The Chevrolet Fleetline was introduced late in the 1941 model year as a 4-door sedan. In 1942 a fastback 2-door "aerosedan" became an option. In 1947, the Fleetline made up 71.26% of Chevrolet's sales. The years 1949 through 1952 models, the fastback was the only model offered, and Chevrolet dropped the Fleetline for 1953. Production was indefinitely delayed in 1942 due to World War II, after 110,000 had been made total, though several thousand Chevrolet coupes and sedans were produced during the war years for military staff use. In 1945, production for civilians resumed. The original series was produced through 1948.
A redesigned Fleetline with reduced body contour and integrated rear fenders was offered for the 1949 through 1952 model years. It was referred to as a "fastback" because of its distinct sloping roof which extended through to the trunk lid. The Fleetline during these 1949 to 1950 years also had a lower look than a sedan, with the windshield being one inch shorter in height than a standard sedan. The 1949 to 1952 models were made in both 4-door and 2-door models, with only the lower portion of the doors being interchangeable with a sedan door. The Fleetline series is highly collectible today, with its sleek looks. Many are made into street rods, with the common Chevrolet 350 Small block V8 and the 350 or 400 turbo transmission being used in these vehicles.
In the 1941/42 model years, the 216cid inline 6 "Blue Flame" engine was the only one offered. It produced 90 horsepower at 3300 rpm, and in 1950 higher compression bumped it up to 92 horsepower. Also in 1950, a 235.5cid 1-bbl.carb 6-cylinder engine with 105 hp was added. A Fleetline of this vintage could easily exceed 80 miles per hour without overdrive. In very early models, the transmission was a manual synchromesh 3-speed, with vacuum assisted shift, in which the "three-on-the-tree" shifter was able to be moved between gears by the slightest pressure on the lever. Third gear was direct, meaning the input and output are equal speeds. From 1950 through the 1952 final year of its production, an automatic transmission was offered, which was quite sluggish. Overdrive was a rare option. Connection to the third member rear-end was via an enclosed "torque tube" driveshaft. The brakes where hydraulic with all-wheel drums. In 1951, the brakes got larger. The master cylinder was located below the floor connected on the frame rail, beneath the driver. Shock absorbers were of the lever type for the early years only. The windshield for all years was of a split, flat-glass type. In 1953 Chevrolet changed to a 1 piece windshield. The wipers were vacuum actuated by a vacuum switch, complete with hoses, on top of the dash. Chevrolet offered windshield washers on some years, mostly as an option, and in later years as standard equipment on the DeLuxe models.
The exterior sported smooth curves, and chrome and stainless trim. In the earlier models, the rear bumper had an optional center bumper guard that had to be ratcheted out of the way so the trunk cover could be lifted. Front and rear bumpers had optional chrome "tips", a dress-up item that bolted to the ends of the stock bumper. Not a Chevrolet option but a popular after market feature was a large external sunshade that protected the driver from glare off of the metal dash board. The 1949 to 1952 models were completely different than the earlier years, with the Fleetline "fastback" shape being quite distinct than a normal sedan shape.
The interior had cloth bench seats, and a metal dash, sometimes with a simulated burl wood grain. The radio was a simple mono vacuum tube type radio with integrated speaker. An ash receiver was located on the top of the dash. Depending upon the year, there were both Choke and Throttle cables on the dash. On the right side was the choke lever. In the earlier years, the clock was integrated into the glove compartment door and was of a manual-wind 7-day type. In the 1949 and 1950 models, the clock was next to the glove box, and with the redesigned dash board, the clock was on the top of the dash, in a center pod. Also, this revised dash had two round pods for the speedometer and the other gauges, while the 1949 and 1950 models had one large round pod directly in front of the steering wheel, on the dash. Chevrolet again revised the dash panel for the 1953 models, when the Fleetline fastback was dropped from production.