Post War Survivor: 1951 Chevrolet Styleline Special

Chevrolet’s first new cars after World War II came in 1949 after the 1946-48 models had been warmed over pre-war editions. The manufacturer used some rather generic names to separate models and trim levels in those days, such as the “Deluxe” and “Special.” Within the Styleline series, the Special was the lowest-priced model, which is the version of the car that the seller has for sale in Loveland, Colorado. Provided as a tip by Barn Finder Gunter Kramer, this running survivor is available here on craigslist for $6,000.

The new Chevies for 1949-52 would be lower and wider than previous models and looked more “modern” if that makes sense. The Styleline Special would be the entry-level car for 1951 and was available in five body styles, including two and four-door sedans, a sport coupe, businessman’s coupe (no back seat), and sedan delivery. The seller’s car is one of 75,566 sedans built that year in this body style which would be the biggest seller in the series, though the Styleline Special undersold the Styleline Deluxe,  Fleetline Special, and Fleetline Deluxe that were positioned ahead of it in the line-up. I wasn’t around in 1951, but I find these designations a bit confusing. Delray, Biscayne, and Bel Air are easier to separate.

We’re told the seller’s car runs and drives well, so whatever issues it may have may only be cosmetic. The photos provided show it in a garage with no photos of the engine compartment, which would be hard to get to the way the car is situated. The seller would have better presented the auto outside in the daylight and accessible from all angles.

The body looks sound with only a couple of little dings and dents and no immediate signs of rust. The dark green paint is older and perhaps original with some scratches in many places. There is a black rectangular area on the trunk lid that may just be something lying on the car, but it makes the trunk look worse than it may be. The passenger compartment looks nice and tidy for a 70-year-old automobile. The Chevy has not spent its whole life in a garage as the odometer has already turned over 100,000 miles. No mention is made as to whether the 235 cubic-inch inline-six or 3-speed manual has ever been gone into.


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  1. Bob C.

    If the engine is original, it should be the 216 six. The 235 was only available with Powerglide through 1952.

    Like 13
  2. Mr. Raleigh

    The original seat fabric has either been covered over or the seats have been reupholstered. It is missing the clock and radio which is typical of the Special Series. It does have the more expensive Air Flow heater however given the three controls that protrude from the left side of the speaker grille. At one point, the standard Special 3-spoke steering wheel was switched out for a wheel from a DeLuxe model….also ’51.

    Like 4
  3. geomechs geomechs Member

    The ’51 Styleline wasn’t much different than the ’49/’50 models, superficially, or with the powertrain. Well, the taillights were the big change in that part. The brakes got changed and that was a major surprise to me when I needed to rebuild the brakes in my ’49. I’m a little skeptical about the 235 engine. That was an engine that was either available in the larger trucks or if you were running a Powerglide. This one is running a 3 spd. manual. Just the same I sure wouldn’t kick it off my driveway…

    Like 4
    • Mr. Raleigh

      The entire rear quarter was redesigned for 1951. To put a finer point on it, the ’49-’50 had left and right rear fender skirts. In ’51-’52, only one rear fender skirt was produced and it fit either the left or right side.

      Like 2
      • geomechs geomechs Member

        I never knew that the ‘51 used universal skirts. Not that it would matter; I hang the ones for the ‘49 on the wall…

      • johnny

        I had a 50 business coupe. Liked the slope of the quarter and shoe print tail lights way better than 51-2.

  4. SubGothius

    My granddad had the ’51 business coupe as his work commuter and spare errands car while I was growing up, also green but a lighter shade than this, or maybe his just had terribly faded paint. I remember the ignition lock was so worn he could pull the key out while driving to unlock the glovebox for me.

    Like 5
    • Mr. Raleigh

      The ignition key was designed to be able to be removed on these ignition switches. If it was a lighter color, it was probably Aspen Green Metallic.

      Like 2
    • Pat Marriott

      The key could always be removed from the switch in a ’50.

      Like 3
    • Paul R.

      Are you sure it was because the key was worn?
      My ‘62 Acadian had one key for everything and you could remove it while the car was running. A great feature, I thought, on cold Canadian winter mornings when you wanted to get your scraper from the trunk and scrape the ice off the windows while the car warmed up.
      You could also turn the car off without going into the lock position and start the car with no key at all.
      Those were the days.

      Like 5
    • Ronny Reuter

      The 51-and on Chevys had a one key system, and it was removable from the ignition to open the glove box (if so installed), and the trunk lid. The same was true with some of the Buicks of that vintage. My uncle had a Styline deluxe sedan in light green, and I remember him pulling out the key to let me get somethng out of the glove box. My 55 Buick also had that feature with the one key system.You could also shut the car off without the key and then restart it without a key. if you didn’t lock the ignition.

      Like 2
  5. HC

    I had a car friend who had a 4 door version of this one. And yes the names and models got confusing. His had the 216 and he did a 235 swap. This is a fair price for a running non rust bucket version and it’s also a 2 door! Someone’s gonna get sweet car. Great find

    Like 6
  6. charlie Member

    ’56 still had the removable ignition key, idea was you could have it valet parked and keep the trunk and glove box locked. Of course the partition between the trunk and back seat back was cardboard, as was the bottom of the glove box, and, anyone could go to the valet parking area and steal the whole car, but it must have made sense to someone in the GM design departments. And the trunk/door/glovebox key was not very particular to a specific car, some would open other GM car doors.

    Like 2
    • Bellingham Fred

      A mathematician could calculate the number of different unique key cuts possible based on the number of tumblers and pin lengths, but I’m willing to bet the production run of vehicles far exceeds that number. Consider also that the same key blank was used for several years. I seem to recall that all GM cars or the era used the same blank.
      In high school I took the keys with me as I went into the store. My 2 friends were waiting in my Dad’s ’64 Impala. When I came back it was parked in a different spot. That is when I first learned that keys from one car would work in another. My friend Pete had used the key from his Dad’s ’58 Impala.

      Like 1
  7. Maestro1 Member

    The first car i ever owned after a Model A was a 1950 Chevrolet Convertible in
    Black with a beige (?) interior. A three speed. Whitewall tires, clock, heater and radio. A very big deal. Wonderful and equally strange times in that car, I was in
    school and holding down a job. Thanks for the memories………..

    Like 2
  8. HC

    When older Chevys and Ford and probably Mopar ignition switches as well as keys got worn with some age on them it wasn’t unusual at all to take the ignition key out while running.

  9. FredRogersrules

    It’s sold!!!! If I had it I’d drive it as is, maybe as some Krager mags and rwL tires, after market a/c and she’s good to roll!!!!

    Like 1
  10. Johnny

    Nice little car. I,d drive it and fix or repair what needed to be done and drive it.

    Like 1

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