Chevrolet Vintage Video: How Cars Were Made

Time for another video double feature! Our last installment focused on Ford, so in the interest of equal time, we’re highlighting Chevrolet with a couple of strange selections we found in a dusty corner of the Interwebs.

No Ghosts (1935)

Chevrolet made a lot of industrial films in the 1930s, ’40s and ’50s. Like, a lot. They worked with an organization with the ultra-cool name of Jam Handy after its founder, Jamison Handy, making films that did everything from promoting the 1960 Corvair (one of our favorites, by the way) to explaining how a differential works. In fact, you don’t really need us—just search the Internet Archive for “Chevrolet Jam Handy” and we’ll see you when you resurface in a month or so.

There were a lot of great Jam Handy jams, and this is one of the oddest. It’s called “No Ghosts”, and it’s a rather riveting (heh—you’ll get the joke when you see the video) explanation of how an automotive frame is designed and shaped. The period music, animation, and announcing style are classic. But it starts with the strange metaphor of a haunted house, complete with a fake paper bat. How does one make the leap from a haunted house to a car frame? Just watch.

The Bug and The Beetle (1972)

This film, which appears to have been aimed at Chevy’s assembly-line workers, was an early (and, it turns out, prophetic) warning of the threat posed by foreign cars to domestic automakers. An announcer speaks in ominous tones about the influx of imports as a lone drum beats out a grim tattoo. Shot after shot shows American roads clogged with foreign cars. And what is causing this coming disaster? Management not reading the market right? A dearth of desirable domestics? Nope—according to our heavy-hearted announcer, it’s worker absenteeism. “Everybody—we mean everybody—has to show up and work every scheduled day,” he intones. “If we can count on you, we won’t have to count foreign cars.” It is amazing that Chevrolet could get it so right while getting it so wrong.

Amusing and prognostic as the premise is, this is also a great film for car-spotting, the roads jam-packed with classic metal. We had a little trouble dating it at first; the Novas shown on the assembly line were similar enough between 1971 and ’72 that it’s hard to tell them apart, and the Vegas being loaded onto their Vert-a-Pac railcars aren’t much help either. But right toward the end we see a 1972 heavy Chevy driving out into the sun for the very first time, plus a lot full of freshly-built ’72 El Caminos and Monte Carlos.

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