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1955-58 Floor Mat Trivia

The Chevrolet Cameo and GMC Suburban Carrier came with black rubber floor mats like the other GM trucks (no carpet) except for one exception. This is the story!

The exterior of all 1955 Cameos were painted only one way! It was Bombay Ivory with Cardinal Red on the vertical post behind the door, the lower inside panels of the bed, and the five wheels.

The painted part of the interior was the same two colors in a very attractive combination together. To add one extra touch the Cameo designers added a red rubber floor mat. This total appearance package gave it just the right impression on the dealer showroom when the customer opened the door. The words “Oh my, How Nice.” That positive impression is just what the Cameo was created to do.

No pickup had ever been offered with such attractive appearance features. It is suspected this was done by the same Chevrolet Interior Automotive Designers that had created the first Corvette two years earlier.  Only white in 1953 with a combination red and white interior.

With over 5,200 Cameos sold in 1955, the red floor mats probably added very little more over black to production costs. The molds for the more traditional black mat could be used for either color with no changes.

Just like the second year Corvette, different exterior colors would now be available in 1956. There was a gradual phasing out of the red mats. The Chevrolet Master Parts Catalog (sent to the dealers about twice a year to show new prices and what parts were still available to sell them.) printed March 1957, shows both red and black mats as replacements for 1956 and only black for 1957.

Thus, from these assumptions it is as follows:

  • Red Mats continued in 1956 but in only Bombay Ivory and Cardinal Red Cameos
  • With many colors now available in 1956, a red floor mat would not blend with blue, green, etc. Therefore, these other colors received black mats.
  • General Motors did not offer other floor mat colors.
  • They did not make another large run of red mats just to be placed in Cameos with a Bombay Ivory and Cardinal Red exterior.
  • The run of red mats had come to an end, however they would be used in 1956 Bombay Ivory Cameos until supplies were exhausted.
  • A red floor mat used in the first year Cameo was a Chevrolet marketing idea. When they made over 5,200 in the first year it probably was no extra cost to make red due to high volume.
  • The GMC Suburban Carrier always used a black mat. Red was a Chevy marketing idea.
  • Carpeting was not available.

What if you really, really want a red rubber mat for your Cameo to complete the Bombay Ivory restoration?

At a recent swap meet, a Cameo owner stopping at our booth said he made his own red mat as follows:

Buy the current available black mat, remove all evidence of grease or oil stains, have a quart of red paint mixed that is made for the non-metal bumpers of today’s cars. Spray evenly on the visual areas. You now have a 1955 Cameo red floor mat with flexible paint. NOTE: No guarantee it works but he was happy with his creation.

What color red to use? Do not know. Just look at the lipstick counter of a retail store and see all the different shades of red! We can only assume Chevrolet would have chosen a shade close to Cardinal Red.

Announcing:

Tooling is under construction of the correct design General Motors truck floor mat. Yes, a replacement black mat is now available; however, it just covers the floor!

Our new floor mat will be like a NOS mat we recently found. Even the ridges are on the underside to allow air movement for quick drying from water leaks. Price will be just a little more than the current “wanna-be” mats on the market.

Surprise:

With this new tooling we will also produce a limited number of mats in red. These will be of interest to the 1955-57 Cameo owners that have exterior color of Bombay Ivory or Cardinal Red.

Strange but True:

The lowest mileage Cameo in existence is a 1958 with 1.4 miles on the odometer. It is currently in a private collection in New Hampshire.  On this Cameo, it left the assembly line with its black floor mat still rolled behind the seat.  Why?  We assumed to keep the Cameo from arriving at the dealership with evidence from muddy feet of delivery people.

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