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Those superior Superiors
Brian Cantrell (Qld)
Background. It is generally known that, at its introduction in 1916 as a competitor for Henrys Model T, the Chevrolet "490" was so named because it sold for $490. Many members will also know that until 1921 the "490" had a combined clutch and service brake pedal for the driver's left foot, while the right hand pedal operated the emergency brake. For the 1922 model year (the last for the "490") a conventional pedal set-up with a separate hand brake was introduced.
The first true "Superior" Chevrolet was the 1923 model-year Series B; but some Chevrolet advertising in 1922 had referred to the outgoing "490" as "Superior". This was particularly aimed at women, who perhaps found the conventional pedal arrangement easier to manage, so that the car really was "superior".
The "Superior" ran from 1923 to 1926 in the Series B, F, K and V. Mechanically, the design of the Series B and F was similar to the "490" with leather cone clutch and split differential, riding on quarter-elliptic springs. The Series B (like the "490") had magneto ignition, a dip in the front I-beam and cable-operated service brakes. The Series F had coil ignition, a straight front I-beam and used brake rods like later Chev 4s. The Series K and V design was a major leap forward, with plate clutch, banjo differential and semi-elliptic springs.
The early Superiors 1923 -24
Series B and F Chevrolets are relatively rare nowadays compared with Series K and V. One reason suggested for this is that their light chassis could not stand up to the rough Australian roads in the 1920s and 1930s and certainly these chassis were prone to cracking near the front spring mountings. The rear engine cross-member also failed regularly judging by the reinforcing evident on many examples of these two Series. The split differential also seemed to be a weakness
The superior Superiors 1925 - 26
Having summarised the mechanical design changes introduced on the K series Chevrolet, it is surprising that the bodywork is surprisingly similar to their B and F forebears. All four series have similar 2-piece front mudguards, with a slightly domed top section attached to an apron extending down to the chassis; valance panels and rear mudguards are also similar as are the A-frame spare tyre bracket, round tail-light (no stop-light), and drum headlights attached to the front mudguard apron.
The profile of the radiator shell differs (although some very early cars carried over the shape of the series B&F radiator surround) as do the instruments and the shape of the instrument panel. The longer chassis and the semi-elliptic springs are a dead give-away, but two-wheel brakes (on the rear wheels only) were retained. One intriguing feature is the number of bonnet louvers; some cars have 16, others 18, and there seems to be no logic behind this variation.
1925 Series K Chevrolets have a generator on the right hand side of the engine, driven from the timing gears, with a close-coupled distributor and oil pump behind. The engine has twin rocker covers over the valve gear. The water pump is attached to the engine block by six bolts and the lower radiator hose connection is on the left hand side of the radiator.
1926 Series K Chevrolets have a belt-driven generator on the left hand side of the engine, with an internal vane-type oil pump driven by the distributor shaft. A single, full-length rocker cover was used on the 1926 engine. The water pump was a four-bolt type and the lower radiator hose connection was on the right hand side of the radiator.
The body is similar to the 1925 vehicles.
1926 Series V Chevrolets were introduced in late 1926. The Superior V with a Holden tourer body is immediately recognisable by the presence of outside door handles, a single raised beading around the body and bonnet (with a pin stripe below the beading) and a pressed metal tie bar to which the headlights are bolted. Other changes include spark and throttle levers on top of the steering wheel boss, an additional chassis cross-brace supporting the gearbox, and a new oval tail-light incorporating a stop-light.