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Maisto 1948 Chevrolet Fleetmaster Wagon Page 1

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Maisto provides a moderately detailed Stovebolt inline-6 engine in Chevy Blue. Check out the oil-bath air cleaner.
Polished wheel rings with chrome-plated caps complement midsize whitewall tires. The suspension is active and all four corners work independently—better than the real thing.

Ford and Chrysler in a new era of styling and innovation, old tooling was queued up for one last run. The Fleetmaster series of coupes, sedans and convertibles rolled off the line in Flint, Michigan. While the rest of the line used all-steel construction, Iona and Cantrell took delivery of chassis that they would transform into the last of General Motors’ wooden-body vehicles.

Though very few 1949 Chevy wagons were made of wood, GM used steel-slab sides with wood veneer from then on out. The woody—the real Chevrolet woody, was about to become a thing of the past. Ironically, the 1948 Fleetmaster Wagon was one of the best sellers in the nameplate’s history; 10,171 were sold that year. But changing social attitudes and rapidly improving technology shifted consumer desires. Big, expensive, bulky wood- construction wagons were no longer in fashion, though the high-maintenance, expansive, 1948 Chevy woody later became the key element in the surfing lifestyle.

HIGHLIGHTS
Exterior In 1948, Chevy was still hanging on to its basic 1942 design. The vehicles looked mammoth, and Maisto faithfully reproduces the classic ’48 Fleetmaster Wagon in 1:18 scale. Although the wooden trim is actually made using molded-plastic inserts, it looks very convincing. The two front doors operate with nearly completely disguised hinges. The rear passenger doors, unfortunately, are fixed in the closed position, but that isn’t uncommon for a 1:18 entry-level die-cast. What is unexpected for a $30 price is the level of quality Maisto puts into its Premiere line—and the Fleetmaster is the best example we’ve seen to date. The overall fit/finish is superb. From the rich brown paint to the simulated canvas top and the wood-like panels, Maisto creates a die-cast that beckons to be taken from the shelf and handled. Every piece of the exterior chromed-plastic trim is above the price point. The same is true of the tall, Firestone wide-whitewall tires and tampo-enhanced hubcaps on the wheels.

Interior Keeping within Maisto’s budget for the Premiere Series Fleetmaster required compromises, and this is most evident in the interior. The dashboard is well done in simulated wood with detailed gauges and controls, but here’s where the good stops and the average begins. The three rows of seats and the attached floorboard are all blandly molded. There are no wooden headliner ribs, and the inner door panels are under-whelming.

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Updated: June 30, 2011 — 11:23 AM

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