You could say that the 1938 Chevrolet Master Business Coupe that Fred and Rosemary Swan own has “learning power.” Instead of its original “Stovebolt” six-cylinder passenger car engine, the blue five-window has a straight six from a 1958 Chevrolet. Fred says the original 216-cid engine was running when he purchased the car, but it was worn out and needed to be rebuilt.
“I bought the car sight unseen from a Craigslist posting for an estate sale in California.” Swan looked for restoration shops in the area and got one of them to go look at the car. It’s one of 39,793 such models built in model-year 1938. The 2,770-lb. coupe sold for $648 when it was new. The cowl mounted radio antenna was a Chevrolet factory accessory. Painted headlight rims and bumper guards were standard equipment, as was mohair velvet upholstery.
Swan still has the worn and leaky original engine, but the larger school bus “mill” had more cubic inches, more power and a pressurized oiling system, instead of the 1938 engine’s splash lubrication system. To swap engines, Swan had to change the motor mount system, shorten the water pump shaft and shorten the fan blades. He ordered an early-1950s style Fenton split exhaust manifold from Jim Carter. That explains the two tailpipes exiting at the rear.
The Chevy coupe has 82,965 original miles. It has a straight axle setup in front, rather than the optional du Bonnet “Knee-Action” system. The paint on the car is original and only required some buffing. Swan removed the front clip from the car when he installed the school bus engine. At that time he painted the chassis up the best he could without taking the car completely apart.
“We only found two rusted bolts on the whole car,” Swam told Speedville.com. That made the take apart and re-assembly work a lot easier. Swan said he has owned the car for seven years. It sounds great and drives well. Although the school bus engine sounds just like a Chevy six, the Fenton headers give it a nicer exhaust note. Swan wants to add dual carburetors. He has one of the carbs he needs to accomplish this, but hasn’t been able to find a second one.