V8 Sleeper! 1950 Chevrolet Fleetline

Frumpy! That’s the word that I would use to describe a 1950 Chevrolet sedan such as this Fleetline DeLuxe. And it’s not just Chevrolet’s turn-of-the-decade models to which I would apply that tag, it’s applicable to many other marques that rolled off of U.S. assembly lines so many decades ago. It’s an especially stark comparison when lined up against Chevy’s all-new 1955 design. And that mid-fifties intro was equally notable for the inclusion of an entirely new V8 engine, something GM’s entry-level division hadn’t had and sorely needed. While there was no V8 engine available in ’50, let’s speculate on that possibility while we review this four-door sedan. It’s located in Brighton, Colorado and is available, here on craigslist for $15,000. T.J. gets credit for this find!

In 1950, Chevrolet, like many domestic auto manufacturers, had essentially one model of automobile available (full-size) but it came in different trim levels and varying body styles. While this trend wasn’t universal, it was pretty commonplace. The bowtie offered a Bel Air two-door hardtop, Fleetline and Fleetline DeLuxe in two and four-door sedans, and Styleline and Styleline DeLuxe levels, also in two and four-door sedans, including a business coupe. Outliers were the DeLuxe station wagon and convertible. Chevrolet had a standout year in ’50, knocking out almost 1.5 M copies, firmly placing them in the number one production slot.

OK, remember that “frumpy” term? This Fleetline DeLuxe is wearing a sort of fastback roofline which does add some streamlining to the overall styling but, so what? Yes, styling is subjective but this sedan, much like cars of 2022, looked like a lot of other sedans of the era (the BelAir’s two-door hardtop roofline did defrump the overall presentation a bit). What we have here is a faded finish applied to a sound-looking body – minus some rust starting over top of the rear passenger-side wheel opening. The chrome is fair and the trim is all still in place. The hubcaps and trim rings look like original equipment.

Unlike later years when engine options were abundant when you bought a Chevy in ’50, you got either a 216 CI or a 235 CI In-line six, depending on transmission, with horsepower ratings of 92 or 105, respectively. As stated earlier, Chevy V8s were still five years away. But, that doesn’t mean some reconfiguring couldn’t happen and that’s exactly the case here. A 350 CI, small block V8 of unknown origin and power setting, combined with a Turbo-Hydramatic 350 three-speed automatic transmission is now holding court. The seller adds, “What would be called a SLEEPER until you put the pedal to the metal!“. Other mechanical notables include a Mustang II front suspension, front disc brakes, and a later ten-bolt rear axle. This car’s sleeperness is hiding a lot of nice mods!

The interior is in fabulous condition. It has been reupholstered along with redone door panels and headliner. It appears that the instrument panel is sporting new gauges while a more modern steering column and aftermarket wheel are now in place. Looking around, there are some billet highlights that have been added. And, this Chevy is A/C equipped courtesy of Vintage Air!

Two things to consider, one is the age of the images, they’re five years old according to the date stamp – I’d prefer more recent ones. And the $20,450 appraised opinion of value is almost twelve years old though the seller is asking approximately 25% less so maybe that’s an immaterial item. I have to admit that this Chevy sedan is pretty cool. Yes, it’s absolutely a sleeper as there’s quite a bit unseen going on here. My only other thought is whether the two additional doors will hold back the price, what says you?

Comments

  1. bobhess bobhess Member

    That car is just plain cool.

    Like 10
  2. Denny N. Member

    Looks like it’s worth the money if the upgrades were done correctly. Due to the age of the photos I’d be leery about bidding without seeing and driving this one.

    Like 4
  3. Rodney - GSM

    It’s like finding out Grandpa has a hot twenty-something girlfriend…..

    Like 12
    • Pnuts

      I thought everybody already knew that.

      Like 2
  4. Martin Horrocks

    Can’t agree on “frumpy”. For me this is one of the most interesting US shapes of the immediate post WW2 peiod.

    Like 14
  5. Allen Bachelder Member

    ‘ Think the 216 was on manual transmissions only. The automatics got the 235 Chevy truck engine

    Like 3
    • Jim ODonnell Staff

      Good one! You are correct, changed now.

      JO

      • Allen Bachelder Member

        I remembered only because I had a ’51 Fleetline four-door and I thought it looked like the same engine as the Power Glide Chevys. But then I learned they used the larger engines for the Power Glide cars. They needed it too! Those two-speed “Power Slide” cars needed all the help they could get. If memory serves, by about 1953, they moved up to the 235s in all Chevys. Or was that 1952?

      • Jim ODonnell Staff

        The sad thing is that I knew that factoid and then forgot it – not the first time that’s happened.

        JO

        Like 1
  6. BrianT BrianT Member

    I like this era of Chevy. I had a 52 Styleline. I like the Fleetlines even better and, the older I get, the more four door cars make more sense. I think this is a pretty good deal with these upgrades.

    Like 6
  7. gaspumpchas

    Nicely done, that mustang 2 front end setup is a beauty. You drop the old front end in one piece, and bolt the new one in. Did one we put a 348 5 speed in, bolted right in, and the mounts are already installed when you get it. Of course as Denny says, you would need to drive it and check the quality of workmanship. Would be a hoot to stand next to it while they roast the hides. Good luck and happy motoring!
    Cheers
    GPC

    Like 1
  8. Allen Bachelder Member

    The two-door Fleetlines were quite commonplace back then, but I never recall seeing many four-door versions. And VERY few of them preserved these days. This one is about the truest “Sleeper” I can imagine. Very COOL!

    Like 2
  9. Rw

    Would be more sleeper not lowered.

    Like 1
  10. al

    just a note in 1955 Chevy offered a v8 for the second time the first Chevy v8 was in 1917 and only for one year than it was bought by gm and they killed the v8 it was also a ohv v8

    Like 3
    • Jim ODonnell Staff

      I’m aware of that fact but it’s not relevant to the story that I was trying to project – early ’50s vs. mid-50s and the change that occurred in a short period of time.

      JO

      Like 1
      • al

        understand and the 50s where some of the greatest changes in cars a great time to be a young car nut remember in the mid 50s Buick and Dodge with their 3 tone paint jobs

  11. JimmyinTEXAS

    “This posting has been deleted by its author.”
    I guess it found a new home…

  12. Mike

    Total sleeper on the outside, but they had to tinker with the interior. 50’s steering wheels are so much better than of the moment billet creations.

    Like 3
  13. Joe Haska

    Jim,
    As for your question about the 4 doors. I am a certified life time member of the 4 Door hater’s club. In high school if you drove a 4 door into the local drive in, the cool guys sang out “Daddy’s Car, Look Who Got Daddy’s Car “. Very embarrassing ,especially if your girlfriend was with you. However , Wes Rydel ,a very well known collector’s and builder of some of the nicest custom cars on the planet, built one of these. His cars have won all the major awards you can think of and he drives them. The 4 door Fleetline was no different. I think I looked at it for 20 minutes ,before I realized it had 4 doors

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