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» Home » Articles » Classic Car Reviews » Add - Classic Car Reviews » 1926 Chevrolet Superior K Utility Review

1926 Chevrolet Superior K Utility Review

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24/11/2009   By MURRAY HUBBARD  

There's something special about seeing a vehicle that has been kept in near original condition – for all intents and purposes looking like it did in the era in which was used – but with the patina of life reflecting its own peculiar history. Lately we have seen a few cars like this with two stand-outs, David Lear's 1927 20 hp Rolls-Royce and this vehicle, John and Bernadette McPhail's 1926 Chevrolet.

Chevrolet Superior K utility 1926

We found the Chevy out at the Goombungee car show, north-west of Toowoomba in Queensland. It started life as a Chevrolet Superior K tourer – meaning it had a canvas roof and four doors. It was originally owned by the Keding brothers, Dick and George, of Goombungee, and was used as George's family car.

Chevrolet Superior K Utility 1926 front

John and Bernadette have decided against restoring the vehicle. Having already restored a 1926 Chevrolet tourer – also converted to a ute – John thought it was better to leave this car as is. In the late 1940s the Keding brothers converted this tourer to a ute. This involved removing the tub, fitting and then building a tray. A canvas top was then fitted and the old Chevy tourer found a new career as a hard-working farm ute.

Chevrolet Superior K Utility dealer badge

“It made regular trips to Goombungee, Oakey, Crows Nest and Toowoomba carrying pigs and calves,” said John. “ When George built a new house it pulled the house blocks to the site from down paddock where they were cut.”

Chevrolet Superior K 1926 bonnet

John is more familiar with the vehicle in the 1960s when the Kedings were neighbours. “As neighbours we helped each other, especially at harvest time,” he said. “We had a larger truck, a three tonner, so we would cart the bagged grain to the barn, but Chevy was used for bringing the meals, bags, twine etc. I enjoyed my rides in Chevy at these times.”

Chevrolet Superior K 1926 interior

By the late 1960s one of the Keding brothers passed on and the family decided to sell the farm. “I well remember the day of the clearing sale in 1969 as I was in Year 7 at Goombungee Primary School and saw Chevy drive past the school, off to a new home,” said John. “It was complete with the tub of the tourer which had been used for a dog kennel.” John would not lay eyes on the car for another 23 years.

Chevrolet Superior K 1926 dash board

“At one of our Toowoomba Car Club meetings a fellow member said to me,`I've got a Chev that came from near you.” John investigated and it was the Keding's Chevy. “I asked him to give me first offer to buy Chevy if he decided to sell and before long the chance came in 1993. She had been untouched all these years as he thought it was too good to use for spares.”

Chevrolet Superior K front close view

The car came complete with the dog-kennel tub, doors, back seats, and a host of spares from under the front seat: new king pins etc. However, John says the biggest surprise of all was in a tobacco tin which contained it's last registration paper, petrol rationing certificate for 1947 and several petrol rationing coupons.

Chevrolet Superior K 1926 ute tray

“The two daughters of George Keding used to visit my parents and were thrilled to see Chevy again,” said John. “On one of the visits I asked them about the marks on the passenger side door which seemed to make a circle. “They said that was from the pedals of their push bike when they got a lift to or from school.” On another visit one of the girls gave John the Chev's original ignition key, which is now in use. John's decision not to restore was also influenced by the vehicle's colourful history which to a great extent extent would be erased by restoration. John and Bernadette used the Chevy as their wedding car - such is the importance they place on this piece of Australian motoring history.

Chevrolet Superior K 1926 front

Remarkably Chevy has never been restored, but minor work has been done. At some stage many years ago the seats were repaired by an old Toowoomba upholstery firm and John has welded some cracks in the mudguards. It is a remarkable vehicle in more ways than one. The Superior K went head-to-head with the Model-T Ford. By 1926 of course the Model-T was nearing it's end. Not surprising since production started in 1908. It made hard going for any other manufacturer at the budget end of the market, accounting for roughly for half all cars sold in the U.S. As such the Superior K Chevrolet had a fight on its hands.

Chevrolet Superior K radiator emblem

In its favour was the four cylinder, overhead valve, 171 cubic inch engine that produced 26 hp compared to the Model-T's 20 hp. The Chevy also had a three speed transmission while the Ford still had the two speed planetary system it started with around 18 years earlier. In 1925 Chevrolet Superior K sales topped 340,000. The 1925 Superior K came as a result of a program of continuous improvement for the four cylinder car, demanded by GM chief, Billy Durant. The bottom line was simple. They could not compete on price with the Model-T. So other makes like Chevrolet had to offer more modern equipment to justify the extra price tag. In 1925 a Model-T sold for US$290. The Superior K Chevrolet was $525.

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