Chevrolet Series H: A Modern Family of Automobiles
From the perspective of purpose, the modern automobile had already been around for a few decades when the Chevrolet models H2 and H4 made it to market in 1914. However, these early Chevrolets were significant for their brand, and the founder of GM, W.C. Durant, during the formative and heady years of automobile evolution.
The H2, nicknamed the “Royal Mail” model, was a roadster that had seating for two. The Royal Mail would be surprisingly familiar to modern drivers, possessing an overhead valve (OHV) inline four cylinder engine, speedometer, horn, spare tire, and headlights. While this may seem completely pedestrian to the driver of today, most cars available at the turn of the century varied wildly in the features they offered. The Chevrolet Series H aimed to change this variance by offering standard features. The Royal Mail H2 continued to evolve, and in 1916, the “H2-1/2” became the first Chevrolet to possess an integral trunk and gas tank combination.
The H4 was a touring model, known as the “Baby Grand,” and had seating for five. From a mechanical standpoint, the Baby Grand varied little from its smaller counterpart. In fact, because of standardization in manufacturing, these cars shared many of the same components. The H4 was a competitor to the Ford Model T, and offered an optional electric starter, something the Model T would not offer until 1919. Interestingly, a front bumper was also optional in 1914 for the Baby Grand and Royal Mail models!
The Chevrolet Series H represented the domestication of the American automobile. As quirky and colorful as early independent automobile examples were, Chevrolet realized that a practical alternative was sorely needed for the average consumer. While the prolific success of the automobile as an American institution is readily apparent today, the future of “horseless carriages” in 1914 was still in-question. Consumer-oriented automobile concepts like the Chevrolet Series H would help push the concept of modern transportation into the 20th century.