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Three Mid-Year Body Changes

During the early years there were three occasions when General Motors decided it was in their interest to make truck cab changes in mid-year.  Thus, in today’s world, when these years are mentioned, one must always be sure which of the two trucks are being discussed.  The following will mention these years and why the unusual timing occurred in one year.

1936

The “Great Depression” was in full swing.  To encourage truck sales and save some struggling dealers, it was felt a new cab should be introduced as soon as possible.  This new entry would later be referred to as “the low cab”.  It had a more modern body and it was hoped potential buyers would be impressed to own a newer truck for the same retail price.

It cost General Motors only a little more to produce.  The cab would set on the same frame rails and the total chassis was almost unchanged including motor, transmission, differential and radiator assembly remained the same.

The difference was in the cab and the hood with different side panel louvering position. For the first time GM offered a truck cab with an actual glove box in the dash.  Instead of many small cab pieces making a wood frame with sheet metal tacked on, there were only four large cab wood supports.  They made part of the cowl and supported the weight of the doors and windshield assembly.  The low cab roof was formed sheet metal and was welded, not bolted to the remainder of the body. The window and door handles, wood floor, seats, hydraulic brakes, and steering wheel were almost unchanged.  The same ½ ton bed was used.

This total new package gave the dealers something to tell their customers that an almost new truck was available for about the same cost.

1947

During the first half of 1947, dealers had marketed the trucks offered before the war years.  There was often a six month wait for trucks (as well as cars) when factories opened for domestic vehicle production for the first time in 5 years.

General Motors could not produce the older pre-war body style trucks fast enough!  Therefore, GM decided to wait until sales demand began to slow before the new body style. Good Marketing!

If they had waiting lines for pre-world war II trucks, why stop production to make the factories ready for a more modern truck?  The 1947 year was half over before what GM called “the Advance Design” trucks were in the dealers showrooms. This new redesigned truck had been developed during WWII in anticipation of a later sales demand. They were introduced on Saturday June 26, 1947.

This sales technique was quite successful.  The many truck dealers in the USA couldn’t have been happier with GM’s strategy!  Truck buyers with money or at least good credit wanted to be the owner of this modern design vehicle.   The prewar body design was “old time”.

Therefore, once again there was a long line to have a new truck.  GM engineers that were not enlisted or drafted into World War II had many years to get ready for this new model.  However, it was the skilled GM advertising department that arranged the timing to get the “best bang for the buck”.

1955

The totally redesigned Chevrolet automobile was introduced in late 1954.  So much advertising on television, in local newspapers and by dealerships built up buyer anticipation throughout the country.  The Chevrolet advertising department in Detroit knew not to take any wind out of the excitement in the unveiling of this totally new car.

Therefore, GM wisely made a decision to not introduce the new redesigned 1955 Task Force truck line at the same time as the car.  They would wait at least 6 months until the car excitement slowed.  Then with the experience of building up potential new 1955 car buyers, the Chevrolet Truck Division would do it all over again!

Just imagine how successful the Chevy dealers were to have two new 1955 vehicles in one year.  It was about the biggest sales year in Chevrolet history.

Note:  Because the new Chevrolet Task Force was not introduced until about May 1955 and the 1956 models came in November, this would certainly have been the shortest for any Chevrolet model year.  Once again, so many waiting orders were received by dealers.  Customers had seen the same body design for eight years and were ready for this new truck line.  For the first time Chevrolet offered some new major optional features to increase sales:

V-8 engine, 3 speed overdrive transmission, the Cameo “Boulevard” pickup, white wall tires, power steering, all new paint color etc.  A new standard feature was a 12 volt electrical system and wrap-around windshield.

A few other new no extra cost features were redesigned pickup bed with “grain tight” tailgate, a higher ½ ton differential ratio of 3.55, additional padding in seat cushion, and more convenient gas tank fill on driver’s side. A very important change was the first time was an open drive line on their ½ ton (also on the short lived 1955 First Series).

A real attention getter was for the first time in the history of GM pickup trucks there were no cab outside running boards! Overall, the new truck gave a very different appearance. Suddenly, all the buyer’s friends immediately knew that he had a different truck! It was certainly not the “almost same” truck with maybe a different color as during the Advance Design truck years.

 

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