The 1940 Chevrolet was, by any standard, a spectacularly ugly automobile. Perhaps it was “The Royal Clipper Styling,” the “Alligator” hood, or the “Knee-Action Chassis?” (Where did these descriptions come from, and what do they mean exactly?).

But, around Portland and the rest of the U.S., the three 1940 Chevy models (Master 85, Master De Luxe and Special De Luxe, sedan or coupe) were, using General Motors’ eloquent words: “first in public favor.”

1940 Chevy Oregonian Ad

1940 Chevy Oregonian Ad

Retail pricing for the three models (which came in 14 available colors, most of them dull), ranged from $659.00 to $934.00. Each car was equipped with a six-cylinder, 84.5 horsepower engine featuring, among other things, “electroplated diamond-bored bushings,” and “a rubber floated harmonic balancer.” The three-speed manual transmission, mounted on the steering column, was “synchro-mesh with helical gears throughout.”

The De Luxe models lived up to their fancy nameplates with appealing features such as: “bumper guards, front and rear,” “a front seat arm rest,” “decorative door sill plates,” “adjustable sun visors,” “t-spoke steering wheel with horn-blowing ring,” and “ash receivers” both on the instrument panel and in the rear compartment.” Yes, “ash receivers.” Apparently, an “ash tray” just wasn’t good enough for the 1940 Chevrolet De Luxe.

Only the Special De Luxe was outfitted with an electronic cigarette lighter. Not surprisingly (remember this was 1940 when just about everyone inhaled tobacco), the Special De Luxe was the runaway best seller of the trio. Nearly 500,000 Americans drove one home.

The 1940 Chevrolets, like every other car on the road in those days, sucked leaded gas (banned by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in 1996).

Their fuel tanks held 16 gallons. Given the average price of gas in those days, a fill up ran in the neighborhood of $1.75. That cash only price often included a free windshield wipe and a big smile from the gas station attendant.

In the unlikely event this Flashback has inspired you to track down a surviving 1940 Chevrolet, we did manage to find a few, courtesy of various search engines.

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If, for any strange reason, you’re currently in the market for one of these behemoths, fasten your seat belt (note: no car in 1940 offered seat belts as on option) and be prepared to spend your unexpected inheritance, lottery winnings, or the money you’ve saved to put your kids through college.