“Your new 1953 Chevrolet is by far the finest and most beautiful Chevrolet ever built…”
As we sift through this manual I will announce my favorite parts (FP) and how things haven’t changed (THC) in a few of the sections. Hopefully the photos will turn out well enough and you can, in turn, pick your own favorite parts. Enjoy the read, and don’t forget to check out the slide show at the end!
For the year 1953 this manual is in excellent shape with a bit of fading on the cover. It is full of accurate recreations of men and women of that time, and filled with selectively informative bits and pieces. Surely an heirloom in and of itself, this manual was in the pile because my mom says, “Yes, we did own a 1953 Chevy Bel Air”.
The colors inside this manual are green and brick red on alternating pages for images, while black is the color for copy. I tried googling artists/designers for similar items, with no luck. Inside the Preface page at the bottom it reads LITHO. IN U.S.A. One nice gentleman from Litho Press got back to me and said the above only meant the style of printing.
Chapter 1 CONTROL Positions:
FP Page 3 #5 Vent Knob: “At times, it may be advisable to shut off the flow of air to keep out offensive odors or exhaust gases of other traffic”. Nowadays we ‘roll’ our automatic windows down, blame each other for the smell, try to avoid the dead skunk with its petrified legs pointing to the heavens, etc.
FP Page 4 #9 Instrument Cluster: Oh, my. The instrument panels of today are certainly not a simple cluster. With Sirius, GPS, 10 disc loaders, and the ability to use your phone and it’s entire contents hands free, etc. …means there is a separate manual just for such a cluster.
THC Page 3 #7 Lighters still pop out when they are heated. However most of us refer to them as a place to charge things.
THC Page 4 #14 I am lucky enough to say that my ’03 Mustang still has a round speedometer with a needle.
Chapter 2 INTERIOR Features:
FP Page 7 #5 Door Ventipanes: Just the term alone is historic. Oh, why don’t they make a car that still sports these wonderful features?
THC Page 7 #6 Sun Visor: I’m sure there must be a car out there that automatically tints its front window when the sun is shining on the driver, but for now I am glad that I have full control. Thanks to my awesome Ray-Bans and Rule # 3 on my list of 30 Crazy Car Rules. Feel free to view them here.
Chapter 3 OPERATING Information:
FP By far my favorite part of the whole manual is the guy in his car service outfit. The only thing missing from this picture is the oval shaped, red embroidered patch, stating that Ray is ready to serve you! Can you imagine being greeted by a gas station attendant or a
mechanic in a white coat? Nowadays, attendants are mostly found behind the register talking into a speaker telling you that Pump #3 is on or taking your money for a lottery ticket.
THC Engine Oil Level Rod: As far as I know we can still check our own oil on a flat surface using a paper towel from the kitchen.
Chapter 4 AUTOMATIC Driving:
FP The order of the letters has changed over the years. And we have added a few. In this manual it is P N D L R, but later on it became P R N D S L. A boyfriend once told me that meant People Really Need Debbie Stepp’s Love. (Stepp being my maiden name.) Hmmm
THC Drive is still for all normal driving. (Who does that anymore?)
Chapter 10 CHEVROLET Radio:
FP Page 18, Letter A “Warm up radio at least ten minutes….”.
THC Page 18 Letter E We still press and hold a button in to save a station.
Chapter 14 SPECIFICATIONS:
FP Page 31 Horsepower: 30.4 and firing order 1-5-3-6-2-4. How awesome to think about the firing order of the spark plugs on a 1953 Bel Air.
THC The serial number appears to be in the same place as always.
I can only imagine how my mom and dad looked tooling around in the 1953 Chevy. This legend of a car is 60 years old in Chevy’s record books. Finally, here is a great web site I found dedicated to this classic car. http://www.1953chevrolet.com/