Many cars have a series of owners before they are scrapped or otherwise retired. It’s rare for a vehicle to find a permanent loving home that spans generations. Montie Gauss’s 1948 Chevrolet Fleetmaster is one of the lucky ones.
“As long as the ’48 has been around, it’s been with our family,” says Gauss, CSci’73, MS EMgt’74. “My granddad bought it brand new and drove it until he died. When I got my driver’s license at 16, my grandmother gave me the car, but I had to ride a bus from Springfield, Mo., to Ault, Colo., to get it.”
After learning how to use the foot starter, Gauss drove the ’48 back to Missouri and used it throughout high school and college. “The motor held up well at 50 mph but would loosen rods at any speed higher. I can remember many times pulling the oil pan and tightening the connecting rods outside Kelly Hall and other places,” he says.
“As long as the ’48 has been around, it’s been with our family.”
His entire family learned to drive a stick shift in the car. “My wife, Caryn, used it during her student teaching days at Fort Leonard Wood,” he says. “The car created quite a stir with the guards at the gate who wanted her to stop so they could see it.”
The ’48 even played a part in each of his three children’s weddings.
The Fleetmaster has gone through two major restorations and is now equipped with a 350 motor, four-speed automatic transmission, cruise control, air conditioning and a CD player.
It may look the same as when his grandfather owned it (except for the recently added flames), but Gauss says it’s a whole new car inside. “It runs much better now than when I got it in ’68.”