Chevrolet introduced its famous Turret Top styling in 1936, as the Depression claimed some of America’s favorite makes, including Franklin and Pierce-Arrow. However, there was still plenty of competition left for the Standard Sedan, including the Ford Model 48, Dodge D5, Plymouth Mayflower, Nash 400, Hudson Terraplane, Willys 77 and the Studebaker Dictator. Somehow, Chevy even managed to top Ford’s output for 1936, and the Standard Sedan’s solid value accounted for its fair share of those numbers.
Box It Up
GM engineers introduced a breakthrough concept for the entire industry with the frame platform they presented in 1936. It was already understood by engineers that the most durable and vibration-free frames used box-section tubing for the frame members. The problem with that type of frame construction was the expense involved. GM spent two years developing a technique that formed a frame bottom from channel steel, and then steel plates were welded on top, closing off the u-shaped channel to form a box-shaped cross section. This innovative technique allowed the strength, weight savings and vibration damping advantages of boxed frame members without the cost of expensive tubing. The Standard Sedan's entire frame only weighed 195 pounds.
The 1936 Chevrolet Standard Sedan had a 109-inch wheelbase and used hydraulic brakes with 11-inch drums. Every model in the Standard series, from the four-door sedan to the pickup and cabriolet, had the same wheelbase. Wheel track width for the Standard Sedan was 69 9/32 inches. The Standard series used leaf springs and hydraulic shock absorbers on both front and rear axles. Chevrolet designed new stamped-steel wheels with fourteen spokes to replace the previous wire-spoke wheels.
Chevy incorporated minor refinements to its existing overhead-valve, 215-cubic-inch, inline six-cylinder, which first saw production in 1929, and remained the standard engine until 1954. The engineering department claimed a 10 percent increase in fuel efficiency, primarily achieved by increasing the compression ratio to 6-to-1, and extending the newly enlarged water jackets the full height of the main block. The engine output was 79 horsepower at 3,200 rpm and 156 foot-pounds of torque from 900 through 2,000 rpm, a much wider operating range than previous models, due to improvements in the cam profile.
A redesigned, three-speed manual transmission boasted new shifter rails, helical gearing and a constant-mesh design to provide much smoother shifting. The rear axle gears were meatier and the pinion gear and propeller shaft diameters were each enlarged more than an eighth of an inch for greatly increased strength. Improved manufacturing processes meant a much stronger axle housing and greatly improved clutch traction against the flywheel. While all Chevys had electric starters by this time, the company still provided a starter crank for emergency starting.
Standard Body Building
Chevrolet called its new, more rounded, one-piece steel roof design the Turret Top. The new design added a greater amount of rigidity to the body as a whole, incorporated improved aerodynamics and improved the durability of the car by eliminating wood and fabric in its construction. The Standard series styling was merged with the Master Deluxe styling, simplifying assembly line procedures and improving quality control. The rear doors on the Standard Sedan were reverse-opening “suicide” doors. The grille was redesigned with smoother curves, and a cover was provided for the starting crank access hole. Engineers developed a subframe assembly that carried the front fenders, headlights and radiator, and mounted them together as a unit at a single point on the frame. This improved panel alignment and unit strength, and lessened road vibration in the cabin.
Other improvements included a felt liner on the inside of the body that was three-eighths of an inch thick, and extensive jute padding under the rubber floor mats. Stylists devised a new two-tone, silver-and-grey color treatment for the dash, improved seat thickness, added legroom for front and rear passengers, and changed the angle of the seats to improve comfort. The seats were upholstered in grey mohair. An AM radio was available as a dealer option. The luggage capacity for the Standard Sedan was 68 cubic feet. There were nine exterior color combinations available with contrasting striping on the fenders, molding and wheels.
Fill Her Up
The fuel tank on the 1936 Standard Sedan held 14 gallons, an increase of three gallons over the previous year. Curb weight was 2,895 pounds. The engine crankcase held 5.5 quarts. The rear axle held three pints of gear oil and the transmission capacity was one and one-half pints. The new, thicker radiator held 15 quarts of coolant. The brake system held approximately three-quarters of a pint of hydraulic fluid. An 11-piece tool kit was included at no extra charge.