(will not line up with photos)
Model XXX - 1937
In 1937, a dramatic new Electrolux was unveiled, called Model XXX and sometimes
the Model 30. (The company's official designation, however,was always XXX.)
This sumptuously styled cleaner was created by the great Machine Age industrial
designer Lurelle Guild. (Electrolux's less- than- sumptuous slogan for this Machine
Age masterpiece, however, was the unglamorous phrase "It is the finest dirt
The machine was manufactured from 1937 to 1954 (more years than any other model) and was still being offered for at least another decade to customers who still wanted the older-type model, or as last-gasp attempts to close difficult sales. (Whether or not that was according
to company policy is another matter.)
Furthermore, rebuilt XXXs were available from the factory on and off over
the years, even as late as 1988. (I have an odd XXX instruction brochure, published
by Electrolux, Marietta Georgia, dated 1988, which depicts the machine in line-drawings
with "Brand-X" cheapie plastic attachments. Now how strange is that?!)
Also, several outside companies sold rebuilt machines, including XXXs and other
models -- most notably the Metropolitan Vacuum Cleaner Company who sold rebuilt
machines through Spiegel Catalog and other outlets.
With the machine having been made for so many years, and with the seemingly
infinite variations on the theme, dating a particular specimen can really only
be an estimate a good guess at best. (If I had a specimen of every variation
I have ever seen, I'd have at least a dozen if not more of them.)
Part of the problem is that many of the variations occurred at different times
throughout the total production of the XXX. There was not one new production run
that suddenly had a half-dozen new modifications. However, you can group certain
modifications together and tie them to a particular time-period in the 17-year
total XXX production run, and thus come up with six major groupings by date. And
that is how I have presented the Model XXX in this survey.
This method obviously is not 100% accurate, I suppose, but I think it does
meet the objective of helping people figure out the approximate vintage of a given
What would be really helpful would be to find a list of serial numbers with
corresponding dates. That would answer the question more fully. As it is, I have
not been able to date machines I have come across by their serial numbers because
the sequences of letter/numbers are not consistent. Unless I ever find factory
records of serial number designations, this will be the best I can do.
Model XXX - 1937
The original model XXX has flat-bottomed runners. The cover release lever is
very, very narrow where it connects to the cover. The front cover has little rubber
"feet" on each side that fit into rectangular openings on the aluminum
collar around the bag chamber opening.
Top half of tank covered with very dark gray leatherette with a reptilian appearance,
and striped lighter-gray leatherette on the underside.
Rear-end of the machine made of heavy-gauge aluminum, stamped on the underside
with extensive patent information, etc., and the old sunburst-style logo. Spring-loaded
circular louvre on blower to connect hose; and a pair of crescent-shaped louvres
above the blower opening. Odd basket-type rear filter assembly.
Hose: Very dark gray (darker gray than the later XXX hoses), with white and black tracing in a different pattern than the later ones. The black and white stripes are spaced a little apart from each other rather than being right next to each other, and only the white tracing is in the XXX pattern, the black tracing is just stripes in one direction.
Primitive rug nozzle. Bumper trim: On dusting brush only. Black rubber. Wands have the old Electrolux
logo die-stamped around the female ends where the narrow slits are.
475-watt motor w/ Bakelite mounts. Heavy black rubber Belden cord with standard
Chrome suction regulator attachment introduced some time around 1938-39.
Model XXX - 1939
Same machine as 1937 model, as far as I know, except for one change to rear
end: Still made of aluminum, still has circular louvre over blower but with no louvres
above the blower opening.
Improved rug nozzle with combed "gleaner" cleaning surface running
along the length of the top of the nozzle; still with no rubber bumpers.
Model XXX - 1947
The 1947 model still has flat runners, but they are now attached to the tank
body instead of the back cover and the bag chamber rim.
Redesigned front cover lever which tapers slightly to a broader width where
it attaches to the front cover. Front cover now has rectangular slots that fit
over corresponding rectangular metal "feet" on the new steel bag chamber
Lighter-gray leatherette than earlier models but still "reptilian" looking.
Bottom of cleaner painted with flat charcoal gray paint instead of covered with
Rear-end of the machine now made of chrome-plated steel and not quite as long
as version l. Still has a single circular louvre over blower. New disc-style filter
Rug nozzle same as 1945 version w/ black rubber bumpers added around top gleaner
area and also around the bottom. Hose: Gray cloth (lighter in color than earlier),
with black/white crisscross pattern.
Model XXX - 1948
New round runners (in cross-section).
Newest rug nozzle (the type that continued on into the LX) was introduced between
1948 and 1949 models and sold as an optional accessory; then made standard equipment
with the 1952 model..
Bottom of cleaner medium gray wrinkle finish.
Model XXX - 1949
(Twenty-Fifth Anniversary Model)
While there were no major changes to the cleaner's design or aesthetics per se, the
1949 model commemorated the Company's anniversary with a new, more powerful 535-watt motor with rubber mounts.
Saloon-door louvres now over blower instead of single circular panel.
Handle: Light-gray rubber. Lighter-gray leatherette than earlier models, with
a variety of textures and patterns that ranged from reptile-like to a more symmetrical
Many new accessories were also introduced in 1949 including an air-powered
floor polisher, the Companion (hammertone-gray tool caddy that rides atop the cleaner, also with a ball-chain to hang in a closet),
the "Garment-aire" garment storage bag, and an automatic cord winder
Model XXX - 1952
Sold as low-tier model along with the new Model LX.
Same machine as 1949 model except for color: Has LX-matching color scheme - dark-blue
leatherette and dark turquoise wrinkle-finish paint on under-side. Front cover and rear flange area that filter ring fits into painted hammertone blue. Companion now hammertone blue; ball-chain replaced with dark turquoise strap.
Blue-gray rubber trim on attachments. Hose: Gray w/blue arrow pattern (same as LX).
Handle: Blue-gray rubber. Lighter-weight, black rubber cord with molded plug with "Elux" logo. Optional cord-winder now
Variations on the "1952 theme"
1. I have seen late (blue) XXXs that still had plain aluminum front covers and chromed rear flanges, instead of both being painted hammertone. I have also seen some where the front cover was painted, but the rear flange was still chromed; and I have also seen some where the front cover was still plain aluminum but the rear flange was painted.
2. I have seen specimens that had the earlier gray leatherette, with the new dark turquoise wrinkle-finish paint; as well as machines that had the new turquoise-blue leatherette, but still with the earlier medium gray wrinkle-finish on the underside.
3. I have seen blue or blue-&-gray XXXs with the older gray/black/white XXX-weave hoses.
4. And I have seen specimens with further "sub-combinations" of (1), (2), and (3) above. As I said earler, the varierty of combinations of aesthetic elements you will find seem to be nearly endless, especially with the 1949/52 versions.
A possible explanation for this:
(a) The gray-leatherette / turquoise-bottoms were probably made new at the factory and they were just using up the last of the gray leatherette that was in stock.
(b) The blue-leatherette / gray-bottom versions were most likely factory-rebuilt machines, fitted with new leatherette if the existing leatherette was damaged, but not repainting the bottom sides.)
One final observation about blue XXXs:
If you have a blue XXX and the hammertone paint was obviously spray-painted on, then this was a "bojack" job and not done at the factory.
Factory machines done in Hammertone always had the "real" BAKED Hammertone finish, and not spray-paint. The difference is easy to tell:
The baked finish is very smooth, durable, more of a gray-blue than a bright or vivid blue, and practically impossible to scratch off with a fingernail.
The sprayed hammertone is a very bright blue, fairly rough in finish, and can be easily marred and scratched. Furthermore, the ribbed lines going across the front cover, and the cover release handle, were never painted at the factory but were polished out.
Also, if the entire back side, and not just the flange part, is painted blue, that also would signify a non-factory rebuild. Same for the switch housing...these were never painted blue at the factory. Well, at least, I have never SEEN any... and I have seen quite a few XXXs in my time!