The 1951 Chevy Squeaker
We here at SCOOTER’S GARAGE (Harvey, the basset and I) had to make a really tough old car lovers decision. Many of you may have experienced similar decisions like this already. Novices alike will have to face a similar decision in the future.
We had a choice. The little lady that runs the house has wanted one of those wind-tunnel, bag-less, Tool Time vacuum cleaners with more power for the house. We have wanted one of those heavy duty, water-suckin’, dirt-suckin’, bolt and washer-suckin’, shop vacuums for the garage! Tough choice, but as we have been telling you we are experienced at this hobby. So we sprung for both vacuums, and took the little lady out for a fancy, sit-down, china plate, real silverware, table cloth, waitress, multi-course dinner. We even wore our Sunday church slacks, socks (not white), and a knit shirt that she bought us last Christmas (it has some kind of a reptile figure on the front chest).
Now, it’s time to move onto the 1951 Styleline Deluxe Chevrolet. Once we got home, we vacuumed out the garage, which is now open! As in all past cars, we checked this Chevy out and drove it home. We stopped and did the LOF and the flush-and -fill things we have mentioned before. This one had not been driven much in the past few years, so we were really up for a flush and fill of the automatic transmission fluid. When you notice old discolored fluid, this is a really bad thing.
Now, let’s re-cap this FIND! The difference between a deluxe and a regular model in the ’49-’52 Chevy’s is that the deluxe has stainless steel trim around the windshield and just above the doors, and below the side drip rail. Anyway, the ’51 has a very nice body with one area to the exception. I will talk more about this later on.
It has decent chrome, but I will also touch on this later. Excellent stainless steel is mechanically excellent, except when there’s a weak battery. And, the real find on this car, which was owned by a female, is that it has many rare desirable accessories and options. You could remove these items and sell them at an old car swap meet. You could collect a large pile of cash to get this 50’s car in order to prep it for a Saturday night cruise-in. However, if we keep these items and finish this ride, we will have something “neat.” Remember, we are doing a ’51 Chevrolet, but most of the same things can be done or found for most 40’s and early to mid 50’s cars. We are trying to present the basic fix-up and make “cool” differences between a 60’s and 70’s SQUEAKER, like the 1963 Ford we just did in the past articles, and the 40’s &50’s era cars we are working on now.
Depending on the make, most early to mid-50’s cars have a 6-volt charging system. To stay stock, you should keep that system. However, for you novices and the younger crowd, you can not use any 12-volt accessories. This means no 12-volt FM radios, air horns, spotlights, fog lights, etc. You will need to be aware of where to buy 6-volt headlight and taillight bulbs. There are special 6-volt to 12-volt convertible radios. But, it is much easier and cheaper to get your FM CD fix by simply putting a deep cycle battery in a plastic marine battery box. Then, run wires from the trunk to the fancy radio that we usually install in the glove box to hide and make the car look like stock.
Then, if you like the looks and have the budget, add a pair of chrome working 6-volt fog lights with amber lenses, and this will look nice mounted on the front splash pan (make sure they are in a position that they won’t block the radiator). These can be bought real cheap if you search out tractor chrome headlight buckets and farm 6 or 12-volt sealed amber headlights. Or, for a larger price tag, you can buy more detailed headlights, including the actual manufacturer’s crest on the top of the chrome buckets. These will range from $50 each to about $100 each for the fancy ones. Then, if you can spend more money and you like the looks of them, you can buy single or dual chrome spotlights with the crest name on them too. These cost about twice as much as the fogs.
Also, be aware when you are checking out a 6-volt car by turning on the key and then the radio. Be sure to wait a few minutes for the tubes to warm up before trying to tune into an AM station. Many people have junked a stock radio thinking it didn’t work. The stock ones are worth real money and if you can find the special people in the hobby, these radios can be fixed to work perfect. If you ever find one that has a box in the trunk and someone says it has REVERB and doesn’t work, then you should grab this radio–even if you have to make an offer to buy it separately. You can sell it to antique radio restorers. They are rare.
It’s an echo chamber pre-stereo type sound that you just gotta hear sometime if you ever get the chance.
Here’s a note: the ’51 Chevy we said had a weak battery. The charging system works ok, but we went to the Tractor Supply Store and bought a 6-volt tractor battery for $39.00. If we had went out and found a special antique car 6-volt battery, the cost is way beyond our figure. A little SCOOTER’S GARAGE secret for those of us on a budget: Again research the factory accessory folder, owner’s manuals, old magazine ads, swap meets, car shows and cruise-ins, and watch TMC (The Movie Channel) for old movies to check out the cars in the background for what accessories they have on them.
Our 1951 has a one-piece metal sun visor in the trunk, complete with the brackets. Also included were factory fender skirts, rare front chrome bumper side guards, and the power-glide automatic transmission was introduced to Chevrolet in 1950. Also coming with the car was really hard-to-find, stainless steel side-window vent shades and the expensive front hood, golden gazelle ornament–a $150 to $200 item. The ‘51 also has a clock, a really good heater, and stainless steel headlight visors. WOW, this baby is loaded! This car has excellent interior, but it is not the original color. At this level of a budget, we can live with that. So, we won’t win best stock interior, but who cares. Plus, the average spectator at a car show will not even know it’s not exactly correct.
Whatever ride you find there are many suppliers that can sell you floor carpeting or floor rubber mats, depending on what was stock then. Many suppliers can also hook you up with door panel material, headliners and what not. I’ve seen many people use the correct color or Krylon spray cans to re-paint the dash and interior metal window moldings if they are weathered and faded. Just be sure when you purchase the car you are aware of what it will cost and take to get it looking like you want (and within your budget).
The idea with a 40’s to 50’s era squeaker is to get it as close to stock as possible. And, it’s also fun to add as many accessories as you can afford, providing that they suite your taste. Next time, we’ll steer you on more ways to get your car up and ready to cruise. The garage is now closed.
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