Featured in this article is a good looking 1948 Chevrolet Fleetmaster Coupe. When the Chevy Fleetmaster was introduced in 1946 it was a top of the line Chevrolet model that replaced the Chevy Special Deluxe.
The Chevrolet Fleetmaster
Chevrolet produced it's Fleetmaster model for the 1946, 1947 and 1948 model years. The post war Fleetmaster was styled from the prewar 1942 Chevys and had little changes between 1946 and 1948.
Some exceptions were that the grille was made full width in 1947 and in 1948 added a center vertical bar to the grille. There was a sub series Fleetline offered that included both two and four door fastback designs.Beginning with 1949, the Fleetmaster was replaced by the Chevy Deluxe which had sub series of Fleetlines and Stylelines.
Post War Chevrolets
When the war ended in 1945, automakers had much of the tooling still in place that was used for the 1942 models. The fact that civilian car production ended in February 1942, designing essentially ceased and when the war did end the models turned out for 1946, 1947 and 1948, in the case with Chevrolet, looked very similar to the 42's.
The first entirely new post war Chevrolet appeared for 1949. Production totaled over 400,000 vehicles. This big bump up in sales no doubt had to do with the new post war design introduced that year.
Interestingly enough, with four years of no civilian U.S. auto production due to the war, demand for new cars immediately after the war was off the charts and the fact that the design had no major changes since 1942 did not effect sales. If the car was new it sold fast and this probably kept the automakers from making significant design changes sooner.
The 1948 Chevy Fleetmaster Advancements
The 48 Chevy Fleetmaster was the last of it's line and while the basic design was years old this model did benefit from advancements made since 1941. This included advancements in both materials used and engineering.
As an example, the inline six engine in the 1948 Fleetmaster was built with precision type main bearings. The three speed column shifter was given a vacuum assist.
1948 Chevy Fleetmaster Specifications
As mentioned above, the 1948 Chevrolet Fleetmaster had a 216 Cubic Inch Inline Six engine rated at 90 horsepower. Remarkably this 216 inline six was Chevrolet's only engine from 1929 to 1954 when at that time they offered a small block V-8. While this was Chevy's sole engine for several decades, improvements to it were made. As an example, in 1941 with the Chevrolet Special Deluxe, cylinder heads were redesigned and new pistons were introduced. The engine's horsepower was raised to 90 from 85. In 1941 Chevy did build a 235 cubic inch version of the 216 inline six that was used in large trucks.
Transmission was a synchromesh three speed manual column mounted. An automatic was offered as an option beginning with 1950 Chevrolets.
Brakes were four wheel hydraulic drum.
Suspension was front independent with a semi-floating rear axle.
Wheelbase was 116.0 inches...overall length was 197.75 inches... width 73.4 inches...height 66.1 inches. Curb weight estimated at 3,330 lbs.
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Reference material for the Chevrolet Fleetmaster includes the Complete Book of Collectible Cars by the editors of Consumer Guide and GM/Chevrolet Archives.
Chevrolet Fleetmaster Collector Cars and Values
The Chevy Fleetmaster is a relatively popular collector car.From the three model years that the Chevy Fleetmaster was produced, the 1948 model was considered the best of the three. This is mainly because of the engine improvements and more ornate grille styling for the 48 models. While the same basic styling was beginning to get old for 1948, the cars had a reputation of being quite well built.
Collectors that have interest in early post war classics would find the Chevy Fleetmaster a so,ewhat inexpensive way to start a collection. As of this writing, values for restored 1948 Chevrolet Fleetmasters average from about $16,000 to $20,000. To be sure, there are variances to these values based on mileage, originality and date of restoration.
Vintage Chevrolet Club of America is a great source of information for all early post war Chevys and much more. They are a nonprofit organization dedicated to the preservation and restoration of all years of Chevrolets. One of the best benefits of belonging to the VCCA is taking your vehicles on tours. The Touring Committee is dedicated to the promotion and enjoyment of owning and driving Chevrolets, social interaction and fellowship among members, and increasing awareness of the Vintage Chevrolet Club of America in the general public. Their website is www.vcca.org
(Article and photos copyright Auto Museum Online)