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1939-46 1/2 Ton Canopy Express “Barn Fresh 1942”

Owners: Scott and Betty Golding of Stratton, Nebraska

Is this the rare of the rare?

Just when you think they were all gone, up comes a real Canopy Express of the 1939-46 body design.

Our ‘Feature Truck of the Month’ section usually shows restored GM trucks, but we just had to show this almost forgotten body style even though it is not restored. We might call this 1/2 ton Canopy Express a ‘Barn Fresh 1942’

It is owned by Scott and Betty Golding of Stratton, Nebraska.  They found it near Scott City, Kansas, a small town in the far northwest part of the state.   Here the ground is flat and the air is dry.  Thus, body rust is usually not a problem and metal is preserved with the low humidity.  It has saved this 65 year old and it will now be seen by future generations.

Scott states that there were 182 Canopy Express trucks built in 1942.  Therefore, we suspect the survival rate of this year is less than five.  The limited production in 1942 was due to most assembly plants starting to be used to make war materials after the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.  The Canopy Express had a limited market and with the factories stopping production early, the 182 production number is understandable.  Scott and Betty’s Canopy Express still has a chrome grill which relates to the time before the war shortages.

Though the original black paint is mostly gone from the summer sun, the metal condition shows a very restorable vehicle.  Even the full wood divider is still behind the front seat.  This divider with window was necessary for rear vision as well as to allow passengers more comfort in cold weather when the small dealer installed heater was used.  The wood planks in the bed are tired, but still remain in place.  The roll up canvas curtains were usually gone before the tenth year.  Of course, there is no evidence now they even existed.

The Golding’s should have some good luck with a future restoration as the rare body sets on a 1/2 ton pickup frame.  The parts from the door forward are also the same as a pickup truck.  It is the body restoration that might give some problems because the tailgate is lost.  That will take a real search.

Why did the Canopy Express exist?

In another era of our country’s history (1920’s through 1950’s) extra money was limited.  Those with some disposable income bought one family car.   The man of the house drove it to work and the wife stayed at home with the children.  During World War II, the husbands were often in the military overseas. Therefore, retail stores realized to keep sales or even stay in business; they had to bring their products to the neighborhoods.  The Canopy Express filled that need. They were excellent for carrying and displaying produce and related groceries.  Display trays of food products were taken to the neighborhoods.  Probably a bell told home owners that the grocery truck was coming. Even a scale for weighing produce could be attached to an arm extending from the body.  The Canopy Express canvas sides were easily raised or lowered depending on the weather or when back at the store at the end of the day.  Of course, laundry, bakery and dairy products were also delivered to neighborhoods but this required a different size vehicle.  That is another story!

Scott and Betty’s Canopy Express still has the 216 six cylinder engine.  Most important is its 4 speed transmission.  This allowed the Canopy Express to move very slowly in crowded apartment neighborhoods while ringing the hand-pulled bell.

If you would like to contact Scott and Betty, send email to scottandbetty@hotmail.com.

Can anyone help Scott and Betty find a 1939-46 Canopy Express tailgate?

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