Thursday, February 9, 2017

Sweet Fleet De Luxe in a well worn tux

There is no escaping the fact that the following pics were taken on a warm and beautiful summer day. I'm posting it today as a major winter storm is bearing down on the Northeast in hopes that it warms y'alls hearts. Regardless this sweet ride was roosting in Greenpoint last year:
This is a 1951 Chevrolet Fleetline De Luxe in Mayland Black. Where the name Mayland comes from is a mystery to me but I wanted to point out that it is not Maryland as Google kept insisting it might be. This era of Chevy was introduced in 1949 as the first wave of totally in new designs after WWII. The De Luxe was the mid-tier trim level between the lowly Special and the top of the heap Bel Aire.
I think this is one of the more handsome 4 door sedan designs as the rear doors are beautifully incorporated. Look how long and low the windows are at the rear. That, along with the chrome spear that runs back from under the windows to trail off on the sail panel makes this look like it's moving while sitting still. To be fair the gangster whitewalls, '70s Buick wheels, and the fact that the fender skirts have been removed makes this thing look deadly.
The Fleetline name denoted the fastback sub-series of the De Luxe line. More than just a fastback, the Fleetline is more of a factory chopped ride as the windshield and doors are too low to be interchangeable with the standard sedan. As a rare 4 door fastback this is a very collectible car today.
The end of the '40s/beginning of the '50s brought these awesome fastback bodies to all divisions of GM. While fastbacks have been produced in some form from the 1930s through today these were full-size formidable beasts laden with chrome which gives them serious stage presence.
It's 1951 and reverse lights are for suckers! A brake light combined with the turn signal is all you get. This was a new version for '51 called the Reflector-Guard. Their signature hallmark is the reflector button under the light that was marketed as protecting your car when it was parked.
From this angle it's easy to see the remnants of the detached fenders of the pre-WWII cars. It's not like one day cars had fenders separate from the body and the next day they didn't. There was an evolution. It's like Darwin's Tubercle people look it up!
Our hero today is a little ratty to be sure. The chrome has long left the bumpers, rust is munching its way through the edges of the body, and little dings and scrapes abound. However when you note that this thing is parked on a city street at the age of 66 you've got to admit it's pretty nice.
Here we can see the long and low roofline on display. The only missing trim I can see would be the continuation of that front fender spear that originally would have gone across the front door and half of the rear.
This large and impressive chrome fender guard was a feature of the 4 door cars only. All 2 door De Luxes had the chrome rocker molding end with the door which was still well in front of the rear fender.
The interior was all new for '51 and boasted some then new details we take for granted now like the dash overhanging the gauges a bit to reduce glare. This ride has the optional radio installed behind that massive chrome grill in the dash center. Above that is a handsome clock. The gearshift is that of the 3 on the tree manual. A Powerglide automatic transmission was optional but in this era if you knew how to drive at all you knew how to drive stick.
This trim would be tough to replace if missing!
Under this hood lies the famous 216 inline 6 cylinder "Valve-in-Head" engine that Chevy boasted had been in production in one sense or another since 1912! Imagine an automaker bragging that the engine in their new car was first designed 39 years earlier?! Their marketing angle was that they've had each year to improve upon this technology so that it is honed to perfection. A new larger 235 inline 6 was introduced as an option in 1950 but was only available with the Powerglide.
The jet-style hood ornament announced the beginnings of the Jet Age for Chevy.
It's easy to miss at first glance but if you look close the corners of the bumpers have a bolt on wrap around trim pieces that adds a little protection but mostly looks cool. These are rare period correct accessories that go for at least $200 today.
Well that's where we'll leave this sweet cruiser for now. Sitting up at an even ride height this sled gives the impression of being able to start up and drive immediately. Being that it is a rare Fleetline sub-series in modern Brooklyn with a California plate on it I'm sure this is somebody's baby. Hopefully I'll witness it cruising down the street some day when the warm weather returns.

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