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Unrestored Driver: 1952 Chevrolet Deluxe

They are only original once, and this Chevy, although not perfect, is still a solid machine and is ready to drive. There still appear to be many cars that have survived the 1950’s and 1960’s but it has become more difficult to find original condition drivers. A little rusty, and touched up, this Chevrolet Deluxe is offered at $4,250. Find it here on craigslist out of Williamsburg, Kentucky.

Although slathered in rust and age, this 235 cubic inch inline 6 is still a trooper with what may possibly be 51,900 original miles. The fresh 12 volt alternator is about the only clean item in the engine bay. The seller has installed a new gas tank, brakes, exhaust and some other odds and ends. To me, this engine bay is fine as it sits. The engine is healthy and doesn’t appear to be leaking any fluids, and the patina is suitable for this car. Although upgraded to a 12 volt system, this Chevy needs some additional wiring attention to the wiper mechanism, the heater, and most importantly the turn signals.

Within this Deluxe lies a reasonable condition interior. There are some rips and stains, but overall the interior is complete, with the seat upholstery being the main concern. The carpet is old, faded, and dingy, but still there. Graced with a few rips, the front bench needs to be recovered.  Granted, this Chevrolet likely isn’t worth a “king’s ransom”, so the good old blanket trick may be suitable for your needs. Otherwise, I would opt to recover the front and rear bench is a period appearance. Also looking at the car from this view you can see some mild rot in the rear door sill area, and in the bottom of the front door as well. This looks to be the worst of the rust as the rockers appear solid but with some minor bubbling apparent. I would guess that the inner portion of the rocker has some rust, as that moisture gained in the door jambs and sills has to go somewhere.

With some psychedelic green spots on the paint, this Chevrolet looks to either have an original layer of paint, or a very old repaint. The psychedelic spots are surface rust that has been touched up to arrest the rust. The tail section of the car looks to have some potential rot, but I cannot see any physical rot there.  Looking over the rear wheel arches shows they are in fair condition with some surface rust.  The chrome is tired, as some portions have rolled off, and have been sprayed with silver spray paint. A neat old car that you can drive is always enticing. This Chevrolet isn’t very valuable so a restoration would have to be a labor of love type of situation. The great thing about this Chevy is that it has survived, it does run, and it can be enjoyed. I would do minor work to this Chevy over time gradually improving it, then I would pass it along to someone so they could enjoy this cheap old classic for what it is. What would you do with this classic Chevrolet deluxe?


  1. JACKinNWPA Jack NW PA Member

    I know they are only original once but I contend that better original cars make better restored cars.

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  2. Jerryvv

    Doubt that it is an original 235 engine as 235’s for standard shift didn’t arrive until later, maybe 54 or 55.

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    • jcs

      Yeah, for ’52 they were still using the tried and true 216.

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  3. Woodie Man

    I miss the days when this was a $250.00 car. lol I’d a bought it in a heartbeat. Heck might go up to a grand if I had to.

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    • jcs

      When I was a kid this was a $20 or $25 car. In fact, I bought my first car, a running ’37 Olds 6 in 1954 for $15. I was 12 at the time.

      Like 1
  4. geomechs geomechs Member

    While this car is definitely in better shape than the one pulled out of Foss Lake, OK, a few years ago, it still needs some major work. Lots of rust to cut out and new metal welded in. The motor isn’t original; it would’ve been equipped with the tried and true 216, just like the one in my ’49.

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  5. James Doherty

    If this were mine i’d probably just clean up the engine bay, fix the rust, put new carpeting and new foam and covers for front seat, remove the paint covering the grill (hopefully something shiny still exists), address the electrical and then maybe drop in a 283. It’s probably not worth re-selling but it is worth the satisfaction of having this on the road again.

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  6. Anthony Rodrigues

    Wow.. this car is identical to my father’s first car. That is the original material on the front seat. My Dad had the seats covered when the car was brand new to save the material. We had that car for 16 years. When we sold it for 25.00 dollars to a friend of my father’s, it was the first time i saw the original material on the seats. It looked like brand new! The car had 97,000 miles on it and needed a valve job. The chrome grille had long been painted silver since 1952 was during the Korean War and the chrome was very thin. But the lacquer paint job was still shiny. I doubt this is the original mileage, but it could be. Likely work has been done to the engine as the head should not be orange. The engines were painted blue in these cars… The “Blue Flame Six”…. We probably should have kept it, but living in New England with no garage we let it go. I was only 12 at the time and 1968 was the middle of the Sixties muscle cars era. I wanted a GTO or a Camaro with a V8. Not a 52 Chevy 4 door with about 75 net horsepower……

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    • Rob T.

      Actually, this era Chevs (49-52) engines were still painted gray. 1953 was when the blue paint 1st appeared & remained until the 1963 194 & 230 sixes made their debut. It is quite amusing though, to see how many 37-62 Chev sixes were repainted “Chevrolet Orange”.

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  7. D

    A friend of mine had one when I was learning to drive and remember shifting without the clutch. It wasn’t powerful but then you run what you brung and it was cool to just “drive” although muscle cars were more cool but definitely quicker than walking.

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  8. DrinkinGasoline

    This one…easy peasy. Rough it up and coat with rust reformer. Mix up some epoxy for filler instead of Bondo…Bondo sucks.
    File and sand, then prime coat followed with matte enamel (color of choice). Keep the skirts and sag the @zz end by 3 inches while adding new wide white skins to all four corners. Dual exhaust with 3″ echo cans barely touching the asphalt and we’re in business ! That’s a Pachuco Bomb ! Google it….

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  9. KevinW

    Hey, it’s got an air cleaner!

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    I remember fondly that my first car when I was 16 y o in 1962 my first car was a red 1952 chevy convertable Deluxe with black top and the fender skirts. the cost was $275.00. a couple months after I drove it a truck went through a red light and bashed in the whole passenger side and the car was totaled. As remberence, I have a plastic A M T model 1952 chevy convertable painted the same color with the skirts.

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  11. Raul Garcia

    I’ve never gotten the notion that to have fun in vintage car you HAVE to go fast! Really? Can’t an oldie be enjoyed & appreciated for what it IS, instead of what someone “thinks it should be”………maybe it’s just me, but I stand firmly by my opinion.

    Like 1

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