Stainless steel for motor-car trim

In spite of new competition from aluminium and far better chromium plating, the use of stainless steel for motor-car trim will reach an all-time record this year, according to the United Steel Companies Limited. Never have so many British cars used so much stainless steel and car owners are at last getting the sort of car trim they have always wanted. Motor vehicle manufacturers and agents are now receiving correspondingly less complaints about rusting than ever before.

The following statistics tell the story :—

           Cars produced     Stainless Steel Consumed          lb per Car

1961 .. 1,000,000            4,300 tons                                     9.6

1962 .. 1,200,000 (est.)    5,500 tons                                    10.3

From these figures, it can be seen that stainless steel consumed in the last twelve months increased by 25%, although car production itself will probably not in the end show sales increasing quite to this figure. More stainless steel is therefore going on to more cars.

A survey of current models shows that the majority of British cars now incorporate stainless steel in the windscreen and back light surrounds. There is also a growing use of the material for side-window frame surrounds, louvres, and grille bars or surrounds. All British cars, without exception, have stainless steel windscreen-wiper frames and blades. On the other hand, few models incorporate stainless steel hub caps or wheel discs, and none is fitted with stainless steel bumpers.

In spite of a smaller car production, however, France is a very much larger user of stainless steel for motor-car trim than Britain and is second only to the U.S.A. in consumption per vehicle, as well as in absolute terms.

All Simca, Peugeot and Facet Vega cars have stainless steel hub caps, while all Peugeot and Facet Vega cars have stainless steel bumpers. Bumpers in stainless steel are also featured onthe larger Citroëns and on the Simca Ariane and Mille models. Renault and Peugeot have stainless steel radiator grilles, and most cars manufactured in France have stainless steel window and body trim. Interesting features of French cars are the fabricated stainless steel door handles and window winders. It is the extensive use of heavy gauge steel for bumpers that makes France such a large user of stainless steel in the automobile field. A point about these bumpers is that many of them are actually manufactured on British machine tools, similar to those in daily use in the U.K. for making mild steel bumpers for chromium plating.

In the U.S.A., the motor vehicle industry will consume 100,000 tons of stainless steel sheet and strip products this year. This is more than twice the total availability of these products in Great Britain for all purposes, while the average American car contains 32 lb. of stainless steel, three times the British figure.

American cars use stainless steel more prolifically than their British counterparts and, without exception, have stainless steel wheel discs which alone consume 6 lb. per vehicle. No stainless steel bumpers are manufactured in the U.S.A. but a large and growing market exists for stainless steel silencers. These are being fitted increasingly on cars with dual exhaust systems as part of the campaign to guarantee a longer trouble-free life without regular maintenance or replacement. The following table shows the principal uses of stainless steel in British motor cars :—


Velox : Grille, windscreen and back light surrounds.

Cresta : Grille, windscreen, back light surrounds, exterior door cappings, roof drip and waist moulding.


All models have windscreen and back light surrounds and waistline mouldings. The Super Snipe has in addition roof drip mouldings in stainless steel and the Rapier has wheel discs in stainless steel.


A40 and and A60 : Windscreen and back light surrounds, quarter-light or side-window frames, louvres, waist and wing mouldings.

Westminster : Windscreen and back light surrounds, side-window frames, louvres.


Mini de luxe and Mini Cooper : Flange finishers, instrument panel surrounds, rear quarter-light hinges, petrol cap, hub caps.

1000 : Windscreen surrounds, side window frames and surrounds, louvres, petrol cap.

Oxford de luxe and Wolseley 16/60 : Grille bars, bonnet front moulding, windscreen and back light surrounds, louvres, side-window finishers.

1100 de luxe : Side-window surrounds, louvres, petrol cap.


1100 : Windscreen -nd back light surrounds, louvres, petrol cap.

Magnette : Windscreen and back light, side-window surrounds, louvres, grille bars, hub cans.

Wolseley Hornet and Riley Elf

Grille bars, side-window frame surrounds, rear and quarter-light hinges, flange finishers, petrol cap.


1.5 : Windscreen and back light surrounds. front louvres, rear quarter-light finisher, door waist arid wing mouldings, petrol cap.

4/72 : Windscreen and back light surrounds, side-window frames, louvres.


It is difficult to be precise because many Ford specifications permit their suppliers to provide either chromium-plated brass or stainless steel. Moreover, sometimes the stainless steel is given a flash of chromium plate for colour matching purposes. The following applications are usually in stainless steel, however :—

Zephyr 4 : Windscreen and back light surrounds.

Zephyr 6  Zodiac : Windscreen and back light surrounds, side-window frames, door pillar mouldings, grille surrounds.

Consul Classic and Cortina : Windscreen and back light surrounds and drip mouldings (de luxe models)

Anglia : Grille surrounds, back light surrounds.


3-litre : Windscreen and back light surrounds, window frames, roof drip mouldings, all body and waist mouldings.


The famous radiator. Most of these cars are custom-built to order and no general information can be made available.