Chevy Fleetline and the Rules of WWII
The 1940s was the decade where cars began to look like modern vehicles. Gone were the days of the cars that resembled the Model-T with exterior mounted headlights, gloomy radiator jackets, and heavily spoked wheels. Harley Earl modeled the cars of the 40s after the Y-Job designed for Buick.
Sadly, as soon as the aerodynamic vehicles, like the Chevy Fleetline, were introduced to the American public World War II began. Within two months of the attack on Pearl Harbor, on February 2, 1942 the federal government halted production of civilian passenger cars. Automotive plants were retrofitted so they could be used to produce military vehicles, weapons, and airplanes.
But, before the production was halted, the government asked that automotive manufacturers stopped using chrome and stainless steel on January 1, 1942. The ban on brightwork for one month put car manufacturers on equal footing, because no one car was looked better than any other.
The federal government ordered the brightwork ban because they wanted to preserve raw materials for the war efforts. Auto manufacturers could continue to use brightwork on necessary places that included bumpers, guards, and wipers. Due to this ban, auto manufacturers created a limited number of cars that they called Blackout Models. They were only made for the first few weeks of 1942, so they have become desirable collectibles.
The Chevy blackout models, like the 1942 Chevy Fleetline, had painted grilles, hubcaps, and window trim in neutral colors that were lighter than the vehicles’ main colors. The 1942 Chevy Fleetline models came in two styles: a four-door sedan and a two-door fastback.
Even though there were over 250,000 cars produced by all manufacturers in 1942, only a small number, just over 2,000 Chevy blackout models were made, which makes them all extremely rare. The blackout color choices were extremely limited, too.
Buyers who could find and afford a new Chevy Fleetline could choose from Ensign Blue, Martial Maroon, Torpedo Gray, and Volunteer Green. The blackout trim usually came in off-white or gray to create a two-toned color palette designed to attract buyers.