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school me on GM body sizes in the 50s

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by flatheadfever, Sep 16, 2012.

  1. I am curious about the different body sizes or GMs in the 50s.
    Chevys are the smallest. Are Buicks and Olds the same size as each other
    I am thinking the Buicks where wider than chevs as well.
  2. squirrel
    Joined: Sep 23, 2004
    Posts: 45,821


    Buick and Olds shared they are the same size up top. The length of the different cars was usually different.

    The Chevy and Pontiac generally were smaller in every dimension than the olds and buick
  3. c-10 simplex
    Joined: Aug 24, 2009
    Posts: 1,331

    c-10 simplex

    And who designed the chevy/pontiac body---chevrolet or gm central?

    What about the olds/buick body?
  4. gtowagon
    Joined: Mar 23, 2011
    Posts: 406


    One size large
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  5. thanks Squirrel
    Thats what I was thinking but wasn't sure.
  6. Sauli
    Joined: Jul 16, 2008
    Posts: 499


    It might also be of consequence to point out the Buicks came in various sizes, the "Special" being smaller in every dimension than both the "Super" and "Roadmaster".
    The last two shared the same longer and wider bodyshell, but up to 1953 would still have different wheelbases, w/the difference in the length of the front clip.
  7. Hnstray
    Joined: Aug 23, 2009
    Posts: 11,361

    from Quincy, IL

    Dating from the 30's GM used a few different sized, shared body structures. In general, these were "A", "B" & "C". Since you asked about the 50's era, I'll limit my comments to that period.

    The 50's actually start in '49 models. The '49 thru '52 Chevrolet, Pontiac and thru '51 76/88 series Oldsmobiles were based on the GM "A" body. Much of the body sheetmetal was shared across the lines...i.e. roof skins, deck lids, doors, rocker panels, glass and various body hardware. Floorpans, front end sheet metal, bumpers, grilles etc. were unique to a given make. Chassis, suspension and powertrain components had limited shared components, with Chevrolet being unique, with more shared parts between Pontiac/Olds, mostly Hydra-matics and maybe some front suspension and rear axles.

    The GM "B" body introduced for 1951 models was shared with Buick Special and Oldsmobile Super 88's. That body shell was used thru '53 models of Buick and Olds.

    The GM "C" body introduced for 1950 models was used by Olds 98 series, Buick Special, Super and Roadmaster and Cadillacs. In addition to varying wheelbases ahead of the firewall, Buick and Cadillac used two versions of the "C" body......a standard length for Buick Special/Super and Cadillac Series 61 and stretched versions for Buick Roadmaster and Cadillac Series 62, Series 60 Special and Fleetwood. These bodies were used thru 1953 models.

    For 1953/'54 models, Chevrolet and Pontiac "A" body cars got new sheetmetal, but similar in general appearance to the '49/'52 bodies. Pontiac also had some upper line models with stretched rear quarter panels, deck lids, etc.

    The 1954/'56 GM "B" body was shared with Buick Special/Century and Olds 88/Super 88 models. The Olds 98 used a stretched "B" body in those years.

    The 1954/'56 GM "C" body was used on Buick Super and Roadmaster and Cadillacs.

    Though '57, '58 and '59/'60 brought a lot of styling changes and some one year only body useage, the patterns of shared body shells was pretty much the same as in the immediately prior years.

    Last edited: Sep 16, 2012
  8. 59 brook
    Joined: Jun 12, 2005
    Posts: 1,017

    59 brook

    i read a story about one of the designers of the 59 chevy he said the car was so wide they had to go to several states to clarify vehicle width laws otherwise the car would have needed clearence lights like a tractor trailer
  9. This is a really complicated question but to vastly oversimplify the matter, GM body platforms circa 1950s ran roughly like this:

    A Body: 1949-58 Chevrolet, Pontiac

    B Body: Pontiac, Olds, Buick, '59-on Chevrolet (when A became B, more or less)

    C Body: Olds, Buick, Cadillac

    D Body: Cadillac

    As you can see there is considerable overlap -- GM divisions (exc. Chev) generally used multiple platforms. For example, '50s Buick Special and Century would usually be a B body, while Roadmaster was C Body, etc. Olds 88 was B body where 98 would be a C Body, etc. And there are exceptions, special cases, Canada, export, etc.

    Body styling and design was performed by GM Styling, but GM styling people were generally assigned to a specific division, and designs were subject to approval of division management. So for example, Chevrolet would tend to have more control over the A body package than Pontiac due to its greater volume.

    There's a whole lot to talk about here.

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