By Robert Tate, Automotive Historian and Researcher
Images Courtesy of Robert Tate's Collection
1949 was the year that the big three auto manufacturers introduced their “post war” styling models to the automotive buying public. Ford, along with Chrysler and General Motors, all offered totally new designs, and Chevrolet was in front of the line with its all new designs and features. In fact, automotive historians have said that the 1949 Chevrolets ranked among the year’s best looking low priced cars.
The 1949 Chevrolet models offered a slab-side design that was all new. Along with the new styling, model names were changed as well, with the Stylemaster nameplate relabeled the Special Series and the Fleet Master becoming the De Luxe Series. Fleetline styling was now available in both series and was used to designate the fast-back models that had become very popular with the buying public. General Motors had a record year with Chevrolet sales in 1949, with production topping out at 1,109,958 units. Chevy’s advertising called it “The most Beautiful Buy of all!”
There were two new body Styles, the Fleetline and the Styleline, with 14 new models including De Luxe and Special versions. The Deluxe Styleline two-door sedan offered great styling and a price tag of $1,492. The Styleline De Luxe sport coupe was another great looking model that also was a hit with the public. This model could accommodate six passengers for short trips to the grocery store or long rides on the highway out to the country for a family vacation. Chevrolet manufactured of these 78,785 models in 1949, and they sold for a price of $1,508.
The 1949 Chevrolet Styleline De Luxe convertible model featured great styling and became a great seller, with GM producing a total of 32,392 units for the year. The convertible models offered the consumer great looking seats upholstered with a combination of genuine leather and tan Bedford cord material and sold for a price of $1,875.
One of the most popular 1949 Chevys was the Styleline De Luxe station wagon. On a historical note, the station wagon models were great looking cars and are quite rare and collectible for today's auto aficionados. Automotive historians have reported that Chevrolet began the year manufacturing a woody-body wagon, however, the model was discontinued early in the model year after only 3,342 units were produced. Later, Chevy announced an all new steel wagon model for the consumer market. It was very similar to the Woodie wagon made earlier, but the wood was now simulated. The year 1949 proved to be the last year for the Woodie wagon. On the De Luxe station wagons, most of the wood was found in the tailgate area, and the spare tire was moved inside below the cargo floor. The single tail light was hinged and swung down when the tailgate was lowered by the driver.
Last but not least, the De Luxe Fleetline models were high in popularity because of their fastback designs. They were all new for 1949 and very popular selling 180,251 units. The two-door sedan sold for $1,492. In addition, the 1949 Chevrolet models were the first to use push button door handles as an added feature for the driver and passengers.
In conclusion, Chevrolet had a winning lineup in 1949, and sales proved it.
Dammann, George H. “Sixty Years of Chevrolet” Crestline Publishing 1972.
Narus, Donald J. “Great American Woodies & Wagons” Crestline Publishing.