Half Century Barn Bound: 1948 Chevrolet Fleetline

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This 1948 Chevrolet Fleetline may be going for a barn-snooze record as the seller claims this one was doin’ that Rip Van Winkle thing for 50 years – a half-century of non-running! Said to have originally been finished in black, you wouldn’t know it today as sun-burned rust has taken over as the current dressing of choice. Where and how do people find such cars? Don’t know for sure, but let’s investigate and see if we can figure this one out. Located in Fairmont, West Virginia, this fastback Chevy is available, here on eBay for an opening bid of $4,300. T.J. gets credit for this find!

Technically known as a Fleetline “Aero Sedan”, this trim level, along with the Fleetline Sportmaster four-door sedan occupied Chevrolet’s top drawer position in ’48. Beneath it was the Fleetmaster series, available in multiple body styles, and then the Stylemaster bringing up the rear. Chevrolet knocked out 696K units in ’48, putting them in first place while the Fleetline Aero Sedan accounted for 58K of that total.

The seller tells us, “The only rust holes are small and on the bottoms of both front fenders” and that may be the case but the surface rust is so severe, one has to wonder how much steel is still left in places. This Chevy appears to be mostly complete, as in not missing any exterior parts except for some fender trim. The seller adds that this Fleetline spent 50 years in a barn, positioned on a wooden floor. And while that may have helped preserve the underside, the exterior degradation must have occurred in its preceding twenty-four years outdoors (I’d still want to inspect the underside!).

Supposedly parked due to a leaking water pump, it’s a safe bet that the 90 HP, 216 CI, in-line, six-cylinder engine has been a no go for many moons. The leaking water pump is missing and it appears some other stuff has skipped the scene too – it would be nice to know if this prime mover is seized or not. Regardless, an attempt to resurrect this Chevy should include a swap to a powerplant that is more robust and utilizes a fully pressurized lubrication system. I find the blue paint job unusual, looks like someone got loose with a rattle can.

The interior is in seriously sad shape. The seats, door panels, and headliner are in rough condition and the surface rust has spread to the steel dashboard. It’s easy to get caught up in the moment when you spy an interior like this, but really, they usually need a redo any way. As long as the dash is intact, the seat frames and window regulators are present, and the floor pans haven’t fallen out, there will be something here with which to work.

Back to the initial question of finding cars like this, my guess, is it’s either a found by rumor, or the owner makes it known that he wants to move it along. In comes a flipper, who puts down some cash and the attempted turnover starts. Comments such as, “ I don’t know anything else about the engine, you are buying ‘as is‘” along with, ” If you have any questions, please ask BUT, let me say again, It has the paperwork, it has been barn kept for over 50 years” identifies the circumstances of the acquisition pretty clearly. No surprise really, many of the cars that are reviewed here can tell a similar story. My take on this Chevy is that the opening bid is too high, especially considering that it’s going to need a ton of work and $$$. And, being a ’48 doesn’t exactly put it at the top of the Chevrolet popularity list either. I wouldn’t know what to do with this Fleetline but if you were interested, what direction would you take?

Auctions Ending Soon


  1. 370zpp 370zppMember

    Tired, but beautiful.

    Like 10
  2. Vegaman Dan

    Drop a reliable newer self contained drive train, restore the interior and exterior to stick. Maybe dd AC, abd upgrade the suspension and brakes. Make it as nice of a weekend reliable fun car without going too custom.

    Might be worth buying a 90’s Blazer to get the drive train and seats from and go from there.

    Like 4
    • duaney

      I drove this exact same car through all of high school and graduate school. Perfectly reliable and 70 mph freeway speeds. It would be easier to get the car running as is, the hard part is all the cosmetics.

      Like 4
  3. Connecticut mark

    Hiding a 50 year old license plate?

    Like 25
    • Robert West

      The reason for that escapes me also.

      Like 0
  4. Nomader 55

    Looks to me like later 235 engine to me.

    Like 9
    • Jim ODonnellAuthor

      I wondered about that too, seems to me that the 216 had studs protruding up through the top of the valve cover.


      Like 11
    • George R

      It sure does look like a 235

      Like 3
  5. Rodney - GSM

    Do us all a favor. Donate it to a tech school that teaches automobile restoration and take the biggest tax credit you can manage. Happy Holidays.

    Like 9
  6. Arfeeto

    I remember when these cars were ubiquitous. Even back then, I thought their styling unappealing.

    Like 2
  7. Eric_13cars Eric_13carsMember

    Definitely a low-rider with an Art Morrison frame, SBC and hydramatic tranny, retro gauges and new interior. $1000-$1500 bid and no more. Ridiculous ask presently.

    Like 2
  8. Jack Quantrill

    Stepdad brought home a ‘47 4 door like this when I hit 16. So ugly I wouldn’t drive it!

    Like 2
  9. Rico

    My oldest brother bought this exact model. I’m thinking 1964 or 65. It was in very good condition considering we lived one the southern shore of Lake Ontario where the city fathers weren’t shy about the application of salt on the roads. Winter lasted from about the week before Halloween and the last snowfall is the week after Easter.
    I thought he was crazy for spending that much money on a car.
    He shelled out $50 for it. He drove it for 3 or 4 years and sold it to it’s next caretaker for $50.
    As far as I know, it’s still changing hands every 3 or 4 years for $50.

    Like 6
  10. George Birth

    Too rough for $8K.. To unload this one seller needs to get real.
    By the time a new buyer starts on this one he will have to practically rebuild the entire car.

    Like 2
  11. Danny

    I say retire the old bird, put it in a museum for future gear heads to ponder over, how it used to be. Compared to the plastic battery operated non saving pos we have today and in the future. We do not own and drive cars anymore, the whatever you want to call them today drive us and tell us what to do…and we allow it…go figure!

    Like 2
  12. CarbobMember

    What direction would I take? The opposite direction. And don’t look back. Another overpriced piece of junk. I can’t imagine that anyone would fork over $430.00 for this much less $4,300.00 opening bid. Not sure which is the more stupidly overpriced; this or the ‘55 Chevy rust bucket special. Just saying.

    Like 0
  13. Robert White

    This car should be purchased as yard art because it’s much better looking as yard art than restored to look new again.

    It’s perfect yard art IMHO and I’d buy it to park in my yard if I had a yard to park it on.


    Like 1
  14. 64 Bonneville

    $1500 Max for buy in. Get a late 90s” Blazer with the 4.3 and automatic, and slide the frame, driveline etc. under that old Chevy body after getting it sand blasted. A couple of coats of primer/sealer and a couple coats of a good enamel paint, call it good and enjoy it.

    Like 1
    • Dave

      A 4×4 Fleetline? Wrong wheelbase and trackwidth too. I agree with a complete chassis swap, but I’d look for something more suitable

      Like 0
  15. Duffy

    Lawn ornament please.

    Like 0
  16. CaCarDude

    Haul this old Fleetline out here to the left coast and it would not last a day, it has Lowrider written all over it!! Nice find!

    Like 0
  17. Gregory Garon

    I GAVE my neighbors high school son a 46 Pontiac that is identical in style to this Chevy. Granted mine had a flat head 8 with three speed on the column that ran darn good. Shifted all the gears smoothly. That is what the car is worth. Making some high school kid happy and a good vehicle to work on and make better on a high school budget. Where do these people come up with those high prices. Oh, I also got the car for just hauling it away, sorry, driving it away.

    Like 0
  18. Ron

    This car had a vacuum shift Transmission. You cannot shift it without the engine running, not even into neutral. That is the reason most of the gear shifter knobs are broken off.
    So whoever buys it better take a forklift with them to sit it on a flatbed trailer.

    Like 0
  19. Charles Turner

    Funny, I’m reading these negative comments about this ‘48. Maybe because I actually do like these cars, all I can say is if you have nothing good to say….you know the rest!

    Like 0

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Barn Finds