1949 Chevy Fleetline Deluxe, A Sin City Sled
Like most hot rods and customs, the 1949 Chevy Fleetline Deluxe you see here has a quite a story. It all started one night under the low roof of a friends chopped 54 BelAir at the drive-in. Cuong Vuong was riding shotgun and caught the kustom bug. He had prior dealings with mini trucks and vintage scooters but after that night all he wanted was his own kustom sled. Little did he know that it would take nearly 13 years and a lot of heartache to build his car the way he envisioned.
It didn’t take long before Cuong headed out to the Pomona Swap Meet in search of the car that would fit his developing vision. He found an unrestored, non-running 1949 Chevy Fleetline Deluxe. Cuong and his wife Dori devised a plan and she took the reins on negotiating the deal. After the cash traded hands, the car was pushed onto a trailer and towed home to Las Vegas.
Cuong immediately tore into his new project. Visions of a traditional style kustom fueled his desire to get the project rolling. Shortly after getting the car torn down it was taken to Dan’s Driveline in Las Vegas to have a new rear end installed. There Cuong met Brick Casper and a friendship quickly formed. One thing led to another and his new pal had a fresh 350/350 combo nestled between the frame rails. Brick also tackled many other things on the car including patch panels, smoothing the firewall, rust repair, and added aftermarket air conditioning.
Cuong’s next focus shifted to style. The car was sent back to California to be chopped. Cuong didn’t know it at the time, but things would turn sour. The car sat at a shop for nearly two years. Disheartened he brought it back to Vegas and put it in his garage. Not long after stashing it out of sight, Cuong and Dori welcomed their daughter Kensington into the world. With a newborn and a 1959 Vespa project, the Fleetline became a collect-all.
Around his daughter’s first birthday Cuong felt a newfound urge to get back on the Fleetline. The internet brought the ailing project back to life when he met Matt Townsend of Townsend’s Customs & Hot Rods in an online forum. With a new desire to one day give the car to Kensington, Cuong hauled the ‘49 back to So-Cal again. Matt had the displeasure of letting Cuong know that the chop was poorly done and a donor car was going to be needed for a roof. After quickly tracking down a candidate, Matt properly completed the 3 ½” chop. During the process, he peaked the roof, sectioned the decklid, and massaged the sheet metal to make the lines flow smoothly. Of the more notable features are the one-off custom tail lights handmade into the bumper ends by Matt. Cuong got the call that his Fleetline was ready for the next step.
The ‘49 was immediately delivered to Divine One Customs in Henderson, NV. There the car was sanded smooth, squirted Lexus Matador Red, and polished to a mirror shine. The crew at Divine One stitched the classy interior, installed a Rockford-Fosgate sound system, and got the car laying low with Accuair ride control. They put the car together with all the finishing touches and Cuong finally got to drive his dream home.
Although Cuong dealt with heartache and setbacks in this journey, the one thing that has stuck with him more than anything are the friends he made along the way. The build that almost ended in scrap is still a collect all, not of junk in the garage, but of memories. Kensi will still get the car someday, but until then, you can catch Cuong driving his Fleetline all over Las Vegas.