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1949 Chevy Fleetline - Haulin' Humpback

Bob McClurg Apr 1, 2001
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Sucp_0104_01_s 1949_chevy_fleetline Front_right 3/2

Street rod versions of the late '40s Chevrolet "Humpback" two-door sedans are about as rare as "hen's teeth." Let's face it. These not-too-gorgeous-looking creations never achieved high-water marks at GM Styling. Nonetheless, cool-looking examples of the '48-49 Fleetline are beginning to surface. Street rod-fabricator Bryan Cline purchased his '49 from a southern Arizona salvage yard for $500. Of course, that was in January 1993. It's taken Bryan more than seven years, and a veritable ton of cash, to transform the old Fleetline into the fleet-footed-flyer it's become.

Cline elected to scrap the factory framework in favor of an all-custom tubular setup. The car's 110-inch wheelbase chassis was constructed out of 2x3-inch, .120-inch wall thickness mild steel tubing. Out back there's a Moser-equipped, Ford 9-inch rearend with 3.50:1 cogs connected to the framerails by a trick four-link setup. Aldan Eagle coilover shocks and Baer Racing disc brakes round out the suspension.

Up front, the Fleetline framework employs a Heidt's Hot Rod Shop "Mustang II-type" unequal-length A-arm suspension, again sporting a set of Aldan Eagle coilover shocks, Wilwood Engineering front discs, and Heidt's rack-and-pinion steering.

Rubber to road is handled by a set of 15x7- and 15x14-inch Budnik billet wheels sporting 195/50 and 29x18.50x15-inch BFGoodrich and Mickey Thompson rubber.

Rather than go the big-block route, Bryan commissioned T&T Auto Supply's Shad Shafer to build him this B&M blown 350-inch Mouse. The engine, which is color coordinated to match the rest of the car, is outfitted with a set of 8.5:1 compression Federal Mogul Performance/TRW forged-aluminum pistons, ARP-equipped Chevy 350 connecting rods and crank, and a B&M blower cam. Also onboard is a set of World Products Bow-Tie cylinder heads featuring a stainless-steel 2.02-inch intake, 1.95-inch exhaust valves, and Crane Cams valvetrain hardware, protected by a pair of great-looking GM Performance Parts cast-aluminum valve covers.

That fully polished B&M huffer, topped by an owner-fabricated custom air cleaner, is set up to pump out 8-pounds of boost, and utilizes a B&M intake, along with a Barry Grant-blueprinted 750-cfm Holley. Lighting things off is a Mallory ignition system, while the exhaust consists of S&S aluminized headers and HPC-coated Flowmaster exhaust. Cline also machined all of the 350's engine accessory pulleys himself from billet-aluminum.

Backing up this potent small-block is a GM Turbo 350, sporting a 2,500 stall-speed B&M Automotive Products torque converter.

When it came to carving out the interior, Cline pulled out all the stops. You'll no doubt note the smoothie dashboard, which features Dakota Digital instrumentation housed in the original Fleetline gauge cluster.The "Humpback" also utilizes late-model GM power windows-tucked behind sculpted door panels-solenoid door locks, a Vintage Air climate control, six-way GM tilt steering, and a Budnik billet steering wheel. Seating consists of Tea's Design reclining front buckets and a custom-fabricated rear seat, all covered by the owner in soft cream leather and wool.

On the outside, Cline enlisted the services of Mesa, Arizona, bodyman Frank Moore to smooth out all the wrinkles and de-chrome the body prior to having Doug Jerger at Squeeg's Kustoms, where Bryan works, paint the '49 in House of Kolor Tangelo Orange and Cream.

Since completion, Bryan's '49 has won the Goodguys Pro Pick, and Goodguys Boyd's Pro Pick awards. However, Bryan built his '49 "super Chevy" to drive, and drive it he does. On good days that is, and it's most always a "good day" in the "Valley of the Sun."

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