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Chevrolet Bel Air

1951 Chevrolet Styleline and Fleetline

The 1951 Chevrolet Styleline and Fleetline looked softer and rounder, though little changed in overall contour. The softer and rounder look was credited to a smooth new "Fashion-Front" grille and integrated "Reflector-Guard" taillights. Parking lights moved to the outer edges of the grille molding to yield a wider, more substantial appearance.

Chevrolet Fleetline DeLuxe Sedan
The 1951 Chevrolet Fleetline Deluxe sedan
was stylish but felt outdated to buyers.

DeLuxe models wore neat fender skirts, accentuating the clean body lines. They also displayed such extras as stainless steel moldings on front fenders and doors, and a 39-hour wind-up clock inside. Of course, any Chevrolet could be dressed up with an outside sun shade, bumper wing tips, or a grille guard -- and many were.

Within the new curved "Safety-Sight" instrument panel, gauges were grouped in two circular clusters with non-glare lighting. Control knobs sat below in a recessed panel.

Also on the safety side, "Jumbo-Drum" brakes demanded as much as 25-percent less pedal pressure and were promoted as the largest in the low-priced field.

Chevrolet started the season with 14 models in two body styles -- notchback Styleline or fastback Fleetline -- again in either Special or DeLuxe trim. Most Fleetline fastbacks left the lineup at midyear, leaving only the two-door DeLuxe. Americans no longer were drawn to slantback body shapes, which many believed to be old-fashioned.

Bel Air production rose sharply, to 103,356 cars, despite the fact that both Ford and Plymouth added hardtop body styles this year. Songstress Dinah Shore got Americans to whistle and hum the tune "See the USA in your Chevrolet," and that slogan also began to appear in print ads.

More than 43 percent of DeLuxe Chevrolets came with Powerglide. Obviously, customers weren't worried about its reputation for slippage and slowness. Claims of "smooth flow of power from zero to cruising speed" were accurate enough, but promises of "sensational 'hillability'" and "flashing acceleration" didn't quite measure up in the real world.

Sales dipped slightly from record-breaking 1950, to below 1.25 million, but Chevrolet clung tenaciously to its first-place ranking, again finishing comfortably ahead of Ford.

1951 Chevrolet Styleline DeLuxe Convertible
The 1951 Chevrolet Styleline DeLuxe drop-top
epitomized the era's long-deck look.

1951 Chevrolet Styleline and Fleetline Facts


Weight range (lbs.)

Price range (new)

Number built

JJ Styleline Special




JJ Fleetline Special




JK Styleline DeLuxe




JK Fleetline DeLuxe




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