Sunday, October 21, 2012

1941 Chevy Master Deluxe Business Coupe, RIP

Bill and his first wheels, one last time
I still live in the same town where my family has been for 100 years.  My grandparents lived on a dairy farm (now merely an acreage) south of town for 73 years.  I grew up on that farm myself.  The farm has been full of memories and beautiful photography subjects to which I turn my camera every chance I get.  I've said many times on this blog that I love old things, so it should come as no surprise that one of my favorite photo subjects has been my uncle's 1941 Chevy Master Deluxe Business Coupe, which has sat immobile in Grandma's shed for nearly 50 years.  The Chevy was sold recently as part of Grandma's estate auction, and will most likely be parted out & then scrapped.  I therefore wanted to pay it tribute with a little photo montage.

My uncle Bill turned 16 in 1959, and this was his first car.  He drove it for a few years before mechanical problems caused it to get parked for good in the early 1960's.  When a shed was built behind my grandparents' garage in the early 1970's, the Chevy moved inside, where it sat next to my dad's first car (a 1951 Mercury) until early this month.

The shed roof (what there was of it) protected the cars from further rust for the last four decades, but the Chevy's body cancer was already pretty far along by that time.  The shed did not, however, protect them from generations of raccoons, opossums, and woodchucks which found shelter inside the cars and completely trashed their interiors.

My brothers Casey (left) and Andy
immortalize the Chevy in 2009
It wasn't until it was drug out into the open for the estate auction that I got my first good look at the driver side (which had less rust than the passenger side) and heard my uncle reminiscing about it.  The engine was a 216ci inline "Victory Six," and still had the facility for a hand crank as a back up in case the electric starter failed.  It was a "Businessman Coupe" model, which came with no back seat, so Bill bought a back seat from a 1951 Cadillac to use in his Chevy.  When we opened the trunk, we found a large collection of unidentifiable engine parts, including at least two V8 intake manifolds and three cylinder heads.  Even Bill had no idea where those came from.

Please excuse the fonts
Although Dad's Mercury has more sentimental value to me, it's a rather bland, grey color with relatively little rust.  The Chevy, on the other hand, had a brilliant turquoise paint job, now punctuated with plenty of rust and several dented fenders.  This made it a much more engaging subject for both my and my brother's cameras.  In fact, its passenger door is prominently displayed on my Prairie Rim Images business card.

The Chevy is gone now.  Its spot in the shed sits vacant next to Dad's lonely Mercury.  The Chevy is probably too far gone to be restored, so my only hope for it is that many of its parts will get removed and find new life on someone else's classic ride.  The carcass, alas, will surely get sold as scrap steel for $150-200 per ton.  The entire car only brought $150 at the auction, which is a real shame.  I've seen fully restored models go for $20,000-30,000.

Shown below are some of my favorite photos of this stately old gentleman, many of them shot through old, manual lenses which themselves date from a simpler time.

The behind the scenes setup for those last three shots, which were taken on my final day with the Chevy, can been seen in this article.

What memories do you have of cars from your childhood?  Have you ever restored an old antique?  Please share your stories in the comments below.

1 comment:

  1. I love your pics and story. I am 76, and remember vividly that it was an odyssey to travel from Pretoria in South Africa to Durban, usually for December holidays The trip would start at 05h00 and we would arrive around 17h00, a 400 Km journey (250 Miles). At least one flat tire could be expected along the way, two would be par for the course, and one tank top up half way. They don't make them like they used to (thank heavens for that!)


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