1939 Chevrolet Master Deluxe
photo by the author
Owner David Hightower displayed this beautifully restored 1939 Chevrolet Master Deluxe 4-passenger coupe painted in ‘Italian Cream’ in the restored class at the 2017 Sacramento Autorama. This car was not heavily accessorized but it does feature bumper guards ($3.95 for the set of four) the center grille guard which was a $2.50 option and a rear view mirror and $2.95 option.
The ‘Master Deluxe’ was the top of the 1939 Chevrolet line introduced in October 1938 with seven body styles offered on the 112-1/4 inch wheelbase chassis. The 1939 Chevrolet Master Deluxe low-price leader at $684 was the 2-door business coupe (which lacked a back seat), then the 2-door 4-passenger coupe like our featured car which sold for $750. There were a couple of two-door sedans to choose from: a two-door sedan without a trunk which sold for $689 and the two-door “Town sedan” which featured a trunk and sold for $720.
There were two four-door sedans offered, the regular sedan without a trunk for $745 and the “Sport sedan” with a trunk which listed for $766. The top of the line was the 4-door station wagon which retailed for $833. All the Master Deluxe models except the wagon were 188 inches in overall length.
Chevrolet sold 20,908 4-passenger coupes like our featured car in 1939, far behind the ‘Sport sedan’ with 110,521 units and the ‘Town sedan’ with 220, 181 cars built in 1939. Chevrolet built a total of 386,656 Master Deluxe cars in 1939, with total Chevrolet production of 577,278 vehicles, which made Chevrolet the best-selling brand in America ahead of Ford’s 487,000 and Plymouth’s 423,000.
In 1939, the Chevrolet division had ten assembly plants across the United States from Tarrytown and Buffalo New York, Baltimore, Atlanta in the east, to Flint Michigan, St. Louis and Kansas City in the Middle West. Chevrolet also operated plants in Norwood Ohio a suburb of Cincinnati, Janesville in southern Wisconsin, and East Oakland California a plant which operated from 1916 to 1963.
In the lower left corner of the above photograph by the author
you can see the original stamped aluminum Fisher body tag.
Please click to enlarge
The Chevrolet six-cylinder inline 216-1/2 cubic inch engine featured the valves in the head and produced 85 horsepower at 3200 revolutions per minute (RPM) while the engine produced its maximum torque output of 170 foot-pounds between 900 and 2000 RPM. The engine featured three-ring cast iron pistons, removable valve stem guides, and a single Carter carburetor manufacturer in St. Louis Missouri.
The Chevrolet six-cylinder engines were built in either Flint Michigan or Tonawanda New York, while the 3-speed transmissions were sourced from General Motors factories in Toledo, Saginaw Michigan or Muncie Indiana. The 551-pound engine and transmission unit was suspended via rubber mounts from five points in the chassis. The crankshaft which rode on four bearings weighed 69 pounds all by itself.
The Master Deluxe featured knee-action front suspension with helical coil springs while the semi-floating rear end was suspended on semi-elliptical leaf springs. The Master coupe had a curb weight of 2960 pounds with nearly 50-50 weight distribution on the 16 by 4 inch wheels with 4-wheel hydraulic brakes.
In addition to the speedometer the gauge cluster in the wood-grain painted steel dashboard features water temperature, fuel gauge, oil pressure gauge and a battery charge indicator. This car is also equipped with an optional ($4.75) hand-wound clock in the locking glovebox door. While this car was advertised as a four-passenger, the rear two seats were referred to in sales literature as “opera seats” which were divided and folded up, and with just 22 inches behind the front bench seat, the rear seats surely would not comfortable for long trips. Being a “West Coast” car it does not have a heater accessory.
The trunk features enclosed spare tire storage (something the sedan and town sedan body styles lacked), and measures 39 inches deep and is 45 inches wide. In the photograph by the author you can also see the twin taillights a standard feature on the Master Deluxe, while the chrome exhaust pipe extension and whitewall tires were extra cost accessories.All photos by the author