The 1911 to 1913 Chevrolet Series C Classic Six is a Brass Era American automobile, and is the first ever Chevrolet. It is one of the few Chevrolets made while record-setting Buick race car driver Louis Chevrolet was with the company. This early Chevy was much larger, more powerful, more stylized and therefore more expensive than the cars that would ultimately replace it. Louis Chevrolet loved it, but William Durant had a cheaper car in mind.
The First Chevy
The Chevrolet Series C also called the Chevrolet Classic Six (Series C), Chevrolet Model C or, at the time it was new, simply the Chevrolet (since there were no other models to confuse), was the first Chevrolet, and was also sold by other makes. It was a large, well constructed car. It had a 6-cylinder engine up front and a three-speed gearbox with a cone clutch mounted at the rear axle. Henry Ford had been selling his much less expensive Model T for three years, in six models by the time Chevrolet entered the market. The Chevys that followed, under the management of Durant, would be much cheaper 4-cylinder cars that competed directly with the T. The Series C Classic Six, however, was capable of 65 mph and competed against the more high-performance cars of that time. Standard equipment included a starter, four doors, a folding top, a tool box, a cowl light, and electric headlights.
Penned by Etienne Planche under direction from Louis Chevrolet, the Chevy with its low running boards had a design more resembling European cars. Radiator shell and Chevrolet nameplate were silver (the "bow-tie" emblem didn't appear until the 1914 Chevrolet Series H), the body, chassis and wheels were only Chevrolet blue. The hood, fenders, and splash aprons were black. Light gray striping was found on the body and wheels.
The T-head engine
Chevrolet's first engine, a liquid-cooled 299-cubic-inch, six-cylinder cast-iron block cast in three banks of two, with a T-head configuration, that produced 40 horsepower. The T-head engine is a sidevalve engine that is distinguished from the much more common L-head engine by its placement of the valves. The intake valves are on one side of the engine block and the exhaust valves on the other, making dual camshafts necessary. Seen from the end of the crankshaft, in cutaway view, the cylinder and combustion chamber resembles a T - hence the name "T-head". The 299 was a very large engine at that time and the only engine in the C Series. At first, a Simms magneto with a compressed-air starter was installed, but later models were equipped with a Gray and Davis electric starter. This was the biggest Chevy engine until the 1958 348.