This Amazing Chevy Video from 1935 Uses an Abandoned House to Explain Why Strong Car Frames Are Good

The Internet can be a terrible wasteland of a place, but every so often, you stumble on some real gems. Recently, I’ve fallen down a rabbit hole of neat old car videos from back in the 1930s and 40s—including a ten minute long Chevrolet video titled “No Ghosts”.


The premise of this short film is to show how Chevy takes care to make sure their car frames are strong enough to last for thousands of miles by comparing cars to abandoned houses: once upon a time, an abandoned house used to have people living within its walls who loved being there. But a bad foundation meant that the residents were soon plagued with problem after problem, until the house was unlivable.

Cars, the video posits, are our houses on wheels. You don’t want your four-wheeled house to give you the same problems as a house with a bad foundation, do you?

This video is actually really fun. It’s a great explainer of all the bits that make up the frame of a car, why everything was shaped the way it was, what all those cross-members are for. It’s a quick physics and engineering lesson, and it’s easy to follow. And it’s all told in that jaunty 1930s narration that never fails to suck me right in.

This bad boy was directed by the Jam Handy Organization—the same folks who produced the first animated version of Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer in 1948. Jam Handy produced a bunch of videos for Chevrolet back in the day—training videos for employees and promotional material for customers. Handy believed that the best way to sell cars was via an enthusiastic and well-informed salesperson, so the videos that the organization produced were fun, easy to understand clips that outlined how cars worked.

A quick YouTube search will produce a ton of other great Jam Handy explainers. Do you want to know about hydraulics? Transmissions? We’ve even written about their differential video before. They’ve got everything. And they’re a hell of a lot better than those Chevy “real people” ads they’re so fond of nowadays.

It’s almost the weekend. Who’s going to complain if you kill an hour watching car explainers, 1930s-style?

Weekends at Jalopnik. Managing editor at A Girl's Guide to Cars. Lead IndyCar writer and assistant editor at Frontstretch. Novelist. Motorsport fanatic.


Eddie Brannan

Interesting to note that the commentary speaks about cars needing to withstand an earthquake-level of shaking multiple times a minute while in motion. At the time this film was shot the Interstate system was long in the future, and metalled roads were too for the most part. The roads most Americans drove on were still dirt at the time, as you can see in the film.

Most of us Jalops are familiar, but many people don’t know that the Interstate system came into being in the 1950s as a national program designed to facilitate the rapid deployment of military materiel at the height of the Cold War.

Even before that, the proposed interstate highways were always conceived primarily as part of the military infrastructure from the 1920s onwards.

For the curious.