1932 Chevrolet BA Convertible Cabriolet
Chevrolet had finally unseated Ford as the best-selling American automaker in 1931, having done so by offering stronger performance and more upmarket style than its crosstown rival, the Model A. The dampening effect the Great Depression had on the market meant General Motors’ volume brand had to keep pushing forward, improving its cars in large and small ways to retain that advantage. Called the Series BA Confederate for 1932, Chevrolet’s Six would keep its sales crown with help from glamorous variants like the Convertible Cabriolet.
While the V-8 engine powering the new 1932 Ford made headlines, it was the tried-and-true “stovebolt” straight-six that remained more popular with those lucky enough to afford a new car. Chevrolet engineers improved that three-main-bearing unit’s power and refinement with a higher 5.2:1 compression ratio, a counterbalanced crankshaft, and isolating rubber mounts. With its 3-5⁄16-inch by 3-3⁄4-inch bore and stroke and one-barrel Carter downdraft carburetor, the engine made an additional 10 horsepower (up to 60 at 3,000 rpm) and 8 lb-ft of torque (newly 130 at 1,800 rpm). Transferring this output to the wheels was a revised three-speed manual transmission with synchromesh on second and top gears, plus freewheeling capability.
The driveline’s enhanced performance was easily handled by this division’s revised frame, now stiffened with five crossmembers, as well as a mechanical drum brake behind each 18-inch wire-spoke wheel. Atop that frame sat one of 15 (!) Chevrolet- or Fisher Body-constructed bodies. Those who wanted a blend of close-coupled sporty looks, weathertight closed-car comfort, and available open-air fun gravitated to our feature Convertible Cabriolet. This Fisher-bodied car followed traditional coachbuilding practice with sheet-steel body panels over hardwood framing, and featured a collapsible landau-bar-supported top, roll-up door windows, and a folding windshield. The two interior occupants sat on a genuine Spanish-grain leather bench, while two additional passengers could be accommodated on the imitation-leather rumble seat.
Liberty, New York, residents Allan and Pat Kehrley have owned this Chevrolet for 62 years, having begun its ground-up restoration in the late 1980s with key help from son Dan, his wife, Sandy, and many friends. The finished car –wearing its factory blend of Bangor Beige, Haverhill Brown, Cream Medium, Medium Capucine Brown, and black paints—received its third AACA Junior award in 1994, its first Junior in 2001, and its AACA Senior trophy at Hershey in 2003. Read the full story of the Kehrley family’s Chevrolet restoration in the November 2009 (#62) issue of Hemmings Classic Car.