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Ready to Roll: 1951 Chevrolet Styleline Special

Unlike Ford, which historically preferred to dish out one model at a time into the marketplace, General Motors was all about providing a vehicle for every aesthetic and every job. GM used marketing to position its product along the economy-to-luxury scale, thus the tortured nomenclature for several of its models. Take the Chevrolet DeLuxe. The Deluxe models were sliced and diced into dozens of body styles and trim strata. There was the Master DeLuxe, the Special DeLuxe, the Special DeLuxe Fleetline, the Styleline DeLuxe… you get the idea. Today, attempting to discern from the name of the car whether it was more “special” than another of a similar name is almost impossible. My instinct says “Master DeLuxe” should be better than “Special DeLuxe”, but alas, not true. The Special had better fabric and trim than the Master. But there’s no doubt where our next car slots in, despite its name. Here on eBay is a 1951 Chevrolet Styleline Special, bid to $6,200, reserve not met. The car is located in Bee Spring, Kentucky. Thanks to the very busy tip-finder T.J. for this one!

Turns out the simple lines, nearly void of trim, situate this Styleline Special at the bottom of the stack price-wise, belying its moniker. Meanwhile, Chevy was using its “Thriftmaster” 216 cu. in. inline six-cylinder mill for most of its DeLuxe line. The 216 was good for about 92 hp. This car has a column-shift three-speed manual; the fancier Powerglide automatic was offered on the Bel Air and better DeLuxe models. Despite the corrosion in this engine bay, this little Chevy runs just fine. The seller provides a video proving the point.

The interior is in decent condition. Without claiming the mileage is original, the seller touts the car’s 42,000-mile odometer reading; looking at the interior I could believe that. The car comes with a spotlight, but I would ditch that eyelid at the top of the windshield. The greenhouse is so graceful, shame to ruin it with that thing.

The underside is better than expected (this photo is from the seller’s website, not the eBay ad). The car does have its factory spare and jack. It currently rides on bias ply tires. I prefer radials, but no question bias ply’s will give that vintage feel. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that Russ Dixon just covered this Styleline DeLuxe sedan on Barn Finds, with an excellent review of the model’s history. That car apparently already sold; here’s another chance with this attractive two-door.

Comments

  1. Harvey Member

    I would add full wheel covers fender skirts and cruise!

    Like 4
  2. 8banger 8banger Member

    I love the looks of this one, but boy does it really need a small-block!

    Like 4
  3. Rixx56 Member

    Update as you drive… or do nothing at all…
    I’m liking this way too much!

    Like 8
  4. swolf Member

    It has survived 72 years without being molested. Please leave it alone. If you want a hot rod with a small block, do it with a project car. Please!

    Like 37
    • RKS

      This IS a project car. Needs a later model clip with a small block to make it driveable in todays traffic. Also, nobody is going to want this car in stock form in 5-10 years so might as well do the work now.

      Like 7
      • Angel_Cadillac_Diva Angel Cadillac Diva Member

        Why is no one going to want this car in 5 – 10 years? Why then are they going to restored it?
        To me in 10 years it’s even closer to 100 years old. Every 100 year old car I see today is pure stock. Sometimes a surviver, sometimes a basket case sometimes all ready restored.
        But leave it alone, please.

        Like 20
      • Angel_Cadillac_Diva Angel Cadillac Diva Member

        Why is no one going to want this car in 5 – 10 years? Why then are they going to restored it?
        To me in 10 years it’s even closer to 100 years old. Every 100 year old car I see today is pure stock. Sometimes a surviver, sometimes a basket case sometimes all ready restored.
        But leave it alone, please.

        Like 7
      • Tom Bell

        Angel’s comments are right on point. This guy has no grasp of automotive history.

        Like 5
  5. Kenneth Carney

    Saw one of these in ’78 and still like
    ’em today. Sometimes, you can put
    too much chrome on a car and ruin its
    basic design– especially in this car’s
    case. At the time, I had a ’49 DeLuxe
    4-door sedan dripping with chrome.
    And the basic sedan I saw that day
    looked better than my car! If ever there was a basic beauty, this car would be it.

    Like 6
  6. Vinnie G.

    Good looking car. To me, its a buy and drive as is car to have a little fun with.

    Like 12
  7. Jim in FL

    My wife learned to drive in a sedan version of this in 1988. Same 6 and column shift. It was her dad’s car and she took her test in it. I would consider this if it were close. Hard to drive this 1200 miles to my place. But still a fun hobby car. I wish people would let cars like this go for a little lower price. It would get more folks into reasonable and fun cars for tinkering. Maybe get younger people interested.

    When I sold my grandfather’s 78 town car in 2002, I let it go well under what it was worth. I drove it for a couple years after he passed but I had a similar vintage convertible. For me, getting it into the hands of a family that was ready to freshen it up felt good. They sent me a few pics but then moved out of the area. Hope this car has a similar fate.

    Like 4
  8. Dean Akers

    Very interested. What is the buy it now price? Can I drive it to Beckley West Virginia?

    Like 3
    • Mark

      Dean,
      This car is at S and S Classics in Bee Srings, KY. A lot of their cars have been posted here, mainly the 58-62 Impalas.
      They can be reached @ 270-259-1491. Site is sandsclassiccars.com

  9. Angel_Cadillac_Diva Angel Cadillac Diva Member

    Why is no one going to want this car in 5 – 10 years? Why then are they going to restored it?
    To me in 10 years it’s even closer to 100 years old. Every 100 year old car I see today is pure stock. Sometimes a surviver, sometimes a basket case sometimes all ready restored.
    But leave it alone, please.

    Like 4
  10. Terry J

    V8? No way. My pal Curtis had one like this in the 60’s with a inline six 270 GMC (or was it a 301?). That was the hot set up for these early Chevy Coupes back in the day and they were quick. :-) Terry J

    Like 4
    • Gary

      302 GMC I believe. Saw a bunch back in 63 when I was a kid, Potvin blowers on some. They would get up and go. A 235 would be a sensible upgrade along with a alternator and a dual master cylinder and maybe disc brakes. All bolt on, easily swapped improvements. They don’t have to be butchered to be enjoyed.

      Like 6
  11. Ron

    All the fuss about keeping it original. Whoever buys it gets to decide, if you want to decide then it’s time for you to step up and buy it.

    Like 5
    • Angel

      Yes, but it doesn’t change the fact that there are already MORE than enough of these Chevs (& other brands as well) that have been rodded or customized by some genius. Faster doesn’t automatically equate to better……no really, it just doesn’t.

  12. Chuck Simons

    Lose the eye lid? Don’t live in a sunshine all the time state?

  13. Andrew S Mace Member

    I love it: an unmolested, bottom-of-the-line model still pretty much as it was 71 years ago. One hardly ever saw these then, let alone all these years later. As a long-time owner of a 1951 Styline De Luxe Sports Coupe (top-of-the-line version of this body style), I find the contrast fascinating. I wish I were in a position to grab this car and preserve it for what it was / is. Yes, a new owner may do whatever they wish, but to do much of anything to this particular car beyond preservation and possibly careful restoration would take away most (if not all) of what makes it so unique. It would only be cooler if it were a true “business coupe” (rear seat delete)!

    Like 3
  14. matt

    Da*n good lookin’ Chevy !!

    Like 2
  15. Morley Member

    Ok here is my say, as if it matters. Rebuild the front end–same as an early Corvette, Install a Nailhead Buick with a four speed. Not a small block, good crief do you guys no have any imagination. There that takes care of one weekend. Now drive

    Like 2
    • Gary

      Imagination as well as common sense are a thing of the past.

      Like 1
  16. Tom

    Add some modern tires and that’s it!

  17. BIMMERBILL

    Terry J
    The GMC engine was great for performance and could be made to look stock. the 270 could be opened up to 302 using stock parts. the 302 could be opened up to 320 which was strong especially with a cam headers and a couple carbs.
    The real sleeper was the Chevy 261 truck engine with the FULL FLOW oil filter hung on the side of the engine with 3/8″ lines. Outside dimensions were the same as a 235 engine. You could angle mill the head for compression. There again same updates above.
    When are we finally going to see all these sun visors gone for good? They totally ruin the streamline looks of the cars. Leave the sun visors for the 18 wheelers. Please.

    Like 3
    • TerryJ

      Oh yea it was a 302 Jimmy not a 301. I guess these days those and the 261s are all gone but there is a serviceable 292 Chevy truck six for sale here in town for only $200. That would work as well. It would be as much fun. I cringe at the thought of that coupe going by with a V8 rumble but a split exhaust straight six would be very acceptable music. :-) Terry J

      Like 3
  18. BIMMERBILL

    Terry J
    That 292 engine was another fine engine from Chevy. There was 3 different cranks with different number counter weights. So pick the one that had the least for an engine maybe you are going to run at the strip. You picked the one with the most counterweights for cruising since when you got all those counterweights rotating you had a very smooth engine. Lastly the one in the middle was recommended for strip or cruising.
    Good luck to you.

    Like 3
  19. Glenn Schwass Member

    Was my Mom’s first car. I really like this one. Decent color too.

    Like 1
  20. Gary

    While I do not particularly like the looks of them, you have to understand that this was someones daily driver 70 years ago. A sunvisor was/is a good addition to cut the glare and make for a safer drive.

  21. Andy G

    Cool looking car! My personal opinion is performance modifications are welcome but preserve the looks, patina n all. I even like the visor…

    Like 1
  22. Lowell Peterson

    I drove a customer’s to Goodguys in Pleasanton once from SoCal. It had a V8, at 70 that visor started flapoing like a wing on a hummin’ bird! Pulled it off on the Grapevine and reinstalled it when we got to Goodguys! Ha,ha,ha!

    Like 1
  23. BINNERBILL

    Hey Gary
    My high School ride was a ’49 Cadillac 2 door but not the ride for every one. It was lowered all around with El Dorado aluminum saber wheels. I had it nosed and decked with a lot done under the hood including dual exhaust. I had a friend that put together a Buick with a lot of the same and I would not ride in it until he took the sun visor off of his car which was on there when he bought it. Now remember this was in the 50’s and I still feel the same way. Let the 18 wheelers have the sun visors.

    Like 2
  24. Terry J

    LEAVE IT ALONE vs Modern Drive Train. It really gets down to what the buyer is going to use the car for. (1) Occasional drive out in the country or around town vs (2) drive it often, sometimes on the freeway. While very reliable that old 216 was a splash oiling system with babbit connecting rod bearings. Call around machine shops and see who re-babbits rods these days, LOL. These engines are low rpm designs. Wind them up too often and they won’t last. Couple that with probable 4:11 rear end ratio and you have a pokey old car which is OK since the brakes aren’t very good either.

    Like 1

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