Garage Find: 1952 Chevrolet Styleline Wagon

There in the back, hiding quietly behind the old chairs, the boogie board, the lawn tractor, and the fender sits a proud 1952 Chevrolet Styleline Deluxe Wagon, one of 12,756 built that year, a true blue Tin Woodie in the raw. This wonderfully patinaed wagon is for sale right now here on Facebook Marketplace, for an $8,000 asking price in Huntington, West Virginia.

Tin Woodies in their final finished forms come in every variation from stock to wild custom.  This particular car is advertised to have only 40,000 miles on it before it was parked and it is a good candidate for either end of the classic car spectrum.  There is some rust at the bottom of the tailgate; other lower body areas are hidden from view.  But if you’re looking very closely, you can see the remnants of the “wood” décor that seem to be rusting right along with the rest of the car, something wood doesn’t do.  The success in producing these cars was not actually using wood at all—the “wood” areas were painted with a base coat and then a laminate film developed by 3M called “Di-noc” was applied like decoupage or somewhat like wallpaper.  The “decal” was soaked in liquid and applied to the base painted metal.  A little rust, maybe, over time but no wood decay from exposure to the elements like more ancient woodies that actually did use hardwoods abundantly in the build of the car.  Di-noc is still in use today with hundreds of wood patterns developed over the decades as seen here. The bumper, tailgate handle, and single rear tail light housing seem intact and in decent condition.

The seller claims that this running 235 c.i. straight-six engine is ready to install in the car. Research on 1952 Chevy Wagons suggests that this car originally came with a 216.5 cui six-cylinder engine coupled to a three-speed manual (on the tree) transmission, contrary to the posting’s claim of an automatic. Probably not a numbers matching car, although there is no mention of verification either way from the post.  Queries to the seller prior to this posting were not returned in time.

Hatch doors seem to be operating with decent looking latches and supports. The side trims are missing on the front fenders and though many 1952 Tin Woodies have lobster-eye taillights at the side/rear haunches of the car, there are none here and no evidence of holes.  The exterior patina of this ’52 is even and maybe a good candidate for slammed and patinaed finished stylings.  The five-tooth bumper with its turn signal lamps is seen in here as well as some pretty impressive-sized boxes of who-knows-what but likely Tin Woodie components.

The interior dash looks completely stock and in good condition (no radio).  The knobs and steering wheel suggest that this car was built with Deluxe trim.

Final analysis: a sweet garage find, mostly intact and ready for whatever direction the artist wants to take it. For an idea of what can be done to one of these Tin Woodies, take a look here at what a $51,995 asking price finished car looks like.  Pretty good inspiration right there. See where the “Deluxe” chrome mark would ordinarily be found is missing. Notice that the rear fender well gravel guards are intact. For a little further inspiration and a comment about the rarity of this car, consider that the number of Tin Woodies manufactured in 1952 represents only 1.5% of Chevy’s impressive production of more than 825,000 passenger cars that year. This is one of those great garage find cars where we can only repeat, incomplete encouragement: “OK, Picasso, here you go.”

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Comments

  1. Jay Morgan

    I’ll take 2. Nope, there’s only one like this.

  2. Phlathead Phil

    It’s a beautiful thing! Better have some deeeep pockets b-4 taking this one on.

    Like 1
  3. HC

    What a beauty and reasonably priced too! Tin Woody would definitely be more approachable than the earlier ones with real wood. Wonder if he plans to install the engine prior to the sale.?

  4. Mountainwoodie

    Well………certainly a project. When did 500 bucks become 8,000 bucks?

    Like 5
    • Robbert

      Since they became vintage.

      Like 1
  5. GCS Member

    Very cool. It’s a shame the green paint is so far gone for a pitina look. If the floors and rockers are solid, it is sweet. Don’t know about the price since I have no idea what they go for..

  6. Tom Bell

    Says automatic but shifter looks like 3-on-the-tree. Hope someone does the right thing with a restoration, even with the possibly incorrect engine rather than some obscene customization.

    Like 1
    • William Woodring

      I have to disagree with you regarding automatic with 235 engine. My Dad had one when I was 13 years old and I actually workded on it and started young loving cars. It had a 235 engine with hydralic lifters.

    • Jon

      Tom,
      What is your description of an ‘obscene customization’?

  7. 427Turbojet 427Turbojet Member

    In the late 70s I frequented a wonderful old salvage yard. There were 2 wagons like this in the yard, one way on the west end, one way on the east end. The better of the 2 (east) was in about the same condition as this one. I made a deal for both and 40 Dodge military pickup with a 30s-40s vintage Sasgen wrecker boom/winch. I carried about 1/2 of the poorer wagon across the yard and stuffed the parts in the better wagon. All were frozen to the ground, so I paid half down and made arrangements to pick them up in the spring after the ground thawed and firmed up enough to get them out. The yard owner (a great guy) died that winter and the yard was bought by a competitor. When I presented the receipt that spring, the new owners said ” tough s__t”. I really wanted the wrecker unit, so I bought it again ( and took it home that day!). The yard is still there but all of the good old stuff was mostly crushed and I don’t spend much time or money there anymore. I was only out about $200 (wish prices were like that today) but it still discouraged me from going there.

  8. chrlsful

    nother reason to hate patina. These look pretty fine when done right (“painted on” wood).

    • Jon

      I have to agree with your comment. I’m also getting a little tired of the lazy way to do it, patina look.

  9. Marty Parker

    All Powerglide equipped cars came with the 235 CI engine. Standard transmission models were 216’s until 1953.

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