Owner: Bruce Pile – Rogers, Arkansas
I bought this 1946 Chevy truck after it had served for many years in the Bell Telephone System, the prehistoric internet that Bell Labs would later upgrade. After helping with the creation of the net, the truck was in pretty sad shape. The guy I bought it from had overhauled the 216 motor and was starting a restoration but wanted to sell it. Unfortunately, he had no antifreeze in the water, and, when we started it up as we were discussing the sale on a January day after a cold snap, it formed a boiling cloud of steam from the exhaust and a river flowing down the street from a geyser spewing out a crack in the side of the block. We discounted the price to $150 and my dad and I towed it home.
First, I dealt with the boat anchor I had for a motor. I disassembled it to the bare block, had the cracks welded, put it back together, put in some powerful stop leak; and to my amazement it ran just fine. Then I proceeded to the treasure hunt – finding the various body parts. It has original steel for everything, plus several items I ordered from Jim Carter. I painted it blue and black and drove it and showed it that way for several years. I loved the way it looked, but the running gear was just a little slow and weak for modern cruising. I had no trouble with the busted up motor, but the other things were becoming a problem. So 14 years ago I did a makeover. I had it outfitted it with a Chevy 305 V8, automatic, and an A frame assembly on the front from a ’75 Chevy pickup, which will bolt neatly to the frame with a pair of 3/8″ steel shims and provides power disc brakes and power steering. I repainted it the Swift’s red (now that it was so swift) and kept the body and interior as close to factory original as I could; there is no law that says you must deviate from the natural beauty of these trucks just because you put in a V8. You can certainly improve how they drive, but, in my opinion, you can’t improve much on what the staff at Chevrolet thought out for how their trucks should look. It was restoring the body and interior to factory original that was the most difficult part of the entire project. Finding the parts was not easy, and Jim Carter’s was the ace up my sleeve there; but far more difficult was finding reliable information as to what was factory original. It was here that Jim Carter’s proved to be a unique resource. I inquired at salvages that are highly regarded for specializing in antique trucks, and got either “I don’t know” or contradictory information. I e-mailed the AACA in Hershey and got “We don’t know. Try these three organizations.” I e-mailed the customer service arm of Chevrolet, which is supposed to be able to answer all your questions about models past and present, and got “We have used all the resources at our disposal and can not answer your questions.” I asked Jim Carter’s and they either gave me answers immediately or said, “We’ll check and e-mail you an answer”, which they did. After having received so much contradictory information from other sources, I was not convinced. I hunted down some old photos of Chevy trucks fresh off the assembly line and some with no restoration or refinishing done, and hunted down several trucks in salvages, examined them very carefully, and got a few answers as to what parts and colors were original; and they were the same answers Jim Carter gave me. If I ever do another project with a GMC or Chevy truck, I’ll not bother with any other source of parts or information besides salvage yards and Jim Carter’s Antique Truck Parts.
I’ve been driving my antique for 14 years and am still pleasantly embarrassed by all the head turning it gets. I still have a “to do” list of 7 items. I’d also like to add a license plate holder that reads “Prehistoric Silverado”.