Kirby Model Years 1946 – 1962

With the conclusion of World War II , Kirby resumed production of its vacuums. It introduced a new number chronology series starting with Model 505 in 1945 that concluded with the Model 562 in 1962.  below is to the best of my knowledge a detailed description of each model in the 500 series and imagery to help visualize what the  original vacuum looked like when it first hit the market.  I will continue to update this information as new details come to light .

KIRBY MODEL 505 -1946

In 1945, the Kirby model 505 made its debut as an exact replica of its predecessor, the 4C. However, it wasn’t until 1946 that a significant update was introduced. This update involved replacing the decorative cap with a new patented “magic finger” belt lifter, featuring the same logo but with smooth edges on the plastic cap.

The 505 retained the same bag as previous models, ensuring familiarity to customers. A notable change was the introduction of a shiny black rubber cord, now equipped with an attached clip for easy hanging on a hook at the back of the handle.

The ” Sani-Em-Tor”, a crucial component of the vacuum, now featured a black plastic trap door.

When it comes to attachments and accessories, the 505 introduced a new all-black plastic design, giving it a sleek and modern look. Additionally, a new feature called the “massage cap,” made of black rubber, was introduced exclusively for this model.

The portable handle of the 505 now boasted a plain black finish, adding to its overall aesthetic appeal.

In 1947, an exciting addition was made to the 505 – the separate nozzle floor polisher, complete with its own belt lifter. This enhancement further expanded the capabilities of the 505, making it a versatile cleaning tool.

The box of attachments and the vacuum itself came in a maroon red color, adorned with the iconic green Kirby logo. It is worth noting that the 505 marked the end of the black/gold and red color scheme, concluding a series of visually striking designs.

KIRBY MODEL 508-1948

Kirby introduced the remarkable model  508, a personal favorite from the 500 series, which brought a fresh and exciting color scheme to the lineup. Unlike its predecessors, the 508 featured a brand new color theme, departing from the traditional black/gold and red design.

The belt lifter, now made of vibrant red plastic, adorned with the Kirby logo in white. The lettering and style remained consistent with the previous model, the 505.

The rug nozzle and light housing trims underwent a transformation, now sporting dark gray rubber trim. The light housing trim still consisted of three separate pieces.

The handle grip of the 508 boasted a beautiful gray color, featuring intricate scrolls and detailed design elements. This unique grip color was exclusive to models 508 and 509 , setting it apart from its predecessors.  unfortunately the material it was made of deteriorated very fast and was replaced with a rubber grip later on .  The subsequent gray grip, made of plain rubber, was introduced with the 512 late in production and fully launched with the 513 in 1953.

The bag of the 508 was crafted from dark gray canvas, featuring the iconic Kirby logo in red and silver. The pattern and lettering on the bag remained consistent with the 505.

The metal clamp on top of the bag cloth cover was attached in front with a button.  The later more familiar bag design still had the opening from the front but without a button.(please see pic)

Early Model 508 had a black “Sani-Em-Tor” trap door and a two tone electric cord (gray cord with black plugs)

The later Model  electric cord of the 508 was dark gray, proudly displaying the Kirby logo on the plug. The ” Sani-Em-Tor” trap door was made of dark gray durable plastic.”Tear drop” style latch  Emtor lock was also introduced with this Model.

The wheels of the 508 remained black, maintaining a classic and timeless look.

Attachments and accessories underwent a transformation, now made of smooth gray plastic. Additionally, the 508 introduced an additional straight long wand

The hose of the 508 was made of gray cloth, featuring  muted red and silver stripes. The ends of the hose remained the same as with the 505, made of black rubber.

To enhance organization and convenience, the 508 came with its own special attachment cabinet, aptly named the “Kirby Kabinet.” This cabinet provided a dedicated space for storing all the accessories, ensuring easy access and neat storage.

One unique and exclusive attachment was the Suction coupler. It’s different to any other 500 series coupler , much bigger in size and has an additional permanent ring fixture inside.(please see pic)

The vacuum carton, accessories cabinet, and floor polisher box of the 508 were all in a striking red maroon color, featuring a textured pattern and the Kirby logo in grayish white. It is worth noting that the vacuum carton was larger in size compared to previous models.

KIRBY MODEL 509-1949

Introduced in 1949 the model 509 underwent several modification. Here are the most notable changes made to this model:

The bag of the 509 became smaller in size and now featured a light gray color. The Kirby logo underwent a redesign and was now placed within the parameter of a circle ,  two  thick  red and silver  dashed stripes ran from the top center to the bottom of the bag with a half inch space between the stripes adding a unique visual element.

The handle grip of the 509 was black (early in production it was the same gray as with the model 508), featuring the same style and pattern as the 508.

The rug nozzle trim was made of the same gray rubber as the previous model, maintaining consistency in design and functionality. The wheels of the 509 remained black vulcanized .

The ends of the floor polisher housing, where the brush roll screws in, were now covered with two gray rubber caps

The suction coupler underwent a transformation, now made of chrome-plated metal, adding a touch of elegance to the design. The hose, still gray with red and silver stripes, now featured its own permanent metal swivel connector, enhancing flexibility and ease of use.

A new addition to the 509 was the Suds-o-gun, a sprayer with a glass jar and a gray plastic top. This feature provided added convenience for cleaning tasks. The service tool, curved extension tube, and straight extension tube were all made of smooth gray plastic.

The introduction of the “Handi-Butler” for cleaning and polishing was another exciting addition to the 509. The side cover of the Handi-Butler was made of polished aluminum with the Kirby logo embossed in the middle, adding a touch of sophistication to the design. (I must add that I have seen a few without a logo for this model).

The  shipper box and the “Kirby Kabinet” of the vacuum and attachments were  the same as with model 508.

KIRBY MODEL 510-1950

KIRBY MODEL 510 -1950

Kirby Model 510 was introduced in 1950. Here are the notable changes and additions made to this model:

The introduction of the Sweet Air Dispenser, a feature designed to clean up objectionable odors while cleaning the carpet. This addition enhanced the overall cleaning experience and ensured a fresh and pleasant environment.

The screw on the” Sani-Em-Tor”, a crucial component of the vacuum, now had a red ribbed plastic top. Early models of the 510 had a metal screw without the ribbed plastic top. (see both in the pic.)

“Kirby kabinet” ,shipper box ,Handi-Butler and polisher for this model  were red maroon with the Kirby logo in grayish white.

Pictured here is a  rare design variation that appeared in the north American market where It was now brown in color, featuring a detailed vertical stripe pattern in blue and the Kirby logo in red. The floor polisher box of the 510 was brown with red lettering.

The floodlight trim, now made of gray rubber, consisted of a single piece that went around the front and along the sides of the bumper.*(originally introduced late into the 509 model, it only became fully integrated with the 510)

Introduction of the ball chain cuff slide.

KIRBY MODEL 511 -1951

Model 511 1951

The Model 511, introduced in 1951 which was when the US  entered the Korean war. Due to war efforts and scarcity of materials the 511  did not have any notable differences or modifications from the previous model. It maintained the same features and design elements, using stock parts from the 510

Moth crystals container (509-512) and device are shown  in pictures ,those were not exclusive to this model ,  as these were available starting with the Scott and Fetzer Sanitation System.

KIRBY MODEL 512 -1952

The most notable differences with this model were with the front wheel bracket casting , Handi -Butler and the addition of the Sanitation Kit.

Due to the scarcity of aluminum, Kirby tried to save where it could. In place of the chrome-plated system used in previous models, the toe touch control system and the material used to construct the Handi-Butler in Models  511 and 512 was made with a gray painted metal composite material. This material was the same one used for the portable handle and was unique to both 511 and 512 models. It is worth mentioning that this particular part had a tendency to break apart and then replaced with the chrome-plated mechanism as with previous and future models.  Later in production a new gray rubber  handle grip was introduced doing away with the classic black ornate handle used for Models 509-511.

A new addition of a Sanitation kit that featured the new 513 logo appeared for the very first time with the Model 512,Please see attached pics. This must be the earliest the new logo had been used.

** Sanitation kit iamgery is courtesy of Adam Mercer.

KIRBY MODEL 513 -1953

Model 513 received a fresh new look with a vibrant color theme. The rug nozzle and floodlight trims are now made of red rubber, adding a pop of color to the vacuum’s appearance.

Kirby also continued with the  new handle grip made of plain gray rubber first introduced with the 512. The ergonomic design ensured a comfortable and secure hold for users.

The same black vulcanized rubber wheels remain unchanged. The bag of the 513 maintains its gray color but features a striking new Kirby logo in red and silver. The logo showcases a unique design, with the “K” and “Y” stretching down to form a V shape. The “K” arm also extends to the top of the bag, adding a touch of elegance.

Another major upgrade was the new “Push-Push” button, replacing the toggle switch found in earlier models. This button offered a user-friendly control mechanism that is easy to use.

Introduction of a brand new  nozzle made of die-cast, lighter in weight than its predecessor that is smoother inside, with a new brush assembly  that is mounted as a unit on the Rug Guard, allowing for easy inspection and adjustment. Nozzle removal is no longer necessary for adjustments, making maintenance a breeze.

the benefits of the new Kirby Stainless Steel Rug Guard is  that It glides effortlessly over rugs, leaving no smudges even on delicate pastel shades.

The motor housing of the 513 is smaller in size yet more powerful, enhancing the overall performance of the vacuum. (Towards the end of production, the motor was upgraded from 3 amps to 4 amps.)

The “Kirby Kabinet” and storage box for the 513 feature a sophisticated the all-new attractive scotch-plaid design printed against a grayish silver color, complemented by red lettering in a new logo style.

Model 513 also introduced a new hand-held grip for the “Handi-Butler’s” flexible shaft. This molded-to-fit-your-hand grip ensures a secure hold, eliminating the risk of the shaft twisting out of hand or scraping fingers against a rapidly rotating wire brush. Made of perspiration-resistant polystyrene, this grip keeps your hand clean and comfortable.

In addition the “Handi-Butler” now came with a new sharpener tool, allowing you to sharpen knives, scissors, and edged tools with ease.

KIRBY MODEL 514 -1954

Model 514-1954 , While the iconic belt lifter logo remains unchanged, Kirby made a subtle alteration by removing the complete gray circle surrounding it.

The gray bag remains consistent with its predecessor, Model 513, but now features a new slight pattern, adding a touch of visual interest.

Improvements were made to the electric cord, which is now a sleek light gray color. To add a touch of sophistication, the new Kirby logo is proudly displayed on the plug. Additionally, the plug is equipped with a cord clip.

The black wheels remain the same. Kirby enhanced the fork of the handle by widening its bottom. For added convenience, Kirby introduced a brand new flip-down cord hook, allowing for quick and hassle-free release of the cord. Model 514 introduced a larger, more comfortable red rubber handle.

In terms of storage, the”Kirby Kabinet” and vacuum storage boxes remained the same ,adorned with sleek black vertical and horizontal lines  against a metallic silver background.

Lastly, all attachments and accessories maintain the same  classic gray color

KIRBY MODEL 515-1955

Model 515  showcased brand new gray theme, wheels are now gray , the corduroy bag , boasts a sleek gray design without any discernible pattern, positioned on the top left of the bag.  you’ll find the new Kirby belt lifter logo, elegantly crafted in white, enclosed within a “shoe-horse ” style incomplete circle . * while this particular belt lifter is prominent with the model 515 , It was also featured on some late production model 514.

The cord remains consistent with the previous model, maintaining its timeless gray color.

To infuse a touch of sophistication, all the trim on the vacuum cleaner has been revamped in a vibrant shade of red, creating a striking and attention-grabbing aesthetic.

KIRBY MODEL 516-1956

Dubbed as  the revolutionary “50th Anniversary Kirby,” a vacuum cleaner that redefines the legacy of Kirby.

This cutting-edge appliance boasts a sleek and modern design, with a motor housing that seamlessly integrates all essential components into one polished aluminum unit. The motor is now concealed within a beautiful housing, cleverly hidden carbon brush screws and other internal elements.

To enhance suction power, a recessed rubber gasket has been added to the fan-case opening, creating a better seal. The redesigned and enlarged nozzle lock offers effortless usability, while the larger and less angled light housing simplifies the process of changing light bulbs.

The handle fork has undergone a significant widening, accompanied by a simplified and redesigned spring mechanism, ensuring a comfortable grip. The new tilt-latch features a polished  metal switch on top of the motor housing, allowing for easy tilting.

Embracing a stunning red theme, the handle grip, rug nozzle bumper, and light housing bumper are all crafted from vibrant red vinyl. The 516 model introduces a 32 ft. gray cord with a retro-styled plug and cord-end, both in a dark red color, complemented by a dark gray cord. The same gray wheels as the 515 model are retained, while the” Sani-Em-Tor” bottom is now gray.

Included are striking red plastic attachments and a red rubber hose, with the option to separately order a long rug nozzle and swivel connector. The push button is now fashioned in red plastic, adding a touch of elegance. The round belt lifter proudly displays the Kirby logo in red lettering against a metallic silver circle.

The gray bag remains unchanged, featuring the same logo as the 515 model. However, a red vinyl bag guard has been thoughtfully added at the bottom to enhance aesthetics and protect the tube spring from erosion.

The “Kirby -kabinet” and other boxes now showcase a beautiful red logo, set against a new linen-like pattern in beige on an off-white background. An updated instruction booklet accompanies the package.(Finally!)

Furthermore, the redesigned Handi-Butler now features a new flexible shaft, greatly improving its functionality. “Sweet-Aire” liquid is now packaged in a convenient metal tin can, replacing the previous glass bottle.

KIRBY MODEL 517 -1957

The 517 has undergone minimal alterations. The tilt-latch switch  has been replaced with a vibrant red plastic, while the attachments are now crafted from durable red plastic with a vinyl hose. The cord remains unchanged . The middle handle tube maintains its sleekness. The gray bag remains the same as with the 516 style. At the top, the familiar red and silver logo is positioned just as it was before. The wheels possess a sleek shade of gray. The boxes showcase an enchanting plaid design in tan, with two retro patterns embellishing the top and bottom in red, with logo in a full circle placed in the middle  of the shipper box.

KIRBY MODEL 518-1958

The design enhancements are subtle yet striking, especially in its packaging. The box now features a refined linen design, embellished with two vintage-inspired stripes elegantly stretching across the top and bottom. The bag, on the other hand, is designed in a sleek gray shade with a delicate silver pattern that adds a dash of sophistication. During the production process, the 518 was upgraded with a new instruction manual. The Handi-Butler was revamped, now showcasing a new cover with the middle part protruding, and the Handi-Sharpener was updated. The debut of the surface nozzle and swivel attachments in their own box was introduced, with later models incorporating these attachments into the attachment caddy. The new manual also included the first images of the speckled bag.

KIRBY MODEL 519-1959

Featuring a stunning bag  design ,the bag now showcases a mesmerizing light gray hue, adorned with delicate silver speckles that add a touch of elegance featuring the same logo from the previous model. The  handle has been redesigned now featuring a ribbed middle part.

The 516-518 had  screw on caps for the carbon brushes and the 519 going onward had the brush holders with an external wire.

The boxes have been transformed into a charming off-white shade, adorned with small gold Kirby logos enclosed within circles, adding a touch of opulence to the overall design.

Handi -Butler is now designated MARK II

KIRBY MODEL 560 and 561 1960-1961

One of the main differences lies in the red trim, which has been upgraded to a vibrant and eye-catching bright red vinyl, adding a pop of color to the overall design.

The sprayer container has also undergone a transformation, now crafted from natural-colored plastic, giving it a sleek and modern look. And let’s not forget about the “Handi-Butler” – it has been redesigned to be  clear red in color.

When it comes to the packaging, the KIRBY MODEL 560 retains the same box design as the previous model, with the only change being a deeper cream color background, adding a touch of sophistication. On the other hand, the KIRBY MODEL 561 boasts a stunning teal color background, adorned with the same golden small logo pattern, creating a visually striking contrast. The belt lifter has also been revamped, now featuring a more square and larger design, showcasing the new Kirby logo in red over a captivating gold starburst background.

KIRBY MODEL 562 (Sanitronic)-1962

A true standout with its unique and unparalleled color scheme. Setting it apart from any other model, all the plastic and rubber trim boasts a mesmerizing dark metallic brown hue (named Sirocco). From the handle grip to the bag top, switch cover, handle lock button, bumper trim, and headlight trim. Wheels and ” Sani-Em-Tor” trap door were tan in color.

Adding to its distinctiveness, the KIRBY MODEL 562 features a white cord with tan ends, making it the only Kirby model to ever sport a white cord.

In addition , the KIRBY MODEL 562 introduces two innovative features: the “Sani-Pocket” and the “Sani-Scraper.” The zippered pocket on the backside of the bag allows you to conveniently put your hand inside to dislodge trapped dirt, while the cardboard scraper assists in this process.

The Handi-Waxer was introduced, it was designed to fit the extension tubes (long and curved) for application. The wax  came in 1/2 Lbs. package.

Shipper box and “Kirby kabinet “ in a beautiful  cream color adorned with  dark brown and  bright gold stripes , Kirby logo in a brown circle .