After the raid on Pearl Harbor, the U.S. entered World War II on December 8, 1941. Automakers were ordered to curtail the use of brightwork (chrome and stainless trim) within one month, and to cease production of passenger cars altogether within two. That first mandate led to a rare and interesting run of cars… the blackout specials.
We spotted this interesting piece of American automotive history during a recent trip to the LeMay Museum. Mike Ellis, our knowledgeable tour guide, pointed out what made the 1942 “blackout” Chevy different from the nearly identical (but much shinier) 1941 model sitting next to it.
In January of 1941, the government mandated that no new automobiles could be delivered with exposed stainless or chrome trim (with the exception of bumpers, bumper hardware, and windshield wipers). The order was meant to keep the playing field level, so that no manufacturer could gain a competitive advantage while the use of raw materials was limited. Chevrolet’s response was to paint the trim on 1942 models produced in January.
Sitting next to a 1941 model the 1942 “blackout” doesn’t have the same glimmer as the chromed car, but some argue that it lended a much more modern look.
And you kids thought you were the first ones to paint your chrome trim black…