In the vast canon of Chevrolet's history, several models have earned the "iconic" badge.
In the vast canon of Chevrolet's history, several models have earned the "iconic" badge. Sure, the Tri-Five series from the 1950s comes readily to mind, as does the earlier Deluxe series. Yet, there’s one largely unsung hero that deserves a standing ovation—the Chevrolet Master.
A Brief History of the Master Series
The Chevrolet Master burst onto the scene in 1933, designed to fill the shoes of the preceding Eagle model. This enduring line saw yearly updates until its final production year in 1942. Built not just in the United States but across the globe—in factories from Canada to Europe to Asia—the Master holds the distinction of being the last Chevrolet exported to Japan in kit form. It even served as the inspiration for Toyota's first-ever production car, the AA, thanks to some clever reverse engineering.
Available in an array of body types—including coupes, cabriolets, sedans, and even pickup trucks—the Master was an instant hit. It shattered sales records, selling close to half a million units in its debut year alone. By 1936, annual sales had ballooned to over 900,000. All told, approximately five million Masters rolled off the assembly lines until 1942.
The Rarity of Surviving Masters
Regrettably, the attrition rate for cars from this era is alarmingly high. Many have succumbed to the elements, rusting away in forgotten barns or facing the ignominy of the junkyard. A scant few have been lovingly restored to factory conditions, while others live on as restomods.
A Second Chance for a Neglected Gem
That's why the recent rediscovery of a 1938 Master Deluxe model is causing such a stir in the automotive community. Chronicled by YouTube's "BackyardAlaskan," this Master Deluxe had been dormant since the early 1970s. Even the term "fixer-upper" feels like an understatement for this rust-laden, tree-damaged relic. However, what it lacked in looks, it made up for in sheer resilience.
Against all odds, our intrepid restorer breathed new life into the engine—an unbelievable feat considering it hadn't been fueled for a staggering 50 years. Not stopping at mere engine resuscitation, he managed to take this dilapidated treasure for a test drive around the shop.
The Under-the-Hood Magic
If you're not acquainted with the 1938 Master, it's worth mentioning that this Art Deco beauty housed a 216-cubic-inch (3.5-liter) six-cylinder engine. The Deluxe models, like the one discovered, even featured independent suspension—a technological leap introduced by Chevrolet in 1937. Of the 465,158 Masters produced in 1938, a significant 302,726 were Deluxe models, making this barn find one of 76,323 of its kind.
Why This Rediscovery Matters
While the 1938 Master Deluxe may not boast the cult following of the Tri-Five Bel Airs, its revival is a heartening reminder of the resilience and enduring charm of early American automobiles. It's a nod to a past era, a testament to the ingenuity of classic engineering, and most of all, a hopeful sign for restoration enthusiasts everywhere. Here's hoping this reborn Master Deluxe will receive the full restoration it so richly deserves.
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