proverbial "barn find"!


We have all heard the stories about incredible "barn finds". Those stories we hear second, third, fourth-hand about the friend of a friend who found a pristine [insert favorite make/mode/year of car here] moldering away in the back of some forgotten barn or garage and acquired it for a pittance.

The 1928 Chevrolet National Series AB was basically an updated 1927 Series AA Capitol with a slightly longer wheelbase (lengthened 4-inches to 107), and a facelift. Improvements included a longer and straighter hood (built to accommodate the six cylinder motor coming later in the year), more flowing fenders, smoothly integrated body panels, a four-wheel brake system, and a ventilating windshield.The 1928 Series AB sold new for between $495 and $715, depending on the options and body style. During the 1920's the Chevy was seen as the higher priced, more luxurious competitor vehicle to the Ford Model T, which routinely outsold everything till the line was ended in early 1928. Up to that point Chevrolet had been making steady sales gains on the Ford Model T.

In 1928 The Chevrolet became the sales leader with the AB. This was due in part to the Ford transition from the Model T to the Model A, and a Chevrolet sales program that made it easier for Americans to afford their higher priced Series AB. The first thing they did was to knock $50 off the base price. The second thing they did was to introduce an installment payment plan. More affordable pricing and the growing desire for more luxury by consumers helped propel Chevy into the lead in 1928. The lead wouldn't last long, but Ford could no longer take its market share for granted in the mass appeal car market.Weighing in at an average weight of 2,200 lbs (depending on body and motor), 785,199 Chevrolet Series AB sedan were built. 1928 was also the last year for Chevy's four-cylinder motor which debuted in 1913. Sixes replaced the four-cylinders late in 28.

One day in May of 2008 Mel Chamberlain was surfing the internet and decided to jump onto e-Bay to see what they had in the way of old cars. He found this little beauty--an all original 1928 Chevrolet sedan. The car had spent the previous 51 years sitting in a garage where it had been parked and covered back in 1957. The guy selling it had picked it up off an El Cahon used car lot in 1953 for $75.00!!! Appraised prior to sale at $9,500.00, Mel picked it up for a mere $6,500.00!

The original corduroy interior is in bad shape but still intact. Amazingly, the body was nearly rust free and required no metal repair. The original paint was still doing its job 81 years later.After 51 years of sitting the engine was frozen. That was the starting place for this partial restoration project. Since Mel and the seller are both local San Diegans, the car was towed to our shop after the sale so we could get it running again.

According to Mel, he had a special reason for choosing our shop beyond its convenient location...


"Back in '57 I belonged to the 'Tappets of La Jolla' car club. I've always loved old cars but never had a chance to restore a real classic like this one. A couple years ago I visited your shop to take a look around. I was surprised at how courteously I was treated by everyone--lots of shops don't even want to talk to you if you just stop by to look around. Not only was everyone happy to answer all my questions, I was even given a tour of the shop! I decided then and there that if I ever had a chance to do a project like this I'd bring it to Randy at Hot Rods & Custom Stuff."

The first item on the fix-it list is the motor. It needs to come out so it can be sent out for a rebuild at H&H.In the meantime we get to overhaul the brakes, transmission, rear-end, electrical, exhaust, etc. The goal is to make the old Chevy driveable once again. While the engine is out, the rest of the drive train, brake system, steering and suspension gets overhauled.All the cables and linkages get worked over as well. What cannot be reliably fixed get replaced.With the engine back from rebuild and installed in the car, it's time to hook everything up and see if it runs.New Firestone 440/450-21 tires wrap the freshly powder-coated wheels. The next step to getting this classic back on the road is to fix the interior and roof. The original corduroy upholstery is a little worse for the wear and needs to be replaced. Old wiring gets replaced and the windows get some attention while the upholstery shop works on new seat covers, door panels and a headliner.This thin wooden insert for the rear window had to be re-made by hand as the old one was not re-usable.