Half Century Sitting: 1939 Chevrolet JA Master DeLuxe

This 1939 Chevrolet JA Master DeLuxe, by my accounting, has spent 50 of its 81 years in stored mode. The original owner parked it in a carport for 30 years, the second owner got it running and parked it for twenty more and the current seller claims that it has not run in five years. This life-long Tennessee car is located in Stantonville and is available, here on eBay for a current bid of $3,800, seven bids tendered so far.

As with most 1930s manufacturers, body styles for Chevrolet abounded in ’39. Besides this Master DeLuxe Sport Sedan, prospective buyers could also opt for a Master DeLuxe Sedan (two-door), Master Deluxe Business Coupe, Master DeLuxe Four-Passenger Coupe, Master DeLuxe Sedan, Master DeLuxe Coach (two-door), and a “Woodie” station wagon. The total production of all body styles was about 587K units.

With 111K miles on its odometer, and used for 31 of its 81 years, that averages out to only 3,500 miles per operating year! Cleaned up, this Chevy doesn’t look half-bad. Based on what looks like paint-peel, the primer appears to be showing through in places. There is surface rust present, and maybe a bit more than that with the running boards, but the body seems basically sound. Unfortunately, the lower portion of the driver’s side of the grille has been punched out and the taillights have gone missing. The trunk lid is a head-scratcher, perhaps it’s a replacement lid – its trim is missing and there is body rust around the lower edge of its opening. As for the glass, unfortunately, it is either cloudy or broken and the window gaskets have perished too. There is virtually no detail included in the listing regarding this Chevy’s condition so observing the accompanying images or making inquiries will have to suffice.

The interior is very worn. The dash and instrument panel are finished off with a surface rust patina and the front seat is seriously decomposed; likewise the door cards. In spite of its cloudy face, the original, circular dial radio is a neat discovery. The remaining gauges are in place but there is not a revealing image for close review. What can be spied of the matless passenger and trunk floors is encouraging, they appear to be solid. Of note, this is the second ’30s vintage car reviewed this week that has had its shift knob nicked.

Under the hood is the typical 85 HP, 216 CI, in-line, six-cylinder engine. The seller doesn’t state operational status, but the engine appears to be very complete with recent ignition wires and a ballast resistor/wiring. He does mention that this Chevy “has not run in five years” so it’s a safe assumption that this is a non-runner. A standard, three-speed manual transmission handles gear changes.

Being a four-door sedan, there will probably be less interest in this sedan than there would be in a two-door version. But the flip side is, that perhaps there will be less of an inclination to hot-rod this sedan and a better likelihood that it will be preserved or restored. Any recommendations as the best way to proceed with this pre-war Chevy sedan?

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  1. Mark-A

    Does anyone else see the shape of a London Black Cab in the shape of the body? It might just be me tho.

    Like 2
    • luke arnott Member

      Do you mean an FX3 or FX4?

      • ChingaTrailer

        Right side does look FX3ish, one would have to pull the left front door off to look like an FX 3 on that side though . . . I’ve owned three old 3-door London Cabs myself.

    • deak E Stevens

      Thats part of a barn you see in the back ground

      Like 1
  2. Paul Foley

    Restore or just clean up, such a beauty

    Like 4
  3. Will Pereira

    Is there someone with a portable dust/dirt machine who’s spraying down these “Barn Finds”? They all look coincidentally the same. At least this one got washed. I like 4 door sedan cars of the 1930’s. No stigma. Gangsters never used 2 door sedans.

    Like 2
    • Dusty Stalz

      There it is, the dumbest thing I’ll read on the internet all day.

      Like 3
    • William Mundt

      I think there was at least one 1939 Chevrolet 4 door sedan used in “The Godfather”.

      Like 1
  4. John J

    Does it come with a Thompson machine gun?

    Like 1
  5. Will Pereira

    It was a tongue in cheek comment, Dusty. Lighten up.

    Like 3
  6. William Mundt

    I think that could be a 235, rather than the 216. That’s a Rochester carb, while the 216 had the carter w-1. Could be a replacement though. But the most telling point is the engine color. The correct color is gray, not 50’s blue. Both the 216 and 235 had the same valve cover.

    Like 2
  7. William Mundt

    Sorry, two more things. Although it has one of the better radios available for that year, it is not a Master Deluxe. The Master Deluxe had the bigger hood ornament with the plastic “wing” off the back, and it also had the chrome grills over the lovers in the front fenders. Therefore this is a Master 85 model.

    Like 2
    • Jim ODonnell Jim ODonnell Staff

      Unless it’s really obvious, I always go with the description that the seller is using to describe and sell his own vehicle.


  8. William Mundt

    The shifter is on the floor. This is another indication that it COULD be a Master 85. The Master Deluxe should be three on the tree. Too many differences NOT to question the description, IMHO, unless there is a photo of the body tag, JO. BTW, I’ve lived with and driven a JA Master Deluxe for 50 years.

    Like 2
  9. Jim ODonnell Jim ODonnell Staff

    Here’s a shot of the body tag, it’s faded but states “Deluxe Master” in the Model field (second row from the bottom). Since you’re an owner with familiarity, please examine and let us know what you think this car is.


    Like 1
  10. William Mundt

    Thanks Jim O,
    I think it is a low optioned Master Deluxe. However, the engine is still a mystery. The engine may have been pulled sometime during the 50’s and either repaired and repainted the contemporary Chevy Blue, and not the original gray. Or, it’s been replaced sometime with a later model 235, in which case it is it’s proper shade of blue, and correct Rochester carb.

    Like 3

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