Perfect Patina! 1938 Chevrolet Coupe

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This car looks like it is straight out of a gangster movie. The car shows an awesome patina that in my opinion, should be left just like it is. Perhaps a clear coat would be in order to keep it from rusting, but other than that, it doesn’t need anything. It can be found here on Craigslist with an asking price of $22,500. Located in Riverside, California, there is no information in the ad regarding the history of the car. Thanks to T.J. for a tip on this one, let’s take a closer look.

The interior looks very original. Obviously, the upholstery will need to be redone along with the door panels. I’m guessing with some elbow grease the dash, steering wheel and column, and window frames will clean up.

The ad says the car runs and drives. You can see it appears the carburetor has been rebuilt or at least cleaned up enough to not be clogged or stuck. This car would certainly benefit from an upgrade. Perhaps a Flathead or (gasp!) a small-block Chevy?

Overall, this looks like a really cool and original car at a fairly reasonable asking price. If I had to have it, I would probably show up with a thick stack of hundred-dollar bills and see if the owner would take an offer in the $15k range. Hopefully, this car will continue to be driven and enjoyed by the new owner. What do you think about this one? Would you restore it, hot rod it, or drive it as-is?

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  1. Rixx56Member

    Had a green one in mid ’70s; I want another.
    This may be too nice to ‘hotrod’; and I’d do
    that, but only if it’s not too nice. 22k is alot to
    put up for something to tear down.

    Like 6
    • Rixx56Member

      Thinkin, back now, it was a ’37… oops!

      Like 1
      • JRHaelig

        It’s a ’38 with those wonderful spears sweeping back from the fenders onto the doors.

        Back then “close enough was good enough” when it came to titles.

        My ’39 Ford pickup is titled as a ’38.

        Nonetheless, it’s a strong asking price for a non-Ford. Makes me think about marketing my ’39 Buick business coupe that presents a bit better that that Chevy.

        Like 3
      • Ron

        I would love to have a 37.

        Like 0
      • Rixx56Member

        I meant ‘mine’ was a ’37 (not ’38)

        Like 0
      • Dana

        South afrikan just want to now a 1938 bisness coupe right hand drive side shift were did they make these cars

        Like 0
  2. bobhess bobhessMember

    While in college I found a solid ’39 two door sedan that I could buy cheap. Had just wrecked my ’54 and still had the Olds engine and hydromatic I was going to put into it. Got going on that until I found a pristine ’53 Studebaker coupe that changed everything. In the mid ’80s almost bought a beautiful ’39 4 door restomod but hesitated when I started counting the cars I had already. Too many cars, too little time… and money.

    Like 2
  3. Davey Boy

    I wonder if this would fit on that 67 Corvette frame. Make a pretty cool hot rod.

    Like 8
  4. Mike B

    Cool. Long ago I gave up my Members Only jacket that would coordinate with that ’82 Corvette listing, but I have a hat that would work well with this.

    Like 0
  5. losgatos_dale

    Clearcoat?? Just wipe it down with a kerosene-soaked rag,

    is there a trypo on that ad? Looks like one extra zero to me…

    Like 7
    • Dave

      Or linseed. I agree with Montana, leave the exterior.

      Go ahead, get mad about it

      Like 4
  6. Steve Weiman

    Am I the only one who thinks that clearcoat over old worn paint makes any vintage American iron look like a Chinese knock off? Am I the only one who notices clearcoat peeling off of 10-year an older vehicles en-mass?
    A great 38 by the way! Someday the price will come down and she will find just the right home! :)

    Like 14
  7. Carnut

    Demographics change in every Hobby.. today it 2023 not 1990..this will be sold to a Low this price point a thick wad of $15,000 will not get the seller excited as you mention in the “write up”.. this is not gas monkey garage.. the Hispanic Males who buy these are not poor.. they are now over 40 and have established themselves with big cash reserves. These cars are trading for big money and you won’t find a hot rodder buying these… market changed..demograhics changed.. look up the Long Beach Supershow.. it’s happening this weekend.. sold out in hours.. what hot rod show is selling out anywhere in USA?.. Demographics and where the hobby is headed.. older hot rodders are dying off.. unless your 30-40yr old kid is in love with cars’s dying.. and the truth is they could care less about cars..once your dead they will sell that 32 in the garage and take the money and spend on some new fancy clothes..

    Like 8
  8. charlieMember

    Looks like the ’38, Chevy, one metallic color only, per year, bronze. Nobody at cars and coffee believes that Chevy did factory metallic colors in the late 30’s but they did. A very very good paint shop might be able to match it from the door jambs under the weather stripping.

    Like 2
  9. Handsome Pristine Patriot

    When did Chevrolet change from flathead to OHV?
    I had a ’40 Olds Business Coupe with a flat head six

    Like 0
    • 427Turbojet 427TurbojetMember

      Chevrolet never used a flathead engine. They had an overhead V8 briefly in 1918 and overhead straight 6’s early on. They then had overhead 4 cylinders through most of the 1920s, going to an overhead valve 6 in 1929. That basic design lasted through 1962 with upgrades along the way. Obviously the small block V8 came out for the 1955 model year, but the 6s were solid sellers well into the 1960s.
      On the patina debate, original patina is just fine with me. My ’41 Special Deluxe will stay that way as long as I am it’s caretaker. Yes, I’m too cheap to paint it, but it constantly draws a crowd at shows and cruises with a lot of people bypassing the shiney cars to look at it – most saying they like to see cars the way they used to be. (My ’66 Corvette 427 coupe with it’s paint worn through showing bare fiberglass also draws crowds – my friends with nicely restored Corvettes don’t like me to park with them because their cars get ignored) The ’41 is rubbed down with diluted boiled linseed oil as necessary, usually once a year.

      Like 4
  10. Johnmloghry johnmloghry

    In the summer of 63 my friend Sam worked with his dad at a local saw mill and earned enough money to buy a car. He chose a 39 Chevy coupe with an Olds engine and drive train. He drove it to high school through graduation in 65. When I told my dad about Sams car he said he wouldn’t allow such an abomination on his property. I was deeply hurt because I it was a cool car.
    as for this one listed we’re no longer in the time frame where you can buy these cars cheap. If one is found for low dollar figures it’s more than likely a junker that will cost you more to build than this one will be to make a nice daily driver an or cars and coffee show.

    God Bless America

    Like 2
  11. John Taylor

    By the time you did the resto on this you would be way upside down with the value. Brake it down to what the restoration costs would be and I would guess this person knows because there is a car in the background undergoing restoration. I think this is way to far overpriced. Maybe 10,000 tops.

    Like 0
  12. Stu

    I’m a fan of the GM 6 cylinder. Even back in the day I bet a cam, twin carbs and a tubular exhaust manifold would match the fabled Ford Flatheads….

    Like 1
  13. PeterfromOz

    (1) I don’t see any reason to cut this car up or change the engine. Coupes are rare because they were of little use to a working family man 20 or 30 years later who could only afford an old car to drive his wife and children around and needed four doors.
    (2) In the 70s a friend purchased a 36 with only 20,000 miles on it. The 216cuin engine is plenty powerful enough.
    (3) Can someone tell me if such coupes were considered sporty in the day. I always thought they made the car ugly but did persons in the 30s have a different opinion? I wondered if they bought these two-door cars because they could not afford four doors. Certainly Bogart drove two-door coupes in the old film noir movies.

    Like 0
    • John Taylor

      A lot were used by Commercial travelers and traffic cops, I bought a 46 Ford Coupe into Australia from N.Z. which was originally a Traffic Departments ( Police ) car.

      Like 1
    • Joe Bru

      2 doors were bachelors cars, salesman cars & were cheaper.

      Like 2
  14. Scott L.

    Patina, YES.
    Clear coat, NO.

    BTW, is that a manifold-mounted horn?

    Like 0
  15. Richard Cunningham

    Like so many others, I believe in progress. I have a late model and am very comfortable in it. Having said that, I feel something has been lost forever when it comes to driving. In those old cars and on the roads of those old days, traveling was somewhat of an adventure. Now, we just throw a suitcase in the trunk, get on an interstate and go. Also, there’s something else about those old cars. If for some reason the battery is dead, a person can get the old crank out and get it started.

    Like 0

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