When it comes to 1950s Chevrolets, it’s the Tri-Five Bel Air that gets all the attention. And that’s not surprising because the Tri-Five is one of the most beautiful cars ever built. And it also comes with a V8. But Chevrolet had been making stylish automobiles long before the Tri-Five debuted in 1955.’
The generation before it, which was also split into 150, 210, and Bel Air trims, is also a looker. But I’m here to talk about a different Chevy that’s just as pretty as the first-gen Bel Air, but often overshadowed by its fancier sibling. It’s the Deluxe, the company’s range-topping full-size from 1941 to 1952.
Introduced in 1941 as a replacement for the Master, the Deluxe returned with a somewhat dated design after World War II. But that changed in 1949 when Chevy redesigned everything from scratch. Sporting a more curvaceous appearance with muscular fenders, the Deluxe quickly became the brand’s best-selling nameplate.
Come 2022, the Deluxe is nowhere near as popular as the Bel Air but because many of these cars were locked up in barns or abandoned in junkyards, they’re getting increasingly harder to find. Especially if we’re talking about unrestored and unmolested survivors. If you haven’t seen one recently, “What the Rust?” recently revived a 1952 Deluxe that soldiered on for a whopping 70 years in fantastic condition.
This old gal is one of those family-owned vehicles that had a nice home its entire life. The guy who bought it new drove it until 1975 when he lost his license plate following a crash, but the car remained in the family ever since. There’s no info as to how many years it spent on the road after that, but the current owner says the car spent its recent decades in various barns.
But even though it’s been off the road for what may be around 40 years, the four-door presents itself in great condition. And I’m not talking about the fact that it’s still in one piece. Nope! This classic is almost rust-free, and it’s also highly original.
The car was repainted sometime in the 1970s, but everything else is just like it came from the factory. And don’t let the torn upholstery fool you; that’s just a cover that was placed on the seats since day one. The original bench is also in excellent condition, as are the dashboard and the steering wheel. The fact that the latter doesn’t have any cracks in it is downright incredible.
Finally, it still has its numbers-matching engine under the hood. This Deluxe left the factory with a 216-cubic-inch (3.5-liter) inline-six mill rated at 90 horsepower. Yes, it’s not exactly powerful by modern standards, but it’s enough to get the four-door rolling at decent speeds on the highway.
And impressively enough, the mill wasn’t stuck after so many decades without a sip of gasoline. Not only that, but our host got it running without much effort, which says a lot about how tough these old six-cylinder engines are. To top it all off, the Chevy still has decent brakes and enough oomph to take a stroll through the neighborhood.
Yes, it’s not as majestic and powerful as a Tri-Five Bel Air, but seeing this unrestored survivor back on the road after so many years is touching, to say the least. Check it all out in the video below.