At first blush, it would seem the truncated 1942 model year was one of the more challenging in automotive history given the discontinuation of automobile manufacturing for focusing on the war effort. However, the actual challenge and struggle was the transition from the war effort to producing automobiles in late 1945 for model year 1946.
The entry of the United States into World War II after the bombing of Pearl Harbor in December 1941 did not trigger automobile manufacturers such as General Motors to begin production of military items. These efforts had been ramping up for over eighteen months and the war simply escalated this further.
The Chevrolet division of General Motors was awarded its first contract with the War Department in April 1940. This initial contract was for the production of 75 mm shells. Chevrolet would ultimately make over 8 million such shells in both high explosive and armor-piercing varieties.
Shell production was simply the opening shot in the manufacturing barrage that was Chevrolet. In short order, the War Department would further contract with Chevrolet for 4×4 trucks, 90 mm anti-aircraft guns, armored cars, and aircraft engines.
Chevrolet was reminding the public of their ongoing efforts in this ad from the October 20, 1941 issue of Time magazine. GM’s advertising about their helping with national defense also helped advertise and emphasize their manufacturing might. With United States involvement in the war being viewed as imminent by many at that time, such ads also likely helped serve as encouragement to Allied forces elsewhere in the world.
The last Chevrolet passenger car left the assembly line amid heavy automotive rationing on February 6, 1942, and nearly all assembly plants were immediately converted to war production. The only Chevrolet factory not fully dedicated to the war effort was in Saginaw, Michigan. Among its various products, the Saginaw plant was making replacement parts for all the Chevrolet cars and pickups that would have to serve their owners for the unknown duration of the war.
By the time Japan surrendered in August 1945, Chevrolet’s contribution to the Volume Production for Victory effort was staggering.
In addition to the explosive and armor piercing shells mentioned above, Chevrolet plants also produced 2,000 90 mm anti-aircraft guns with another 3,000 barrels for use as spares. Chevrolet also produced 5.7 million pounds of magnesium casings for aircraft engines plus over 2 billion pounds of gray iron casings for various and assorted mechanical parts.
In the mechanical realm, Chevrolet produced 500,000 trucks in 4×2, 4×4, and 6×6 guises. The bulk of these trucks were produced in St. Louis with most of the remainder made in Baltimore.
Additionally, a sizable number of the GMC trucks used in World War II were built by Chevrolet for GMC. Unlike today, there used to be tangible differences between Chevrolet and GMC trucks.
Aircraft engines is where Chevrolet truly pounded the drum of their abilities during the war. Chevrolet would make over 60,000 Pratt & Whitney radial engines with peak monthly production being 3,502 engines in November 1943, the highest aircraft engine production by any manufacturer ever at that time.
The aircraft these engines powered were numerous. A fourteen cylinder, 1,200 horsepower version was found on the B-24 Liberator bomber (shown); similar was used on the C-47 and C-53 cargo planes.
An eighteen cylinder, 2,000 horsepower Chevrolet produced Pratt & Whitney engine could be found on both the P-47 Thunderbolt such as this one and the P-61 Black Widow fighter planes.
Chevrolet had nine manufacturing centers and eleven factories in ten states converted to war production. Two more assembly plants were designed and under construction around this same time, with expansion plans at various existing factories. With this tremendous manufacturing ability, it would seem that refocusing on production of civilian vehicles would be a snap.
Some elements were pretty straightforward. On Friday, August 17, 1945, the contract for military trucks was cancelled. All trucks on the assembly line in St. Louis were simply taken apart and the various military based elements of the assembly line removed. Production of civilian pickups commenced on Monday, August 20. Having produced a half-million trucks during the war, there wasn’t a drastic change of process to accomplish this.
The plants that produced automobiles were an entirely different story. To produce war material, all assembly line components for car production had been removed entirely at the beginning of the war. Further, these plants and factories had been heavily reconfigured for military production and had to be altered back to being conducive for automobile production.
Providing an added layer of complication in resuming production, autoworkers went on strike and steel was a very precious commodity. With consumers finally being able to exercise their pent-up demand, many industries – even toy companies – were aggressively vying to acquire whatever steel they could.
Working through these abundant challenges, the first new Chevrolet rolled off the assembly line in Kansas City on October 3, 1945. When sales were tallied for the 1946 model year, Ford had outsold Chevrolet by 70,000 cars.
Like the offerings from the other manufacturers, the 1946 Chevrolet was a warmed over 1942 model, itself a rehash of the entirely new 1941 models (shown). Names for trim levels changed from Master Deluxe, Special Deluxe and Fleetline in 1942 to Stylemaster, Fleetmaster, and Fleetline for 1946. All sat on a 116″ wheelbase and were powered by a 90 horsepower 216 cubic inch (3.5 liter) straight six.
It should be noted sedan style Fleetmaster and fastback Fleetline were the upper trim levels. In 1946 the word “fleet” was associated with swiftness found from being fleet-footed, not bulk sales. The Stylemaster sedan seen here was a member of the bottom trim level, sharing body panels with the Fleetmaster.
Not only names were shuffled around at Chevrolet in 1946, but management was shuffled around also. In June 1946, Marvin E. Coyle, who had been with Chevrolet since 1917 and its general manager since 1933, was promoted to executive vice president of General Motors.
Replacing Coyle was Nicholas Dreystadt, a thirty-year GM employee who had been general manager at Cadillac since 1934. Dreystadt, a German immigrant who had worked as an apprentice at Mercedes-Benz, is often credited for saving Cadillac during the Great Depression of the 1930s. Among the strategies Dreystadt had employed to make Cadillac the most profitable division per unit was to implement many production efficiencies plus eliminating the make’s early 1930s policy of refusing to sell cars to those of African descent.
Dreystadt’s goal was for ever higher production of an ever higher quality product. Dreystadt’s philosophy, likely a product of both his time at Mercedes and his coming from the early days of GM, was public approval of products had to be earned. Chevrolet would build its 19 millionth vehicle on December 5, 1946.
One of the Chevrolet’s built sometime after production resumed in October 1945 is this 1946 Stylemaster.
This Chevrolet has been sitting for sale next to the road near my in-laws for a while. So during a trip there last week, I swung by to get some pictures; in the process I was able to talk to the owner.
The gentleman who purchased this Chevrolet new was the father of five children. The very first thing the proud new owner did was drive to the upholstery shop to have the seats covered, which gives the impression he was either quite fastidious or his kids were on the slovenly side. As the owner pointed out, this being done wasn’t necessarily a bad thing since the original upholstery has never been exposed to anyone’s bottom side.
At some point in time, the original owner sold the car to his nephew. The nephew drove it some, but upon taking a trip somewhere in Illinois, the Chevrolet developed a mechanical issue. While the issue is now unknown, it cost a fortune for the car to be towed back to the owner’s home.
Upon its return, the nephew parked the Chevrolet in his shed. It sat there for the next twenty-seven years.
The current owner is only the third owner of this Chevrolet. He had purchased it to make it into a novelty car for his grandchildren; he told me he was split between making it into a mafia car or a police car. Due to several of his children getting divorces, and his having a heart attack, the car remains unmolested. What you see is the way it left the Chevrolet factory, with only the effects of time working on its appearance.
That spot in the middle of the trunk lid is the only real blemish on the car. The owner suspects there was a faulty paint job at the factory; whatever happened, it is rather like the mole on Marilyn Monroe’s face. It adds a stylish blemish to the Stylemaster.
Despite owning the car for a decade, the owner has driven this car exactly three times. He says his wife was the primary driver as he doesn’t get along well with a clutch. Like all the other Chevrolet’s built this year, it has a three-speed manual transmission.
The owner told me if a person can get this car to 55 mph they should consider themselves successful. With 4.11 gearing in the differential, combined with 90 horsepower being on tap, this car wasn’t meant to be a powerhouse.
Weight is a factor in that scenario but not as much as it would appear; the dry curb weight for this Chevrolet is 3,175 pounds. For comparison, this is about 150 pounds less than the 2014 Volkswagen Passat I drove to get these pictures. This Chevrolet is large but it isn’t overly heavy.
This car runs but needs a repair on what sounds like either a clogged fuel line or an unhealthy fuel pump. It quickly starts and runs smoothly as long there is fuel in the carburetor.
When telling my seventy-seven year-old father-in-law about this Chevrolet, and mentioning the fuel issue, he knew exactly what I was talking about. Apparently back in the day his parents also owned a 1946 Chevrolet. He said it often had the same issue, sometimes accompanied by a sticky float, and this caused it to be a frequent recipient of cursing by his father. A series of quick applications of a ball-peen hammer to the side of the carburetor was a frequently reliable fix.
Might it simply be a quirk for the era?
While Chevrolet regained its top sales position for 1947, never again would the story leading up to the production of any Chevrolet be as extended and interesting as that of the 1946 models.
Found on February 22, 2016, along Route 47, west of Winfield, Missouri
Automotive History: Celebrating V-J Day – When Cars Came Home From War
Cohort Classic: 1949 Chevrolet Fleetline Special – Your Choice Of Fastback Or Notchback
GM deadly sin # 4899. Kidding!
Oh, that’s cool. I love the shapes of 1940s cars. This is really special, thanks for stopping.
It is interesting how the trim level names sound so pickup truckish. Goes to how the meaning of words changes over time. Thanks for the interesting read on a car that has managed to stay so original through all the generations since.
and……….how much does he want for said car?
This is how American used to be for us in Israel: somewhat luxurious (certainly compared with the equivalent British and European equivalents), powerful just enough for our roads and – as a whole – dead reliable. I remember those still being used as everyday cars in the 60s. If only the US car industry could have maintained that perception…
Tel Aviv in the forties…
Great story for a great car! The backstory of the man who ran Chevrolet in those years explains the way Chevrolet turned out such consistently good quality cars in that era. Even though there were things about Fords and Plymouths that made them more durable, Chevys were always attractive and well built.
This one does look a mite plain inside, the 1940s version of the Biscayne. When I was a kid, one of these lived next door to my grandma. It was a 2 door Fleetline that had been a 2 tone of ivory and maroon (which had faded to a strange purple). It was old and exotic and I hardly ever saw it move.
It would be interesting to know how hard it was for the original buyer to get his hands on this one. New cars were practically unobtainable for several months. I have read that folks would go around to all of the dealers to get on waiting lists, sometimes greasing the palms of dealers to be boosted up on the list. 1946 would have been a great time to be a seller of new cars for those with some larceny in their hearts.
Growing up in the ’60’s, I used to love seeing especially late ’40’s and early ’50’s cars, particularly Dodge’s, which had been originally painted blue and had morphed into a wonderful deep purple. I recall thinking that Cranbrook was a color close to Cranberry.
Dad got a new ’46 Crosley after he got out of the Army. It was the only new car he could find that was available at the time.
” the make’s early 1930s policy of refusing to sell cars to those of African descent.”
If I didn’t know you better, I’d ask if you were serious? Unbelievable and outrageous is not strong enough.
IN the UK as well, and I guess worldwide, the car industry was a major player in manufacturing for the war effort, and it left a legacy (in the UK at least) of large, new, underutilized factories that needed filling up, in an environment of limited access to steel.
Even now, Jaguar build aluminium car in a factory built for Spitfires.
And I like the hub caps on what is almost a time capsule
No, quite serious. Racist, admittedly, but not hard racist. It was more of an attitude of, “Our real (read: white and wealthy) customers will be horrified if they see a negro (I’m being polite for the time here) driving the same new car they’ve just bought.”
Welcome to “the good old days”.
Back then, if you were selling Dusenberg, Cadillac, Packard, Pierce Arrow, Lincoln, Marmon, etc. there was very much an attitude of “our kind of customer” when it came to the attention you get if you walked into a showroom. A Pierce Arrow dealer certainly didn’t want to get a reputation of selling to some new-money, uncultured yob who would probably buy a Cord L-29. Too flashy, too down market, too . . . . . . cheap.
Yes, sadly, that statement is true. Despite the human inclination to focus on pleasantries, history contains an abundance of ugliness.
Dreystadt was a person who deserves more attention, but information on him is sketchy. What I do have is pulled from an article in Forbes magazine; he was a middle-manager at Cadillac and asked for ten minutes at the GM executive board meeting to plead his ideas for Cadillac, which was hemorrhaging money in the early 1930s. His asking for time was likened to a monsignor asking for time during a conclave, during election of a pope. After that meeting, he was soon put in charge of Cadillac and he did one of the biggest turnarounds of fortune for any company. Sadly, he died from throat cancer at age 58, sometime around 1950, and he was unable to leave a bigger, more positive mark on GM.
With the advent of GMAC and installment buying, those barrier began to break down. Prior to that, new car purchases were done with chattel mortgages through one’s local bank. One had to be ‘a person of substance’ to get a new car loan especially for upmarket and luxury makes. Dealers conveyed their wishes to the bankers that only the ‘right kind of people’ be granted such loans. It simply didn’t do to have your marque be seen driven by, well, you know…..the wrong kind…. The good old days indeed…
Nicholas Dreystadt is truly the unsung savior of Cadillac in the 1930’s. He was placed as General Manager in June 1934 and relentlessly guided Cadillac away from the multiplicity of engines, chassis, and bodies onto one power-train with various wheelbase lengths and a high degree of body and component sharing with other GM makes by 1940. In the process, he exploited an emergent market for the owner-driven luxury car in $1,750 range, well below the then accepted entry-level luxury cars at $2,400. It was a segment unserved by rival Packard until 1939 by which time Cadillac was dominant in volume luxury sales. He lead as the division benefitted greatly from designs Harley Earl and GM Styling made available especially the pacesetting 60 Special by young Bill Mitchell, the first truly modern 3-box sedan in volume production. The follow-up 1940 C-Body Torpedo models cemented the luxury sales leadership that Cadillac enjoyed into the 1970’s. Mr. Dreystadt did leave a major mark on Cadillac’s decades of success that would never have been possible without the first nurturing of a foundering division and the solid basis he built for it before WWII.
My understanding is Black Americans who wanted a new Cadillac had to find a white straw man to purchase the car for them, and even after GM abolished the policy some Cadillac dealers would make a black man fell v e r y unwanted, so that the practice continued well into the 50s.
An amazing find. Hope someone buys it who will love it and take good care of it.
That’s a beautiful car .
I know these well and when properly tuned , 55 ~ 60 MPH is easily attained -but- the ‘ Target Lubrication ‘ system cannot possibly keep up with the lower ends of the connecting rods needs so expect the babbit to pound out very soon if you over speed these delicate engines .
This car is well equipped with heater , many were not .
Seat covers on news cars was a routine thing back them , you’d remove them when you traded it in to freshen up the interior and get better trade in value .
The carby on this car is not original ~ it’s a Rochester ‘B’ series and 216’s came with Cater W-1 carbys .
“Babbit” is one of those terms I’ve heard before but never quite knew what they meant. This Wikipedia article explains all.
That’s a fine-looking car and a very informative article, thanks Jason.
expect the babbit to pound out very soon
This sounds like a euphemism from a porn movie… thanks MikePDX but I think I’d rather not know.
Nate, you seem very knowledgeable on the 45 style Masters….I’m off to purchase one I know absolutely nothing about. I’ve done my net searches but just looking for someone to answer the small stuff. Might fix to sell. Keep it, undecided right now. My email address is email@example.com. Thank you
Under is very solid. Ran 3 years ago. Sat outside 7 years now. NFS right now
Looks decent to me , I hope you get it running and have some fun with it ~ i sure would ! =8-) .
I pinged you off list .
Early family story for me: My mother had a ’46 Chevy (model unknown) which she got in 1946 from her boss, the principal of Johnstown High School. Seems that a Chevrolet wasn’t good enough for him, he sold it to her so he could pick up a used ’42 Packard. (For those who think BMW status-seeking-douche-baggery is a modern phenomena . . . . . ) Considering the connections you had to have to buy a new 1946 anything in a car, this guy must have had a very high opinion of himself, and his needs.
Mom was driving the Chevy home from work one day when she pulled a puncture. Being a proper woman of the ’40’s, she did what was expected – wait for a gallant male to stop and help her out. The guy that did married her two years later, and a further two years after that became my father.
I know it’s only difference between the ’46 and the ’47-48’s is the hood emblem, but I always felt the ’46 was the more attractive car of the three.
Oh man, that calls to me…. Dare I ask how much is the asking?
48 Chev was my Dad’s 2nd car. And I wouldn’t do anything goofy with it, just repair and drive.
He’s asking $10k, but told me he would take $8k – you could likely get it for less than that. Part of that price includes a bunch of spare parts he has accumulated, including a spare engine (or block, I don’t remember).
It’s less than an hour from the airport in St. Louis.
Whew, at that price I think I can withstand the temptation. Now if it was a 38 Desoto…..
That photo of Pearl Harbor got me thinking about being in Hawaii. When you’re standing next to that hanger on Ford Island, looking at the breeze blowing the palm trees you feel like nothing bad could ever happen here..
Yeah, I think that car will likely be sitting here at this time next year. Any car that’s been sitting for a while is going to need repairs to the tune of four figures, even if you do the work yourself. It might not all be right away, but sooner or later. Tires? Brakes and lines/hoses? Fuel tank and lines? Radiator and hoses? That’s even before the potential realization that it was parked for a reason.
Fortunately or unfortunately, ’40s sedans aren’t exactly hot properties. If I really wanted that car, I’d probably be in the $3000-$4000 range, realizing that I would never make my money back, and coming down from $10,000, the owner would just find that offensive.
After all, probably four or five years ago, I saw a rust-free original ’51 two-door Fleetline for sale for $6500, and it was similar/better shape than this one is. THAT was tempting.
I hope, in this case, the owner takes a reasonable offer if someone makes it.
Great history lesson, Jason…The Arsenal of Democracy era is always fascinating, a truly different time in America, one that we probably won’t see again.
This Chevrolet has been sitting here for a few months already; the road it is sitting on isn’t doing it any favors as it’s going to be strictly local traffic.
You are correct on potential needs….the tires were ancient and I wondered if the fuel issue started in the tank and worked its way up. I would wager a guess the brake lines are older than either of us.
However, it’s the first car I’ve ever photographed that Mrs. Jason has commented about liking.
There used to be a couple of Kaiser sedans under a carport along 47, just east of Winfield, as I recall. I haven’t been in Lincoln County in 5 or more years, so I have no idea if they are still there or not.
That ’46 is a beautiful time capsule, it would be a shame to do anything but drive it as-is…after the fuel delivery issue is dealt wtih, of course.
This went extremely well with my morning Coffee.
Add me to the chorus of people who are wondering how much the owner wants for this car. Several years ago I found a beautiful 1946 Fleetline fastback for sale at a dealer, in an attractive yellow exterior/tan interior color scheme and with a twin carburetor Offenhauser intake setup under the hood, and it certainly made an impression, although so did its high price. The featured car is a far better representation of what actually rolled off of the Chevrolet assembly line and probably a lot more reasonable to buy.
I understand the build quality of Chevies of this era was second-to-none in the low-price field. Understanding Mr. Dreystadt’s background helps explain why.
GM had a few “whoops” in this era – but from my limited perspective, those were the result of striving to be the best, to build the best…and sometimes falling short. Far different from the cost-cutting ways of the post-Sloan era.
Hard to find these Chevrolets now. As a little kid anytime I saw them they were stripped for parts in someone’s back yard. A survivor in original condition is quite a find.
I also used the “small ball peen hammer carb adjustment tool” on my ’53 Studebaker Champion Starlight Hardtop occasionally.
My 1980 Chevy Malibu had a similar quirk, which, after opening the carb up several times, I realized, was being caused by the float needle failing to drop down with the float. Once I determined this, I was able to use a screwdriver to whack the carb where the fuel line connected and she would start right up.
My second car was a 46 two door sedan. Inherited the engine from a 49 chev that my Dad wrecked (same engine). Had a vacuum assisted three speed on the column and the vac asst was out. Hard to shift is an understatement.
Rods developing a knock, the droopy door handles, and the aforementioned vac asst are my biggest memories but I remember it as a good car overall. Certainly better than the studebaker I started with but not as good as the accumulation of flathead fords that I drove later.
Years ago a neighbour who was a bit of a hoarder died, and the relatives found one of these old Chevs when they were tidying out the shed. It was black (they all seemed to be), had no chrome on the body sides, and had a coarser-looking grille; perhaps a ’48.
I remember the sound of the engine when they got it going (no rod knock, but a very strong unburnt fuel smell), and the awful grating sound when they tried to change gear – I guess the vacuum shift was inoperative after decades of disuse. It also had seat covers, and that door handle droop that was so common on older cars.
@ Old Pete: Just a matter of time before the rods started knocking. My family owned several from pre-war to 1949 with essentially that same engine. Afaic the bearings and the oiling system were the achilles heel of an otherwise “tough as nails” car. When they started knocking you dropped the pan and changed the bearings (or whatever). If they were too worn you scored the crank and for practical purposes the engine was done. Dad learned how to fix them but I was actually too small when he was doing most of that. In 1954 the engine became a 235 with insert bearings and (I think) a higher pressure oiling system. Chevy had a winner in comparison to the other two low priced cars. 55, of course changed everything with the sbc. I am unsure if the years of the changes were the same in Oz.
That vacuum assist was troublesome and needless if you used a floor shift trannie.
Hadn’t thought much about that for years.
Great write up, love the vintage ads and other pictures. That Chevy is also very appealing. I wonder what the reality is of driving a ’40s three on the tree? The V shaped emblem on the hood with a red, white, and blue theme is a cool and subtle reminder of what it meant to be able to get to post war times.
I’ve long gotten a kick out of WWII ads for Cadillac. Quite appropriately, they built and powered tanks. Apparently the drivetrains included Hydra-Matic transmissions. GM wartime advertising was quite smart about how it kept the home fires burning.
Oldcarbrochures.com is a treasure trove of this WW2 era advertisements; nearly all of these pictures came from there. Plus, the ads told you what was going on as far as production volumes, etc. From my viewpoint, it had the double advantage of reassuring the home team and intimidating the other side.
Working the transmission is not too big a deal. The top two gears are synchronized, but it is best to come to a complete stop to engage first. Column linkage is a bit sloppy, but not that bad if properly adjusted. Those old long stroke low rpm engines are not that easy to stall.
Here is a pic of two Cadillac engines installed in a tank. Note the huge generators.
Many of the early 1946 Chevys had Chrome Trim replaced Ivory Painted Trim with Red Pinstripes. Looked Fine in Darker Paint Colors, only Chrome was on Bumpers
Great article on the contribution Chevrolet made to the war effort, thanks! The Arsenal of Democracy was truly a great moment in American automotive history.
These were tough, durable cars that were generally worked to death or nearly so by latter owners, and they stood it! I saw any number of them being used as pick-up trucks at the feed mill, loaded down with sacks of feed until the rear springs bottomed out. Once they were worn out and junked, the ended up parked in hedge grows to be picked for generators, radiators, whatever was need to keep the next Stovebolt Chevy going.
Superb read. Great selection of pics and interesting to read about Dreystadt’s contribution. My first thought when reading of his German descent was whether he might have been interned had he not been a senior GM executive, or perhaps by then he was a naturalised American. Many thanks Jason.
I just cant warm up to the styling. Ford and Plymouth as well had an ugly face, IMO. They all looked the same. The transition from separate front fenders to a flat face around 1941 was a bit awkward. Underneath, Chevy and Plymouth were modern enough, not so much Ford, with transverse leaf suspension and spiral-bevel rear axle.
Saginaw had a lot of GM factories a while ago, but they closed most of them. Still, few of them are assembling various automotive parts for GM nowadays. A powertrain factory opened around the 1910s in Bay City is still in operation and it’s very close to Saginaw. ( Usually throughout Michigan, GM would reach out the farthest for the factories, and Ford would reach out a bit less, while Chrysler would concentrate on the east side of Woodward Ave )
Few miles west of Saginaw, there is a town called Freeland, and it hosted POW from Nazi Germany during WWII. Few miles south, there is Little Bavaria, Frankenmuth.
It’s staggering to think that of the thousands and thousands of multi engine aircraft built during the war,thousands and thousands of spare engines were required to keep them flying under combat conditions, losses not withstanding. GM’s Eastern aircraft division license built Grumman TBM torpedo bombers for the navy. Ford built a plant at Willow Run MI. to build even more B24 Liberators. The picture of the Liberator in this post is actually a C87 Liberator Express, a cargo/transport derivative of the B24.Note the lack of armament and General Electric power gun turrets,top,belly,and nose on a’24.A mute point, I know as it was built in the same B24 plant in Fort Worth. But then this story is about a nice classic Chevy road find and the era in which it was produced.Thanks for stopping and sharing the back story on it with us.
I seem to have missed the post with the asking price for this fine old Chevrolet….
I’ve always liked anything post WWII, between WWII and the Korean War.
A friend of mine had a 4dr in the early 70’s and it was in immaculate shape. I still kick myself to this day for not buying it when he offered to sell it to me for $125.00. Of course I could say the same thing about not buying or selling cars I have owned over the years.
The old vacuum shift actually made the shifting very light….BUT…..just like those knee action shock absorbers, they required a regular maintenance schedule. And like anything else, if maintenance isn’t performed then of course you’re gonna have problems. I suppose it’s human nature to blame said device instead of themselves….