1946?? Chevrolet Convertible
by Bryan Cantrell
This article continues the series of flashbacks of Chevrolets in Brisbane in the 1970’s, in the early years of the VVCAA. The feature car shown in the first photograph is a Chevrolet Fisher-bodied convertible owned by a Queensland police motorcyclist, Ron Gee. The car was photographed by me in May 1971 during a vintage car rally at Sandgate, on Brisbane’s northside, which was attended by several members of the VVCAA Queensland Branch. Although he was a genuine Chevrolet enthusiast, Ron did not join the VVCAA and passed away at a relatively early age.
Harry Burton and Brian Leahy came to know Ron Gee in his role as a police officer on points duty at a large intersection in Brisbane’s west. On a number of occasions they were pulled over by Ron as they passed through this intersection in their vintage Chevs, not for any traffic misdemeanor but for a chat! We believe that Ron stopped other drivers elsewhere as well, to have a closer look at their Chevrolet and to encourage them to join the VVCAA.
Now let’s take a closer look at Ron’s convertible. It has the look of a Fisher-bodied convertible, with a stainless steel moulding running through the line of the door handles along each side and a second, more slender, moulding just below the tops of the doors and extending around the back of the body. The front bumper bar has the more rounded profile of American Chevs of the period. It has a 1946 Chevrolet grille assembly, that’s for sure. But what about the bonnet? A close look shows that the long side moulding is from a 1942 model (not 1946) and the second short moulding below it is a feature of 1947 and 1948 Chevrolets. The front centre Chevrolet nameplate is from a 1948 Chevrolet, not 1942 or 1946. At the back of the car, the rear mudguard arch has been “squared off” as well. What is going on?
Ron Daw believes that this convertible is a 1942 model, possibly imported to Australia by the US military during World War II. We presume that at some stage the front of the car was damaged in an accident and that it was repaired using later Chevrolet parts, namely a 1946 grille and a 1948 bonnet. Perhaps the rear wheel arches were modified at the same time. I guess we will never know, but it goes to show that things are not always as they appear on the surface. After Ron Gee passed away, his car went to a friend of his but we believe that it later changed hands. Until recently it was still somewhere in Brisbane.
Two other members of the VVCAA Queensland Branch owned 1946 Chevrolet Holden-bodied sedans. Jack Greaves had owned his cream 1946 Stylemaster for many years, as his only car. It was photographed on a rally in 1977. He was a bachelor who lived at Greenslopes, not far from our meeting place in the St John Ambulance Hall in Mott Park. Jack joined the VVCAA as an Associate Member as his car was beyond the eligibility date of 1942 which was in force at that time. Jack was a thorough gentleman and we treated him as our equal, even if his car was a little young.
Being a Stylemaster, Jack’s Chev had fixed rear quarter windows and lacked front bumper bar over-riders. The car in the third photograph is a Fleetmaster owned by Roger Dunstan (117), which has over-riders and a hinged quarter window. It was photographed on a rally at Mt Tambourine in 1973. The Holden-bodied 1946’s had a flatter profile to the front bumper bar, as well as the unusual small central “cow-catcher” below the bar (between the over-riders on the Fleetmaster).
Finally, a photograph of a rather sad-looking 1942 Fisher-bodied Chevrolet sedan in a Dalby wrecking yard in 1971. The two yards in Dalby were a treasure trove of Chevrolet models and we visited them regularly in our search for parts and body panels in those early years. Even so, 1942 Chevs were rarely seen because so few came into Australia in the first place. This particular car was rough but restorable, but we passed it by because of the relative availability of other models in better condition for restoration. Such were the days!!