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View Full Version : What color should the grills on 1950 cars be???



unclemiltie
09-22-2012, 09:52 AM
I know they used two type of grills in 1950 cars, one was aluminum finish and the other later style was chromed.

I am repainting a 60,000 original 50 commander starlight. I do not think it has ever been repainted. The grills in it are chrome but are painted over with the paint coming off in the front. It appears these grills were factory painted as the back of them still has good aqua green paint on them and I would not expect the back to be painted on a repaint. At the national meet this year I was looking at the grills in all the 50's I saw and they appeared to have an aluminum like finish and were not painted body color. Again, I do not think this car has been repainted or wrecked as I see no signs of that and the paint is thin and gone on the top of the fenders.

I was surprised when I saw these chrome grills were painted. I would have expected them to be left chrome. I compared them to NOS aluminum and chrome ones I have and they are definitely chrome, my eyes are not fooling me this time around.

Does anyone know what they should be? 1) Painted body color or 2) left aluminum or chrome in finish

Could it be they left the chrome ones chrome on the front and painted the webbing and back body color????


Thanks again

Jackson
09-22-2012, 10:20 AM
I was a teenager when the 50's came out my father worked at the factory and bought a new 50 Champion. IIRC all of the "eggcrate" grilles on 1950 Champions and Commanders were left in the natural finish (not painted or chromed, sort of a gray color not aluminum), all of the sheetmetal was body color. Some folks chromed the trim ring that was around the grille opening but I do not believe the factory did. The 1951 grilles were chrome.

Sdude
09-22-2012, 10:49 AM
Doesn't it depend on the trim level of the car? This is Perry Knopf's car and Perry does EVERYTHING right.

17798

BobGlasscock
09-22-2012, 11:32 AM
My 50 Champion grills are body color.

RadioRoy
09-22-2012, 12:08 PM
I've had some 50 Studebakers with original, unadulterated paint jobs back in the day.

The early 50's had chrome grilles and painted headlight rings. Sometime during the year the company chromed the headlight rings and left the grilles un-chromed. They got more bang for their plating buck that way.

The early chromed grilles were all chrome, but were painted farther back from the front. Studebaker must have a had a paint mask that covered the leading edges of the grill and about a 1/16" back. That left chrome showing and the rest of it was painted body color.

When they switched to un-chromed, it seems like they may not have painted the grilles at all, but I am not sure of that.

It depended on when the car was built, not the level of trim.

Do not count on what you see at the car shows. Accurately researching a Studebaker seems to be something that very few really want to do. :(

unclemiltie
09-22-2012, 05:33 PM
thanks to everyone that responded

Dwain G.
09-22-2012, 06:47 PM
Serial numbers documenting the change are listed in the parts catalog. For a '50 Commander produced at South Bend the aluminum painted grill began at serial number 4433317. There may have been two reasons for the change. There probably wasn't an efficient method of polishing the inner parts of the grill mesh during the plating process so they just did the front edges and painted the rest. Another factor may have been the Korean War. We generally associate 'Korean Chrome' with the 1951-52 model years, but some concessions were made earlier.
Over the years many cars have had new or used replacement body parts installed, so there's probably quite a mix out there today.






edited to include the word 'aluminum'.

deco_droid
09-25-2012, 01:52 PM
Mine looks to be bare aluminum which I think looks fine. I may try polishing it a bit if I can...

StudeMann
09-27-2012, 05:12 PM
I thought the grills were made from pot metal (zinc alloy); not aluminum. They are definately pot metal on my 51.

RadioRoy
09-28-2012, 12:02 PM
I thought the grills were made from pot metal (zinc alloy); not aluminum. They are definately pot metal on my 51.

They ARE pot metal. I think the word aluminum came up in reference to the color of the paint, but am not sure.

deco_droid
10-04-2012, 01:04 PM
Whoops, sorry -- I said mine looked to be bare aluminum. I just assumed that's what they were made of. If the experts say they are zinc alloy, that's good enough for me...

deco_droid
04-22-2013, 02:01 PM
Just pulled my grilles out to clean thoroughly and ended up repainting them silver/aluminum and coating with clear. They looked good before, but look amazing now. Man, those things were pretty hefty! I just love the quality manufacturers USED to put into their cars.

SN-60
04-22-2013, 07:10 PM
Just pulled my grilles out to clean thoroughly and ended up repainting them silver/aluminum and coating with clear. They looked good before, but look amazing now. Man, those things were pretty hefty! I just love the quality manufacturers USED to put into their cars.

'50 Studebaker Commander Starlight Coupe.............WHAT A CAR!!!!!!!!!!!!

Spannerbird
04-22-2013, 07:39 PM
I'm seeing quite a few of the 1950's champion/commander/starlight cars for sale, and not very expensive compared to their mid 50s countreparts, and I don't know why, maybe they haven't grown on me yet, but the front and rear design just aren't my fancy.

StudeRich
04-22-2013, 09:09 PM
I'm seeing quite a few of the 1950's champion/commander/starlight cars for sale, and not very expensive compared to their mid 50s countreparts, and I don't know why, maybe they haven't grown on me yet, but the front and rear design just aren't my fancy.

Aren't MOST of them in "questionable" condition, meaning very close to junk? So even if you actually WANTED one, not a great investment.

clonelark
04-23-2013, 01:04 AM
I have a NOS chrome grille but not sure which side it goes on. It's still in the box.

bosshoss61
04-23-2013, 08:05 AM
Been working on mine for a couple years now---I painted all chrome---tan to match the interior

effiedude
04-23-2013, 01:23 PM
That's a pretty critical statement StudeRich, Though many times cars are left out in the elements, Occasionally We find a diamond in the rough. My Studebaker 51 Commander Regal Starlight was parked in a barn with wood floors for over 50 years and is real solid with just a rust out the size of a fist in the trunk(Very Fixable) Thing is, We all cant find or afford perfect cars to work on. And I must admit the real challenge is to take a car that's too far gone and bring it back to life!

57pack
04-23-2013, 02:15 PM
Many years ago, I had a 1950 Land Cruiser. It must have been a late production car. Had chrome headlamp rings and the grill was painted body color.
Wish I still had that car, big six and automatic, rode and drove like a dream.

StudeRich
04-23-2013, 09:28 PM
That's a pretty critical statement StudeRich, Though many times cars are left out in the elements, Occasionally We find a diamond in the rough./Cut/

Please remember that I was replying to the poster's quoted post about the current supply of bulletnoses for sale on Craigslist, and eBay not '50-'51 in General and Members nice cars.

I would never want to own one, but I can appreciate them for the very solid car they are, better built bodies than '53 and on.

Studebaker Wheel
04-23-2013, 09:35 PM
23234
I have researched this issue extensively in the museum archives and have concluded that all the grilles were painted body color. The above factory publicity photo will substantiate this conclusion.

Studedude
04-23-2013, 10:14 PM
That's body color, alrighty!!

deco_droid
04-24-2013, 02:03 PM
Interesting -- well mine looked to be painted silver from the factory so that's why I repainted them the same. I wouldn't really like them being painted body color. I like a little contrast on the front, since there's not a bunch of chrome or anything.