Car History Year 1942
Date: Sunday, September 26 @ 23:38:32 UTC
By the beginning of 1942, the Japanese were making steady progress in their conquest of the Pacific islands, while American industry was turning rapidly to war production. As a result, many raw materials were severely restricted for civilian use and some withdrawn completely. From January 1, the government had banned all brightwork on cars, with the exception of bumpers, bumper guards and windshield wipers. Such automobiles therefore had their trim painted a contrasting color instead, and were popularly known as "black-out specials." Then, from February 2, the production of civilian cars and trucks was banned completely - America was committed to total war.
With production curtailed so early in the year, few new models reached the civilian hands and potential buyers had to prove a specific need for a car. Most were impressed for military service, including Chevrolet's face-lift model for 1942. Based on the previous year's design, using the same chassis, mechanical components and basic body shell, the updated Chevy appeared longer, wider and lower, yet the wheelbase remained the same at 116 inches. The new look was achieved by installing a more prominent radiator grille, by stretching the hood back to the leading edge of the doors, and by extending the front fenders well into the doors; the rear portion of the fender, known as a fender cap, opened with the door. From there back, the car was essentially the same as the 1941 model.
Chevrolet's two model lines - Special Deluxe and Master Deluxe - included sedans, coupes and cabriolets. The Special Deluxe versions had a few extra accessories to set them apart from the others. In 1941, a close-coupled 4-door sedan, the Fleetline, had been the top-of-the-range but, for 1942, it was upstaged by the sleeker, fastback Fleetline Aerosedan. This attractive 2-door body style had a low roofline that swept down in a continuous curve to the rear bumper. As a result, the windshield and side glass were shorter, and the seats were lower too. Both Fleetline models were distinguished by three stainless-steel moldings on each fender, but otherwise they were similarly equipped to the other Special Deluxe models.
Power for all '42 Chevies came from the trusty "stovebolt" in-line-six engine, the basic design of which had been in use since 1937. It displaced 216.5 cubic inches, had a 6.5:1 compression ratio and pumped out , 90 horsepower. Chevrolet continued to use this same engine in their post-war models until 1953.
Despite the relatively short time that it was available, the Fleetline Aerosedan proved a winner, outselling all the other Chevrolet models. Nearly 62,000 were built before production was halted in February. For the rest of the year, Chevrolet concentrated on building military trucks. However, the fastback Aerosedan styling would return after the war and continue in the Chevrolet line-up until 1952.
Although the lack of new cars and the advent of sugar and gasoline rationing made life less comfortable, not all the news of 1942 was bad. At the cinema, Humphrey Bogart was reminding Ingrid Bergman that they'd always have Paris and Dooley Wilson, who couldn't play the piano, was playing Sam and singing "As Time Goes By" in Michael Curtiz's Casablanca. On stage, a young skinny guy by the name of Frank Sinatra was keeping the kids happy. On the war front, the Japanese navy had been severely mauled at the Battle of Midway in early June, losing several valuable aircraft carriers, General Dwight D. Eisenhower had been named commander of American forces in Europe, and those forces began to prove themselves when they invaded North Africa in November to harass German troops retreating from Britain's Eighth Army. This crucial amphibious assault was to be useful practice for the invasion of Europe, still two long years away.
CHEVROLET FLEETLINE AEROSEDAN
Cast iron - 6 cylinders in line
216.5 cu. ins
Bore and stroke
3 1/2 x 3 3/4ins.
2 door Aerosedan; 4 door Sportmaster
No. of seats
3,105 Ibs-3,165 Ibs
$880 - $920
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