- The Washington Times - Friday, September 6, 2002

On Oct. 30, 1951, just as the 1952 models were appearing at automobile showrooms, the Gage family of Croton-on-Hudson, N.Y., went to the Larkins Chevrolet dealership in nearby New Rochelle and purchased a six-passenger 1951 Chevrolet four-door sedan.

They paid $2,124.22 for the family car that was driven exclusively by Mrs. Gage for the next 19 years, when the car was retired. After languishing for four more years, it was donated to charity.

Franklin Gage can't remember a time when his parents' 1951 wasn't a part of the family. His youth was spent being transported in that Chevrolet.

Unbeknown to his father, Mr. Gage's mother taught him to drive while behind the two-spoke steering wheel of the Chevrolet.

Years later, in the spring of 1997, Mr. Gage, now living in Greenbelt saw a 1951 Chevrolet advertised for sale.

Just for old-times' sake, he answered the ad. But he was enraptured by a virtual duplicate of his parents' car, a Styleline DeLuxe four-door sedan with 75,000 miles on the odometer.

What wasn't there to like?

He bought the car which had first been sold by Como Chevrolet in Ware, Mass., at the beginning of Cape Cod.

This model was by far the most popular Chevrolet offered in 1951, with 380,270 manufactured. Each one left the factory weighing 3,150 pounds.

The cast-iron, 235.5-cubic-inch, in-line, six-cylinder engine delivers 105 horsepower.

The Powerglide transmission is notorious for voraciously consuming large amounts of transmission fluid.

The shift pattern from the left is park-neutral-drive-low-reverse.

Fond memories of his youth swept over Mr. Gage as he drove his Chevrolet home. The clock protrudes above the dashboard on this Chevrolet just like he remembers on his parents' car.

He bought the Chevrolet to drive, which he has done. However, to do so, the car needed some help. A faulty starter kept giving him problems until it became so bad that it was replaced.

To duplicate his parents' car, Mr. Gage purchased bumper-guard overriders from an Oregon junkyard.

The trusty old stovebolt six burnt a valve, which Mr. Gage remedied with a valve job followed by a ring job to keep oil consumption under control.

By May 2001, the Chevrolet was prepared to tackle a round trip to Oklahoma for an Antique Automobile Club of America spring tour.

He spent two days driving out to Bartlesville before the tour began, with air conditioning provided by the eight open windows, as well as the four wing-vent windows.

Although the speedometer on the safety-sight dashboard is set to register speeds as high as 100 mph, Mr. Gage has never pushed the car to perform at that limit.

The front of his vehicle was given a wider-looking fashion-front grille and, at the opposite end, the rear fenders were for the first time molded into the body.

They also held faired-in "Reflector-Guard" taillights, which were merely regular taillights with a red reflector mounted below the taillight lens. At night the rear license plate is illuminated by lights mounted on the splash pan between the bumper and the body.

With the odometer registering more than 120,000 miles, this 1951 Chevrolet still performs as it was intended to do a half-century ago.

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